Noah, the flood, and Christ’s coming

In the days of Noah God sent the flood and those who believed in the prophecy and took shelter in the ark were saved, but those who did not believe were destroyed. In Matthew 24:36-44 Christ remembers us about the extravagant life of the people from Noah’s time. Everyone lived as if they were the masters of their own lives, but when the flood came they all perished. Christ alerts us to a coming greater than that of the flood. It is clear that the flood was just a shadow that points to the day when Jesus will return. St. Chrysostom comments that in this text Christ makes a point of showing us that He is the Lord by revealing to us that no one knows the day and hour of His coming. He does this so that we understand that He is the one who decides the beginning and end of all things, including our lives, and that we are not masters of our own lives. He also does it so that we look forward to the day when He will come to free us from the prison of the corruption of the flesh. Ecclesiastes 11:9 helps us apply the gospel text when it says “Do whatever you feel like doing and knowing. Try everything, but remember one thing: You will be accountable to God for everything you’ve done. .”

What a beautiful day it will be when Christ will seek his church, which is sinful but also justified through faith in Christ. But what a terrible day it will be for those who, like the people in Noah’s time, did not believe and lived licentiously as if they were their own masters.

Timor Dei and humility

Philippe de Champaigne

I’ve been reading some stuff on humility to write about it here and, funnily, all the early christians agreed that humility is the first virtue one has to have in order to achieve any other virtue.

“First and foremost, we must lay down a solid foundation of profound humility to serve as the foundation of the tower of virtues that will rise up toward heaven.”
– Saint John Cassian.

“He who has mastered humility has mastered all virtues.”
– Saint Maximos

“The humbleness of the heart comes ahead of all virtues.”
– Saint Moses the Black

And so goes on. The thing is: that made me remember of our friend St.Augustine. When he talks about the potentialities of the soul, he mentions that the fear of the Lord is the first thing to achieve the other “degrees” of virtues. His foundation is Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Fear of God (timor Dei), according to Augustine, turns one toward the divine will by quelling one’s impulses of pride (superbiae motus) with thoughts of mortality. He also relates that to conversion. But what does the fear of the Lord has to do with humility? Everything!

Both are being used as the foundation of a virtuous soul and that because the fear of the Lord (Timor Dei) smashes our pride. Fearing the Lord is when you behold His holiness and realize your misery and then you fear cause you know He is, as Karl Barth would say, the wholly Other (otherness of God). How can we not feel humbled by such truth?
Saint Basilius the Great says that humility is achieved when man thinks that all mankind is superior to him. That happened to Paul. And we can smell his virtues throughout the entire history. That happened to the holiest of the saints. You want to achieve a virtuous life so you get united to Christ day by day? Start by knowing your place.

A heart strangely warmed

John Wesley

Wesley was a godly theologian, born in England, who lived a life of good works and holiness. However, for a long time he lived haunted by the ghost of his own good works. Wesley needed to know the grace of the Lord Jesus.
One day, returning from a missionary trip to the United States, totally frustrated with the failure, he said “I went to America to evangelize the indigenous, but who will convert me?”. On the ship, Wesley witnessed a great storm and felt distressed, afraid to die. It was when he saw a group of Moravians on the boat, singing content and assurance, that his crisis began. Great was the contrast between them. Wesley, on the one hand, fearful of death. The Moravians, on the other hand, quiet and steady.
Wesley spent some time trying to understand the grace of God in works, but it was only in 1738, listening to an old commentary by Luther mentioned in a sermon, that he could be freed from the demands of the law. Wesley felt his heart warm and in that moment he understood that he was saved by the grace of God, not by works. He said “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” This experience totally changed his life, and he became a great and fervent missionary.

May the Holy Spirit, our comforter, warm more hearts today and in the future, opening our eyes to the work of Christ on the cross. And may this Christ, our Mediator and Intercessor, have mercy on us in the face of our works, of which even the best are like filthy snares. May God the Father, our creator, see us holy through the lens of the Lamb’s blood. Amen.

Luther on Good works


“Whenever remission of sins is freely proclaimed, people misinterpret it according to Romans 3:8, “Let us do evil, that good may come.” As soon as people hear that we are not justified by the Law, they reason maliciously: “Why, then let us reject the Law. If grace abounds, where sin abounds, let us abound in sin, that grace may all the more abound.” People who reason thus are reckless. They make sport of the Scriptures and slander the sayings of the Holy Ghost.

However, there are others who are not malicious, only weak, who may take offense when told that Law and good works are unnecessary for salvation. These must be instructed as to why good works do not justify, and from what motives good works must be done. Good works are not the cause, but the fruit of righteousness. When we have become righteous, then first are we able and willing to do good. The tree makes the apple; the apple does not make the tree.”

Source: Galatians commentary

Luther on righteousness

The serpent on the pole

“Paul explains what constitutes true Christian righteousness. True Christian righteousness is the righteousness of Christ who lives in us. We must look away from our own person. Christ and my conscience must become one, so that I can see nothing else but Christ crucified and raised from the dead for me. If I keep on looking at myself, I am gone.

If we lose sight of Christ and begin to consider our past, we simply go to pieces. We must turn our eyes to the brazen serpent, Christ crucified, and believe with all our heart that He is our righteousness and our life. For Christ, on whom our eyes are fixed, in whom we live, who lives in us, is Lord over Law, sin, death, and all evil.”

Source: Galatians commentary

The Aseity of God

Since this month’s theme is the Attributes of God, I’d like to talk a bit about how God’s sufficient for Himself and for us as well. Maybe you’ve never heard about the aseity of God, maybe you have. Either way, I hope this post bless your soul today.

Aseity comes from the latin words ā “from” and sē “self”. God’s aseity means that He is sufficient to Himself, independent of anything outside himself. This is probably the best attribute to call “first” and all the others could derive from this one. Although it might seem like a very philosophical concept and not a very biblical one, we have some biblical clues to reach this concept. My favorite one, which is the one I want to emphasize here is when God says “I am what I am” in Exodus 3:14. The hebrew expression אהיה אשר אהיה used there sounds way deeper than we think. God is saying He is Himself, He is His own/self being and His own reason of existence. He doesn’t depend on anything to be what He is.

A.W. Pink one said “God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That He chose to do so was purely a sovereign act on His part caused by nothing outside of Himself, determined by nothing but His own mere good pleasure.”

Such aseity and self suficiency should make us kneel down before our Savior with humbleness and learn from Him who is what He is but still came to Earth to save limited and rebel creatures like us.

For those who are mourning

Saint John Climacus

I’ve been going through some trials recently and most of times all I can do when I pray is crying. While looking for some resources on mourning I came across this beautiful saying of St. John Climacus who wrote steps for the “Ladder of divine ascent”. One of the steps is called “mourning” and he says:

“Greater than baptism itself is the fountain of tears after baptism, even though it is somewhat audacious to say so.  For baptism is the washing away of evils that were in us before, but sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears.  As baptism is received in infancy, we have all defiled it, but we cleanse it anew with tears.  And if God in His love for mankind had not given us tears, those being saved would be few indeed and hard to find.”

May our tears be shed at the feet of the cross and may it water our faith as well.

Rosa Young, the first Lutheran Rosa

Rosa Young

Today’s post is about an incredible saint of the church whom might not be very famous among us women.

Rosa (1890-1971) was a black girl living in the countryside of Rosebud. She always had the desire to study and teach, and thankfully her parents always backed her up. She attended the African Methodist Episcopal School and won several scholastic awards and even became editor of the school newspaper. After graduating, she started teaching at different African-American schools until she got determined to build her own private school. In the same year the school was inaugurated and it was a success, she had support from her family and neighbors. The thing is that some years later a plague reached out and her school struggled a lot to survive. She heard about LCMS and sent a letter to them asking for help so she wouldn’t have to close the school. The Missouri Synod sent veteran missionary pastor Rev. Nils J. Baake to survey the situation. Rosa then turned the management and property of the school over to the Lutherans and stayed on as a teacher and advisor there. The Lutheran Church provided money, materials, and other forms of help to maintain the quality of the school.

Afterwards she was confirmed as a Lutheran and founded more and more schools. Many of her students entered the Holy Ministry or became parochial school teachers. She served the church as not only a teacher but truly as a missionary. Her support and service lead to the foundation of many churches and Lutheran schools.
It is important to bear in mind that she was not only a woman but a black woman. It was definitely not easy for her to go through prejudice, insecurities and frustrations because of her historical background, but she didn’t give up. Her strength was in Christ and He was the one guiding her and opening the doors so His work would be done through her life.

May God give us all her strength and perseverance!

Chrysostom’s words on wisdom according to Corinthians

“Let no man deceive himself; if any man thinks that he is wise in this world, let him become a fool.” 1 Corinthians 3:18-19

St. John Chrysostom

“As he bids one become, as it were, dead unto the world — and this deadness harms not at all, but rather profits, being made a cause of life:— so also he bids him become foolish unto this world, introducing to us hereby the true wisdom. Now he becomes a fool unto the world, who slights the wisdom from without, and is persuaded that it contributes nothing towards his comprehension of the faith. As then that poverty which is according to God is the cause of wealth, and lowliness, of exaltation, and to despise glory is the cause of glory; so also the becoming a fool makes a man wiser than all. For all, with us, goes by contraries.
Further: why said he not, Let him put off wisdom, but, Let him become a fool? That he might most exceedingly disparage the heathen instruction. For it was not the same thing to say, Lay aside your wisdom, and, become a fool. And besides, he is also training people not to be ashamed at the want of refinement among us; for he quite laughs to scorn all heathen things. And for the same sort of reason he shrinks not from the names, trusting as he does to the power of the things [which he speaks of].
Wherefore, as the Cross, though counted ignominious, became the author of innumerable blessings, and the foundation and root of glory unspeakable; so also that which was accounted to be foolishness became unto us the cause of wisdom. For as he who has learned anything ill, unless he put away the whole, and make his soul level and clear, and so offer it to him who is to write on it, will know no wholesome truth for certain; so also in regard of the wisdom from without. Unless thou turn out the whole and sweep your mind clear, and like one that is ignorant yield up yourself unto the faith, you will know accurately nothing excellent. For so those also who see imperfectly if they will not shut their eyes and commit themselves unto others, but will be trusting their own matters to their own faulty eyesight, they will commit many more mistakes than those who see not.

But how, you will say, are men to put off this wisdom? By not acting on its precepts.”

Chrysostom’s Homily 10 on First Corinthians

The fatiguing art of being smart

Philosopher in meditation by Rembrandt

“Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.” Ecclesiastes 8:1

Ecclesiastes has a lot to teach, and one of the things we can learn from Solomon is how wonderful are the fruits we get through knowledge. Yes, it is of great importance that we stick to the scriptures and delve into them!
The knowledge that comes from God produces light, not darkness, it makes the boldness of the faces change. How happy is he who knows the Scriptures, because such knowledge penetrates hearts, not just minds, and there it bears fruit!
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However, Ecclesiastes also warns us of the danger of knowledge.
” Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.” Ecclesiastes 8:17
Don’t be like the “wise men” mentioned in this verse. They claim to know all things, but they don’t see the most important thing: the supremacy of God’s knowledge over our limited minds. When knowledge comes from heaven, it is not in the mind that it settles its tent only, but especially in the heart, in the core of the spirit. Only when knowledge comes into contact with the soil of the heart does it bear fruit. The soil of the mind is infertile, it produces no good. Do not trust your intellectuality. Be careful that the veil of arrogance does not blind you so that you come to think that you own the truth. Be meek and humble. Examine yourselves constantly. The more we study the Bible, the more we see how far we are from fully knowing its revelation.
So I encourage you to read and study, yes, and delve deeper day by day. With that, teach those who know less and be fruitful. If your knowledge doesn’t bring you spiritual fruit, it’s all vanity.