The Lutheran Spokesman
Then saith he to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold
my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side;
and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and
said unto Him, my Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas,
because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they
that have not seen, and yet have believed.
John 20: Verses 27-29
In this issue:
Death Takes An Eternal Holiday
My Lord And My God!
No "I" In The Gospel
Are You Ready To Go?
Death -- Friend Or Defeated Enemy?
Melanchton and the Synergists
Joseph Sold Into Slavery
Pietism And Promise-Keepers -- Lutheran Pietism
Churches Send Pastors To Jail
For Circulation and Subscription Information, click here.
"Blessed are the dead which die in the LORD." Rev 14:13
Some years ago a TV movie was shown, entitled "Death Takes A Holiday."
In this film Death, which was personified, felt that people simply did
not understand the wonderful purpose it served, but instead clung to
"life" at all costs.
Seeing no ther recourse, Death decided to "take a holiday," to remove
himself from the world for a 24-hour period. During this one day
everything continued as usual -- except no one died. Disasters and
tragic accidents occurred, grave illnesses ravaged bodies and filled
hospital ICUs, and the elderly continued their decline -- but no
Suddenly, people began to realize that death is a vital part of life,
that the world desperately needs it. The movie ended on a positive
not with Death explaining how he stood for deliverance from all pain
The message of this film reflects the only possible explanation and
comfort a godless world can draw from death -- the end of earthly
troubles. And yet, as Scripture clearly teaches and even natural man
senses, death is not the end. There is "something" beyond the grave;
and that "something" involves facing some kind of divine tribunal who
will judge them and their lives. Why else would mankind the world over
bother with religion?
In all of our churches the somber Lenten season is now giving way to
the joy of Easter. The Easter Story, far from being some humanly-
contrived, fictionalized tale of false hope, is a divinely-inspired
factual account of living and eternal hope. Its message:
Death Takes An Eternal Holiday!
Our Heavenly Homeland
Jesus once said: "If a man keep My sayings, he shall never see death"
(Jn. 8:51). By, in, and through our crucified and risen Savior, death
has been removed -- not simply for 24 hours, but forever and ever. It
has been overcome and obliterated by the Lord of Life and it shall
To be sure physical "death" still awaits us as a sin-residual. Yet in
Christ it becomes the passageway to life eternal. Death's sting is
gone, Grave's victory is lost. On the other side of the death tunnel
lies a Land and a Life too wonderful for words to describe, our
Yet, note that little word "if" in our Savior's words. Living forever
with the Lord is not a guaranteed right of human citizenship. Sin and
death are not "friends" to learn to cope with or find comfort in, but
"enemies" which have destroyed man's life, his relationship with God,
and his hope of Paradise. Only by "keeping Jesus' saying" (read the
John 8 context), only by Spirit-created repentance and faith in Him
"who was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our
justification" will man conquer real death.
Today man still seeks his own elusive and illusive ways of
co-existing, coping, and being comfortable with death. All involve
nothing more than spiritual "whistling in the darkness" of impending
divine judgment. Yet without Christ, death must always remain that one
last, great, mysterious, undeniable, and inescapable reality that
simply will not go away.
There is an eternally better way -- found in Him who is risen, who
lives, and who promises His believing followers: "Because I live, you
also shall live!" Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through
our Lord Jesus Christ! Thanks be to God, who has given death an
--Pastor David Schierenbeck
"I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body, and the life
Easter joy has to do with Jesus' grave. What was in that grave on
Easter morning? Almost nothing. Very definitely, Jesus' body was not
there. The disciples fully expected it to be. They had comletely
forgotten Jesus' promise to rise again the third day. They were
prepared only to finish the embalming. Hope in Jesus as the Savior was
at low ebb.
The women found something in the tomb. They found an angel who
startled them with the news that Jesus was not there. They were
assured that Jesus had risen and would meet the disciples later.
When the women reported that Jesus' body was gone, Peter and John
rushed to see. All they foundwas the grave clothing with which the
body had been wrapped. The head cloth was neatly folded and lying by
What did it all mean? It meant that Jesus had truly risen from the
dead. His body had not been removed by either friend or foe. The
disciples hadn't even thought of taking it from the tomb. At any rate,
the guards would have prevented it. The grave clothes were proof that
the body had not been snatched away during the likely event that the
guards had fallen asleep. Any who might have done so certainly would
not have taken the time to remove them, let alone fold them.
The best proof that Jesus had risen was the doubt of the disciples.
They did not expect a resurrection. It took a number of appearances by
Jesus to convince them that He was indeed alive. But they were
convinced. They were so certain that Jesus had risen that they spent
the rest of their lives bringing that good news to others.
That good news is meant for us too. We are to believe that Jesus was
not in the grave Easter morning. We are to believe what Jesus'
resurrection guarantees to us. Our sins are forgiven. Through Jesus
the way to eternal life is open for us. That is the reason for true
joy at Easter.
May all of your Easters be truly joyous.
We are indebted to the twin among the apastolic band for a crystal
clear confession of faith as to just who our Jesus is. As we continue
the resurrection celebration, let's be reminded that such a bold
confession is not one of words only. It is a confession that in the
apostle's case also betokened a new life of service to the ever-living
Once he had asked: "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how
can we know the way?" Our Lord's answer in part was: "I am the way,
the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through
Me" (Jn. 14:5-6). According to tradition, in the year A.D. 52 Thomas
arrived in ancient India to present this one true God that He might
replace the false Krishna, Siva, Vishnu, etc. in the hearts of both
Brahmin and Outcaste.
There is evidence from as early as the second century that Thomas
labored in India. The Syriac "Doctrine of the Apostles" refers to
Judas Thomas writing from India. In the apocryphal "Acts of St.
Thomas" from the third century the story goes: "When the Apostles had
been for a time in Jerusalem, they divided the countries among them in
order that each one might preach in the region which fell to him; and
India fell to the lot of Judas Thomas." According to the tradition, as
Paul was on the outset of his third missionary journey, Thomas began
evangelizing the west coast of India. During his possible ten years of
labor along this coast, tradition says he reached many of the higher
castes with the Gospel of forgiveness in Christ.
The newness of life that Thomas had in the resurrected Lord compelled
him to work also on the east coast. After perhaps seven more years of
witnessing to both kingly potentate and forsaken commoner, he was
martyred in the southern part of what is now Madras. Once Thomas had
said: "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (Jn. 11:16). He would
die not with His Savior, but for Him. It is reported that an assassin
hired by a local king's heathen priest did in Thomas as he prayed,
piercing him by a spear. Thomas may have died about the same time that
"And last a villain hastier than the rest,
Pierced with a cruel spear his godly breast.
Wept Ganges and Indus, true Thome, thy fate,
Weep thee whatever lands his foot had trod."
Thomas does not weep though, as His soul awaits the glorious
resurrection guaranteed to all who make the profession of Jesus: "My
Lord and my God!" (Jn. 20:28)
Over the years there have been many things written about where Thomas'
body was and where it was taken. In 1523 the supposed grave of Thomas
was opened. They found some bones, though many had long since turned
What a glorious day we have to look forward to, won for us by the
resurrected Lord, when all the saints will arise to glorious life
everlasting. In the meantime, let us labor faithfully with the
profession on our tongues and Christ in our hearts.
--Pastor David Koenig
No "I" In The Gospel
"Why are you saved?" asks the teacher. The student resonds, "Because
I believe." I suspect that that is not an unusal response. With deeper
probing the teacher can ascertain that the student understands that
the answer is incomplete. "I am saved because I believe in Jesus."
This teacher does not accept that answer, at least without further
So then how is one saved? "But when the kindness and love of God our
Savior appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regenera-
tion and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us
abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that having been just-
ified by His grace, we should become heirs to the hope of eternal
life" (Titus 3:4-6).
Notice in that verse the complete lack of personal merit. I am not
saved because "I" did anything. I am saved through the love of "God
our Savior" -- God the Father who sent His Son; God the Son "who gave
Himself" for me (v. 14); and God the Holy Spirit who has regenerated
and renewed me. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a
living hope through the reurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1
Pet. 1:3). Again, note the lack of any reference to "I."
There is no "I" in the Gospel. You will, however, find "me" in the
Gospel. "Me" as the object of the redemptive love of God the Savior.
So then, when I say that "I am saved because Jesus has died for me,
and through His resurrection has made me partaker of life," I am
giving credit where credit is due. By grace I am saved!
But is it not necessary to believe in Jesus Christ? Surely it is. But
I am not saved because I believe. I believe because I am saved! Had
God not sent His Son, had the Son not died and risen again, had the
Holy Spirit not worked regeneration within me, working faith in my
heart, I would not be saved. The fact is that the very statement "I
believe because I am saved" testifies to the existence of faith.
But the whole matter is academic if Christ did not rise from the dead.
"And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith
is also vain . . . you are still in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:14-17). But
Christ is risen. And that is the message which the Church is to
proclaim without deceit or qualification. What a wonderful
Words are meant to mean something. However, if they have been emptied
of their meaning they are useless. Today, "I believe in the
resurrection of Jesus" does not necessarily mean the same thing to all
who hear, or even to all who make the confession. Recently one
involved in the so-called "Jesus Seminar" said he believed in the
resurrection. He said, however, that it was a resurrection "within the
heart" -- whatever that means.
Scripture, and every true Lutheran, does not equivocate. We believe
and we teach that the Lord Jesus Christ actually, physically, and
bodily rose from the dead. His body is not moldering in the grave! To
suggest anything else, or even to allow the possibility, means that
whatever Gospel is being preached is a different Gospel than that
which has come down from heaven. The Gospel is not the Gospel without
the living Christ.
The tragedy is that they who have been fed another Gospel are left
with nothing more than to say, "I am saved because I believe." And
even if they be pressed to say, "I believe in Jesus," they yet believe
in vain if the Jesus in whom they believe is not risen from the dead.
In the first statement one emphasizes "I." That is work righteousness.
In the second instance, they are worshiping a corpse. The dead cannot
save the dead!
So the question again. Am I saved? Yes, because Jesus Christ, God's
Son "has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won
me from all sin, from death and from the power of the devil; not with
gold or silver but with His holy precious blood, and with His innocent
suffering and death, that I should be His own and live under Him in
His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence,
and blessedness; even as He is risen from death, lives and reigns to
all eternity . . ."
As I write this I think of how elementary and simplistic this message
must sound to many in Christendom today. Surely the president of a
church body should have a more profound statement for the Church, or
at least lay out an agenda for the church as it moves toward the 21st
century. Surely he should have a message for the world. Ah, but he
does, and we do! You have read it. "I have not saved me. Christ has
saved me." Blessed are they who so believe.
And if any are looking for a commitment of this church, it is simply
this, that we shall continue to preach and teach the Gospel without
an "I." "By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should
boast" (Eph. 2:8).
May each who reads this find joy in Christ, and confidence unto
salvation in the resurrection of Him who said "Because I live, you
shall live also" (Jn. 14:19).
In April 1995 a young member (Mark, about 30 years of age) of
Prince of Peace, Hecla, S. Dak. was killed instantly in a
single vehicle highway accident. Pastor Paul Krause, who
officiated at the funeral, wrote that "it was a highly charged,
emotional time for all involved. Our church was packed ... we
had a sound system set up for the people in the entry way and
A member suggested that his pastor submit the funeral sermon
to the Spokesman. We print a slightly abridged version.
This weekend we have been confronted with an unexpected tragedy --
the life of a dearly loved one has suddenly been brought to a close.
Along with our grief, we are brought face to face with the reality
that our end could come at any time. Are we ready for the end?
We know from the Bible that the end will come suddenly. Paul says:
"You yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a
thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden
destruction comes upn them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And
there is no escape". The Bible also states: "It is appointed for
people to die once, and after death comes the judgment". It is on
the basis of God's judgment that we will spend eternity either in
heaven or in hell.
Are you ready for that final judgment? Where do you think you will go?
Not many years ago a news magazine took a poll concerning heaven and
hell. In that poll they discovered that most people think there is a
heaven and a hell, and the vast majority of those feel that they will
be going to heaven.
Are you ready for that final day of your life? As we have been
reminded in this case, the end can come very suddenly. It is no wonder
then that God encourages us in His Word to be ready. Jesus says:
"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which
the Son of Man is coming".
Are you ready to go? Mark was! Don't get me wrong -- I am not saying
that he was perfect. He may have been a wonderful person, and a
terrific friend, but he was far from perfect. And all of us are the
same. All it takes is a brief look at ourselves in the mirror of the
ten commandments, and we all have to admit that we have not kept any
of God's law at all. The Word says: "If you keep the whole law, and
yet break it in one place, you are guilty of breaking the whole
thing." One sin is all it takes for a person to stand condemned in
God's eyes. And because we have broken God's law, God's Word says
that we will die. "The person who sins shall die."
No, Mark was not ready for the end because of who he was or what he
had done. He could not be ready on his own. Nor can we prepare
ourselves. Even if we could keep the whole Law, we still also have
that terrible sin that we inherit from our parents and their parents
all the way back to Adam and Eve. Paul wrote the Romans: "Just as
through one man's sin (Adam's sin), so judgment came upon all men."
Mark knew this about himself. We need to know this about ourselves
too. Left to ourselves we are not ready for heaven; nor can we get
ready on our own -- all because of sin. We too deserve God's anger
and deserve His harshest judgment -- that is, an eternity in hell
with the devil and all his evil angels.
We cannot save ourselves! Sounds rather desperate, doesn't it? And it
would be if it were not for our loving God. He is well aware of our
miserable condition. And so out of love for the whole human race, He
has made it possible for us to be ready.
God provides us with everything we need. "By grace you have been saved
through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not
of works, lest anyone should boast." To remedy our situation, He made
plans to send His Son into the world to pay for all the sins of every
human being who has ever lived. "God so loved the world that He gave
His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life."
Jesus as true God came down to earth, was born of a virgin, became
true man, and kept the Law perfectly in our place. To top it all off,
He also suffered and gave His life in death on the cross. In that way
all of God's anger over sin is taken away. On Easter morning God
declared for all the world to see that what Jesus had done was
satisfactory - He showed this be raising His Son from the dead.
And there is more! Since we were dead in our sins, completely unable
to come to Him, God has come to us with the good news of the Gospel of
forgiveness of sins. Through that Gospel He is able to create faith in
the hearts of those who hear.
This was how God prepared Mark for the end. God came to him through
the Gospel at his baptism and created faith in his heart. Through
Sunday School instruction and confirmation class, and in the days
since by coming to church and adult Bible study, he learned to
appreciate more and more what his Lord had done for him.
It was through his God-given faith that mark, and all of us who
believe, are credited with all that Jesus has done. Jesus Christ
and His perfect life and His innocent sufferings and death are all
credited to us. God looks at those who believe in His Son as holy
for Jesus' sake.
No, Mark was not ready for heaven on his own; no, he could not have
gotten ready on his own; but yes, God in His mercy prepared him.
He brought him to faith in Jesus as His Savior, and thus for Jesus'
sake He declared Mark to be righteous in His sight, and gave Him
the free gift of forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation.
Are you ready to go?
Let us hold tightly to the promise that God has made, that for Jesus'
sake Mark is with God forever in heaven. Remember that through the
same God-given faith we too can be ready when our times comes, and
inherit the kingdom of heaven prepared for us from the foundation of
Through faith in Jesus Christ cling to His promise: "Because I live,
you shall live also." Hold on tightly to His words: "I am the
resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he may die,
he shall live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die."
"I am the Resurrection and the Life."
"For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
-- 1 Corinthians 15:25-26
Notice in the Bible passage above how the apostle calls "death" an
By contrast, I clipped an article from a magazine a few months ago. It
said: "Once college students flocked to courses on social and
political concerns; today, courses on death and dying are among the
most popular." The article goes on to tell how a "new doctrine" is
emerging about death, "emphasizing that death is a natural part of
life. We should not fear death (the new doctrine says), but accept it
as the last 'passage,' the natural culmination of our lives. Some even
urge that we welcome death as a friend...."
Interesting approach. But a sad one and a wrong one. The Bible hardly
speaks about death as a friend. It speaks of it as unnatural -- as
the consequence of sin. "For dust you are, and to dust you shall
return" God told Adam after he sinned (Gen. 3:19). "...By the one
man's offense death reigned..." (Rom. 5:17) and "The wages of sin is
death" (Rom. 6:23), writes Paul. Job did not mask death when he said:
"...though after my skin, worms destroy this body..." (Job 19:26).
When our Lord Jesus faced death, He did not welcome it as "a natural
part of life," but rather prayed that, if His Father was willing, He
might be spared.
The answer to death is not to euphemize it. Our American funeral
customs bend over backwards to give death a pretty face with
cosmetics, gleaming caskets, and bouquets of flowers. Yet the
finality, the ugliness, of death remains.
What then is the answer? The Christian religion teaches that this
ugly thing called death has been defeated, destroyed, abolished! The
testimony of the empty tomb is visible and concrete evidence that
"our Savior Jesus Christ . . . has abolished death and brought life
and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10).
God is the creator and author of life. Satan is the architect of sin
and death. By Christ's innocent death on the cross for us, and
triumphant resurrection from the dead, Satan has been defeated and
destroyed. Since death's architect has been destroyed, so has death,
the fruit of his work: "For this purpose the Son of God was mani-
fested, that He might destroyed the works of the devil" (1 Jn. 3:8).
"That through death (Christ) might destroy him who had the power of
death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of
death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14f).
Dear readers, there is no need to euphemize death as a friend, to
paint a pretty face upon it, or to call it natural. Rather, learn to
know Jesus Christ and what He has done to defeat, destroy, abolish
that ugly enemy.
Jesus promises His believers: "Because I live, you will live also"
(Jn. 14:19). Because Jesus' grave is empty, death is but a "sleep"
for us. As Jesus conquered death, so shall we!
Convinced by Spirit-given faith of His victory, we are enabled to
say with Job: ". . .After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that
in my flesh I shall see God" (Job 19:27). And with St. Paul: "I
am persuaded that. . .death. . . shall (not) be able to separate
us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"
In the 16th century the great Lutheran Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther,
took chalk and wrote in huge letters on his desk: VIVIT -- Latin for
"He lives!" Imprint those words as a motto over the mantel of your
door and over the bed where you repose.
And then sing your "alleluias" in death's face!
--Pastor Paul Fleischer
How The Formula Of Concord Was Forged
Melanchthon And The Synergists
Luther said that the devil attacks Christianity from three columns.
One denies the divinity of Christ; another His humanity. The third
column denies in some way that He has earned salvation for us. After
Luther died in 1546, all three columns were attacked in earnest.
George Major, following Melanchthon, declared that "good works are
necessary for salvation." The Synergistic controversy is another way
of saying that man must do something or contribute something for
salvation. Luther taught clearly and vehemently that man's will is
passive in salvation, giving all the glory to God who works through
the Law to make the heart contrite and through the Gospel to create
Melanchthon listed three causes of salvation in his 1543 doctrinal
book, Loci Communes: 1) the Word of God; 2) the Holy Spirit; 3) the
human will, assenting to and not resisting the Word of God.
Melanchthon's love for philosophy led him to allow reason the wrong
place in interpreting Scriptures. Instead of letting his reason serve
the Word of God, Melanchthon let his reason judge the Scriptures. In
addition, he was always looking for ways to harmonize Luther's
doctrine with contrary confessions. Roman Catholicism teaches that the
human will cooperates in salvation.
Melancththon's synergistic statements grew bolder after Luther's
death, and he was joined by John Pfeffinger, Victorin Strigel, and
others. The Gnesio Lutherans opposed them with Luther's doctrine.
Strigel wanted to speculate about why some were saved and others were
not. Those who dwell on this question, whose answer is known only to
God, will fall into rationalistic answers, such as double
predestination (Calvin) or some form of synergism.
Liberal Lutherans who have drifted dreamily away from Luther's
doctrine have been attracted to synergism. Rather than give credit to
the power of the Hoy Spirit working in the Word and Sacraments, they
honor their will, their ability to make the right decision, and their
strength in remaining believers. In this way the third column has
repeatedly thrown Lutherans into doubt and confusion.
The Gnesio Lutherans opposed the Synergists, but Flacius took an
extreme postion. In pointing out the lack of spiritual powers of the
unconverted man, Flacius stated that the "substance of man" was sin.
The Formula of Concord settled the issues in Articles I and II. The
Concordists distinguished between man's nature and original sin in
Article I. In the second article of the Formula, they stated that the
unconverted man has no power or ability to understand spiritual
matters (1 Corinthians 2:14). "God the Holy Ghost, however, does not
effect conversion without means, but uses for this purpose the
preaching and hearing of God's Word, as it is written, Romans 1:16."
(Concordia Triglotta, p., 787).
Clearly, Melanchthon's unionism and compromise led to many errors. At
the same time the Biblical doctrines of Lutheranism are all linked
together in one great unified expression of the Triune God's holy
will: sola scriptura, Law and Gospel, justification by grace through
faith, the efficacy of the Word, the Means of Grace, election, and so
forth. These great treasures are given by God to be preserved in truth
--Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
"That We Might Have Hope" (Rom. 15:4)
Genesis Chapters Thirty-nine And Forty
Joseph Sold Into Slavery
"Bang" goes the gavel. "Sold!" cries the auctioneer. Then comes the
rush of thoughts and feelings: accomplishment, elation, relief,
satisfaction. Yet these are only the thoughts and feelings of the
buyer and seller; what of the thing sold? What? Do things sold have
thoughts and feelings too? We know that in our nation's history, as
well as that of the world, people wre bought and sold like so many
Put yourself in the position of one sold. Joseph is an example --
sold for only a handful of coins to traveling merchants. Place
yourself deeper into his position. Sold, for that handful of coins, by
your own brothers! Our families are to be a place of earthly refuge
from the dangers of this world, and these "brothers" sell one of their
own as if he were common livestock! Thoughts and feelings! We can
easily supply them for our poor brother Joseph: shock, unbelief, fear,
anger, bitterness, and yes, even hatred.
Before we become too smug in our evaluation of Joseph's brothers we
shall ask the blessings of the Holy Spirit on our continued study of
Joseph and his brethren.
How Many People Have We Sold?
It is relatively easy for us to identify with the underdogs in the
Scriptures. We readily see ourselves in the positions of those put
upon by this sinful world -- the traveler set upon by thieves, poor
Lazarus, and Joseph. But, we often have difficulty casting ourselves
in the role of villains -- the priest and Levite passing by, the rich
man, or Joseph's brothers.
We know we sin. We know that sometimes we might even be the "bad guy"
in a given situation. But Joseph's brothers sold a human being! Long
before they had bartered their brother's life, the elder sons of Jacob
had already sold themselves. They were not leading lives that God or
Jacob would have them lead. Some of their acts of deceit and sin are
recorded to remind us that children of God often sell themselves
Do we sell ourselves short? When duty calls, do we gladly step forward
to serve the Lord and our fellow servants? Often we're caught in some
alleyway dealing for some of Moses' excuses -- I'm no good; it's not
my forte; let someone else do it. When the Lord asks for workers in
the Vineyard and helpers to gather the Harvest, are we selling
ourselves short by buying into even more excuses -- let the pastor
handle it; I need more family time; I need more me time.
Our Lord Jesus died on Calvary's cross to purchase our souls and lives
so we are no longer in slavery to Satan, the world, or our sinful
flesh. Let us take care against forfeiting this great gift by selling
Jesus "Sold Himself" For Us
Joseph's being sold by his brothers was merely an outgrowth of their
having sold themselves. They had to get rid of him -- he was a
conscience pricker. He told on them and pointed out their errors. What
can you do with a person like that? When Cain was confronted by the
Lord about his weak offering, what did he do? He turned on the one
that made him look bad. Rather than seeing a righteous example in his
brother Abel, Cain mistakenly saw the source of his sin problem.
Joseph's brothers reached the same conclusion. Kill him! Throw him in
a pit! Say! Let's at least make a profit and sell the boy!
When a fellow believer comes to us with Christian criticism, how do we
take it? Do we write them off as a flake, nit-picker, or
holier-than-thou type? Do we complain because his nose is in our
business? In short, do we sell out our fellow Christian by turning on
him rather than turning to our Savior?
Let us rather remember the One who sold Himself by leaving His eternal
throne for a humble stall so that we might have heavenly mansions!
Remember -- He sold Himself for thirty pieces of silver so that He
might purchase us with His holy precious blood. Remember -- He sold
Himself into separation from His heavenly Father so that we might be
with Him forever.
Let us take comfort in the knowledge that all our sins have been
forgiven through our Savior. And may the Holy Spirit keep Christ's
purchase of us in our hearts and minds that we may avoid either
selling ourselves short or "selling out" our fellow Christians.
--Teacher David Bernthal
(Most have heard of the occasional "Promise Keepers" gatherings
around the nation. Wanting to offer our readers an assessment
of the movement from the perspective of orthodox Lutheranism,
we asked Pastor Gregory Jackson to give one. He has consented
to do so, and we thank him. This is the first of four articles.
Since 1990 the massive growth of the Promise Keepers, a unionistic
laymen's group, has attracted a lot of attention. Started by a
football coach, Bill McCartney, Promise Keepers has swept across the
nation and caused great concern in Lutheran congregations. Laymen
actively and aggressively recruit other men to join them in mass
religious rallies and in small prayer groups. I know, because I was
asked several times by a non-Lutheran businessman when we were living
in St. Louis.
Promise Keepers has its origin in a religious movement known as
Pietism, which began in 1675. Pietism has had a major influence on
Lutheranism by undermining the doctrine of justification by faith
(receiving Christ's righteousness, God's promise) and replacing it
with a righteousness based upon human works (keeping promises). Adolph
Hoenecke, the great Wisconsin Synod theologian, wrote: "At first
glance the total difference seems absolutely paltry, but in truth the
dangerous direction of Pietism is made apparent: life over doctrine,
sanctification over justification, and piety not as a consequence but
declared as a stipulation of enlightenment, leading to a kind of
synergism and Pelagianism. (1)
Consequently, Pietism continues to bewitch many Lutherans by covering
lupine false doctrine with the fleece of piety. "Beware of false
prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are
ravening wolves" (Mt. 7:15).
Philip Spener, a Lutheran, began Pietism by publishing a small work in
1675 known as Pious Wishes. Spener found Reformed theology appealing
and rejected baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence of Christ's
body and blood in holy communion. Like the other Philip, Melanchthon,
Spener sought an external unity between Lutherans and non-Lutherans by
masking doctrinal differences.
By setting aside the source of piety, orthodox doctrine, and seeking
visible results in the Christian faith, Spener created a pharisaic
system which undermined all denominations, not just the Lutherans.
Promises Keepers will finish the work Spener began, with the best of
intentions and the worst of all possible results.
Spener set up collegia pietatis (cell groups of piety) in people's
homes, to encourage prayer and Bible Study. The meetings were lay led
and caused enormous conflict, but they spread everywhere as a church
within the church. Spener and his disciple, August Francke, also set
up charitable institutions in Halle, Germany, which became a holy city
for Pietism, supported both by the Reformed and the Lutherans.
Halle's influence was global, training 6,000 pastors and impressing
people with the visible results of unionism and Pietism. American
Protestantism is almost exclusively derived from Halle, whether it be
the radical homosexual activism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America or the forbidding of women wearing any make-up in certain
Henry Melchior Muhlenberg was trained at Halle and became the founder
of the first and most liberal Lutheran body in America, the General
Synod. The General Synod promoted revivals (because they worked!),
used grape juice for communion during and after the Temperance
Movement, and had a lax attitude toward Lutheran doctrine, worship,
and the Book of Concord. The liberal Muhlenberg tradition in the
Eastern US is a major component of ELCA today, along with the
Scandinavian Pietism of the Midwest.
Spener's influence entered Methodism through his god-son Nicholas
Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian Brethren. John Wesley was deeply
affected by the Moravians. The hysterics of the Methodist revival
spread across America, emphasizing salvation based upon an emotional
experience of conversion rather than the objective truth of the Word
Methodism grew tired of banning movies, dancing, lipstick, and any
alcohol, even communion wine, so they turned their attention to the
liberal form of Pietism, political activism, the Social Gospel
Movement. The social reforms of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal (Social
Security, child labor laws, protection of unions) were the stated
agenda items of the Social Gospel Movement and the Federal Council of
Churches (now the National Council of Churches).
When Methodist Pietism turned liberal, the conservatives broke off
and started their own denominations, which still banned lipstick and
dancing. Still, conversion was based upon an emotional experience, so
Pentecostalism grew from the old-fashioned Methodists who needed
visible proof of God's invisible work.
The main recruiting forum for all Pentecostals is the lay-led prayer
or Bible Study group, where sincere people are taught they must speak
in tongues to be sure they are "baptized by the Holy Spirit." For
them, the Promise Keepers cell group is fertile ground.
--Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
1. Evangelische-Lutherische Dogmatik, 4 vols., ed., Walter and Otto
Hoenecke, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1912, III, p.
Churches Send Their Pastors To Jail
"To whom it may concern,
"I would like to thank you deeply for the . . . Bible I received from
Pastor Bruce on your behalf. It is really informative for a young
Christian as myself growing in the Word. . . . Being incarcerated
where most forgot about us, or cast us out as misfits, you were there,
and the Lord has many blessings in store for you. . . ."
This from Inmate #9425646 of the San Jose Main Jail is from one of
many letters from prison. They stir the spirit of anyone who is
concerned about the Kingdom coming to others.
You Were There!
Two of our coastal congregations are developing prison ministries. A
year ago Ascension of DuPont (Tacoma, Wash. area) sent Pastor Wayne
Eichstadt to the Federal Penitentiary on McNeil Island. Group meetings
were held in a room next to a recreation hall where a noisy bingo game
was likely to be a major distraction. Difficult circumstances, yet
there were always some willing ears for the Word.
Since July 1995 Pastor Paul Naumann has been serving Ascension. The
congregation wants him to continue the prison ministry. He is
preparing for certification at monthly orientation meetings.
San Francisco Bay Area
The program of St. Stephen in Mountain View started in March 1994 when
Pastor Bruce Naumann had lunch with the Director of Volunteers for the
county. Initially there were one-on-one interviews with inmates
requesting a visit by a clergyman. This led to regular Sunday evening
classes in the day rooms of two high security floors in the Main Jail.
Depending on how many men are released from their cells by the
Commanding Officer, from seven to thirty-five attend the meetings.
For whatever reason they might come, they get to hear the
Gospel--currently from studies in Luke, where Jesus is portrayed as
the Savior of ALL, with special attention given to the socially
The Glad Response
It is always difficult (and sometimes dangerous) to evaluate the
results of gospel ministry. Especially in the touch-and-go environment
of modern imprisonment. One must marvel, however, that the Spirit
manages to do His calling and gathering even in such tough and often
Eight prisoners have been moved to confess Christ as Lord and be
baptized. Enough to alarm the Director who feared that someone might
request immersion baptism! Restriction followed. When another man
wished to be baptized our pastor found a way. A previously baptized
inmate was equipped for this. He then was able to baptize the new
candidate in his cell.
The Gospel will not be hindered.
One of the best things about prison ministry is the opportunity it
provides for others to share in the work. Work that is essential. For
newborn faith needs much nourishment and fraternal encouragement. St.
Stephem Women's Auxiliary and members of a weekday morning Bible class
have committed themselves to 1) intercessory prayer; 2) purchase of
Bibles; 3) participation in an Inmate Instruction Program.
The instruction program is, of course, by correspondence ("first names
only"). The letters convey the pastor's course materials with personal
encouragement and prayer. Sometimes the message exchanges continue for
a surprising time. In one case, for example, the address has changed
to San Quentin, a federal prison, where a grateful inmate faithfully
answers his mail.
A Satisfying Mission
The western churches now sending their pastors to jail are fully
convinced that this is a most promising kind of ministry, especially
for smaller churches that enjoy the services of pastors who are
well-suited to this unique kind of outreach.
It does not take much money. It allows for meaningful involvement by
church members. It frequently receives a warm, grateful welcome.
"You were there!" -- A letter from jail.
"I was in prison and you visited me." -- Jesus.
--Rollin A. Reim, Reporter
(Note: While this conference is not synodically sponsored, we pass the
information along for those who may be interested -- Ed.)
All are invited to a third missions conference in the Great Lakes
Date -- May 4
Time -- 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Place -- Peace Thru Christ Lutheran, Middleton, Wis.
* David Baker and Pastor David Schmidt will each lead in a
presentation of evangelism activities they've been involved in.
* David Holland, who has experience as a jailor, will lead a study and
discussion of jail/prison ministries.
If interested, contact Pastor David Koenig, phone (608) 233-2244.
The Board of Regents for Immanuel Lutheran College announces the
following nominations to fill the vacancy created by Professor P. D.
Nolting's acceptance of a call to serve in the pastoral ministry (See
the March 1996 issue of the Lutheran Spokesman for description of this
James Albrecht Bruce Naumann
Leroy Dux Paul Naumann
Vance Fossum Paul Schaller
Paul Gurgel David Schierenbeck
Joseph Lau Paul Sullivan
Douglas Libby Michael Sydow
All comments from members of CLC congregations regarding these
nominees should be in the hands of the undersigned no later than April
Mr. Marlin Beekman
ILC Board of Regents
Eau Claire, WI 54701
--Pastor Vance Fossum, Secretary
Change Of Address
Rev. Elton A. Hallauer
P.O. Box 146 (614 1st St)
Hancock, MN 56244-0146
Phone (320) 392-5524
Church of the Lutheran Confession
Date: June 17 (1:00 p.m.) -- June 21
Site: Immanuel Lutheran College, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Theme: "We Appreciate The Means Of Grace"
I. The Means Of Grace -- Emphasis Of The Reformation --
Pastor David Naumann
II. The Means Of Grace In Our Worship Life (liturgy, preaching) --
Pastor Leroy Dux
III. The Means Of Grace And Mission Work -- Pastor John Ude
Organist Coordinator: Pastor Paul Schaller
Convention Reporter: Teacher Joseph Lau
Chaplain: Pastor Michael Eichstadt
Communion Service Speaker: Michael Sydow
Communion Service Liturgist (& Bulletin): Michael Sprengeler
Memorial Service Speaker: Professor Gordon Radtke