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Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is a symptom of our troubled times. Talking about political issues rapidly becomes an attempt to silence someone else. How should Christians respond? What does it mean to have a good reputation? How do we uphold someone else’s reputation? Join us for a lively discussion of these contemporary issues.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide

Episode: 107

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The Law of God is Good and Wise

It must be recognized that in any culture the source of law is the god of that society. Join us as we begin our discussion of the Law’s curbing effect in society. What is the place of God’s Law in the life of the Christian and in the state?  Does it only show us our sins, or does it show us a still more excellent way?

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Guest: Rev. Aaron Uphoff, Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Randolph, NJ
Episode: 48

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A Christian Meditation for the New Year

Another year has come and gone.  Each of us is one year closer to eternity:  “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).  Do not mourn that you are closer to death, but instead thank God that you are now that much closer to eternal life.

A generation comes and goes, but the earth remains.  Though all streams flow into the sea, the sea is not full.  The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  Though we toil on this earth, we can take nothing with us into the next life.  Though we may indulge in the comforts and pleasures of this life, we will never be satisfied (Ecclesiastes 1:1-18).  The wise man and the fool, the rich and the poor, the king and the servant all will die (Ecclesiastes 2:1-17). 

As one year passes and another begins, let us remember that we are dust (Genesis 3:19).  Let us remember that at any moment we could be called away from this life.  Who of us knows if he will make it to the end of this year?  Be not like the rich fool who basked in his earthly blessings only to lose his life that very night (Luke 12:13-21).  God forbid that any of us should be found without the oil of faith when we awake from death at our Lord’s return (Matthew 25:1-13).  

Where your treasure is, there your heart is also (Matthew 6:21).  What are the greatest objects of your heart’s desire?  God and his word?  Free salvation through Jesus’ death?  

What is worth more than God?  What on this earth is worth more than hearing His word?  What is a better use of your time than coming to church regularly?  Everything in this world fades, rots, fails, falls apart, does not satisfy you, does not save you, does not last forever.  

Therefore, dear Christian, examine your heart.  Examine your time commitments.  Examine your loves.  This world is passing away.  Do not pass away along with it.  Do not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2).  

Redeem the time, which passes so quickly.  Redeem it by using it to hear God’s word.  Fill your flasks with oil while there is still time (Matthew 25:8-10).  Come to church.  Come regularly.  Meditate on God’s word throughout the week and throughout your life. 

The word of God preserves you for eternal life.  Faith comes from hearing the word.  Faith in Christ’s death saves you from the eternity in Hell you deserve for sinning against God.

Christ has risen from the dead.  He has loosened the chains of the grave.  He has broken through, and risen above, the cycles of meaninglessness and death in Ecclesiastes.  He has opened eternity to all who believe in His life, death, and resurrection.  Into the toil, sadness, and vanity of this earthly life Jesus breathes joy and hope.  Joy because of reconciliation with God.  Joy because of His presence.  Joy due to humble, fearful, grateful faith.  And hope because of God’s promise that he will raise all who believe in Jesus to everlasting life.

The New Man


On this episode we discuss the third of the four states of man: man in Christ. This condition is common to every Christian as we strive to put off the old man and put on the new. Join us to listen to how Christ manifests the true image of the Father and how we are conformed to His image.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Guest: Rev. David Appold
Episode: 12

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Sanctification and Holiness

Because of sin, grace has a way of inviting abuse. Paul fights against this misunderstanding extensively in his letter to the Romans. Sin prompts the equally sinful idea that once God’s favor has been gained through Christ, sin no longer has the same consequence as before. “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:15)? Not at all!

To demonstrate his point, Paul uses the analogy of slavery, one which he fully recognizes has its shortcomings (Romans 6:19). However, no other image can suffice in explaining the all-encompassing nature of God’s grace in the life of a Christian, even if it is imperfect and should not be taken to extremes.

Paul asks: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Romans 6:16)? A Christian, therefore, always has a master, either sin or God. There is no neutrality, nor does being set free from sin imply a master-less existence. This does not mean that we will win favor with our new Master with such obedience. Paul makes it abundantly clear that no man will be justified by what he does in God’s sight (note especially Romans 3:28 among others). But it does mean that a transfer of ownership has occurred, using Paul’s imagery. “But having been set free from sin, you have been enslaved to righteousness” (Romans 6:18).

This leads to an important theological question: what is the nature of the Christian life? To put it another way, what is sanctification? In Romans 6:19, Paul uses the word hagiasmos. This Greek word comes from hagios, which means “holy.” Adding “mos” to the end changes the adjective holy into a noun. But how should it be translated? “Holiness” typically means a state, that is, a static way of being. But sanctification comes from the Latin sanctus, which also means “holy,” and ficio, which means “to make.” Sanctification strictly speaking means “to make holy,” which implies a process or a movement. Which one of these does Paul have in mind here?

After admitting the imperfection of the metaphor in Romans 6:19, Paul then sets up an important parallel. You were once slaves to uncleanness, while you walked in your former sins. Further, you were enslaved to lawlessness. But note especially the wording here. The word often translated as “to” has a directional force. The Greek reads most literally as “lawlessness to lawlessness,” but that direction in the word “to” implies increase, which is why many translations render it as “lawlessness leading to more lawlessness.” But Paul sets it in parallel to the rest of the sentence and states that we should present all our members as “slaves to righteousness to hagiasmon.” He uses the same wording as before, which implies the same kind of movement, or in other words, “slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” This is reemphasized in Romans 6:22, because the end or the goal of hagiasmos is everlasting life.

There is, of course, a great tendency to misunderstand Paul here. Paul is not saying that sanctification means that we become more acceptable in God’s sight. He explicitly states that what we do does not make God favorable toward us. Paul is also not saying that perfection is possible in this life. In the following chapter, he says “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). Sin remains close at hand through this earthly life. Nor is Paul saying that this happens on our own, as if sanctification was something that man does all on his own. As he says at the very end of chapter 6, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

But we are being made holy in Christ, formed into Christ. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Many other such examples could be multiplied. But the point is clear: because Christians have a new Master in God, they are no longer subject to the old master of sin, and the Christian life is therefore a war.

However, this does not mean that translating hagiasmos as “holiness” is illegitimate. Holiness in the Biblical sense has to do with being “set apart” (such as in 2 Timothy 2:21). It is God who sets us apart (Galatians 1:15), and it is God who calls us in holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Holiness does not happen because we make it happen apart from God. Rather, “as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).