Official Publication of the LMS-USA

November 2008

Volume 15, Number 4

In this Issue:

Contending for the Truth
Pastor Ralph Spears (St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Indianapolis) in his October 2008 newsletter writes:

It is amazing how denials begin to appear where certainties once anchored. How does this happen and why?

Time has much to do with it. Not time itself, but what happens in time, little by little. Does truth change, do we change, or does the passage of time bring the alternation that we call change?

I am surprised that many Lutherans have changed their views, understandings and teachings so much that they are hardly Lutheran any longer. I am talking in part about those who don’t celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation any longer or at least have devalued it to the point that it doesn’t matter. Even worse, they hold that the Reformation is now an unnecessary relic of the past representing a rift with the Roman Catholic church, which in light of the 21st century to their way of thinking, is something that we have moved beyond.

The world can be very complex place. In dealing with matters big or small, it is so often the case that we try this, and we try that. We try to make some sense out of this or out of that. This is true with regard to religion as well as to no religion... with regard to belief in God as well as to a conviction that God does not exist. It is true when it comes to a search for what is true... and in trying to make sense of the meaning of life. It all of this, it may seem to many to be rather simplistic and a little over optimistic to suggest that Jesus Christ is the answer... that He alone, is the answer... that He is the complete answer. But that is exactly what the Bible tells us.

The message of Scripture - the good news of the Gospel - is that all the answers we ever will need for time and for eternity are to be found in Christ Jesus. All the answers for our soul... all the answers for one's sin... all the answers with regard to the life to come... all are to be found, and can only be found, in Christ Jesus. There is no other source of that which is true than the Bible. There is no other Savior than the Jesus who is revealed to us in the pages of the Bible. Everything one will ever need or desire can be found in, and only in Him. In Him we are, according to Colossians 2:10, "given fullness" (RSV, NIV)... made "complete" (KJV, TEV).

This fact was one of the most important rediscoveries at the time of the Reformation - Scripture alone, Faith alone, Grace alone, Christ alone. It is all in Christ, and all that is in Christ, is revealed to us in the Word of God.

People, by nature, have a sense of God... and they want some kind of connection with him. But in seeking this "connection" they are not content in looking for the answers in God’s Word alone. Or, in the "connection" they want with God, they are not content with Christ alone. Consciously or unconsciously, they believe they need Christ plus philosophy... or Christ plus psychology.. or Christ plus the latest findings of the behavioral scientists... or Christ plus some mystical experience. But the Bible is clear, all we need is Christ. And this Christ is the Christ that is to be found in the revelation God has given to us in the pages of the Bible alone. And the faith we need to hold fast to this Christ... to believe in him with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, and that we might experience his working of grace in our lives... this faith is also made ours through through the hearing (reading) of God’s Word (Rom. 10:17).

This issue of Table Talk includes two articles. The first by Dr. Jacob Tanner, is titled God’s Word. We need from time to time to review and to reconsider just what God’s Word is, and the place it should have in our lives. The second article is a paper by seminarian Tylan Dalrymple that was presented at our Synod Annual Conference this past June in which he addresses the danger of placing one’s hope for salvation in a god of one’s own making, or of one’s own shaping, rather than in the God who is revealed to us in the Bible through the person of Jesus Christ.

Not just at the time of our celebration of the anniversary of the Reformation, but always, our concern ought to be the truth. Not a truth... not what others might consider true, not even what the majority might consider to be true. But the truth, as revealed to us in the pages of Holy Scripture. This truth does not change. It does not evolve. As to the salvation of souls... that message of hope and of life... the only message of hope and of life... is that which the Jesus of Holy Scripture (the Bible) won for us, and the message of which He “entrusted to the saints.” It is for this that we in the church yet today, are to earnestly contend (see Jude 1:3). So help us God.

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Announcements of interest

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God's Word
from Ten Studies in Church Doctrine
Augsburg Publishing House, Mpls., MN
by Dr. Jacob Tanner

God has revealed Himself.

We know God because He has revealed Himself. Our knowledge of God is not a result of man's speculations, but of God's revelation. Man has not ascended to God through his investigations and thinking, but God has come down to man and revealed Himself. He has through the world He created manifested His spiritual character and everlasting power and divinity. (Rom. 1:20.) Unto salvation, however, He has revealed Himself through His Word.

During the Old Testament times He revealed Himself by "diverse portions and in diverse manners." Events and persons, the laws with their minute arrangement of Israel's religious and social life, the promises, the work of the prophets, and the whole history of Israel were means by which God revealed Himself.

God's revelation was completed in Jesus Christ. He is God's Word to man. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth." (John 1:1, 14.) Christ declared God, He revealed God's very nature. In Christ God revealed not only all we need to know about Him, but all we in this life can comprehend.

The motive for God's revelation was love. He revealed Himself in order to save man. (John 3:16.)

Progress in revelation.

God's revelation was progressive up to Christ. He could not make Himself known more rapidly than man could be taught to make a saving use of this knowledge. That is the reason why the revelation preparing for Christ required such a long time. Jesus Christ completed the revelation of God.

The reason why God confined the direct revelation of Himself to the people of Israel was that He had to raise up a people, especially prepared and trained to be God's instruments for His self-revelation. No existing people was qualified for this work. God chose Israel not out of partiality, but because through no other people could He give to man the saving knowledge he needed.

The Bible.

In the Bible we have the revelation of God from its beginning to its conclusion. There God speaks to us. The word "Bible" means book. It has, however, come to mean that special book. It is therefore the book.

The Bible has a human side. It consists of sixty-six books written in human language and by human beings. There was a period of at least fifteen hundred years between the composition of the first and the last book of the Bible.

The individuality of the authors is very clearly noticeable in their composition and style. We can see how the holy authors exercised every power~ to present their message in the most effective and convincing way.

The Bible is also a divine book. It is given by inspiration. The holy authors were divinely guided, qualified and moved to preach and write as they did. The Holy Spirit gave them a correct understanding of God, His will and His work, and enabled them from the material at hand to select adequately and to find the right words to express the truth correctly. This is what we mean when we say that the Bible is verbally inspired.

Everything in the Bible is there because God wanted it to be there. The Devil's lying words to Eve were recorded in the Bible because God wanted them recorded. God used laws and prophecies, genealogies and war records, prose and poetry to set forth His plan of salvation. The record of the Devil's wickedness and of man's sin is a necessary background for the revelation of God's saving work. This record could not have been left out. The whole Bible and everything in the Bible is therefore God's message to man. It is God's Word.

Bible is Christ-centered.

In the Old Testament everything points forward to Christ. Not the Messianic promises only, but the laws, sacrifices, priests, and the whole history of Israel prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament everything centers around Christ. He is "the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev. 22:13.)

The Bible therefore is Christ-centered.

God's Word effective.

The Word of God is powerful and effective. In the Word of God we meet the greatest power in existence, because we met God at work. It was through His Word that God created the world. Through the Word He sustains and governs it. The Word of God can break the heart that is as hard as a rock and convict it of sin. The Word is the power of God unto salvation. When we read, teach, or preach the Word of God, we use the strongest power in existence.

How is the Bible to be understood? In the light of the many interpretations this is an important question. The Lutheran answer is: the Scriptures must interpret the Scriptures, or, to express it in other words: the Bible must be interpreted in harmony with the analogy of faith.

There are certain things taught so plainly throughout the Bible that there can not be any dispute about them among people who want to be guided by the Bible. There are other things that are more difficult. The rule should be that what is obscure should be understood in the light of what is plainly taught. Let us take an example. When James says, that a man is justified by works and "not only by faith" (James 2:24), this must not be understood contrary to what both the Old and the New Testament teach, that a man is justified by faith without any help from his works. James speaks of the fruits of the faith of a child of God. If a person shall remain in the relation to God as justified from his sins he must bring forth the fruits of faith. James speaks of the Christian obedience of a person who already is a child of God, not of the justification whereby the sins that separate one from God are blotted out.


According to its content the Word of God is divided into law and gospel. The law is that part of the Word in which God teaches us what we shall do and what we shall not do. Its classical form is the Ten Commandments. We should, however, remember that when we use the Ten Commandments as a summary of God's law, we understand them as Christ explained them. Luther has used the interpretation of Christ in his explanation of the Ten Commandments. The Commandments are called the moral law, because they deal with our morals and the mode of living which is becoming or unbecoming to man.

The law is permanent. It will never change. The reason is that it is an expression of God's own nature, and God's nature can not change. The law therefore lays down the fundamental principles for true religious and moral life. We can live neither in the right relation to God nor to our fellowmen, unless we live in harmony with the law. If we do not fear, love, and trust God above all things, we are not in the right relation to God. If we disobey our parents, hate and kill people, live unchastely, steal and slander, and are filled with covetousness, we do not live in the right relation either to God or man. Neither Church nor country, neither individual character nor a righteous government, neither a happy home nor a beneficial civilization can be built on any other foundation than the Ten Commandments.

God's motive for giving the law was His love to man. This is emphatically pointed out at the time of the giving of the law. (Ex. 19:4-6; 20:2.)

The aim of the law is primarily to convict man of sin. (Rom. 3:20; 5:20.) It also makes it impossible for the sinner to save himself through self-improvement. By demanding a pure heart the law frustrates all such attempts. The more honestly he strives to love God and man with a pure love, the more he finds that the very nature of his heart is selfish and evil. This experience is very vividly described by the apostle Paul. (Rom. 7:7-11.)

"When the commandment (namely: Thou shalt not covet) came, "the apostle says (v. 9) He had known this commandment before, but had not seriously applied it to himself. It was not till he honestly began practicing the commandment that "sin revived, and I died." Then he became convicted of sin. The law can not do its work unless we honestly apply it to ourselves.

For the child of God the law in addition becomes his heavenly Father's voice, which it is the desire of the child to obey.

These different effects of the law never cease in the life of the Christian. He always needs to be convicted of his sins. He always needs to find out that he cannot get rid of his sins by self-improvement, and he always has to listen to his Father's voice directing him in the way he should walk.

The law demands the heart. Outward conformity is not enough. This is because we can fulfill the law only when we love God with our whole heart, and our neighbor as ourselves.


The other part of the Word of God is the gospel. Gospel means good tiding. The word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon good spell (story), or according to others, God's spell. This latter gives the fuller New Testament meaning. It is the good tidings of God's grace in Jesus Christ our Savior. There is only one gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There was a historic development also of the gospel. The first gospel message was spoken in the garden immediately after the fall. (Gen. 3 :15.) In this promise we find four statements. There shall come a redeemer; he shall be of the woman's seed and therefore a representative of mankind; he shall destroy the power of the Devil; and he shall do it through suffering.

From time to time God adds to this promise, making it more definite and describing more fully the way in which the redeemer shall save the people. The gospel in the Old Testament is not found only in the direct promises, but also in the different forms of the services, for instance in the sacrifices.

Jesus Christ is the content of the gospel. The message telling us who He is, what He has done for us, and what He offers to us, is the glad tidings. The central part of the gospel consists of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The whole New Testament presents the life and death of Jesus as an atonement for the sins of man. By His life and death He fulfilled the law in our stead, and suffered the punishment of sin in our behalf. This He did because He loved us.

The redemption which Christ has thus wrought, God gives freely to all who will accept it. No price is asked. The only condition is that man will accept Christ as a free gift. When he accepts Christ he receives forgiveness of his sins and becomes a child of God. How free this gift is we see from the fact that it is offered to those who are not able to rid themselves of any of their sins, or improve the condition of their heart. The wonder of God's salvation is that He "justifies the ungodly." (Rom. 4:5.)

It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to believe in Christ and who makes us God's children.

The four-fold message of the Gospel.

It has already been stated that the fact that Christ died for our sins and rose as a victor over death is the fundamental part of the Gospel. But God's grace in Christ Jesus goes further. There is a fourfold message in the gospel.

  1. Christ atoned for our sins and conquered death.
  2. Through faith we receive the full benefit of His death and resurrection in that our sins are forgiven and we become righteous before God.
  3. At the same time we are made new creatures, enabled to live a new life in love to God and man.
  4. Ultimately we, too, shall be raised from the dead, and live eternally with Christ in His glory.
This is the gospel message. God offers us His son with all He did for us as a free gift. All he requires is that we accept the gift. Whenever the law has convinced us of our sins and our need of a Savior this Gospel is the most precious message to us. We accept Christ and are saved through faith in Him. It is this faith we confess in our three Articles of Faith.

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On Personal "gods"
by Tylan Dalrymple


Due to the cumulative nature of this writing I have most likely been neglectful in the full citation of my sources. The sources of this paper are varied. Ideas for the paper have come from books, television programs, sermons and friends. My intention in writing the paper is not to provide a single perspective of our church body, but to open discussion on an issue that I believe to be of vital importance.

The Issue At Hand:

“My imaginary friend who comes to my tea parties and loves everything about me.”

The purpose of the above statement, about the tea party, is meant to bring to mind those great friends some of us had as a child who seemed to agree with everything we had to say. An imaginary friend is an individual the child can speak to whenever they feel the need. This kind of friend comes to the child’s defense in almost any argument. Their imaginary friend knows them deeper than anyone else. Their friend often changes appearance and opinion on certain issues depending on the child’s present mood and needs. In other words, their friend is “personal” to them in the most modern sense of the word.

In modern terminology a personal relationship seems to be one of a somewhat existential nature. Within this model a personal relationship is one that teaches us first and foremost about ourselves and our own existence. The adjective “personal” becomes synonyms with the noun “self.” The first definition for the word “personal” at ( is “Of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private: a personal opinion.” We learn what is right for us. What is right for us may be vastly different from what is right for another individual living daily within their own personal relationship.

Given the current and most widely accepted understanding of what a personal relationship is I would like to consider the personal relationship many church goers claim to have with God. My contention is that their personal relationship with God has become a personal god or one that exists based upon their own conception of “Him”. To go about proving this I want to consider a few different topics mostly being of a doctrinal nature. These topics include doctrine of the word (exegesis), Law and Gospel, doctrine of God, doctrine of man, and a short look at the word religion. Each of these topics will be covered individually addressing only those parts of the doctrines that are directly related to the issue with having a personal God. I have written papers on each of these topics within the confines of classes on Systematic Theology, Biblical Prophecy, and the Gospel of John.

These topics lead me to an opinion shared by many of my Christian brothers and sisters (I will later introduce several). My belief is that the lack of doctrine, within many Church bodies, leads the way toward the development of a personal god. I believe this lack of doctrine is the precursor to the breakdown of the true personal relationship God intends for us to have with him. Under each heading I will include what scripture has to say about this true relationship with God using interpretation from those who have had more experience with the rules for interpretation or “exegesis.”

Doctrine of the Word

“Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum” (The Word of the Lord Endures Forever) is the motto of the Lutheran reformation. In the original preface to the book of concord we find it written, “He willed that the light of His Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4) and Word-through which alone we receive true salvation-should arise and shine clearly and purely in Germany, our most beloved fatherland.” [Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions: 1 Vol. Translated by William Theodore Dau and Gerhard Bente. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 29]. One can scarcely imagine someone like Joe Osteen speaking these words. However, these are some of the most important words in our Lutheran book of concord. In short, our message of revelation comes through the Word of God alone.

Many people throughout America have recently discovered something different about God’s Word. They have found that scripture is a little to general for them. I have personally heard many individuals explain God’s will for “them.” Many times this “message” from God is different from the message of scripture. I have been told of one individual who decided, after much prayer, that God wanted her to divorce her husband to be with her new boyfriend. She obviously missed the verse in Matthew that says “What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” (Matt 19:6b) Now this woman was already arguing that God had a different purpose for her and that this message was given to her in a very direct fashion, arising somehow out of her prayer. Is this the fruit produced from a personal relationship with God? I believe this has become the societal standard for what a personal relationship with God is. When I think of this woman my mind quickly moves to the child who blames his/her imaginary friend for spilling the milk or persuading them to hit their sibling. One can quickly see the problem here. Some would accuse me of being against personal prayer or interaction between the individual and God. I would respond by explaining that all prayer must be done in light of what God has revealed to us in scripture. The professor author Wayne Grudem explains this in reference to systematic theology,

“Of all the forms of the Word of God, the focus of our study in systematic theology is God’s Word in written form, that is the Bible. This is the form of God’s Word that is available for study, for public inspection, for repeated examination, and as a basis for mutual discussion. It tells us about and points us to the Word of God as a person, namely Jesus Christ, whom we do not now have present in bodily form on earth. Thus, we are no longer able to observe and imitate his life and teachings first hand.

The other forms of the word of God are not suitable as a primary basis for the study of theology. We do not hear God’s word of decree and thus cannot study them directly but only through observation of their effects. God’s words of personal address are uncommon , even in Scripture. Furthermore, even if we did hear some words of personal address from God to ourselves today, we would not have certainty that our understanding of it, our memory of it, and our subsequent report of it was wholly accurate.” [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 50]

What Grudem writes, relative to hearing things from God directly, is of great importance. Too many people who claim to pray daily to God are completely ignorant of His Word. Prayer is important and necessary, but it is only a part of a relationship with God that has its very basis in the Word. Prayer that takes place without consideration for the Word of God is very likely to become prayer to a god of or our own conscious.

Doctrine of God

Many people in our Western society are actively seeking fulfillment. We are spiritual creatures and thus have a need for fulfillment on a spiritual level. Many go about creating their own gods in order to fulfill this need. People will do many things to find fulfillment. They will find it through accumulation of wealth, through deviant sexual practices, through their career and the list goes on and on. C.S. Lewis wrote about this seeking of fulfillment when he wrote, “All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—(is) the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” [C .S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001). 76]

I believe that the latest method of fulfillment is through making our own god in our own image or consciousness. This remaking of Christ is something that the Gnostics enjoyed doing as early as the second century and many claim even earlier. A Catholic author Raymond Brown explains some of Gnostic belief when he writes about the Gnostic form of the redeemer myth, “As seen in the later Gnostic documents, this myth supposes the existence of an Urmensch, an Original Man, a figure of light and goodness, who was torn apart and divided into small particles of light. The particles, as souls, where seeded in the world of darkness, and it was the task of demons to make them forget their heavenly origins..” [Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, Vol. 1. Anchor Bible 29-29A. (New York: Doubleday, 1965). 54]. Brown goes on to explain how true knowledge “gnosis” is imparted by Christ when he returns in corporeal form and thereby relights the souls that were broken off from the whole. The Gnostics obviously had very different doctrines than those produced by the scriptures as we have them. They would strongly disagree with Jesus being fully man and fully God. The Gnostics believed themselves to have special knowledge of God apart from the message proclaimed by the apostles and their successors. It is a fact that they also made claims that much of their theology is based on scripture itself, but that is the subject of another discussion. The point is that that the Gnostics began to create a God different than the God of the Bible so very soon after the earthly walk of Jesus.

This problem, exemplified by Gnosticism, has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen in the future. We must be very careful to understand God on His terms. God has revealed himself to us through scripture and through scripture we know that his name is hallowed (Matt 6:9), that he is the creator whom we serve (Matt 5:16), we know he is independent because scripture tells us, “nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24-25) We also know God is both infinite and personal. He was there in the beginning and will always be, he is the great “I AM.” He knows each one of us personally in every way. The doctrine of God, like the other topics, is a study onto itself. The key thing to remember is that our personal relationship with God is a relationship with a being unlike any other. This personal relationship is with a God who knows our every need and thought. A relationship with God is one orchestrated by God and dependent upon the revelation he has given to us of himself. We may have questions that are not answered in the Bible. However, God does not promise to reveal everything we want to know, but knowledge that is sufficient to His purposes.

Doctrine of Man

“And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) We only know ourselves though God. We only know God through His Word. The commission is not to go out and preach what you think God is. J. I Packer writes, “Knowing God involves, first, listening to God’s word and receiving it as the Holy Sprit interprets it, in application to oneself; second, noting God’s nature and character, as His word and works reveal it; third accepting His invitations, and doing what He commands; fourth, recognizing, and rejoicing in, the love that He has shown in thus approaching one and drawing one into the divine fellowship.” [J. I. Parcker, Knowing God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1973). 32]. In the United States we are free to worship how we see fit. Many have taken this liberty to be God given rather than state given. God has rules that the individual man must follow if he is to have a relationship with the true God, rather than a god. Scripture teaches us that, “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14) Jesus spoke in parables for just this reason. This is why it is important to question ourselves or someone else who seems more focused on the “personal” rather than the “relationship” part of their personal relation with God. Using modern terminology, which I have described above, we may very well find many people using their personal freedom to create their very own personal god.

For someone living in 2008 this mindset that allows a person to create their own god is easily adapted. Our technological advances have led many to believe that they can create their own god much like they create an online personality (avatar). James Montgomery Boice writes, “Consequently, the extraordinary technical advances of our time are accompanied by and extreme and debilitating moral permissiveness which promises in time to break down even the values and system that made both the advances and the permissiveness possible.” [James M. Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1986), 20].

Religion versus Law and Gospel

This last section is to function as a brief summary of how a personal relationship with God can quickly turn into a personal god for many people. In my studies on Biblical prophecy I encountered an author who encouraged a view of Christianity that runs contrary to what religion is considered to be currently and historically. I found his view enlightening when I considered it alongside our strong Lutheran doctrine of Law and Gospel. In the preface of his book on Biblical Prophecy, Willem VanGemeren explains the difference between (revelation from God (the Bible), and religion. Concerning revelation VanGemeren makes a diagram putting God at the top and center, while His relations with man, individuals (self), and the world are placed under God. In regards to religion VanGemeren puts individuals (self), at the top while man, god or gods, and world are at the bottom. Of revelation he writes, “Any deviation from the way of revelation, slight as it might be, degrades revelation into religion.” He goes on to explain what religion is by saying, “Religion is a system of belief and morality that gives human beings a sense of meaning, but as a system is defined and developed by human beings” [William S. VanGemeren, Interpreting the Prphetic Word (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 20].

It is interesting to note VanGeme-ren’s differentiation between revelation and religion when consideration is given to the doctrine of Law and Gospel. Our doctrinal view of Law and Gospel is derived from the revelation God has given to us in scripture. God is sovereign in His application of both Law and Gospel. Thesis 4 of C.F.W. Walther’s book on Law and Gospel states, “The true knowledge of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording the correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book [C. F. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, ed. W. H. T. Dau (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986) 1]. Our formula for doctrine is at its’ innermost, a formula for reading and interpreting scripture, or revelation as VanGemeren calls it. So when many people are conversing with a god apart from the knowledge of the God of scripture they are still practicing religion. They are practicing the religion of many of their ancestors. They are picking and choosing a god of their own mind. VanGemeren believes that, “religion is manipulative.” [Willem A. VanGemeren, p. 21]. This personal god emphasizes the “person” part of personal. When a personal relationship with God takes place apart from scripture we find that God is degraded into a “sugar daddy” or if you’re feminist a “sugar momma.” For people who believe this, God only exists to manipulate our lives for our own personal gains. This is a stark contrast to the God of scripture who demands a loving relationship between himself and the servant that he loves.

In closing I believe the opening verses of John’s Gospel are most appropriate. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:1-9) There is only one true light and He existed before all things. We pray that His Will be done for each one of us.

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by Walter A. Maier

I read of a shipwrecked man who managed to reach an uninhabited island. There, to protect himself against the elements and to safeguard the few possessions he had salvaged, he painstakingly built a little hut from which he constantly and prayerfully scanned the horizon for the approach of a ship.

Returning one evening after a search for food, he was terrified to find the hut completely enveloped by flames. What a crushing disaster that seemed! Yet by divine mercy this hard affliction was changed into a mighty advantage.

Early the following morning he awoke to find a ship anchored off the island. When the captain stepped ashore, he explained, "We saw your smoke signal and came."

Everything the marooned man owned had to be destroyed before he could be rescued.

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The LMS-USA is a Biblical, Confessional, Evangelical, Liturgical, Congregational expression of the universal (catholic) orthodox Church on earth. It is a 'Forum by Subscription.' As a 'Forum' the intent is that there will be an ongoing discussion of theological issues and concerns among clergy and lay alike. The LMS-USA meets annually for a Theological Conference and this publication, besides carrying news of the Ministerium and Synod, functions also as a vehicle for this continuing dialogue.

For information or to make comment contact:

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