Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
This describes a heart in need of forgiveness and cleansing.
Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
This describes a heart that has been forgiven and cleansed.
Jeremiah 17:10: I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
1 Samuel 16:7: But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
1 Kings 8:39: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
Men cannot look upon the hearts of other men and know for certain if they are deceitful and wicked or forgiven and pure.
In every Lutheran church I ever attended the men up front made a pronouncement something like this: Do you believe that through me, a called servant of God, you will receive the forgiveness of all your sins? Then declare so by saying: I do believe. As you believe, even so may it be unto you. I, by virtue of the authority vested in me as a called and ordained servant of the word, upon this your confession, in the stead and at the command of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, forgive you all your sins. There is no such command in the Bible.
Since those men cannot look upon a heart and know for certain that God has cleansed it they make a pronouncement that they do not know to be true. Can you think of a worse offense than telling someone their sins are forgiven whose sins are not forgiven? There are other unbiblical doctrines in modern Lutheranism. This Bible study will focus primarily on the forgiveness of sin. God*s forgiveness of sin is so important to Christianity and these truths are so simple that even someone not well versed in the Bible can understand them.
I was a Lutheran for almost 25 years. During all but the last few months of that time I was on a straight line headed for Hell. For almost 25 years many of those men told me repeatedly that my sins were forgiven when they were not. I got saved while listening to a Radio preacher of another denomination. I would guess that between 5 and 10 percent of the Lutherans that I have known are genuinely saved. I have seen humility, the love of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit in them. Why they do not see the errors of Lutheranism today is mysterious to me. They apparently do not study the Bible to learn what God Himself has done for them.
A few Jewish scribes got one thing right. They understood that Jesus forgiving their sins would be irrelevant if He were not God. They understood that a pronouncement of forgiveness was blasphemy if it came from anyone other than God Himself. The part they got wrong was that they did not believe Jesus was God.
Mark 2:5-7: When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
There is no example in the Bible of even the Apostles forgiving sin in the place of God. The words and phrases used in the pronouncement do not appear anywhere in the Bible.
1 Timothy 2:5: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
There is no substitute for the one mediator.
John 14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
1 Corinthians 3:11: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Jonah 2:9b . . . Salvation is of the LORD.
No part of salvation is of a man. When a mortal man pronounces forgiveness he becomes an idol for those who believe him. Believing him does not bring forgiveness, it brings a curse.
Psalms 108:12: Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
Jeremiah 17:5: Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
Lutherans, like everyone else, must personally receive the Lord Jesus Christ. When they receive Him He does many wonderful things for them.
First and foremost He makes them sons of God.
John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
He takes up residence in their hearts.
Ephesians 3:17a: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; . . .
Galatians 4:19: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Colossians 1:27: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
He brings eternal life into them.
1 John 5:12: He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
He begins living His life in and through them.
Galatians 2:20: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
They become new creatures.
2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
They experience the witness of the Holy Spirit Himself to their hearts that they are children of God.
Romans 8:16: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
They begin to know God, not just about Him.
John 17:3: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
They begin to be taught by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:12-14: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man*s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
They begin to experience peace with God.
Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
They begin to personally and directly experience the love of God.
Romans 5:5: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
They begin to receive new and different wisdom and understanding.
Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
They begin to experience the improvements Jesus makes in one*s life.
John 10:10: The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
No man who has been impacted by The Living God will accept a substitute for God and he will begin to recognize and sift out the counterfeits.
Even when a man receives Jesus and the Lord gives all these wonderful things to him, he is still just a man. He is still unable to make other men into new creatures. He is still unable to place Jesus into the hearts of other men. What he can do is tell other men what Jesus has done for him and that Jesus wants to do the same things for them. He can tell other men that as many as receive Jesus receive forgiveness.
A young woman I met recently described her Lutheran stepmother: She was mean, critical, controlling and (I have forgotten some of the other unflattering adjectives) before and after attending church and the rest of the week. That is a pretty accurate description of me before the Lord came into my heart and a description of most of the Lutherans that I have known. It is impossible for me to believe that the Lord is in the heart and life of that poor stepmother.
There are many promises in the Bible that are only for the forgiven, cleansed and regenerate children of God who have received Jesus into their hearts. When I was an unsaved Lutheran I thought they were for me. They were not. Here is one relevant example. The passage tells how a sinning child of God can reestablish communion with Him.
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Nothing righteous and true can come out of a deceitful, wicked and unregenerate heart that is devoid of Jesus. That was the condition of my heart. The confession of a deceitful and wicked heart can only be deceitful and wicked. It cannot cause regeneration or forgiveness. It cannot establish communion with the Lord. It cannot reestablish something that never existed.
If you know that you are lost you can receive Jesus into your heart right now. He came to seek and to save YOU.
Luke 19:10: For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Romans 10:13: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.