We live in an age of ecumenicism. As Lutherans this desire to 'get together'
is part of our history. Many of us remember a multitude of Lutheran denominations
where the division was mainly because of ethnic differences. Any number of
these mergers took place, and thrived because there was general agreement
on matters of theology, worship and mission practice. Today however, there
is a move among many Lutherans to 'come together' with traditions completely
outside the Lutheran understanding of Scripture, theology, and worship. We
are told we can 'get along' if we will simply agree to disagree on some matters.
But are the historic differences between Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Reformed
matters we can be ignored and overlooked? The matter of how we come to salvation
is basic to how a church functions. Jacob Tanner, in a volume written almost
50 years ago, shares with us the Biblical, and Lutheran understanding of
'the order of salvation.' There is little question but that if one accepts
the understandings here set forth - and this is the historic Lutheran
understanding - then it would be extremely difficult to join in fellowship
with those who hold to any other understanding of this most basic of
The following reprinted from Exploring God's Word, by Jacob Tanner, Augsburg Publishing House, Mpls., MN; 1950. Used by permission of Augsburg Fortress.
THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
(Justification by Faith)
Read Jeremiah 2:22; Acts 18:88-39; Romans 4:5; I John 1:9; Romans 1:16-17;
4:13; Psalms 82:1-5; Zechariah 3:1-5.
The forgiveness of sins was restricted and limited in the Old Testament. When a sin had been committed, the person had to bring a prescribed sacrifice. The sacrificial blood atoned for the sin, and when the priest with his finger put the blood on the horns of the altar, the atonement was accepted by God and the sin was forgiven (Lev. 4:5). If the person again sinned, another sacrifice had to be brought. And the sacrifice could be brought only in the temple in Jerusalem, or in the tabernacle before the temple.
When Christ came, He entered, through His own blood once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption, that is, eternal forgiveness (Heb. 9:12). No more sacrifices are necessary. Through the means of grace, the Word and the sacraments, there is now available any time and at any place an all-sufficient forgiveness. It is this all-sufficient and ever-effective forgiveness that is God's power unto salvation.
Christ atoned for our sins and rose again on Easter Sunday in order to produce forgiveness of sins, the power of God unto salvation.
Man cannot by any effort of his own cleanse himself from the guilt and uncleanness of his sins. Only God can do it by forgiving his sins. It is an act of God and a gift of God. It washes away our sins and bestows upon us the righteousness Christ has provided.
The forgiveness of sins is called justification by faith. This forgiveness makes the sinner just and righteous before God. It is by faith. We do not work for it. When God through His Word assures us that He, for Christ's sake, forgives all our sins, blots them out, we take Him at His word. We trust Him, believe Him, and the forgiveness is ours.
Paul says that God justifies the ungodly. He does not wait to forgive our sins till we have improved our sinful condition, because then He could never forgive us. God forgives our sins while we see and feel nothing but sin in us and all we can do is to cry, God have mercy on me, a sinner.
It is the forgiveness we receive that changes and improves us.
The decision to forgive our sins is not made in our heart. It is made in God's heart, God's mind. Naturally, there is no feeling in us telling us that now God made the decision to forgive our sins. We believe God when He assures us in His Word that He forgives all our sins. Then we have peace with God, not before.
David and Joshua (the high priest) illustrate how God forgives sins. In Psalms 32:5, David tells of his experience. When he at last was willing to admit his sins and confess them to Jehovah, the God of salvation then Jehovah forgave all his sins at once. In Joshua's case we notice that God directs the whole procedure. Joshua simply let them do for him what Jehovah commands. Notice also the two sides of the forgiveness of sins, that the sins are taken away from Joshua, and that he is being clothed in a God-given righteousness.
THE HOLY SPIRIT CALLS
Read I Timothy 2:4; Romans 3:20; Matthew 11:29; Isaiah 66:4; Matthew 23:37.
The Bible states that God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:4).
In order to carry out this purpose of God the Holy Spirit calls the individual, that is, He urges and invites him to turn from his sin and accept God's forgiveness so that He can be saved.
The first thing the Holy Spirit has to do is to convince man that he needs to be saved. He must make the individual realize that he is a lost and condemned sinner. This He does through the law (Rom. 3:20).
When we speak of the law we naturally first think of the Ten Commandments. However, the law also meets us in the perfect life of Christ. He fulfilled the law and demonstrated how a child of God should live. Face to face with the sinless and holy Christ, a sincere and honest man learns to know his sin and his need of salvation. Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, Jesus said.
It is evident that the Holy Spirit must continue to convict of sin as long as we live. Unless the Holy Spirit throws His light upon our thoughts, desires, words, and life every day, we would soon forget that we are sinners in need of God's salvation in Christ.
In the baptized child this daily call comes through the instruction and the example of Christian parents and others surrounding the child. As the child grows in knowledge of God's Word, the knowledge of sin also increases.
In the case of the prodigal son the Holy Spirit calls him to turn away from his life in sin and turn to God. If the prodigal obeys the call, he will go to his heavenly Father and confess his sin and receive forgiveness. From then on he too will grow in knowledge of sin.
An important question meets us here. Why is it that some people listen to the call of the Holy Spirit and turn to God and are saved, while others refuse to do so? Jesus said that they would not. But why did they not want to come when God called them?
The reason is not in God. His call is sincere. There is power in the call to enable every one who hears it to arise and go to his Father. This power has been called prevenient grace. It means a grace that comes to the sinner enabling him to obey the call.
The explanation of this mystery is bound up in man's personality. Personality means self-determination, and it is in this privilege of self-determination that the mystery lies. No one can explain it. However, we maintain what the Bible teaches, that God would have all men to be saved.
Read I Corinthians 2:14; Luke 15:17; Ephesians 4.17-18; Romans 8:7; Acts
26:18; Ephesians 1:17-18
The next point to be considered in the order of salvation is that the Holy Spirit enlightens us with His gifts. We should notice that we are unable to separate the enlightening from the call. As soon as the Holy Spirit begins to call the sinner He also begins to enlighten him.
As the Holy Spirit calls through the law and the gospel, so He enlightens through the law and the gospel.
Psychologically we may speak of three sides of this enlightening. In the first place, the Holy Spirit makes me realize that I am a lost sinner and that God seeks to save me. This work the Spirit does by furnishing light in my understanding. In the next place, He awakens in me a stirring sense of my guilt and the need of salvation. This work He does by shedding light in the conscience. In the third place, He persuades me to turn from my sin and believe in Jesus Christ. This work is done in my willpower.
Without this enlightening work of the Holy Spirit no one could be saved. The natural man does not see his sin and his need of salvation. Besides, his flesh is enmity against God and this enmity must be overcome, and only the Holy Spirit can do that.
Read Isaiah 1:2-19; Mark 1:14, 15; 6:12; Acts 2:38; 17:30.
The Holy Spirit calls and enlightens in order to lead the sinner to repentance so that he may humble himself and become willing to seek and to accept forgiveness of his sins. Repentance opens the heart to the saving power of the forgiveness of sins. Repentance is therefore a fundamental part of the message both of the Old and of the New Testament.
Repentance is a necessary experience. There is a deep-rooted love of sinning in all of us. Unless this love is broken there can be no salvation from sins.
Read Genesis 3:8-13; 4:9-14; Psalms 32:3-5; 51:3-5; Matthew 26:75; Matthew 27:3-5; Acts 9:1-19; II Corinthians 7:10.
Repentance is a feeling of regret and sorrow that we have yielded to what was wrong. Self-accusation and shame are a part of it. There is also a desire to right the wrong, if possible, and most certainly not to repeat it.
It is a bitter, humiliating experience and the human heart resorts to all kinds of excuses until cornered by the voice of God's law in the conscience.
The sorrow may be more or less intense. If the awakening to the recognition of ones sins comes suddenly, it is likely to be more intense. It is generally more quiet when the awakening is gradual.
The intensity of the sorrow is merely psychological. It may be violent and still not go deep. It may be more calm and go very deep. There is enough sorrow when it makes us willing to turn from our sin to God.
Repentance is a healthful experience, because it leads us back to the right road. It is the way out of sin to peace with God.
To be "hard-boiled" is a degeneration, a sign that some of the most valuable soul forces in us have been destroyed. Judas was "hard-boiled" and so were the Pharisees. Judas' sorrow drove him to despair and self-destruction. Even he could have been saved if, like Peter, he had turned to God.
Repentance is a constructive experience. It is a house-cleaning that inaugurates a new life. Without repentance, Saul of Tarsus would never have become the apostle Paul.
Repentance, or what seems to be repentance, may be caused by self-pity. Cain whined. He was afraid of the consequences of his sin, afraid of his life (Gen. 4:13). Death-bed repentance are often of this kind. It is the fear of being eternally lost that motivates the cry to God for mercy. The cry may or may not lead to a true conversion and surrender to God. Pity for oneself is not sorrow over ones sins. An earnest plea to be saved from sin, not only from hell, is a part of trite repentance. All sin is sin against God and it is with Him we have to settle first of all.
Read Luke 15:11-24; 18:9-14; Acts 24:25.
Repentance must lead to decision and action. The lost son in the parable not only made up his mind to go home to his father and confess, but he did it. Unless repentance leads to action it will become an end in itself and be a hindrance instead of a help to lead us back to God.
Confession is an essential part of repentance. It must be honest and frank. Whether it is accompanied by many tears or no tears at all, is not important, but honesty and frankness are important. Many words are not necessary. The Publican in the temple used eight words (six in the Greek text) and Jesus said that he went home justified.
In confessing sin to God it is well to be specific and to name it by its right name. It promotes honesty and willingness to face ones sin without excuse.
The confession must he made first and above all to God. If a wrong has been done against one's neighbor, confession should also be made to him. And restitution, as far as possible.
Read Ephesians 2:8; Romans 5:1; Acts 26:18; Romans 1:17; Hebrews 11:6.
Faith is necessary unto salvation. We are saved through faith; we have peace with God through faith; we are sanctified through faith; we are made righteous before God through faith; and without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing to God.
This all-importance of faith is not because there is any merit in our faith, but because Christ becomes the personal Savior only of that person who believes in Him, that is, accepts Him as his Savior. Faith can be compared to a channel through which Christ and His salvation come into the heart.
This importance of faith is not found only in spiritual matters. Without faith our social life would break down. We put our money into the bank because we have faith in it. We eat in a restaurant because we trust that we will be served wholesome, not poisoned, food. Most of our knowledge is accepted on faith in the trustworthiness of the sources.
Read John 9:35-38; Acts 16:27-34; Mark 1:15; Galatians 2:20.
If we want to know what saving faith is, we must first find out what it is we are to believe. Faith does not exist apart from its object, apart from the thing we believe.
When Jesus asked the blind man whose eyes He had opened if he believed on the Son of God, he did not answer, What is it to believe? That was not his problem. His problem was to find out who this Son of God was. Then he could judge if he would consider Him trustworthy. So he answered, And who is He, Lord, that I may believe on Him? When Jesus told him that He Himself was the Son of God, the man at once answered, Lord, I believe. He had found Him trustworthy.
Some Christians are so busy looking at their repentance, their feelings, their love, or their faith, that they do not have the peace with God that is a result of saving faith. Good feelings do not guarantee saving faith, any more than bad feelings prove that we have no faith. Repentance, faith, love, and all the other results of the work of the Holy Spirit in us, will never be perfect in this life. Besides, we are not told in the Word of God that we are saved by our feelings or that repentance or any other fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit within us is the basis for our salvation. The Word saves. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. It is in Him we must believe.
Read II Corinthians 5:14, 15, 18, 19, 21; Ephesians 1:7; II Corinthians 1:20; I John 1:7, 9; 2:1-2; I Peter 1:18-19; Romans 4:5.
What are we to believe about Jesus Christ in order to be saved? That He was God's Son? Certainly. That He was born of the Virgin Mary? Certainly. But that is not enough. It was by taking our sins upon Himself, carrying them up on the cross, atoning for our sins by his suffering and death, securing a full forgiveness of our sins when He rose from the dead - it was by doing all this that He became our Savior. It is this we must believe as presented to us in the Bible. And in addition, we must believe that when we confess our sins to God, He forgives our sins for Christ's sake, applies the atoning blood of Christ to our sins, blotting them out, and that as a result He makes us just and righteous in His own sight. Only when I believe that Christ suffered and died and rose again for my sins, and that as a result He gives me full forgiveness for all my sins when I confess my sins and ask for forgiveness - only then does He become my personal Savior.
When Paul says that God justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5), he means that God forgives our sins before we are able to overcome them and rid ourselves of them. The ungodly is one that sees nothing but sin and failures in himself. God's Word urges us to accept forgiveness for our sins while we still see ourselves as unsaved. Jesus Christ saves us through the forgiveness of our sins.
Read Matthew 8:5-13; Romans 4:18-22; Mark 9:17-27.
The above passages explain why our faith is weak when it should be strong.
The centurion had watched Jesus and drawn his conclusions. He had seen Him command sickness as he commanded his soldiers. One that could do that could do anything. He had a strong faith because he was certain that Jesus was the Master whom all sickness had to obey. He looked at Jesus only.
The father whose son the disciples could not heal, saw his son rolling on the ground in convulsions. The case looked hopeless. Of course, he knew that Jesus had a wonderful reputation, but could He help in such a case? He was torn between faith in Jesus and doubt, because of the severity of the sickness of his son. The result was a weak faith.
One thing, however, we should learn here. He confessed the weakness of his faith to Jesus and prayed for help, and he received help. Every honest confession of weak faith and prayer for a stronger faith will be heard by Jesus.
Read Mark 1:14-15; 1 John 3:23; 5:10; Matthew 23:37; John 5:44.
It was the command of Jesus that they should believe the gospel. When the gospel presents Christ to us, it is an offer and an invitation to accept Him. It is even more. It is God's will that we believe in Jesus Christ. It is, therefore, a command of love. John even says that if we don't believe on the Son as our Savior, we make God a liar.
The reason for not believing in Christ is either that we feel we do not need Him or that we do not want Him. The person who does not want to break with his sins, naturally does not want Christ.
When Jesus said to the Jews that they did not believe because they sought honor one from another, and the honor that was from God they did not seek, He lay bare one of the deepest reasons why men reject Christ. It is pride. To accept Christ and follow Him would make them lose standing among their friends or sometimes even in larger circles.
Read II Corinthians 1:20; I John 1:9.
Saving faith is faith in God's promise that when we confess our sins to Him He forgives them.
When the Holy Spirit leads us to faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, His purpose is that we may accept the forgiveness of our sins. It is the forgiveness of sins that is God's power unto salvation.
Look for "The Order of Salvation" (Part 2) in the next issue of Table Talk.
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Introducing Anniston, Alabama
Community Lutheran Church, Anniston, AL - It was a joyous moment in the life of this new Lutheran Family as Mr. Eric Gernert was installed as their first pastor on Sunday, January 22, 1999.
Following much prayerful consideration by the families involved, Community Lutheran met for the first time on September 13th, 1998. Initially, services were held at the Anniston City Meeting Center, while the search was on for a location they could call home. For the first three weeks they conducted lay services without communion. They also conducted both Adult and Children's Sunday School. Mr. Gernert agreed to lead services and act as leader for the Sunday School.
During this period the congregation contacted the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod and soon made an application to affiliate with that church body. In late September, Mr. Gernert and a member of the congregation went to Indianapolis to attend a meeting of the LMS Ministerial. At this meeting, Mr. Gernert was accepted into seminary with the LMS and approved as a Licensed Lay Pastor. Community Lutheran was also given Provisional membership in the LMS. At the Synod's annual meeting in June, congregation and pastor hope to be accepted into full subscriptional membership with the LMS-USA.
Rev. Ralph Spears comments on the installation of Pastor Eric Gernert:
Luther's famed quote that "a layman armed with Scripture is mightier than any pope," has some near parallels with the life of community Lutheran Church of Anniston, Alabama. And the installation of a lay pastor to lead an exceptional group of laymen there, is proof of what can be done in that regard - today!
The mood at the January 22nd Installation Service was more than joyous. Among the many strong emotions that were apparent was an overriding sense that a true Congregation had been established by laymen and women who know what the Church is and should be.
Eric Gernert who had long considered a theological education in the midst of a busy schedule to serve as a pastor, was approved by the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod and installed to serve for at least one year in Word and Sacrament ministry, was called out from the midst of this small but unusually savvy congregation.
But even more was installed that evening, for Community Lutheran Congregation is a good example of what can be done when a group of believing Lutherans come together to establish a body as Luther envisioned it. And it was gratifying for me to represent the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod on such a moving and momentous occasion.
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by Rev. John Erickson
Jena... as noted in our last issue of Table Talk, Jena Evangelical Lutheran Seminar, is being proposed as the name for our synodical training institution. In the midst of the discussions that lead to the name proposal, as well as immediately following this decision being made, a number of thoughts and questions have come to mind. Why Jena? And, what is the difference anyway? Who cares about the name? Why not just call it the LMS Seminary?
But a name does make a difference! And any student of the Bible knows this to be the case. And the importance of a name certainly finds its ultimate in the name(s) that were to be given, and were given, to Him who came as Savior of the world. "His name shall be called Jesus, for he will save the people from their sins." "His name, Emmanuel, which means, God with us." The names used throughout the Bible spoke volumes as to the character, the purpose and/or calling or function of a particular individual or place.
So what about the name Jena? Jena was one of several names set forth for consideration, all of which were given serious thought. And with regard to Jena, the majority had little, if any, knowledge of the word. As it turns out, it was because of the Smalcald War that the Ernestine line of the dukes of Saxony lost the electorial dignity and the University of Wittenberg. So, in 1548, they established a classical high school in Jena*. Then ten years later, that school was transformed into a full University.
Of interest is the fact that Melanchthon declined a call to become one of the professors at Jena, however, those he nominated were appointed. One of the Melanchthon appointments was V. Strigel, a Philippist [The Philippists were those who claimed to be followers of Philipp Melanchthon. They pushed the Calvinist teachings on the Lord's Supper, the use of the law and predestination. All the while, they claimed to be Lutheran. They gained influence over government officials who persecuted the true Lutherans], who later joined the Reformed church. German Protestants divided into two groups, the Philippists which centered in Wittenberg, and the Gnesico-Lutherans in Jena, where under the influence of Amsdorf was considered the center of 'genuine Lutherans.' In the various theological controversies, Jena proved to be an unyielding defender of Lutheran orthodoxy, and the struggles of the Gneisio-Lutherans led to the Formula of Concord in 1578 and the collection of confessional writings in the book of Concord in 1580.
As it turned out, the very relentless and irreconcilable attitude at Jena ended up leading to its demise. In 1561, Flacius, one of the most ardent defenders of orthodoxy, was dismissed and with the political changes taking place, further theological changes continued until now, the Philippists were teaching at Jena, and then the pupils of Flacius. However, in time, a more moderate Lutheranism gained control at Jena which was best represented in the person of John Gerhard. His Loci Theologiici are considered the chief work produced by Lutheran orthodoxy in the 17th century. It is interesting to note that Gerhard turned down no less than 24 calls to other universities in order that he might remain at Jena. It is also interesting to note that along with his duties at the University, John Gerhard also served as a parish pastor [This was a practice which kept professors faithful and 'in touch'. This very thing is part of what we are intending of those who would teach in our Seminar]. Sadly, in the 19th century, Jena became the "citadel of a decidedly historical-critical theology with a philosophical orientation." That which the University once stood for, was lost.
So, should the name Jena even be considered for a seminary, which in this day, is determined to be a institution which holds to Biblical and a genuine Lutheran orthodoxy? I would suggest, knowing the history of Jena, that it might give one even more reason to give serious consideration to the name. A name can do more than bring to mind what is good about a person or thing... it can also serve as a reminder as to what might be, if care is not taken. For example, when one thinks of the name of David, one is reminded first of all, of the Old Testament King. One is then reminded of the glorious Davidic kingdom, and of the place of honor which history, and almighty God himself, has given to David... including a most important place in the ancestry of our Lord. But one is also reminded that David was, at one point in time, most unfaithful to his Lord, and guilty the worst of sins. Yet... David continues to be one of the most popular names today. And why not? David faced up to his sin. He acknowledged it, confessed it, and repented of it. And God restored him, albeit, not without consequences.
Jena was founded upon, and for a portion of its history stood for, what we want our seminary to stand for. And when, and in the areas in which Jena in time fell short, well, that can remind us that we must not become complacent... we must always be alert to what is going on in the world and in the church and not be swayed from that which is right and true. Paul's admonition to young Timothy in II Timothy 4:1-5 is most fitting in this connection.
Jena Evangelical Lutheran Seminar is the name being proposed by the LMS Ministerium for consideration by the Synod Convention. It may not end up being the only name given consideration, but whatever name is decided upon, it is good to remember that a name does make a difference (Proverbs 22:1). The name can speak to what is... to what should be... and it can speak caution of what might be if God's people become apathetic and cold.
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If you are interested in learning more of what the LMS-USA is about, this annual conference may be for you. Visitors are welcome at any and all sessions, including convention business sessions. More information, including registration information, will be included in the May issue of Table Talk. Clergy and lay alike are welcome.
If you have any questions concerning the LMS-USA check our web page http://www.lmsusa.org
or feel free to contact us by email at RevralphS@juno.com
or by phone at 1-317-637-8870
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In 1733, Gotthilf Francke (son of August Herman Francke) in Halle, Saxony
was informed of the situation in southeastern Pennsylvania where several
thousand German immigrants were living "without a church, without the services
of a regularly ordained preacher, and without the administration of the holy
sacraments, even as lost sheep." (Nelson, E. Clifford, The Lutherans in North
America, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, Rev. Ed. 1980, p 44.).
As a result of the request, over a period of time, a number of clergy were sent to America. Others came on their own, without church endorsement. Some were leaders of groups of colonists. Others were chaplains who accompanied German mercenaries and decided to stay in America when the soldiers were demobilized... Still others crossed the Atlantic as indentured servants. A good many who came and claimed to be clergy were not qualified to perform the duties of the office.
Those who came on their own authority were called "pretenders" because, as one person put it, they "run before they are sent and pretend they are ministers of the Gospel that never had a legal call or ordination." These men were also called "'vagabond preachers' because they wandered from place to place." The pretenders were a result of both an absence of effective supervision by the various church bodies, as well as by a tremendous shortage of clergymen. A North Carolina minister described the situation this way, "The absence of good preachers caused people, who after all had a longing for the gospel and would gladly have heard the Word of God, to take their refuge to such men who, like roaming knights, traverse the land and, after they were no longer able to make their living because of evil conduct in their [other] profession, become preachers" (Ibid).
When Henry M. Muhlenberg came to Pennsylvania, he came into conflict with the pretenders and tried to get rid of them. When, on his own, he failed, he sought help from the civil authorities. But nothing proved effective in curbing the pretenders who simply filled the pulpits vacated because the Lutheran churches in Europe could not supply enough competent clergymen. Because of the shortage, schoolmasters and others who could read and write were put into emergency service... and in time Muhlenberg himself endorsed the practice.
Let him who can, provide regular preachers . . . . But at a time when there is a great shortage of such ministers in all parts of the world, let us not bind the hands and feet of the poor souls who are swimming in the water and thus make them drown. Let us rather give them our hands and extend poles to them also that they have something to take hold of (p. 46).
It was soon recognized that workers would have to be trained here in America to minister to the increasing numbers of Lutherans. Some ministers took students into their homes and tutored them privately. In addition to their learning from books and recitations, these students also became acquainted with practical parish work by observing and assisting their tutors. "After submitting to 'a brief examination in the ancient languages and theology," a candidate could be licensed "to preach, to catechize, and to administer the holy sacraments" for only one year and only in a designated place or places. The license could be renewed annually until the candidate was believed to be ready for a more demanding examination and subsequent ordination as a minister of the gospel. In time, the requirements were relaxed because the demand for ministers continued to grow. Knowledge of 'the oriental and occidental languages, with which the studious youth is so sorely detained and tormented,' was no longer insisted upon, provided there was evidence of 'righteousness of the heart and personal experience of repentance, faith, and devotion'" (Ibid).
With the licensing of Pastor Eric Gernert, the LMS Ministerium has brought the matter of the licensing of lay pastors to the fore. It is a matter that will be on the agenda for the Annual Convention this June. While the licensing of a lay Pastor to serve a congregation ought never be the norm, by our action we have indicated that we recognize there may well be situations where a lay Pastor may be the best solution to a need for pastoral leadership in a particular congregation. Following somewhat the pattern of the early Lutherans in this country, we have proposed the following requirements for lay pastors:
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One year ago at the annual meeting at Christ Lutheran of Chetek, WI, the
congregation approved the building of a classroom addition to the church.
The decision was to move ahead with the project as monies came in. With all
the work, including electrical and heating, being done by congregational
members, the costs were kept at a minimal. Yet, who would have thought that
the addition would have been ready for its first use the last Sunday in December?
The only answer - God has richly blessed us!
Pastor John Erickson
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But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Accept this, and take comfort from it, believing that it was done for your sake, and for your good. For here you hear it, not once, or twice, but many times what He suffers, He suffers innocently.
Why does God allow this? Why does God ordain it and bring it to pass? In order that you should be comforted by it. He did not suffer for His own sake. He suffered for your sake and for the whole world's sake. That is why it is so full of contradiction. He is the Son of God, entirely holy and without sin, and therefore He should have no part in death nor the curse. We are sinners, under God's curse and wrath, and therefore we should bear death and condemnation. But God reverses it; He who has no sin, in whom there is nothing but grace, must be made the curse and bear the chastisement, and through Him, we are in a state of grace, and the children of God. Therefore, we should hold fast to this comfort and especially treasure this testimony of Christ's innocence. For our guilt and sin were the occasion of what Christ innocently suffered. And that is why we can take comfort against sin and every ill, through His innocence. For such innocence is a sure and certain testimony, that we enjoy the fruit of His sufferings, and that our devoted Lord and gracious Redeemer has suffered for us and paid our debt.
Dr. Martin Luther
Sermons from the year 1545
W.A. 52. 786 f.
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