The Gospel and “The Killer”

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34 Responses

  1. Jerry Lee needs to come to a confessional Lutheran church and hear that it is done – Church of God where he goes preaches what you have to do and who you have to be.

    But I will bet that Jerry Lee has had more conversations with God than I have.

  2. Michael says:


    I thank God for confessional Lutherans who haven’t wavered on that point.
    I don’t think he’s ever heard the Gospel without the works righteousness he grew up in.
    A lot of folks haven’t heard it…

  3. Tim says:

    JLL grew up in the “get right, so you can get right with God” camp. I also pray that he understands the all-encompassing grace of Christ.

    As with many, he’s so close and yet still so far away…

  4. Michael says:


    That’s the camp a lot of us grew up in…
    He’ll make it…

  5. London says:

    I don’t think God is so petty as to deny a person eternal life because they got this part of theology wrong.

  6. papiaslogia says:

    In some churches, there’s the Gospel that’s preached. All of grace. “Jesus died for your sins and the only way to heaven is to believe in Him, and you will be saved.”

    Then there’s “what you got to do to live the Christian life.” Not legalism per se, but some people might get the idea that you have to DO to BE a Christian.

    When I attended a class on teaching Sunday school, I was told that the way to teach the Bible in this context was to focus on application and “spiritual disciplines”, rather than have any teaching around Interpretation – I politely stopped attending the class.

    As Michael said the other day, I would rather be on the outside of the group and be able to ask questions.

  7. Michael says:


    I don’t either.
    The difference is that he’s living out his last days in fear instead of the joy of knowing that Jesus paid it all.

  8. Michael says:

    People conflate two separate doctrines.

    The Gospel that saves is the good news that Christ did what we could not do for ourselves, that Abraham believed and it was counted to him as righteousness…and that we are all children of Abraham that are called simply to believe.

    Works and obedience are important parts of the Christian life…but your works and obedience won’t save.

    They are performed out of gratitude for what’s already been done, not in hopes of salvation for having done them.

    When the doctrines are conflated the Good News that should bring freedom and joy results in fear and bondage.

    The good news really is too good to be true…but it’s the truth anyway.

  9. brian says:

    At times it came off like you can never be good enough and God will trip you up at every single point, then pull you up just to smack you down harder. Never quite got that part.

  10. Michael says:


    You never can be good enough.
    Jesus was good enough in your place.
    Now, that’s good news.

  11. Babylon's Dread says:

    Well Newnham… fire off the volley and see if one catches his ear. No doubt you have.

  12. Michael says:


    I haven’t had his number in years…but let me assure you that no one but Jesus is going to correct his theology. 🙂
    I am most assured that He will…

  13. Steve Wright says:

    I know what it was like to be lost. Truly lost. Joyfully singing the Grateful Dead’s “I May be Going to Hell in a Bucket, but at least I am enjoying the ride” (a hit at the time in my college years)..and living accordingly. (Or if in an oldies mood, Highway to Hell or Running with the Devil also worked fine)

    Not that I really thought about hell..or anything else much either…

    I think most of the lost are the same. They aren’t in dread and terror about trying to please God.

    I think JLL is likely OK with God…of course I am one of those who teaches “the fear of the Lord” means the fear of the Lord and not simply “having a healthy respect or awe for”

    Even the red letters tell us to fear the one who after death has the power to cast into hell.

    But in agreement that it would be wonderful if the knowledge of the grace of God flooded his soul

  14. papiaslogia says:

    “They are performed out of gratitude for what’s already been done, not in hopes of salvation for having done them.”

    That’s a subtle difference between actual legalism and focusing on “what people should do” now that they are believers.

    I think it goes back to motivation: if someone “works out their own salvation” out of a heart of gratitude that’s the one way – on the other hand, they work it out due to “this is what I am supposed to do” – that’s a different motivation entirely.

    That’s where I see the phrase “the Gospel working itself in us” as being key, versus “people need to know what they need to do”. The latter part seems to be another mode of “preaching to felt needs” – but I may be stretching that – I’m open to correction. 😉

  15. Michael says:


    We have trouble in American evangelicalism with nuance and with holding paradoxical truths in tension.
    I preach a lot on works, because I believe the text does…but I make sure that I separate their importance from the Gospel itself.

  16. papiaslogia says:

    Michael, I have no issue with preaching of works when the text calls for it. My issue kinda revolves around the priority of what gets preached – does the preacher race through the sections of Scripture that discusses grace, but parks it in sections that discuss works?

    I brought up the example of Ephesians, and the point I wanted to make was that God wants us to know our position in Him before He discusses how we walk in that position. Let’s just say that point seemed to be acknowledged, but downplayed. It was said that people don’t want to hear about theology without being told how they can apply that to their lives.

    I’m probably just nuts… or going Lutheran…that’s what a test on FB told me the other day 🙂

  17. Michael says:

    I park on grace every Sunday…without fail.
    We don’t move from that spot.
    The rest is just for information purposes… 🙂

  18. Paige says:

    Great article Michael…. Hopefully, your pal Jerry Lee will hear from someone (maybe YOU) about God’s grace instead of God’s payroll.

    Why God tolerates such misrepresenting of His ways is a mystery to me.

  19. Salvation is easy.
    They don’t look Lutheran but that was definitely, exclusively a Lutheran baptism.

    From O Brother where art thou

  20. Lance says:

    you and that Demonic Calvinist Doctrine

  21. Michael says:

    Actually, it’s standard, historic, Protestant doctrine.
    Are you a Catholic, “Lance”?

  22. Michael says:

    How many names have you tried the last few days, “Lance”?

    Now answer my question…are you a Roman Catholic or are you just ignorant of Protestant theology?

  23. Michael says:

    C’mon Sol… I mean “Lance”.
    You said the doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone was demonic.
    When did you convert?
    Do you have Mass under the trees too?

  24. Jim says:

    Moral of Lance’s story-don’t mess with Michael on a JLL thread.

  25. Michael says:

    The point of the JLL thread was to be able to talk about justification by faith…which we obviously need to talk about more often.

  26. Babylon's Dread says:

    Read the interview…

    Pretty much convinced me.

    Piano Pushing Dread

  27. filbertz says:

    Read the RS article linked at the opening–good stuff. Hidden gem was the link to Johnny Cash’s cover of NIN’s “Hurt,” labeled one of the top ten covers in R&R. Worth a view.

    Thanks for the post. Sounds like his latest album is quite the collaboration.

  28. brian says:

    Michael said


    You never can be good enough.
    Jesus was good enough in your place.
    Now, that’s good news.”

    I was going to drone on but it would not be helpful, yes it is good news. Thank you.

  29. brian says:

    totally off topic hope its ok to ask here what is your most used browser, I use Chrome but I am trying out the mac version of firefox. Does anyone actually use Internet Explorer? Thanks.

  30. Steve Wright says:

    Cash’s Hurt is incredible…the video puts it over the top classic.

  31. papiaslogia says:

    brian .. IE11 while I’m at work.

    The topic of Justification by faith never gets old, as long as we continue to move it into living it out, and not just having a theological discussion.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with a purely theological discussion either. 🙂

  32. In the Bible we can often see seeming contradictions.

    While two statements can seem to be at opposite poles and yet both are truth.

    We call this an antinomy.

    In this current thread we get a hint of this from God’s people.

    Here is a great read I came across:

  33. Bob says:

    I don’t know what’s in the heart and soul of Jerry, but I know the story of Jacob, Joesph, Samson, Gideon, Jephthah and even Paul, who said “I fought the good fight of faith.” Their worlds were filled with so many things that tried to rip that faith from these, who went before us, and those same things tear at us today (JLL included).

    In many of these men I find nothing compelling or worth modeling, except their faith in God remained with them until they breathed their last breath. So if God chose to call these men worthy and does so with JLL, then Bless His Holy Name! There is hope for all who call on His Name!

    BTW for those who seem to mock those who love God’s words listen to these:

    “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see me, and yet believed.” Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing you may have life in His name.

    May we all hear, believe and be able to say, “I have fought the good fight of faith.”

  34. Antonio Clifton Jr. says:

    You ask any kid; what do you have to do to go to heaven, and most will answer “you have to be good,” and what we have to do as far as works is so ingrained in our psyche and taught by our culture, that the simple truth of the Gospel is hard to grasp, and even when received by faith, our own guilt and even those around us can constantly berate us with thoughts and feelings of unworthiness. It’s like the Santa Claus Gospel, “have you been a good little boy then here’s your present.” But in reading the scriptures one could come away thinking that this is the way it is. Who gets rewarded with eternal life when the sheep and the goats are lined up? those who “did” to the “least of these, did it unto me, enter in…” So it’s easy to see how a works righteousness can be deduced without verses such as those in Ephesians “….it is the gift of God and not of works lest any man should boast,” and Romans “…the gift of God is eternal life.” But I think that if someone Like JLL is seeking the Lord and drawing close to the Lord even if it’s by “trying” to be righteous, because he knows what a terrible sinner he was, God will reveal himself to him if he hasn’t already done so.

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