Archive for the ‘Pure Doctrine’ Category

The Word of God Absolutely Pure and Unadulterated

Let us, therefore, bless all the faithful champions who have fought for every point of Christian doctrine, unconcerned about the favor of men and disregarding their threatenings. Their ignominy, though it often was great, has not been borne in vain. Men cursed them, but they continued bearing their testimony until death, and now they wear the crown of glory and enjoy the blissful communion of Christ and of all the angels and the elect. Their labor and their fierce battling has not been in vain; for even now…the Church is reaping what they sowed.

Let us, then, my friends, likewise hold fast the treasure of the pure doctrine. Do not consider it strange if on that account you must bear reproach the same as they did. Consider that the word of Sirach, chap. 4, 33: “Even unto death fight for justice, and God will overthrow thy enemies for thee,” will come true in our case too. Let this be your slogan: Fight unto death in behalf of the truth, and the Lord will fight for you!—

We now take up a thesis for study which tells us that, since the two doctrines of Scripture, Law and Gospel, are so different from each other, we must keep them distinct also in our preaching.

Thesis II.

Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all the articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguishes from each other the Law and the Gospel.


This thesis divides into two parts. The first part states a requisite of an orthodox teacher, viz., that he must present all the articles of faith in accordance with Scripture. This, in our day, is regarded as an unheard-of demand. Even in circles of so-called believers, people act as if they were shocked when they hear some one say: “I have found the truth; I am certain concerning every doctrine of revelation.” Such a claim is considered a piece of arrogance…

Scripture requires that we have the Word of God absolutely pure and unadulterated and that we be able to say when coming down from the pulpit: “I could take an oath upon it that I have rightly preached the Word of God. Even to an angel coming down from heaven I could say: My preaching has been correct.” That explains the paradox [sic] remark of Luther that a preacher must not pray the Lord’s Prayer when coming down from the pulpit, but that he should do so before the sermon. For an orthodox preacher need not pray after delivering his sermon: “Forgive me my trespasses,” since he can say: “I have proclaimed the pure truth.” In our day, men have become merged in skepticism to such an extent that they regard any one who sets up the aforementioned claim as a semilunatic.

The Word of God tells us in a passage where the Lord is introduced as speaking, Jer. 23, 28: He that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? Saith the Lord. Our sermons, then, are to contain only wheat and no chaff.

The Apostle Paul warns the Galatians, chap. 5, 9: A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. He means to say: A single false teaching vitiates the entire doctrine.

The warning with which John concludes the last book of the Bible is sounded as far back as in the days of Moses, who says, Deut. 4, 2: Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it.


It is, then, a diabolical teaching to say: “you will never achieve the ability to give a Scriptural presentation of the articles of faith.” Especially when students hear a statement like this, it is as if some hellish poison were injected into their hearts; for after that they will no longer show any zeal to get to the bottom of the truth, to have clear conceptions of the truth.

C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, pp. 29-31.

Luther’s Handbook for Parenting and Spiritual Warfare

April 11, 2013 2 comments
Title page of the Large Catechism of Martin Lu...

Title page of the Large Catechism of Martin Luther, printed in Leipzig in 1560 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the Book of Concord study at St. Peter where we read the Lutheran Confessions.  A long time ago we started reading the Augsburg Confession and finally got through it.  Earlier this year we started Luther’s Large Catechism.


I have to say that teaching the Catechism this year has become one of the most rewarding things I’ve gotten to do in teaching.  The reason is that topical bible studies I’ve done are usually limited by my own areas of familiarity.  This year, preaching on the Small Catechism’s section on Baptism during Lent and doing short catechetical sessions with the Ladies’ Aid and with the catechumens and parents on Wednesdays, along with working through the Large Catechism, I’ve started to see things in the catechism I never saw before, or grasp them more fully.


One of the things that strikes me about the Large Catechism is the multitude of practical suggestions Luther drops constantly.  On the one hand he shows constantly how the parts of the catechism apply to daily spirituality, or “lived faith.”  I’ve read the Large Catechism before—particularly in my early twenties in college.  But a lot of the things Luther had to say about the life of prayer and of combat with the devil I just didn’t really grasp.  He means them quite literally.


At the same time, thus far in the Catechism (we’re doing the 3rd and maybe 4th commandments today), Luther constantly makes mention of how to teach the commandments to children.  Of course it should be obvious that he would do that, since a catechism is supposed to give the essentials of the faith in such a way that a parent can teach his children.


But today when the church is experiencing a crisis of losing members precisely because parents don’t know how to catechize their children, it’s kind of a slap upside the head.


People, in America anyway, like practical books on Christianity that tell you how to have a more meaningful life, or how the theology you learn helps practically in keeping your family together or in dealing with stress, anger, etc.


But the Evangelicals have generally done a better job at addressing that felt need, whereas Lutherans have struggled to teach “practical Christian living” while at the same time keeping the attention on the free forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake.


But Luther doesn’t have that problem.  After he talks about what a commandment means, he inevitably goes on to talking about how we should use the commandment in raising our children.  In raising them, not simply “teaching them the information they need to know about God.”  He doesn’t separate teaching children how to live from teaching them Christian doctrine.


Also Luther inevitably talks about the commandment’s relation to our battle with Satan—how the devil wars against the assurance of faith, and how the ten commandments point us toward very practical defense against the evil one.

Read more…

Baptism: God stakes His honor, power, and might on it. Lenten Vespers Sermon Feb. 20 2013

February 20, 2013 6 comments
Don't get any funny ideas like Jesus' baptism has any similarities to yours!

Don’t get any funny ideas like baptism unites you to Jesus!  (cf Romans 6:1-4, Colossians 2:8-12 f.  Galatians 3:26-27, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3, etc.)

Wednesday after Invocabit-Vespers

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Small Catechism—What is Baptism?  Where is this written?

(Matthew 3)

February 20, 2013

Jesu Juva


Dear Christians:


Baptism is necessary for salvation.


Can we really say that?  Yes, because Jesus says it.  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  (St. John 3:5)


As a member of this congregation you already say it, because the Lutheran Confessions say it in agreement with the Word of God.  If you’re a member of St. Peter, you’re a member of a congregation that says that the Book of Concord, the Lutheran Confessions, are faithful explanations of Scripture.  And the Augsburg Confession says:  “Of Baptism [our churches] teach that it is necessary to salvation…”


Obviously, if something is necessary to salvation, it’s a big deal.  And to go to a church where they say it isn’t necessary to salvation would be a very bad thing.  Right?


That’s why later on the Lutheran Confessions thank God that the Anabaptists had made no headway in the Lutheran churches in the 1530’s.  Anabaptists said that infants should not be baptized, that babies went to heaven without baptism.  And for adults, when you were really saved was when you understood God’s Word as an adult and made a decision to follow Jesus.  Then you would be baptized again.  The confessions make this boast:

…we confess that Baptism is necessary to salvation, and that children are to be baptized, and that the baptism of children is not in vain, but is necessary and effectual to salvation.  And since the Gospel is taught among us purely and diligently, by God’s favor we receive also from it this fruit, that in our churches no Anabaptists…[have gained ground], because the people have been fortified by God’s Word against the wicked and seditious faction of these robbers.


Notice how seriously the Lutheran Confessions take the teaching about Baptism.  They are thankful that the rebaptizers have not succeeded in bringing their doctrine into the churches or in taking many sheep.


Unfortunately, we can’t make the same boast.  Those who say that Baptism is just water and that it doesn’t benefit babies have made inroads in our churches.  Thank God, we don’t have any pastors in the synod yet who deny that Baptism saves.  But we have lost lots and lots of our sheep to churches who tell people that Baptism isn’t necessary for salvation.  I was one of those lost sheep for awhile; I almost was rebaptized.  Many, many sons and daughters of this congregation, baptized and catechized by Rev. Frenk and Rev. Martin, have gone on to join churches who say that infant baptism is invalid and that baptism is just water.  I hear that at least one of the children I catechized has received so-called “believer’s baptism”, which is called that because the churches that practice it say that babies who are baptized do not believe in Christ.


Baptism is necessary to salvation.  Jesus says so.  In the great commission verse we said in the catechism today Jesus says, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Why didn’t Jesus say what the so-called “bible-believing Christians” say—“Go make disciples of all nations, preaching to them and telling them to accept me as their Lord and Savior?”  Because that is not how disciples are made.  They are made through Baptism, and then they are instructed in all of Christ’s teaching.


So why have the churches that teach that baptism is an empty sign made such inroads into the Missouri Synod?  There are two glaring reasons.


First of all, so many of us have convinced ourselves that it’s not that big a deal to deny baptism or to believe and teach wrongly about it.

Read more…

Ghosts, Haunted Houses, Prayer to the Dead, and Pastoral Care

December 27, 2012 2 comments

Spirits of the Departed, Ghosts, Prayer to the Deadancestor worship2

I’ve noticed a strange thing in the time I’ve been in the ministry that I didn’t notice before.  Maybe you’ve noticed it too. 

Kids believe in ghosts and spirits much more than they did when I was a kid.  People pretended to believe in ghosts when I was a kid, but I don’t think that many people really believed in them.  Certainly not that you could communicate with them.  We believed in demons—at least, Christian kids did—but it was kind of an esoteric thing.  I played with a Ouija board once, but I was just messing around.  And there was also this superstition that if you went into a dark room and looked at a mirror and said, “Bloody Mary” a certain number of times you would see a demon or a spirit.


Times have changed.  I’ve met a lot of kids who not only believe in ghosts but claim to have seen them, or communicated with them.


And demons are much less esoteric.  A few months ago a bunch of pastors were up in Wisconsin listening to Dr. John Kleinig talk about the ministry of deliverance from demons, about the increase in overt demonic oppression encountered by pastors in Australia (and the United States). 


But what seems to me the strangest of all is the prayer to the dead engaged in by lifelong American Lutherans who are sixty or seventy or eighty years old. 


The reason this is so strange is because, typically, Lutherans who are above age 50 or so hate everything that smacks of Catholicism.  Yet I frequently hear parishioners speak of dead loved ones as if they continue to communicate with each other.  The loved one is spoken to in prayer, and sometimes speaks back by phenomena in the physical world—lights flickering, changes in the weather.


This less rationalistic take on the souls of the dead is I think quite different from what pastors a generation ago encountered.  In his Church Postil sermon for Epiphany, Luther has an eye-opening digression where he talks about the souls of the dead and what to make of spirits claiming to be the souls of dead loved ones, as well as spirits that haunt houses or cause strange noises.  This would probably have been a section of the postil where in previous generations we would have simply assumed that Luther lived in a more superstitious age, and these things just don’t apply to us.  But if you have experienced your parishioners praying to dead relatives or communicating, supposedly, with ghosts, then this section of the sermon will be enlightening.


This openness toward communication with the dead has some positive implications.  It means that the rationalism that controlled so much of our thinking is mostly dead.  People are able to conceptualize the ongoing existence of souls whose body has died.  They are able to think of invisible spirits continuing to exist without being utterly divorced from us.  This is positive.  It means that when we speak of the communion of saints we will not meet the same wall of resistance.  If people think dead loved ones can be spoken to, it means that they are not closed to the idea that the angels and the holy, departed souls are present with us together with Jesus.  And it also means that the Calvinist notion that Jesus and the saints are somehow locked away in another plane of existence called heaven no longer has a death grip on people.


But unfortunately the superstition about the dead that I keep encountering has a lot of negative ramifications as well.

Read more…

Verbum Dei in Utero part 2

October 30, 2012 3 comments


The second problem I have with the dogmatic assertion that God works faith in infants through their hearing the preached word is the way that it often goes along with making “no Spirit apart from the Word” into a hermeneutical axiom, or an inviolable law for theology.  The problem is that I think that that section of the Smalcald Articles (Part III, Article VIII) is being misinterpreted. 

“We must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one except through or with the preceding outward Word [Gal. 3:2, 5].  This protects us from the enthusiasts (i.e., souls who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word.)  They judge Scripture or the spoken Word and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did.  Many still do this today, wanting to be sharp judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet they do not know what they are saying [2 Cor. 3:6]….Therefore we must constantly maintain this point: God does not want to deal with us in any other way than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments.  Whatever is praised as from the Spirit—without the Word and Sacraments—is the devil himself.  God wanted to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word [Exodus 3:2-15].  No prophet, neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments .  John the Baptist was not conceived without the word of Gabriel coming first, nor did he leap in his mother’s womb without Mary’s voice [Luke 1:11-20, 41].  Peter says, ‘For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ [2 Peter 1:21].  Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy.  Much less would the Holy Spirit have moved them to speak while they were still unholy.  They were holy, says he, since the Holy Spirit spoke through them.”  [SA III:8:3, 10-13]

This passage has been interpreted to mean that it is impossible for anyone to ever receive the Holy Spirit without the external word and sacraments.  In addition, you would get the impression from confessional Lutherans that this also means that the Holy Spirit never speaks to us or comforts us except when we are actually engaged in hearing or reading the external word and receiving the sacraments. 

Neither is supported by the text, if we read carefully.  First of all Luther addresses two questions in the quotation—whether a person receives the Spirit apart from the “outward word”,  and whether one may distinguish between “the Spirit and the letter” in the interpretation of Scripture.  His concern in the first question is to point out not that the Holy Spirit never teaches or inspires things without there being an external word at the exact same time.  His point is that the Holy Spirit does not come to people utterly without the Word.  We should not look for the Holy Spirit to teach us via mystical experiences or introspection.  But Luther affirms that a person may hear the Word and then ten years later believe it.  Elijah and Elisha received the Spirit through the spoken Word, but the words they were given to say and the miracles they were given to do were not external words.  The quotation from Peter shows the same thing.  The prophets had the Holy Spirit, who then carried them along to write their prophecies.

But we say that children are conceived and born in sin and cannot be saved without Christ, to Whom we carry them in baptism. Here we have a gracious judgment, secure and certain: “Let the little children come to me…etc.” This we won’t allow to be taken away from us; it does not mean a secret counsel of God or a dark illusion, but instead God’s gracious promise that the kingdom of heaven belongs to our children. Thus they are brought to Christ, because without Christ there is no salvation. For that reason the children of Turks [Muslims] and Jews are not saved—because they are not brought to Christ.
Johannes Bugenhagen Pomeranus, 1551

There is a preceding, outward Word regarding the salvation of the children of Christians.  It is not word that you speak directly to the child, but it is nonetheless a promise about them.  These promises are frankly ignored and despised by everyone who has argued with me about this.  They are simply dismissed and never addressed. 

“I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.  And I will give to you and your offspring the land…and I will be their God.” (Gen. 17:7-8)  Since we are the offspring of Abraham, the promise applies to us.  God wants to be the God of our children.  By what means He gives them the Holy Spirit we aren’t told, but we are told unequivocally that God wants to be our children’s God.  That is why Peter says in Acts 2: “The promise is for you and your children…” Now if Baptism and the Holy Spirit is for me and my children, then if my child dies prior to baptism it would be unbelieving for me to think that God who promised me that it belonged to my child would now snatch it away because my child died prior to Baptism.

Even more important is the oft cited “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 18:16)  Clearly there is a preceding word here.  The promise is “to the children belong the kingdom of God.”  The instruction is that we are not to get in the way of people bringing their infants to God. 

The only question is whether a Christian bringing a child in prayer to Jesus constitutes “bringing them to Jesus.”  Or whether when Jesus says, “to such belongs the kingdom of God,” He means only certain babies. 

Little babies are utterly passive.  Like the elderly at the end of their lives, they have no reason and really can’t be communicated with by us.  That is what Jesus means when He says that “whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Their reason and will can put up no resistance to Jesus. 

But how does Jesus bless the little children?  Through preaching?  Through baptism?  None of the above.  He puts His hands on them and blesses them.  What was the external word that the children heard?  They didn’t hear any, except maybe the blessing.  But their parents had an external word.  They had heard about Jesus and believed that He would give blessing to their babies.  But He says that the kingdom of God belongs to them.  Similarly, the paralyzed man did not appear to have any faith in Jesus.  He was simply brought.  And Jesus gave him not just blessing or healing but the forgiveness of sins. 

Now if Jesus says: let them come to me, the kingdom of God belongs to such as these—we are supposed to doubt that that promise applies to babies who died prior to baptism?

No, it can’t be, because when you bring someone to Christ in prayer, you truly bring them to Christ.  That’s why Jesus says, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:19-20).”  When the church prays, Christ is truly present, and we truly bring the person for whom we pray before Him. 

If we doubt that the little babies of Christians are saved who die before baptism, we are actually doing what Luther accused Muenzer of doing—dividing between the Spirit and the letter, in a perverse hyper-Lutheran way.  Scripture is unequivocal.  The little children who are brought to Jesus in prayer, whose parents believe—the kingdom of God belongs to them, and they are not to be hindered.

This by the way is the only reason we can be certain that baptized babies are certainly in God’s grace.  Everyone knows that not everyone who is baptized believes, and certainly not everyone who hears the Word believes.  We would really have no certainty about little babies except for the promise “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”—without that promise we would be left in doubt, because babies do not give evidence of faith.  In fact, without this promise of Jesus we would have far less certainty about whether or not we should baptize babies at all.  But the promise is that the kingdom of God belongs to them.  So if that is so we can’t deny them baptism even though they can’t confess their faith or give any evidence of it.




Verbum Dei in Utero part 1:

Verbum Dei In Utero part 3:

Theology like a child:


8th Sunday after Trinity: The Wolves and Your David

July 29, 2012 7 comments

8th Sunday after Trinity

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 7:15-23

July 29, 2012

“Recognizing the Wolves and Your David”


Beloved flock of Jesus:


Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


I’ve never seen a wolf catch a sheep.  I’ve never seen a sheep slaughtered either.  But I killed a bluegill a couple of weeks ago.  And even though it was tasty, I felt a little sorry for it.  See, that fish really wanted to live.  It put all its strength into trying to flop out of my hand and get back into the water, even though it couldn’t breathe.  But it was at my mercy.  And I didn’t give it mercy.  I cut it apart and cooked and ate it.

Well, that’s the way the world is, and meat is tasty.  No sense feeling bad about it, especially when God gave human beings permission to kill and eat animals after the flood, in Gen. 9. 

But it is useful today for us to try to imagine what it would be like to be the fish dragged out of the water by a hook in its mouth, or to be a lamb in the jaws of a wolf, or in the hands of a slaughterer.

Because Jesus tells you today: You are the sheep.  You are the prey.  The wolves that come to devour you won’t stop to think about your pain because they are starving.

If you are really a sheep, that’s bad news. It’s not like you can fight the wolves.  You can’t outrun them.  You definitely can’t outsmart them.  You’re like the fish hanging on the end of my fishing line.  All your flopping around will accomplish nothing.

There’s only one hope for sheep who are marked out for slaughter by wolves.  Their only hope is that they have a shepherd who will protect them, who says to the wolf—“These sheep are mine, so you won’t be eating them.”

If they have that kind of a shepherd, then the sheep can run to his voice.  Then they will be safe.

Thanks be to God!  You do have that kind of a shepherd in Your Lord Jesus Christ!

In the Bible, when David was about to plant a rock from a sling into the skull of the giant Goliath, he tells a story about his days as a shepherd.  When he is asked how he thinks he will defeat this warrior when he is just a kid, David says, “When I was alone in the hills with my father’s sheep, I fought a bear and a lion and killed them.  And this godless Philistine isn’t tougher than them.”

Where did David get the boldness to fight a giant, a bear, a lion?  He believed that almighty God would fight for him.  But what is more amazing is that he would be willing to take that risk for sheep.  That was David’s preparation for becoming the King of Israel.  For Him to shepherd God’s people would be just like that—risking his life to save a flock of  sheep that didn’t know its right hand from its left. 

You have a greater and more perfect David.  Your shepherd is the Son of David, the King of the Jews, Jesus Christ.  He fights heroic battles, trusting in the Lord, risking His life to save—His father’s sheep. 

It’s Jesus, the shepherd, who warns His sheep today: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Jesus’ warnings to the sheep are not just talk.  This is the voice of Your God, but also of the David who loves you and defends you.  He says: Beware! 

He doesn’t say, “There are fierce wolves coming, but forget about it.  Take a nap.  I’ll handle everything.”  He says “Beware!” 

These wolves don’t come looking like wolves.  If they did, you’d run! 

Instead they come looking like sheep, that is to say, like Christians…They come saying, “Lord, Lord!”  Doing miracles, maybe!  Casting out demons, maybe!  Doing great works in Christ’s name. 

They don’t come looking like Satanists, but like Christian teachers or pastors.  They come with smooth words to Christians who have been carrying the cross and they preach a Christianity that looks like it will be easier than the way of Jesus.  And they say, “See, this is actually what the Lord taught.  What you believed before is not God’s Word.  Or at least it isn’t the whole truth.  You were missing something.”

Now how can you defend yourself against wolves that dress themselves like sheep—against false prophets who dress themselves up in the Name of Jesus and claim His Word?  How can you recognize them and flee?

Here is the answer: Jesus’ Word unmasks the false prophets and calls You to Jesus and to safety.

[1. Does Jesus really want false prophets exposed and recognized?

2.  How false prophets are recognized.

3.  Jesus’ word calls you to Himself, His true flock, and to safety.]


  1. 1.         Does Jesus really want false prophets exposed and recognized?

Yes.  He says so clearly in this verse.


He does not want us to befriend false teachers and false teaching, much less support them.

False teaching comes from the devil.  False teachers do the work of the devil.


The devil destroys with false teaching.  He tempts us away from Christ to put our trust in something else. 

Romans 16:17 : Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.  For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.

By “the doctrine you have been taught” Paul means the pure doctrine that was taught by the apostles, not that you should necessarily stay with the religion you grew up with.

 False teachers are not those who make small mistakes, but they profane the name of God.  So to support or give aid or play down the differences between true doctrine and false is to participate in profaning God’s name.

 Catechism: 2nd commandment, 1st petition of the Lord’s Prayer.


You tell me: is it a minor matter to preach and teach something different from God’s Word, as long as the teaching is a minor thing?


Is there anything that God says that is “minor”?  “Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same…”  Matt 5…not one jot or tittle can pass from the law until all is fulfilled.


Christians—pastors and the royal priesthood—are to test teachers and teachings and avoid false teachers.

 Refusing to do this profanes Christ’s name and endangers the church.


When congregations refuse to distinguish between true and false doctrine, true and false teachers, true and false fellowships, they do not confess Jesus. 


When pastors fail to preach against false doctrine and even name false teachers, they dishonor Jesus, profane His name, and do not guard the sheep

I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.  Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  Acts 20.27-28

We profane God’s name whenever we are embarrassed of His Word, or refuse to distinguish between His word and the devil’s word, when we do not confess Him before the world.

  1. 2.        How to recognize false prophets.

 The false prophets who would destroy your soul are known by their fruits. 


But Jesus doesn’t say—does the fruit look good?  He says: Look at the tree!


Good trees bear good fruit, bad trees bad.  Bad trees don’t ever bear good fruit, and good trees don’t ever bear bad.



What is a good tree?

Teachers are likened to trees. 


With fruit trees, we have some experience, so we know—apple trees have good fruit.  Crabapple trees—not good fruit. 


With teaching, it’s not exactly like that.  It can’t be discerned with the senses or the emotions or the brain.


Example of Eve—the fruit looked good, desirable for wisdom.


That is what Satan does—turns eyes from the Word to our own experience, feeling, thought.


We must shut our eyes and listen to the Word only.

You will know a tree by its fruit because every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire.

Yet we don’t see false teachers thrown into the fire.

Whoever believes in [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in Him is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of his one and only Son. (John 3)


Whoever, whatever, does not confess Jesus only is condemned already.  You judge a bad tree in this way: this teacher does not hold to Christ alone.  He does not give praise to Jesus alone.


When John said “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance,” who can keep that word?  When you look at the list of the fruits of the Spirit, don’t you come up not doing too well?

Good trees are defined by the word of the Lord.

The word of justification.  You are just, not because you have kept the law, but because Christ has fulfilled the law for you; God credits this faith as righteousness.

In baptism.  You are washed and clothed with the righteousness of Jesus and named with the name of God.  The washing with water by the word was God’s promise that Christ’s death for sinners cleanses you.

God’s word prescribes the works.

False teachers create all kinds of works apart from the ten commandments to do.  They may say, “Faith in Jesus alone,” but really they mean something else. 


The good work of having the experience of choosing Jesus—if you can’t say you’ve had that experience, then you’re not saved.


But usually they don’t say “Faith in Jesus alone.”  They say, “Changed life.”


They reject Christ’s works—Baptism, the Word—in favor of their own.

The spirit of Antichrist.  Jesus warns of the wolves because the spirit of antichrist is at work in the church…the devil sends false preachers in order to turn the church into the mockery of the bride of Jesus.  Any teacher who denies the Gospel is influenced by the Spirit of Antichrist.  The Spirit of Antichrist finds its full embodiment in the papacy, which claims to be the authority over the whole church by God’s command, and thus “takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming that he is God.”

Does not confess Jesus.


Joel Osteen.  (Is Osteen’s preaching really about Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins?  Is that even in his sermons most times?  Osteen’s doctrine is not about Christ.  It is about you and changing your thinking.  He does not confess Christ’s coming in the flesh—his gospel is about something other than Christ coming in the flesh.)


Papacy.  (Christ alone is not your righteousness; you are righteous before God by faith and your regenerated heart and good works.  And since Scripture is not clear, you must depend on the authority of the true church to defend you from wolves.  Thus the pope becomes your god; Christ’s word is determined by the authority of the church and the pope, instead of Christ’s word judging the fidelity of congregations and pastors.


3.Jesus Your David, reveals Himself to you and calls you to safety in His Word.


Your David who fights against the wolf—he doesn’t choose the easy path. He goes the way the Father wants him to go regardless of the consequences. 


You don’t get to go an easy path either.  You go in this way—faith in Jesus, love to your neighbor where God has called you to serve.

            It’s easier to escape into holy stuff that we make up.


            To follow Jesus is to lose everything.  You can’t escape that.


            Not, “Lord, lord,” and then you create your own destiny.  You receive it all.  Your sins are forgiven, not because you feel it, but because of the Word, baptism.

            You are a husband or wife, not because you feel like it, but because the Word says so. 

            It is pleasing to God because the word says so, because you are a good tree, not because you feel like it.

            You are pleasing to God not because you’ve accomplished your dreams, but because God says you are pleasing to Him in Christ.


But you’re safe: see how Jesus has gone before you and finished it.


And if you’re afraid and faltering, don’t think that you will make it because you follow him anything like perfectly; you’re saved because of Him.  You just do what he’s called you to do go where he’s called you to go; but when you fail you live by faith.  And when you don’t want to do it, you live by faith.

This is where Jesus is; here in the word and sacraments,


In your bodies,


With you in your daily life.


The wolves lead you away from Jesus to your own works, to your damnation.


Jesus leads you to death and resurrection.




The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

“I Must also Step into the Open…for the Sake of God’s Name”

July 28, 2012 2 comments

Franz Pieper, Professor, President of Missouri Synod, author of “Christian Dogmatics”

Franz Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, vol 1.  (p. 433-434)


The entire Scriptures are in reality nothing else than an elaboration of God’s name (“ein ausgebreiteter Name Gottes”).  By denying that Scripture is God’s Word, men reject the only principle or source from which they can derive an understanding of God’s name.  This fact prompted Luther to remind us again and again that only the true Scripture doctrine honors God’s name and builds his Church, while false doctrine, springing from the heart of men, profanes God’s name and destroys His Church.  In his commentary on Ex. 20:7 Luther says of the Second Commandment: “In this Commandment the name of God is used correctly when the Word of God is rightly preached and rightly believed.  And, again, God’s name is blasphemed when preachers under the cloak of God’s Word and name mislead the people.”  (St. L. III: 1074.)  For this reason faithful preachers are a blessing, while false teachers are a curse to their country and to the world.  Of course, in teaching God’s Word in its truth and purity, teachers run the risk of incurring opposition.  Luther points to this: “The greatest and most difficult part of this Commandment is to defend this name against those who not only misuse it in spiritual matters, but also spread it [their false definition of God’s name] among menIt is not enough that I praise the divine name in prosperity and call upon it in adversity for myself and my own heart.  I must also step into the open and for the sake of God’s honor and name incur the enmity of all men according to Christ’s word: ‘Ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake’ (Matt. 10:22).  Here we must provoke to anger even father, mother, and our best friends….Here we must bear the charge of resisting the spiritual and civil government and of being disobedient.  Here we must incense the learned, the saints, the wealthy, the mighty, and all who count for something in the world.  That is what it means to be ‘God’s friend and all the world’s enemy.’ Though this is primarily the duty of preachers, every Christian is in duty bound to do this as time and occasion demand.  When a person accepts God’s Word, the Gospel, he must by all means keep in mind that he is running the risk of losing all his goods, home, real estate, business, farm, wife, children, father, mother, yes, his very life.  Should danger and misfortune overtake him, he can bear it more readily, realizing from the outset that matters would take this course.  Here such passages apply as Matt. 10:24: ‘The disciple is not above his master.’” (St. L. III: 1078 ff.)

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