“Treasuring Our Heritage of Truth” – Third of Three…
The divinely inspired letter to the Ephesians is all about the Church of Jesus Christ – of which we are members by the grace of God, redeemed and forgiven by the blood of Christ, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the Head and chief Cornerstone. In Ephesians chapter 4 we are given the marvelous Master-plan for the edification (building up) of His Church.
Our ascended Lord would bless His Church with people-leader gifts. These gifts would then equip faithful saints for the work of the gospel ministry so that, in turn, all would grow in faith and love for Christ, so that all might possess strong Scriptural convictions, so that—as we sail across the sea of life and face the storms of life—we would not be like small rudderless, anchorless, pilot-less boats, tossed back and forth and adrift with every wind of human teaching that is blowing; rather, we would be people of God anchored to the sure foundation of Jesus and His Word so that we would boldly speak His Truth.
I am one among a shrinking group who has vivid memories not only of much that has happened in the fifty years of our synod’s existence, but also of the days prior to the birth of the CLC. I have never ceased to marvel at the people-gifts with which the Lord has blessed us—pastors, teachers, missionaries, professors, Christian men and women in the pews who were and are truly anchored to their heritage of Truth in the face of intense pressure to do otherwise. Clay pots they were and we are, each with our own sins and weaknesses—yet vessels upon whom and through whom the Lord has poured out His grace and strength, so that there can be no doubts either from where the spiritual power has come or to Whom all the
Given the strong personalities and independent spirits involved in those earliest days, it was and is no small miracle of grace that the Lord molded and melded these gifts and personalities into a new church He would use to herald His gospel in a spirit of unity and peace. Throughout our CLC’s history, hearts grounded in the Word and moved by the gospel have humbly bowed before the Word.
Without that unity of faith in Christ and His Truth, there can be no spiritual peace and confidence – only uncertainty, confusion, unrest and vulnerability. With that blessed faith and unity, however, comes a Spirit-produced peace and confidence that will not waver.
And so we who have been called to faith—and to doctrinal faithfulness and firmness for the sake of the gospel–have also been called to speak the Truth in love.
Speaking God’s Truth is in itself the highest act of love toward God, toward His Word, and toward precious souls. We are also to speak that Truth in love—in a spirit of humility and gentleness. For Martin Luther and the Reformers, and for our CLC forefathers, a bold stand on Christ and the Word was often at the cost of personal sacrifice and loss. The temptation to discouragement and self-pity, even to anger and bitterness, were very real.
The same temptations remain for us who often feel like lone voices in the wilderness of these dark and decadent last times. Yet our forgiveness, strength, confidence, and hope remain that of Luther and our forefathers – Christ and the Truth of His Word alone, the power and effectiveness of His victorious gospel!
Every stanza of Luther’s battle-hymn is filled with references to the difficulties of his struggles and the might of his enemies, yet rising above all that is a mighty victory cry, “The Kingdom ours remaineth!”
Our Mighty Fortress God—His Son and His Word and His Truth and therefore His Church!—shall ever prevail.
In that faith and spirit Luther and our CLC fathers went forward joyfully and confidently. Our prayer is that we may do the same, ever treasuring and speaking God’s Truth in love. Amen.