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Misuse of Creation

 

"Creation serves the ungodly unwillingly; it cries out like a woman lying in travail. But on the Last Day this crying will cease, and the misuse of creation will also come to an end; heaven and earth will collapse, and a new heaven and earth will arise. For all creation must die and be cleansed and purged by the last fire. Then there will be a new heaven and earth...when the present heaven and earth take off their workday clothing and put on their festive garment."

†††††††† What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1529. 1540 exposition. Psalm 72:7.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chapter Four: A Catechism

 

†††††††††

Lutherans have a fine tradition of presenting doctrinal information in the form of a catechism. The Enchiridion of Martin Chemnitz and the Outline of Christian Doctrine by Henry Eyster Jacobs both served to train pastors in the basic elements of Scriptural teaching. The question and answer format is useful in addressing controversial points. The following catechism is not designed to cover every point in Christian doctrine, but those topics directly related to the efficacy of the Word.

 

J-401

"On the other hand, the practical result of the acceptance of the Scriptural doctrine that the Holy Spirit is inseparably united with the Word is the absolute subjection of every thought to the Word of God, as this is set forth in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 10:5. In this case every doctrine which is opposed to Scripture is rejected as false, no matter to what source it may be attributed, whether it be the 'spirit,' the 'inner word,' the 'inner light,' 'reason,' 'science,' 'the Church,' 'the Pope,' and the like. Unless we fully accept the Scriptural doctrine that the Holy Spirit is indissolubly united with the Word of Scripture, we cannot regard this precious Book of God as the only source and standard of faith. It was for this reason that our Lutheran theologians so strenuously defended the inseparable unity of the Word and the Spirit."

John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 135. 2 Corinthians 10:5.[1]

 

J-402

"And what need is there of many words? If I were to recount all the profit and fruit which God's Word produces, whence would I get enough paper and time? The devil is called the master of a thousand arts. But what shall we call God's Word, which drives away and brings to naught this master of a thousand arts with all his arts and power? It must indeed be the master of more than a hundred thousand arts. And shall we frivolously despise such power, profit, strength, and fruitówe, especially, who claim to be pastors and preachers? If so, we should not only have nothing given us to eat, but be driven out, being baited with dogs, and pelted with dung, because we not only need all this every day as we need our daily bread, but must also daily use it against the daily and unabated attacks and lurking of the devil, the master of a thousand arts."

The Large Catechism, Preface, #12, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 571. Tappert, p. 360. Heiser, p. 167.

1. Is God always active through the Word?

 

The prophet Isaiah teaches us that Godís Word always has an effect and is never without an effect. The comparison with rain and snow reminds us in the clearest possible way that the results of Godís Word are inevitable.

 

KJV Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

 

God has also attached three specific promises about the power of His Word:

a)     It shall not return void, meaning that it will always have an effect.

b)     It shall accomplish Godís will, so all the effects of the Word are in harmony with Godís plans, in spite of how they might appear to us;

c)     It will have the very effect desired by God and not another effect.

All our thoughts or claims about Godís Word must be in harmony with this passage from Isaiah 55.[2]

 

J-403

"Though all the powers of evil

The will of God oppose, His purpose will not falter,

His pleasure onward goes.

Whatever God's will resolveth,

Whatever He intends,

Will always be accomplished

True to His aims and ends."

Paul Gerhardt, 1656, "Commit Whatever Grieves Thee," The Lutheran Hymnal, #520, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Isaiah 55.

 

J-404

"Der Geist wirkt nicht vor der Schrift, die Schrift nicht ver dem Geist, sondern beider Wirken faellt zusammen, sowohl der Aktion als dem Effeckt nach." [The Spirit does not work before the Word, the Word does not work before the Spirit, but both are inseparable, just as action follows cause.]

Adolf Hoenecke, Evangelisch-Lutherische Dogmatik, 4 vols., ed., Walter and Otto Hoenecke, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1912, IV, p. 20.

 

J-405

"Quenstedt (I, 183): 'We are to assume here not only a certain conjunction or union of distinct actions, or even a unity of aims or effects, but also a unity of energy and operation. For the Holy Spirit does not by Himself do something, and the Word of God by itself something else, in the conversion of men; but they produce the one effect by one and the same action. For such is the peculiar nature of the principal and subordinate causes, intrinsically united together, that they produce an effect by one and the same action. Thus the soul and the eye see by a single action, and not by distinct actions.'"

Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 505.

 

J-406

"And thus we might go on, and show that what is ascribed in one place to the Spirit, is ascribed in another place to the Wordóproving conclusively that the two always go together. Where one is, there the other is also. The Spirit operates through the Word, whether it be the written, the preached, the sacramental, or the Word in conversation or reflection."

G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 134.

 

J-407

"Rise, Thou Light of Gentile nations,

Jesus, bright and Morning Star;

Let Thy Word, the gladsome tidings,

Ring out loudly near and far,

Bringing freedom to the captives,

Peace and comfort to the slave,

That the heathen, free from bondage,

May proclaim Thy power to save."

Herman Fick, 1885, "Rise, Thou Light of Gentile Nations," The Lutheran Hymnal, #498, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Isaiah 60:1.

 

2. What New Testament text supports this claim?

 

St. Paul distinguishes between manís wisdom, without the Holy Spirit, and the work of the Holy Spirit through Godís Word,

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 2:12 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. 13 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. 14 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.

 

Manís wisdom opposes Godís Word, and Godís Word teaches against manís wisdom.[3] That doctrine is why Godís Word is foolishness to the unbeliever. It also shows us that anyone who mocks the pure Word of God is an unbeliever.

 

J-408

"You must always have the Word of God in your heart, on your lips, and in your ears. Where the heart is idle and the Word does not ring out, the devil breaks in and has done damage before we are aware of it. On the other hand, such is the power of the Word if it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used that it is never without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devotion and purifies the heart and thoughts. For these are not inert or dead but active and living words.

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1467. Exodus 20:8.

 

3. What other passages in the Scriptures support this?

 

There are many. In the Old Testament, there is no difference between the command of God and the result. Therefore, we have hundreds of examples of Godís Word being active and powerful, from the Creation of the world in Genesis 1 to the destruction of Sennacherib.

 

KJV Isaiah 37:33 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. 35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. 36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

 

In the New Testament, we have many passages where the Holy Spirit teaches effectiveness of the Word.

 

a.      The Sower and the Seed parable, Matthew 13:3-9, shows us that the Word encounters many difficulties but still prospers according to Godís will.

 

KJV Matthew 13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

 

b.     The Word is called an incorruptible seed in 1 Peter 1:23, revealing to us that the eternal Word will bring about eternal life.

 

KJV 1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

 

c.      In James 1:21, the implanted Word alone is able to save people.

 

KJV James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

 

d.     In calling Himself the True Vine in John 15:1-8, Jesus teaches us that remaining with Him will always yield spiritual fruit.

 

KJV John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

 

e.      In another comparison with the Creation, the apostle Paul shows us that in planting and nurturing the Word, we do not credit man as effective but God alone.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

 

J-409

"Hollazius (993): 'A divine power is communicated to the Word by the Holy Spirit joined with it indissolubly.' Hence, there is a native or intrinsic power and efficacy belonging to the Word, deeply inherent in it. The Dogmaticians draw proofs of this, (1) From the qualities which the divine Word ascribes to itself, John 6:63; Romans 1:16; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:23; James 1:21. (2) From the similar supernatural and divine operations which are ascribed to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, ex. gr., calling, 2 Timothy 2:14; illumination, 2 Peter 1:19; conversion, Jeremiah 23:29; regeneration, 1 Peter 1:23; justification, 2 Corinthians 3:9; sanctification, John 17:17."

Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 505.

4. Why do we use the terms efficacious or effective?

 

God chose Greek as the language for the New Testament. In the Greek New Testament we have many examples of Godís Word being called efficacious, an older term for effective.[4] Examples of this Greek word group are underlined in the passages below.

a.      The apostle Paul distinguishes between manís word and Godís Word in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, because Godís Word is effective. The Thessalonians knew that Godís power in the Word converted them from paganism.

 

KJV 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

 

b.     Paul was converted and made an apostle through the Word spoken by the risen Christ to him, while he was on the road to Damascus to persecute the Christian faith. When the Scriptures converted Augustinefrom paganism to the Christian faith, his mother Monica recited this passage from Ephesians.

 

KJV Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 

c.      The Word is called a living and powerful (effective) sword in Hebrews 4:12.

 

KJV Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

 

d.     God is effective in giving us the will to obey Him and in actually doing His will.

 

KJV Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

 

J-410

"It is indeed a precious truth, that this Word not only tells me what I must do to be saved, but it also enables me to do it. It is the vehicle and instrument of the Holy Spirit. Through it the Holy Spirit works repentance and faith. Through it He regenerates, converts, and sanctifies."

G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 132. [emphasis in original]

 

J-411

"Hollazius (993) uses the following figures: 'It possesses and retains its internal power and efficacy even when not used, just as the illuminating power of the sun continues, although, when the shadow of the moon intervenes, no person may see it; and just as an internal efficacy belongs to the seed, although it may not be sown in the field.'"

Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 506.

5. Is Satan also effective?

 

Yes. The passage warning us about the power of the Antichrist uses the term for efficacy three different times.

 

KJV 2 Thessalonians 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

 

J-412

"And the devil, who is efficacious in the godless, as Paul says, Ephesians 2:2, does not cease to incite this feeble nature to various offenses."

Apology to the Augsburg Confession, XVIII, #5, Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 335. Tappert, p. 226. Heiser, p. 102.

 

This text from 2 Thessalonians shows us that those who reject the truth of the Scriptures also prove the efficacy of Godís Word, because they become deluded and love error. Men harden their hearts by scoffing at the grace of God. In the same way, when people unworthily receive the Body of Christ, without discernment, they eat to their damnation, 1 Corinthians 11:29.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

 

J-413

"Is it the office of the Word simply to afford directions that are to be followed in order to obtain salvation? It is more than a directory and guide to Christ. It does more than 'give directions how to live.' It brings and communicates the grace concerning which it instructs. It has an inherent and objective efficacy, derived from its divine institution and promise, and explained by the constant presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in and with it. Romans 1:16; John 6:63; 1 Peter 1:23; Matthew 4:4; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 10:5-10; Isaiah 55:10."

Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 288.

6. How can we claim that the Word alone is effective?

 

First of all, every passage about the efficacy of the Word concerns itself exclusively with Godís power. Isaiah 55 does not associate Godís power in the Word with manís effort, work, wisdom, or salesmanship. Secondly, when man is included in the text, it is only to exclude man from the efficacy of the Word. Two clear examples are 1 Thessalonians 2:13 and 1 Corinthians 3:6-7.

 

a) KJV 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

 

b) KJV 1 Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

 

J-414

"In the Word of God there is not only a speaking about God, but in and through His Word God Himself speaks to us, deals with us, acts upon us. Therefore the Word of God is also an efficacious means of gracethrough which God regenerates, converts, and sanctifies man. This efficacy the Word of God possesses always; it is always united with the Word, never separated from it. The effect which God intends through the Word is indeed not always attained, but this is owing to no lack of efficacy in the Word, but solely to the resistance of man; for man has the power to resist God and to prevent His Word from accomplishing the effect which He intends."

E. Hove, Christian Doctrine, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1930, p. 27.

 

7. Why do some claim they can add to or detract from the Word?

 

We do not have to look hard to find the origin of their folly. The Reformed consistently teach that the Scriptures are dead, lifeless, and incapable unless man makes them germane, relevant, or appealing by his effort. The Reformed have compared the Scriptures to a statue of Hermes or a road-sign, which points the way but does not give the individual the power to go in that direction. This delusion is clearly repudiated in the text listed earlier:

 

KJV Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

 

J-415

"(3) Hollazius: 'The Word of God, as such, cannot be conceived of without the divine virtue, or the Holy Spirit, who is inseparable from His Word. For if the Holy Spirit could be separated from the Word of God, it would not be the Word of God or of the Spirit, but a word of man. Nor is there any other Word of God, which is in God, or with which the men of God have been inspired, than that which is given in the Scriptures or is preached or is treasured up in the human mind. But, as it cannot be denied that that is the divine will, counsel, mind, and the wisdom of God, so it cannot be destitute of the divine virtue or efficacy.'"

Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 505.

8. Do we create obstacles to Godís Word?

 

Asking this question is the first step on the road to apostasy. When we begin thinking about obstacles to Godís Word, we start to diminish the power of the Holy Spirit. Deluded Lutherans have even imagined that a ministerís clothing will change the outcome of the sermon. Instead of thinking about obstacles to Godís Word, we should dwell on the importance of the purity of Godís Word.

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

 

The Scriptures teach confidence in God, not in man. The positive and negative emphasis upon man, whether he helps or hurts the Word, diverts trust from the Gospel promise, which never lies or deceives, and focuses upon man, the earthen vessel, 2 Corinthians 4:7.

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

 

KJV Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

9. Did Jesus believe in the efficacy of the Word?

 

Yes. Jesus converted people to faith only through the external or spoken Word. He spoke the Law and the Gospel to the woman at the well (John 4).

 

KJV John 4:5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

 

He spoke the Law only to the rich young ruler, who was still proud in the imagination of his heart.

 

KJV Matthew 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

 

10. Did Jesus use miracles to convert people to faith?

 

In the Gospel of John, Jesus teaches with great clarity that His Word was accompanied with miracles during His earthly ministry to confirm that the signs and the doctrine came from God the Father.

 

KJV John 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

 

The Pentecostals and charismatics of today claim that their teachings about God come from their own dreams and visions instead of from the Scriptures. Moreover, the miracles they promote, whether genuine or fraudulent, call attention to man and do not glorify God.

 

11. Does love make us effective?

 

This question comes from Pietism, an earlier Lutheran-Reformed movement where people demanded the fruits of the Spirit but denied their source, the pure Word of God. This belief is a confusion of the tree with the fruit. Jesus teaches us to value the tree, the source of the fruit, which is the Word.

 

KJV Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

 

In this text, which is never contradicted by the Scriptures, Jesus insists that nothing good will come from false doctrine. However, He also promises that the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) will necessarily spring from the pure Word.

 

KJV Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

†††††††††† The treeósound doctrineóproduces love. Love does not produce the tree.[5]

 

KJV Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

 

J-416

"Correct doctrine is essential. But it is never to be a priority at the expense of the mission. In fact, when the quest for proper doctrine intensifies to the point of neglecting mission and ministry, then it is no longer proper doctrine."[6]

 

Kent Hunter, LCMS, Foundations for Church Growth, New Haven: Leader Publishing, 1983, pp. 152-3. Cited in Rev. Curtis Peterson, former WELS World Mission Board member, "A Second and Third Look at Church Growth Principles," Metro South Pastors Conference Mishicot, Wisconsin, February 3, 1993 p. 21.[7]

 

False teachers among the Lutherans have cunningly motivated people to accept their Reformed doctrine and agenda in the name of missions, love for lost souls, and tolerance for those who deeply care about the growth of their synod. According to the false teachers, anyone who dares to question them is loveless, against missions, opposed to evangelism, and against the growth of their synod. Luther places love in its proper perspective.

 

J-417

"For this reason one should not be too credulous when a preacher comes softly like an angel of God, recommends himself very highly, and swears that his sole aim is to save souls, and says: 'Pax vobis!' For those are the very fellows the devil employs to honey people's mouths. Through them he gains an entrance to preach and to teach, in order that he may afterward inflict his injuries, and that though he accomplish nothing more for the present, he may, at least, confound the people's consciences and finally lead them into misery and despair."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 322. Luke 24:36-47.

 

J-418

"In like manner we will also do to our princes and priests; when they attack our manner of life, we should suffer it and show love for hatred, good for evil; but when they attack our doctrine, God's honor is attacked, then love and patience should cease and we should not keep silent, but also say: I honor my Father, and you dishonor me; yet I do not inquire whether you dishonor me, for I do not seek my own honor."

††††††††††† Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 176. John 8:46-59.

 

J-419

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."

††††††††††† What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f. Ephesians 6:10-17.

 

J-420

"Consequently, I say to my worst enemies: Where it is only my own person that is involved, there I am very willing to help you and to do everything good for you in spite of the fact that you are my enemy and that all you ever do for me is to harm me. But where it is the Word of God that is involved, there you must not expect any friendship or love that I may have for you to persuade me to do something against that, even if you were my nearest and dearest friend. But since you cannot endure the Word, I will speak this prayer over you: May God dash you to the ground! I shall willingly serve you, but not in order to help you overthrow the Word of God. For this purpose you will never be able to persuade me even to give you a drink of water."

††††††††††† What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1480. Matthew 5:43-48

 

J-421

"In matters concerning faith we must be invincible, unbending, and very stubborn; indeed, if possible, harder than adamant. But in matters concerning love we should be softer and more pliant than any reed and leaf and should gladly accommodate ourselves to everything."

††††††††††† What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412f. Galatians 2:8.

 

J-422

"Doctrine is our only light. It alone enlightens and directs us and shows us the way to heaven. If it is shaken in one quarter (in une parte), it will necessarily be shaken in its entirety (in totum). Where that happens, love cannot help us at all."

††††††††††† What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 414. Galatians 5:10.

 

J-423

"But this tender mercy is to be exercised only toward Christians and among Christians, for toward those who reject and persecute the Gospel we must act differently; here I am not permitted to let my love be merciful so as to tolerate and endure false doctrine. When faith and doctrine are concerned and endangered, neither love nor patience are in order. Then it is my duty to contend in earnest and not to yield a hairbreadth."

††††††††††† What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 637f.

 

12. Can unfriendly ushers neutralize a Law/Gospel sermon?

 

No. If a Lutheran pastor or anyone else makes this claim, he is saying that the glare of an usher is more powerful than Godís Word. Once again, this claim is a confusion between the fruit of the Spirit and the treeóGodís Word. The love salesmen want to gather apples where there are no trees. They advocate love but promote the Law, which cannot produce any love, since only the Gospel can produce the fruit of the Spirit. All claims about the efficacy of love are actually Law demands, and they derive their authority from manís wisdom. The evangelism expert will say, ďYou must be more loving or no one will want to join our congregation.Ē He may even say, ďNo one comes to our church, because it is not loving enough and no one invites friends. Growth in membership, according to recent studies, always comes from members inviting friends.Ē[8] Jesus refuted the notion that producing visible results is the work of God.

 

KJV John 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

 

J-424

ďIf there ever was a strictly conservative body, it surely is the Missouri Synod. Nevertheless, this growth!...It is a mark of the pastors and leaders of the Missouri Synod that they never, aye, never, tire of discussing doctrine on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions. That is one trait that may be called the spirit of Missouri. People who thus cling to doctrine and contend for its purity are of an entirely different nature from the superficial unionists who in the critical moment will declare five to be an even number. God will bless all who value His Word so highly.Ē†††††††

Dr. R. C. H. Lenski, Kirchenzeitung, May 20, 1922. Cited in W. A. Baepler, "Doctrine, True and False," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 515f.

 

J-425

"The correct understanding of the doctrine of the Means of Grace will have a salutary influence on pastors and hearers; without the proper use of the Means of Grace no sinner can expect to be saved and no Church can hope to grow."

Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 344.[9]

13. Does God limit Himself to the Word?

 

Men deceive themselves and others when they question Godís gracious will, revealed in the Scriptures, and then claim God is limited (using a pejorative term) by what He has revealed about Himself. This limitation has been a frequent charge against the Biblical doctrine of the Means of Graceóthat this doctrine limits God to His Word and Sacraments. Like Ahaz in Isaiah, these false teachers will not limit God.[10] However, God has bound Himself to His Word through His promises.

 

J-426

"First, our Lord does encourage us or even command us to believe that wherever there is the good character, the Christ-like character, there the Holy Spirit is at work. God works far beyond His own appointed channels. The principle of loyalty and obedience binds us who know His will to use His sacraments, His instituted ordinances; but God is not tied to His own ordinances. He can work wherever He sees the good disposition; and it is blasphemy against His Spirit to deny that He is at work anywhere where we witness the forming of the Christian character. The good fruit cannot come from anything else than the good tree."

Bishop Charles Gore, (Anglican) The Sermon on the Mount, A Practical Exposition, London: John Murray 1906, p. 179f.

 

We receive many benefits from being certain about how He works through means:

1.     We know that we can find God and His grace only in the Word and Sacraments, and never apart from the Word and Sacraments.

2.     We can understand why various man-made methods, gimmicks, fads, and tricks will not accomplish Godís will or build the true Church which has only one foundation, the Word.

3.     Knowing that God always works exclusively through the Word, we can be as careless as the Sower (Matthew 13) in broadcasting the living seed, knowing God will prosper the work according to His will.

4.     We can learn to be less self-centered, thinking Godís Kingdom is dependent upon our efforts, and grow in confidence in the Word.

 

J-427

"Faith lives on the offer of the forgiveness of sins, as it comes to us in the certain promise and absolute guarantee of the Gospel and the Sacraments. Here, again, Lutheranism fully meets the sinner's need."

The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 5.

 

J-428

"True, the enthusiasts[11] confess that Christ died on the cross and saved us; but they repudiate that by which we obtain Him; that is, the means, the way, the bridge, the approach to Him they destroy...They lock up the treasure which they should place before us and lead me a fool's chase; they refuse to admit me to it; they refuse to transmit it; they deny me its possession and use." (III, 1692)

Martin Luther. Cited in The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 5.

 

J-429

"The Word of God is efficacious not only when it is being read from the Bible, but also when it is being spoken or preached, and when it is recalled by memory. The Word of God, properly speaking, is really not the letters which we see or the sound which we hear, but the divine thoughts, the truths designated by these signs."

E. Hove, Christian Doctrine, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1930, p. 27.

 

14. Successful Sermons

 

a. Why is it important to preach?

 

Although the Word is also efficacious when read or remembered, God willed that men should proclaim Law and Gospel in sermons. Luther called this preaching the External Word to emphasize the nature of the spoken Word, pointing out that the Son of God converted people exclusively through preaching and teaching.[12] The Holy Spirit works through the Word in preaching to plant faith in the hearts of the audience.

 

KJV Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

J-430

"The most important of all the pastor's acts is his public preaching...A minister may be ever so good as a liturgist, ever so gifted as a ruler of his congregation, or in private pastoral work, but all this can never take the place of right preaching."

C. F. W. Walther, Pastorale, p. 76. Cited in G. H. Gerberding, The Lutheran Pastor, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1915, p. 275.

 

J-431

"'When the Word is read at home it is not as fruitful or as forcible as in public preaching and through the mouth of the preacher whom God has called for this purpose.Ē

††††††††††† Luther, Erlangen edition, 3:401. Cited in Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 290.

 

J-432

"The apostle's purpose in praising his co-laborers is to prevent them from despising the external Word as something inessential to them, or well enough known. For though God is able to effect everything without the instrumentality of the outward Word, working inwardly by his Spirit, this is by no means his purpose. He uses preachers as fellow-workers, or co-laborers, to accomplish His purpose through the Word when and where He pleases. Now, since preachers have the office, name and honor of the fellow-workers with God, no one may be considered learned enough or holy enough to ignore or despise the most inferior preaching; especially since he knows not when the hour may come wherein God will, through preachers, perform his work in him."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 134. 1 Corinthians 13. Isaiah 55.[13]

 

J-433

"For it is not preaching itself, but the Word as preached which is a means of grace. This demands not only that nothing be preached but what comes directly or indirectly from Holy Scripture, but also that the contents of Holy Scripture be preached in due proportion and in the proper order."

Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 293.

 

 

b. What if I fail to see results in my congregation?

 

When ministers and members fret about seeing visible results in their congregations, they are turning away from trust in God in favor of the temporary comfort of money, buildings, and a full church. One congregation removed pews to make their church seem to be full! The Scriptures do not contain a single commandment, injunction, ordinance, or exhortation to build up institutions.

 

KJV Psalm 119:40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness. 41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. 42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. 43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

 

God has also warned us:

 

KJV Isaiah 30:12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: 13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant

 

 

J-434

"Be not worried because of this! For even though a man preach and continue in the Gospel for many years, he must still lament and say: Aye, no one will come, and all continue in their former state. Therefore you must not let that grieve or terrify you."

†††††††††† Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 305. Luke 24:36-47.

 

J-435

"So confident now should every preacher be, and not doubt, that possesses and preaches God's Word, that he could even die for it, since it is worth life to us. Now there is no man so holy that he needs to die for the doctrine he has taught concerning himself. Therefore one concludes from this that the apostles had assurance from God that their Gospel was God's Word. And here is also proved that the Gospel is nothing else than the preaching of Christ."

Martin Luther, Commentary on Peter and Jude, ed. John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1990, p. 245. 2 Peter 1:16-18.

 

c. Is it the pastorís job to be popular?

 

If the minister teaches the pure Word of God, he cannot be a ďrespecter of persons,Ē a special term unique to the New Testament and clearly explained in the Scriptures. God shows no partiality.

 

KJV 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.

 

KJV Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

 

KJV Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

 

Because God shows no partiality, neither should believers.

 

KJV Ephesians 6:9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

 

KJV Colossians 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

 

Synodical leaders today violate the Scriptures constantly through their Planned Giving Counselors, Major Gifts programs, endowment drives, and selling of indulgences to unrepentant transgressors.[14] Consequently, the greedy leaders despise poor pastors and ordinary members, especially those who treasure the Word instead of Mammon.

KJV James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

 

KJV James 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

 

J-436

"Your first desire will be that all men may obtain the same knowledge of divine grace. Hence your love will not be restrained from serving all to the fullest extent, preaching and proclaiming the divine truth wherever possible, and rejecting all doctrine and life not in harmony with this teaching. But take note, the devil and the world, unwilling that their devices be rejected, cannot endure the knowledge of what you do. They will oppose you with everything great, learned, wealthy and powerful, and represent you as a heretic and insane."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 147. Titus 3:4-8.

 

J-437

"This title [market house] we should write on all churches in which the Gospel is not preached, for there they mock God, destroy souls, banish the pure Word and establish dens of murder; for he who listens to their words must die."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, IV, p. 328. Luke 17:5.

 

Would a better personality help more people listen to the Word?

 

Those who sell ďrelationship evangelismĒ programs have convinced many foolish people that stinking sinners will make the glorious, eternal Word of Truth appealing to unbelievers. In other words, their glittering vices, as Augustinecalled them, would make people say, ďI want what you have.Ē The doctrine behind such programs is nothing more than Pharisaic righteousness, the glorification of self with a reluctant nod toward the Creator of heaven and earth.

 

J-438

"Non-Christians usually become good prospects for personal reasons or as I like to say: 'They come for sociological reasons and stay for theological reasons.'"

†††††††††† Rev. Paul Kelm, "How to Make Sound Doctrine Sound Good to Mission Prospects," p. 4.

 

J-439

"Upside-down evangelism may begin with different diagnostic questions. What do you want out of life? lets the other person pick the path for witness. How do you feel about where our society is heading? uncovers fears and needs without becoming too personal. What makes people happy (or unhappy) do you think? allows someone to express preceived [sic] needs in the third person."

Paul Kelm, The Evangelism Life Line (WELS), Fall, 1985, p. 5.

 

J-440

"Lifestyle evangelism is the merger of visual and verbal witness, by the people Jesus intended, in the way that He modeled. It's the primary element in a church's strategy to win the lost." [15]

Rev. Paul Kelm, Evangelism, WELS, ďYour Invitation!Ē Kent Hunter, (D. Min., Fuller).

 

J-441

"Whoever does not receive the Word for its own sake, will never receive it for the sake of the preacher, even if all the angels preached it to him. And he who receives it because of the preacher does not believe in the Word, neither in God through the Word, but he believes the preacher and in the preacher. Hence the faith of such persons does not last long. But whoever believes the Word, does not care who the person is that speaks the Word, and neither will he honor the Word for the sake of the person; but on the contrary, he honors the person because of the Word, and always subordinates the person to the Word."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 162. Luke 2:15-20.

 

 

J-442

"In the second place, to resist wicked preachers of man, who do not bear witness of Christ, the Light, but of themselves. For it is true indeed, that all who preach the doctrines of men make man the light, lead men away from God to themselves, and set themselves up in the place of the true Light, as the pope and his followers have done."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 203. John 1:1-14.

 

Why must faithful Christians reject Reformed doctrine in sermons?

 

Anyone who says that the Scriptures are dead until man makes them live with his reason is an opponent of God. Many Lutheran pastors will claim that this teaching is not their position, but their doctrinal foundation is genuinely Reformed.[16] These pastors read Reformed authors instead of Lutheran authors and soon join the Reformed in mocking and adulterating Godís Word. They never quote one particular statement from Jesus about being a disciple.

 

KJV John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

 

J-443

"Hence, too, the lack of emphasis, even in the best of Reformed preaching, upon the divine Word as the vehicle of regenerating grace and on the Sacraments. The office of the Word, then, is merely to point to the way of life, without communicating that of which it conveys the idea. The Word and Sacraments are declared to be necessary; their office in the Church is a divine institution; but they are only symbols of what the Spirit does within; and the Spirit works immediately and irresistibly."

"Grace, Means of," The Concordia Cyclopedia, L. Fuerbringer, Th. Engelder, P. E. Kretzmann, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1927, p. 298.

 

J-444

Quo propior Luthero, eo melior theologus!

"It is the purpose of this volume to aid in displacing books of Reformed preachers. We would encourage the cultivation of distinctly Lutheran preaching. Therefore, we now appeal to our brethren always to consult Luther when preparing to preach. Quo propior Luthero, eo melior theologus![17] Let us who are called Lutheran preachers be sure that in every one of our sermons we preach God's Word and Luther's doctrine pure. It is that preaching which God demands of us, 1 Peter 4:11. It was that preaching which conquered the Roman Goliath, Revelation 12:11. By that preaching we shall truly build the walls of Zion, not with hay, straw, and stubble, but with such stones as all the powers of hell shall never overthrow, Luke 21:15."

Martin S. Sommer, Concordia Pulpit for 1932, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1931, p. ix.

 

J-445

"Paul...is speaking about methods of preaching the Gospel. He means to say that you can introduce methods into your Gospel work which on the surface do not appear as shameful, but which in reality disgrace the Gospel. He is harking back to 2:17, where he spoke about kapeleuein, about 'selling' the Gospel. To use a coarse illustration: Some ministers in their eagerness to bring the Gospel to the people, resort to entertainment to attract the crowds, in order to get an opportunity to preach to them. If you would tell such ministers that they are ashamed of the Gospel and that by their methods they disgrace it, because they manifest a lack of trust in its efficacy, they would resent the charge. Are they not doing all in order to promote the Gospel? The disgrace their methods bring upon it does not appear on the surface; that is why Paul speaks of secret things of shame."

John P. Meyer, Ministers of Christ, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1963, pp. 62f. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 2:17.[18]

 

J-446

"It is not enough that we preach correctly, which the hireling can also do; but we must watch over the sheep, that the wolves, false teachers, may not break in, and we must contend for the sheep against the wolves, with the Word of God, even to the sacrifice of our lives. Such are good shepherds, of whom few are found."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 34. John 10:11-16.

 

 

J-447

"The world desires such wolf preaching, and is not worthy of anything better since it will not hear nor respect Christ. Hence it is that there are so few true Christians and faithful preachers, always outnumbered by the members of the false church."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 385. Deuteronomy 29:19.

 

J-448

"It must be so, the village must be against them; again, the apostles must despise them and appear before them, for the Lord will have no flatterer as a preacher. He does not say: Go around the village, or to the one side of it: Go in bravely and tell them what they do not like to hear. How very few there are now who enter the village that is against them. We gladly go into the towns that are on our side. The Lord might have said: Go ye into the village before you. That would have been a pleasing and customary form of speech. But he would indicate this mystery of the ministry, hence he speaks in an unusual way: Go into the village that is over against you. That is: Preach to them that are disposed to prosecute and kill you. You shall merit such thanks and not try to please them, for such is the way of hypocrites and not that of the evangelists."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 46f. Matthew 21:1-9.

 

J-449

"But the Lord refutes this and says: Go ye there and preach what does it matter if it is against you? You will find there what I say. We should now do likewise. Although the masses storm against the Gospel and there is no hope that they will be better, yet we must preach, there will yet be found those who listen and become converted."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 48. Matthew 21:1-9.

 

J-450

"Thus we arrive at the apostle's meaning in the assertion that a minister of Christ is a steward in the mysteries of God. He should regard himself and insist that others regard him as one who administers to the household of God nothing but Christ and the things of Christ. In other words, he should preach the pure Gospel, the true faith, that Christ alone is our life, our way, our wisdom, power, glory, salvation; and that all we can accomplish of ourselves is but death, error, foolishness, weakness, shame and condemnation. Whosoever preaches otherwise should be regarded by none as a servant of Christ or a steward of the divine treasurer; he should be avoided as a messenger of the devil."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 73. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5,

 

J-451

"Paul in Romans 12:7-8 devotes the office of the ministry to two things, doctrine and exhortation. The doctrinal part consists in preaching truths not generally known; in instructing and enlightening the people. Exhortation is inciting and urging to duties already well understood. Necessarily both obligations claim the attention of the minister, and hence Paul takes up both."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 9. Romans 13:11-14; Romans 12:7-8.

 

J-452

"If Satan were only prudent enough to keep quiet and let the Gospel be preached, he would receive less injury from it; for if the Gospel is not attacked it completely rusts and has no occasion or reason to make its power and influence manifest."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 300. Matthew 22:15-22.

 

J-453

"So it goes in the spiritual government of the Church, as specially indicated in the narrative now before us. Where I have preached and taught during the past ten or twenty years, there another could perhaps, have done more in one year; and one sermon may bring forth more fruit than many others. Here, also, it is true that our labor, diligence and effort can accomplish nothing. These two things must go together, namely, that each one does his duty, and that he, nevertheless, acknowledges with Peter: 'My labor cannot bring forth anything, if thou dost not give the increase.'"

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, IV, p. 153. Luke 5:1-11.

J-454

"The means of graceare thus limited for Barth. The preacher descending from the pulpit can never quote Luther and say with joyful assurance that he has preached the Word of God. Of course, he can hope and pray; but he can never know whether the Holy Spirit has accompanied the preached Word, and hence whether his words were the Word of God. To know this, or even to wish to know it, would be a presumptuous encroachment of man upon the sovereign freedom of God."

Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand, trans. Theodore G. Tappert, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1946, p. 161.

 

J-455

"Almighty Father, bless the Word

Which through your grace we now have heard

Oh, may the precious seed take root,

Spring up, and bear abundant fruit.

We praise you for the means of grace

As homeward now our steps we trace.

Grant, Lord, that we who worshiped here

May all at last in heaven appear."

ďAlmighty Father, Bless the Word,Ē The Lutheran Hymnal, #52, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Mark 4.

 

 

J-456

"To the Lutheran the sermon, as the preached Word, is a means of grace. Through it the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth. It is a constant offer of pardon; a giving of life, as well as a nourishing and strengthening of life. In the Reformed churches the sermon is apt to be more hortatory and ethical. It partakes more of the sacrificial than of the sacramental character. The individuality of the preacher, the subjective choice of a text, the using of it merely for a motto, the discussion of secular subjects, the unrestrained platform style, lack of reverence, lack of dignity, and many other faults are common, and are not regarded as unbecoming the messenger of God in His temple. Where there is a properly trained Lutheran consciousness such things repel, shock, and are not tolerated."

G. H. Gerberding, The Lutheran Pastor, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1915, p. 278.[19]

 

J-457

"Then hail, ye mighty legions, yea, All hail!

Now save and blest for aye,

And praise the Lord, who with His Word

Sustained you on the way."

Hans A. Brorson, c. 1760, "Behold a Host, Arrayed in White," The Lutheran Hymnal, #656, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Revelation 7:13-17.

14. How can the sacraments be Godís Word?

 

Rejection of the efficacy of the Word is easier to mask when talking only about the Word. The Reformed teach the Word, preach the Word, and publish an unending supply of books about the Word. However, they come alive in their hatred of the Sacraments. Baptismand Holy Communioncan only be seen as symbolic, according to them. Their false view of the deadness of the Word is not so apparent when they write about the Word, so they seem to be part of our flock of sheep. But when they consider Baptism and Holy Communion to be dead, that is, lacking in divine activity, the lupine claw appears out from under the fleece. They are not content just to dismiss the Sacraments as ordinances to be obeyed as evidence of our Christian faith. The Reformed condemn describing the Sacraments as the ďvisible WordĒ as a Roman Catholic heresy.[20]

 

15. How do we number the Sacraments?

 

The term Sacrament is unwritten, as Chemnitz stated in his Examination of the Council of Trent.[21] It is not found in the Bible.[22] Today we use the term to include Baptismand Holy Communion. Generally, we define the Means of Grace as the Word and Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. However, God has provided various ways in which we receive the Word. In the statement below, quoting the Book of Concord, Smalcald Articles, we have a total of five means: a) the spoken Word, b) Baptism, c) Holy Communion, d) absolution, and e) the mutual consolation of the brethren.

 

J-458

"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of gracewhen one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV: 'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace. First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism. Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"

John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 447. Matthew 18:20.

 

16. Why is infant Baptism such a great comfort?

 

First of all, we can see God at work, because an infant has no works to exchange for salvation and no reasoning power to make a decision. When we see the faith of children, we know that God has planted it in their hearts through the Word. Secondly, no one thinks to judge whether the minister was effective in the Baptism. Third, Baptism is a lifelong sacrament. A sermon or a lesson may be forgotten, but Baptism remains Godís promise forever.

 

J-459

"The purest and best part of the human race, the special nursery and flower of God's Church, is tender youth. Youth retains the gift of the Holy Spirit which it received in Baptism; it learns eagerly the true doctrine about God and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; it calls Him God with a chaste mind and with a simple, pure faith; it thanks Him with a quick and joyful heart for the blessings received from Him; in its studies and the other parts of life, it carries out the duties commanded it; and it obeys God and parents reverently. Particularly God-pleasing, therefore, are the studies of one's earliest age: prayer, obedience and praises which honor God, regardless of how weak and stammering its voice may be."

David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 9.

 

J-460

"How beautifully the apostle in these strong words extols the grace of God bestowed in Baptism! He refers to Baptism as a washing, whereby not our feet only, not our hands, but our whole bodies are cleansed. Baptismperfectly and instantaneously cleanses and saves. For the vital part of salvation and its inheritance, nothing more is necessary than this faith in the grace of God. Truly, then, are we saved by grace alone, without works or other merit."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 154. Titus 3:5.

 

17. Why do we say that God acts through Baptism?

 

†††††††††† All the language about Baptism in the New Testament suggests divine activity.

 

KJV Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

KJV Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

 

KJV Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

 

KJV Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

KJV Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

 

KJV 1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

 

KJV Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

 

BYZ Colossians 2:12 suntafe,ntej auvtw/| evn tw/| bapti,smati( evn w-| kai. sunhge,rqhte dia. th/j pi,stewj th/j evnergei,aj tou/ qeou/ tou/ evgei,rantoj auvto.n evk tw/n nekrw/n\

 

KJV Hebrews 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

 

BYZ Hebrews 9:10 mo,non evpi. brw,masin kai. po,masin kai. diafo,roij baptismoi/j kai. dikaiw,masin sarko.j me,cri kairou/ diorqw,sewj evpikei,mena.

 

KJV Mark 7:4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.

 

BYZ Mark 7:4 kai. avpo, avgora/j eva.n mh. bapti,swntai ouvk evsqi,ousin kai. a;lla polla, evstin a] pare,labon kratei/n baptismou.j pothri,wn kai. xestw/n kai. calki,wn kai. klinw/n.

 

18. How is the Word effective in Holy Communion?

 

The Sacrament of Holy Communiongives us forgiveness of sin in a visible form, in an act we repeat to strengthen our faith and prepare us for eternal life.

 

J-461

"A Christian should know that nothing on earth is more sacred than God's Word; for even the Sacrament itself is made, blessed, and sanctified by God's Word, and all of us, too, are thereby spiritually born and consecrated Christians."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1469.

 

J-462

"She desired nothing besides this Word, nor did she ask for more than merely to touch His garment, which she used as an external means and sign to gain the desired help. Likewise, we need nothing more in our lives and in the kingdom of faith than the external Word and Sacraments, in which He permits Himself to be touched and seized as if by His garment."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 350. Matthew 9:18-26.

 

 

 

 

 

19. How can we imagine Christ being bodily present in Holy Communion?

 

The Scriptures teach us not what we can imagine, but what God has done and will do in the future. We cannot imagine the Creation, the Incarnation, the Trinity, or the Resurrection. The Word of God shows us that the peace given to us through the Gospel also exceeds whatever we can imagine with our minds.

 

KJV Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

BYZ Philippians 4:7 kai. h` eivrh,nh tou/ qeou/ h` u`pere,cousa pa,nta nou/n frourh,sei ta.j kardi,aj u`mw/n kai. ta. noh,mata u`mw/n evn Cristw/| VIhsou.

 

This doctrine is also taught with great clarity in Ephesians:

 

KJV Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

 

BYZ Ephesians 3:20 Tw/| de. duname,nw| u`pe.r pa,nta poih/sai u`pe.r evk perissou/ w-n aivtou,meqa h' noou/men kata. th.n du,namin th.n evnergoume,nhn evn h`mi/n.

 

Therefore, if we limit God to what we can think, imagine, or make reasonable, then we have indeed created a Freudian divinity in our own minds, a reflection of ourselves.

J-463

(6) "Human reason, though it ponder,

Cannot fathom this great wonder

That Christ's body ever remaineth

Though it countless souls sustaineth

And that He His blood is giving

With the wine we are receiving.

These great mysteries unsounded

Are by God alone expounded."

Johann Franck, 1649, "Soul, Adorn Thyself with Gladness", The Lutheran Hymnal, #305, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

 


 



[1] "The practical result of the separation of the divine power from the divine Word of Scripture is the rejection of the Bible as the only source and norm of faith (norma normans). This is proved by the very fact that the enthusiasts have invariably placed the 'inner word' (verbum internum), or the 'spirit,' above Holy Scripture (verbum externum), assigning to the latter an inferior place in the realm of divine revelation. To the enthusiasts the Bible is only a norma normata, or a rule of faith subject to the 'inner word,' that is, to their own notions and figments of reason." John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 135.

[2] [The popular idea about the Word] "He sees that he must repent and believe, but by his own reason and strength he cannot. He learns further, that he needs the Holy Spirit to enable him to repent and believe, but, according to the current opinion, that Spirit is not in the Word, nor effective through it, but operates independently of it." G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 131.

[3] "George Barna is a Christian researcher/author/marketer/social analyst who tends to 'turn a lot of heads' when he speaks. He usually couches his provocative and interpretive comments to the church with honesty and reality. On occasion he has been retained by leaders of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to facilitate mission interpretation from an outside perspective." Rev. Michael Ruhl, "Here Are Five evangelism Myths..." The Michigan Lutheran, LCMS, January 1996, Board of Evangelism and Church Growth.

[4] Rationalistic doubt in the efficacy of the Word alone is clearly expressed in the following three opinions: a) "Disciple-making is most effective when Biblical insights and church growth research are integrated." Win and Charles Arn, The Master's Plan for Making Disciples, How Every Christian Can Be an Effective Witness through an Enabling Church, Pasadena: Church Growth Press, 1982, p. 75. b) "We cannot add anything to the Word, but we may be able to remove the human barriers which might be in the way of the Word." Lawrence Otto Olson, D. Min., Fuller Seminary, "See How It Grows: Perspectives on Growth and the Church," EVANGELISM, February, 1991, WELS professor at Martin Luther College. p. 3. c) "We can't do a thing to make his Word more effective. But surely we can detract from its effectiveness by careless errors and poor judgment. It just makes good sense to utilize all of our God-given talents, to scour the field for appropriate ideas, concepts, and material, to implement programs, methods, and techniques so that we do not detract from the effectiveness of the gospel we proclaim. Church growth articles, books, seminars, and conferences can offer such ideas and programs." Pastor James Huebner, WELS Spiritual Renewal Consultant, Notebook, School of Outreach IV, ďSeventeen Ways to Keep Your Church from Growing,Ē p. 178.

[5] False teachers insist that unloving pastors emphasize sound doctrine. These errorists show their hatred for Godís Word, disguised as a desire for love. From such love, dear Lord, deliver us.

[6] "A last word on sound doctrine is in place. Sound doctrine must be distinguished from tradition, praxis and preference. The liturgy, translation of the Bible, vestments and organizational policies of the church are not equatable with sound doctrine." Rev. Paul Kelm, "How to Make Sound Doctrine Sound Good to Mission Prospects," p. 3.

[7] Kent Hunter and Waldo Werning are, unfortunately, two of the most influential theological leaders in the Missouri Synod. I met Hunter, who trained Floyd Stozenburg, on his way to address the LCMS District Presidents at their headquarters. Werning honored me with a long, personal tirade in his final book, How to Make the Missouri Synod Functional Again, self-published, 1992, pp. 199f. Werning has had a considerable negative impact upon the Wisconsin Synod and Evangelical Lutheran Synod, through his contact with their leaders. ELS Pastor Paul Schneider told me Waldo phoned him and started railing against me. I sinned against Werning by supporting Robert Preus and questioning Waldoís study at Fuller Seminary, which he admitted and later denied.

[8] "MYTH #3: MOST PEOPLE BECOME BELIEVERS THROUGH EVANGELISTIC PREACHING. Many think that if you can bring an unbeliever to church, the pastor can 'save' them. The reality is that they are much more likely to come to faith in Christ through friends or family. The survey reveals that only one of eight people came to faith because of a preaching presentation." Rev. Michael Ruhl, "Here Are Five Evangelism Myths..." The Michigan Lutheran, LCMS, January 1996, Board of Evangelism and Church Growth.

[9] The Missouri Synod was growing rapidly when The Abiding Word was published. The synod no longer publishes books about the efficacy of the Word, explicit in the title, and no longer grows in membership. We should not confuse the true Church, which is invisible, with the visible church and its membership rolls. However, the Church Growth Movement leaders in Lutheranism care only about statistics and fail miserably in the very category they used to establish their obnoxious and now dominating influence.

[10] Ahaz was a hypocrite, refusing to do what God commanded. KJV Isaiah 7:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. God gave him the sign of the Virgin Birth.

[11] Enthusiast is a technical term used by Luther to describe anyone who separates the Holy Spirit from the Word. The term is often used in the Book of Concord, vividly in the Smalcald Articles.

[12] "The preacher, in fact, was a fascinating combination of eloquent and illiterate (by his own testimony). In the services I saw fervent singing, joyous clapping of hands, dancing in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, testimonies, prophecies, preaching of the Word, and as a climax the handling of deadly poisonous snakes and drinking of strychnine. I discussed this with several members of the congregation. When I asked why they handled snakes they replied, simply, 'Because Jesus told us to do it as a sign.' Another sign of the kingdom." [Footnote - See C. Peter Wagner, What Are We Missing?, formerly Look Out, The Pentecostals Are Coming, Carol Stream: Creation House, 1973, 1978.] C. Peter Wagner, Church Growth and the Whole Gospel, New York: Harper and Row, 1981, p. 23. C. Peter Wagner has taught many WELS and LCMS leaders. Many of them have left Lutheranism for Pentecostalism. In the LCMS, Pentecostal ministers may stay in the synod while rejecting Lutheran doctrine.

[13] "On the contrary, with the Anabaptists and the Reformed Church in general, the Mennonites are Enthusiasts, lay great stress on the immediate working of the Holy Ghost, who is said to 'guide the saints into all truth.' In his Geschichte der Mennonitengemeinden John Horsch, a prominent Mennonite, states that the Holy Spirit is the 'inner word,' who enables Christians to understand the Scriptures. Without the inner word, or the light, the Scripture is a dead letter and a dark lantern." The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 260.

[14] Some conservative Lutheran pastors joked about one wealthy man who attended first service with his wife at one congregation and second service at another church with his girlfriend. His large financial gifts to many different denominations and to individual pastors earned him an on-going indulgence.

[15] Other endorsements were from Rev. Burton Bundy, Church of the Lutheran Brethren, and Dr. Erwin Kolb, LCMS, and from ELCA.

[16] Wisconsin Lutheran College, WELS, Required course for graduation. THEO 211: The Christian Faith and Life (3 credits) Pastor Paul Kelm, Home Phone 784-0492 (Consultation by appointment) BOOK REVIEW OPTIONS: Generating Hope by Jimmy Long (InterVarsity Press); The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren (Zondervan); The Contemporary Christian by John Stott (InterVarsity Press); Renewal for The 21st Century Church by Waldo Werning (Concordia); The Body by Charles Colson; A Church For The 21st Century by Leith Anderson (Bethany House); Inside Out by Larry Crabb (NavPress); Entertainment Evangelism by Walt Kallestad (Abingdon); Effective Church Leadership by Kennon Callahan (Harper and Row); Church Without Walls by Jim Petersen (NavPress); Getting Together by Em Griffin (InterVarsity Press); Christ Esteem by Don Matzat (Harvest House); Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald (Olive Nelson); Fit Bodies Fat Minds by Os Guinness (Baker); The Once and Future Church by Loren Mead (The Alban Institute); Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything At Church and How To Fix it by Thomas Schultz (Group); Three Generations by Gary Mcintosh (Fleming Revell); Effective Church Leadership: A Practical Source Book by Lee Harris; Itís A Different World by Lyle Schaller (Abingdon); Reflections of a Contrarian by Lyle Schaller (Abingdon); Strategies For Change by Lyle Schalller (Abingdon); A Primer on Postmodernism by Stanley Grenz (Eerdmans); Gentle Persuasion by Joseph Aldrich; User Friendly Churches by George Barna (Regal Books); Darwin On Trial by Philip Johnson; Connecting by Paul Stanley and J. Robert Clinton (NavPress). At least twelve are Church Growth books.

[17] The closer to Luther, the better the theologian.

[18] "It is the same thought as that expressed in 2:17. Some preachers, like hucksters, are ready to dicker about the Word of God as though they can discount something to make a sale, as though the deal is between them and men alone. This is what Paul also means by adulterating the Word of God, mixing in unrealities to make the Word acceptable to men." R. C. H. Lenski, St. Paul's First and Second Letter to the Corinthians, Columbus: Wartburg Press, 1957, p. 957. 2 Corinthians 4:2. 2 Corinthians 2:17.

[19] "The public speaker, orator, preacher, lawyer, or salesman who is lacking in sex energy is a 'flop,' as far as being able to influence others is concerned." Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, New York: Fawcett Crest Books, 1937, revised 1960, p. 188. Napoleon Hill, Paul Y. Cho, Robert Schuller, and Norman Vincent Peale have all emphasized worldly success and have endorsed various occult concepts. The Church Growth Movement loves the writings of all four men.

[20] "The same is true of other factions--the Anabaptists and similar sects. What else do they but slander baptism and the Lord's Supper when they pretend that the external [spoken] Word and outward sacraments do not benefit the soul, that the Spirit alone can do that?" Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 208. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

[21] "For Scripture never calls either Baptismor the Lord's Supper mysteries or sacraments. Therefore this is an unwritten (agraphos) appellation." Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 29.

[22] The same thing can be said of the term Trinity. Liberals note with shocked looks that the word is not found in the Bible, but they fail to mention that the concept is found throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. Unwritten terms are useful after a time of doctrinal controversy, as a form of shorthand. In some cases, terms need to be abandoned because they can mean so many different things. Conservative Christians seldom use the term infallible by itself to describe the Scriptures, simply because liberals have weakened the meaning of the term.