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We All Live Downstream

Written by | July, 2014
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A few months back we saw a bumper sticker which read: “WE ALL LIVE DOWNSTREAM.” It got us to thinking about how many and broad are its applications to life.

What does it make YOU think about? Here are some of our thoughts.

Intentionally or not, the sticker teaches the significance of history. Living downstream means we are recipients or heirs—for better or worse, for good or ill—of nigh everything that took place in the days/years/centuries/millennia gone by.

As life’s river flows along, we can be inundated with the flotsam of the past or catch a life-saving ride on a floating log or raft. Those best served are the ones aboard the Ship of God’s Church which carries its occupants safely through the winding tributaries of life into the vast harbor of eternity.

You see, how easy—yes, how urgent—to spiritualize the truth the bumper sticker suggests. So here’s a bit more from a Bible-believing Lutheran Christian’s perspective.

The ultimate upstream source is Genesis, God’s book of beginnings which teaches about divine origins of the world and of humanity.

Upstream was the creation of the world in six days through the Creator’s speaking the Word “let there be…” — and there was!

Upstream was man’s creation on the sixth day in a state of perfection—but then also the Fall which ruined the first Paradise.

Upstream was the Flood of floods, underscoring how divine judgment came upon an unbelieving world—yet divine reprieve for eight penitent humans in Noah’s ship.

Upstream was the veritable river of prophecies from godly patriarchs and prophets as they foretold the coming of the Messiah–and then their one-by-one fulfillment by events recorded in the New Testament Gospels!

Upstream was the first Holy Week—the God-provided (therefore the only!) solution to the problem of sin and its wages of death: full and complete forgiveness, new life and salvation through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Redeemer crucified and risen again.

Riding along, we sail along the crests of the book of the Acts of the Apostles together with the other divinely inspired—thus life-preserving and life-course piloting—writings of holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

While cruising along on the ship of the Church, with holy awe we give sighs of thanksgiving for the rich doctrinal content of the three universal Christian creeds—the Apostles, Nicene (4th century), and Athanasian (5th century).

Fast forwarding around a few bends, the tides of life arrive at the 16th century. How blessed to live downstream from those whom God raised up to leave a legacy of Truth based on His divinely inspired Word—the Reformer’s stance before Pope and Emperor, and the subsequent six* doctrinally sound confessional documents written by Luther and his fellow-confessors and preserved in the Book of Concord of 1580 (as timely today as ever!).

Sailing along into the 20th century, we find others who stood fast and firm on the Rock of Ages. When the Lutheran Synodical Conference was drifting away from the clarity of God’s Word, Interim Conference meetings were held (including at Redeemer, Cheyenne, Wyo.) toward establishing a new fellowship. The Church of the Lutheran Confession and its Immanuel Lutheran High School, College, and Seminary took shape.

Upstream is Out of Necessity, a book which pretty much tells the whole CLC story. “Remember the days of old…ask…your elders, and they will tell you” (Deuteronomy 32:7). To God alone the glory!

Countless other biblical and extra-biblical events have and will continue to benefit downstreamers who take the time and make the effort to uncover, discover, and investigate HIS-story.

As our lives flow onward toward eternity’s harbor…

…Downstream is the opportunity to live joyfully and confidently for God and His Christ throughout our remaining time of grace.

…Downstream are sure to be more white-water rapids and/or stagnant swamps of doctrinal controversies seeking to divert and impede the smooth flow of God’s Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.

…Downstream is the Second Coming of Christ, the Judge and the Savior—doom for unbelievers, but unparalleled bliss for believers as they behold the “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1).

As God’s children outfitted with the Life-preservers of God’s Means of Grace, the gospel in Word and Sacrament, let us continue to work and pray together to leave downstream a legacy which will be an upstream blessing to and for our heirs, doing so in the Name of Him who said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

See, the streams of living waters • Springing from eternal love

Well supply thy sons and daughters • And all fear of want remove.

Who can faint while such a river • Ever flows their thirst t’ assuage—

Grace, which, like the Lord, the Giver, • Never fails from age to age? 

(TLH #469:2)