The Lutheran Spokesman (March 1998)
Surely, He hash borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows.
In this issue:
The Right Scent
Lent Is The Signal For Victory
Lessons From A Sports Saying
Savior Or Slogan?
The Well-dressed Christian
Reformation Vignettes -- Luther As Husband And Father
For Circulation and Subscription Information, click here.
I have an old shepherd in my congregation. He and his wife spent their
younger years tending sheep out on the rolling prairies of eastern
Montana. When I stop in for visits they often speak of those days.
I'm all ears. For not only are their insights and stories interesting
in themselves. They often provide me with illustrations for when I
preach those texts which speak of the shepherd relationship the Lord
has with us, His sheep.
One of the more amazing tidbits I've picked up from them has to do
with how shepherds care for motherless lambs. Among those who care
for sheep, it's common knowledge that you can't bond an orphaned lamb
with just any ewe. Every lamb has its own unique smell. A ewe
recognizes her lamb by its scent. If it doesn't have the right scent,
she'll reject it. This is quite a predicament for a hungry orphaned
lamb. But shepherds know how to remedy the problem. What they do is
skin a dead lamb and fit its coat around an orphan like a sweater.
Then they present the orphan to the mother of the dead lamb, whose
skin the orphan is now wearing. Because it smells like her own lamb
she will accept and nurse it.
Born in sin and belonging to Satan, we humans don't have the right
scent as far as God is concerned. We give off a spiritual stench which
Holy God can't stand. In God's nostrils we stink like a rendering
plant on a sultry summer day. We reek with sin. And God, according
to His holiness, doesn't want to go anywhere near such a smell. "Your
sins have separated you from your God" says the prophet Isaiah (59:2).
To be rejected by God means death for sinners. It means eternal
banishment in hell. Talk about a predicament! But God knew exactly
how to remedy the problem. Not only that--God wants to save us
orphans from our just desserts.
The Lamb Of God
Enter Jesus, the Lamb of God! Jesus is the sinless Lamb whose heart
and life are a sweet savor to God. Of Him the Father says: "This is
my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased" (Mt. 3:17).
Jesus is the Lamb led to the slaughter. On the cross He took upon
Himself all sin. The world's sin was so tightly wrapped around Him
that it actually became His sin (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). What happened then?
God smelled the rot and was repulsed. He turned away from the foul
stench and gave Jesus what sin merits: wrath and punishment. As a
result, all sin has been atoned for.
But that's not all. God then took the perfect life of Jesus and
dressed us in it. He clothed us in the unspotted wool of His own dear
Lamb. So now we have a different scent, the right scent, the scent of
Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 2:15). Now God accepts us as His very own. By
faith in His Son He adopts us into His flock. No longer orphans with
no future, we are the people of God's pasture with a guaranteed place
at God's side, now and forever!
Endless praise to Jesus for making us poor sinners acceptable to God!
Let us join heaven's chorus which sings: "Worthy is the Lamb who was
slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor
and glory and praise" (Rev. 5:12).
-- Pastor Michael Wilke
There's a story about Christians in a cell awaiting their doom -- to
be fed to hungry lions. With only minutes left to live, they sing
joyful hymns! A Roman guard pokes his head into the cell and asks:
"What's the matter--don't you have a sense of the situation?"
These Christians were convinced of Jesus' victory. Yes, they had a
sense of the situation.
God knows all Christians need that victory. In a world full of losers.
Losers who think they are winners. Many young people lose their
virginity and think they have won something. People loses lots of
money gambling, and oddly enough become more convinced than ever of
greater chances of winning! People lose their health to drugs, yet
keep on doing drugs. People lose themselves in sleaze and corruption,
and think it be to be gain in honor and prestige. People take courses
on self-assertion and self-promotion and lose their modesty and self-
respect. People run with worldly crowds, and lose heavenly gifts and
People think they are winning, yet like all sinners can't help but
operate at a loss. Pretending to win, they do not even know what
victory is, or even where the battle is.
Christ The Loser/Victor
Christ knows both. He is the authority on victory, and battles.
But note how He uses His authority--to serve.
To serve the distressed, the helpless, the hopeless, and the losers.
He even looks like one of them! Not handsome in a worldly sense, He is
non-assertive, quiet, obedient, faithful, not exploiting fame from His
deeds. He often pulls back from His destroyers, is contradicted and
rejected, finally caught and killed. A loser!
He knew how to wait it out, to want for victory in good time. Atonement
time. And it came! The downward path of humiliation and betrayal,
interrogation, torture, cross and death, is His finest service--victory
And on the third day the Father proves and approves it. Jesus descends
into hell, rises from the tomb, ascends on high, rules in power, and
is certainly coming again in ultimate, shining victory. Victory for
us. For you. And it's all a gift.
We have struggles and challenges in order to exercise this victory.
That is why Jesus gives His victory-believers a mission.
His disciples needed it. He tells them to let the net down again, in
Luke 5. The net strains to breaking point, loaded. Then the author of
victory ties two things together -- fearlessness and winning: "Don't
be afraid -- from now on you will be catching men!"
That's the victory road for us: winning people for Christ and heaven.
Out of a world of losers.
So we go. The one with all authority in heaven and earth says so. The
bait is already cut.
-- Pastor Warren Fanning
Chapel Talk, Immanuel High School, Mankato, Minn.--
Lessons From A Sports Saying
A volleyball team I saw had the saying "there is no I in team"
printed on their warm-up shirts. What they meant by this was that
selfishness is not part of being on a team. You shouldn't keep track
of individual statistics, and you should help out your teammate by
covering for her when she leaves her spot to help out another teammate.
There Is No I In Jesus
I thought about this sports saying and decided that the same thing
could be said about the relationship between sin and grace, and
between me and my fellow man. There is no I in Jesus. Philippians
chapter two tells us: ". . . Christ Jesus, who, being in very
nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be
grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a
servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance
as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even
death on a cross!"
Jesus was totally selfless in His life. If Jesus would have been
selfish, He never would have died on the cross, because there was
nothing to be gained for Him. If He would have been selfish, He would
have been like the disciples and fought about His place at the table,
or His position in the heavenly kingdom. But Jesus was not this way.
He washed the feet of the disciples; He innocently suffered death. He
did this all because there is no I in Jesus.
God tells us to live our lives according to the way Jesus would have
us go. So we also are to live selflessly and not selfishly. That
passage in Philippians is preceded by these words: "Do nothing out
of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others
better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own
interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should
be the same as that of Christ Jesus."
When we live a selfless life, Jesus' light is shining through us, and
people can tell that we are different. When we follow the commandment
parts that tell us what we should do, in each case the reflection is
There Is An I In Sin
Paul tells us in Romans 7: "For we know that the law is spiritual, but
I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand.
For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I
do." When we look at ourselves, all we see is our sin -- as well we
should because there is an I in sin.
Left to ourselves, that's where it would end -- dead to sin, no hope,
and only despair. This despair is felt throughout the world.
Everywhere Christ is not dwelling people can only feel the burden
of sin. If this is where it ends, then our lives are empty. But --
There Is A U In Jesus
God in Eden recognized the sinfulness of man. Because of His
selflessness, He sent Jesus, because there is a U in Jesus. Jesus was
born for you. Jesus lived a perfect life for you. Jesus died for you.
Jesus rose again for you. And finally, Jesus is preparing a place for
you. This objective justification is one of our greatest comforts,
especially when we are burdened with sin.
How can we hear that message of grace and not want to tell others
about it? If what we said about Jesus' selflessness is a model for
our selflessness, then Jesus' care for man should be a model for our
care for our fellow man. The Sermon on the Mount is full of ways we
can practice this service to others. Two summary passages come to
mind: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "Love
is the fulfilling of the law." If all people kept this in mind, then
all could live more peacefully.
There Is No U In Sin
One of the things that gets us into the biggest trouble is worrying
about the sins of others. There is no U in sin. God didn't write the
law so we could walk around accusing other people of sin.
Jesus asked in the Sermon on the Mount: "Why do you look at the speck
in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?"
God tells us that even looking around at the affairs of others is
sinful. The explanation of the eighth commandment is clear. We should
interpret all our neighbor's actions in the best possible way.
If we keep these four things in mind, we will live more peaceably here
on earth. But more importantly, if we believe in the promises these
sayings reflect, then the gift of eternal life is ours, and we will
always be with our brother Jesus in Paradise.
-- Teacher Kevin Hulke
The beginnings of the new professional football season are underway.
Soon enough, fans across the world will excitedly greet the much
anticipated TV commercials of Super Bowl Sunday. Each company will
spend millions of dollars to develop an advertisement with a catchy
slogan and then spend millions more to air it on national TV.
The rule of the advertising world is that if you can develop a good
enough slogan, the product will sell. When spiritual leaders and those
concerned with matters of the soul (as we all should be) adopt a
similar slogan-selling approach, then we're in trouble . . . BIG
It has become a religious pastime to condense all of theology into
one-liners, catchy "spiritual slogans," and rallying cries for
society. At times the names "Jesus" and "Christ" and religious
phrases are spread around in such a way that leaves the impression
that all will be well just by using the words often enough and with
This is not to say that there can not be some benefit in compressing
a biblical truth into an easily remembered phrase, but before the
"condensed version" can ever be used with value, the "expanded
version" must first be known, understood, and appreciated.
There are pithy statements of truth presented in Scripture itself,
especially in the book of Proverbs. There are recurring themes and
phrases throughout the Bible. Still, the books of the Bible are more
than a collection of clichés and slogans. Rather, God's Word uses the
short proverbs and standard themes together with its in-depth
presentation of truth.
There is a grave danger in allowing the Savior to become nothing more
than a slogan. The words sound great, but where's the substance? We
can talk about Jesus all day but if we don't know who He really is,
we have nothing. "Jesus" is a great name. His is a name above every
one name, God says (Philippians 2:9), but that is only true when it
is attached to Jesus from Nazareth who is true God and true man and
when it keeps in mind the work that this Jesus has done. Anything
else leaves "Jesus" an empty shell of five letters that may still
look good on paper and sound good in the ear but leaves the soul
We can speak about the love of God, but if we don't know who the true
God is, or don't know how totally undeserving each of us is for His
love, or don't understand why His love is so amazing and so necessary,
then we are missing an important ingredient. If a slogan advertises
God is amazing and so necessary, then we are missing an important
ingredient. If a slogan advertises God's amazing love but never
comprehends that "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8), then
we have a slogan but are lacking a Savior.
We can talk about all the changes that a relationship with Jesus will
make in lives and in actions, but such talk will only be legitimate
if we do not forget the substance of the great change Jesus
accomplished concerning our soul's life and eternity. Slogans are
awfully good at saying that Jesus will make a difference in your
life, but what does that mean? Why will He make a difference? How?
The difference doesn't come from a well-worded, energizing sales
punch. The difference will come from the Savior behind the slogan
who has made the difference by dying for our sins to free us from
eternal damnation. The difference is found in the fullness of God's
The danger that surrounds religious slogans and overused religious
words is that they are said so easily and repeatedly that they soon
are spoken without thought or understanding. Some of the most common
words used in the Bible, such as faith, love, forgiveness, spiritual,
blessing, repentance etc. flow so easily from the lips. However, if
we take time to try to define them accurately and fully we might have
to stop and think a bit because, for example, "love . . . we . . .
hmm . . . well, you know . . . hmm . . . well, it's just love!"
Jesus speaks of empty words in connection with prayer. He warned
against prayers being said over and over again as if there would be
some merit in the repetition itself, even if comprehension, mental
focus, knowledge and trust in God were lacking. "When you pray, do
not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think they will
be heard for their many words" (Matthew 6:7).
The modern market place is consumed with a desire for things that are
"light" and fat-free. Sadly, it seems that there are similar desires for
"light religion." Cream cheese-lite and fat-free chips may be better for
the body, but Bible-lite and substance-free theology will kill the soul.
"As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow
thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter
(This article first appeared in the pastor's column for a Florida
newspaper last Fall when its author, Pastor Wayne Eichstadt, was serving
as Missionary-at-large in Live Oak. Eichstadt now serves as associate
pastor at Immanuel, Mankato, Minn.)
* HAVE YOU OPENED YOUR CATECHISM LATELY? -- Is it sitting on the shelf
collecting dust much like your Bible? How sad it is if this is the case!
Someone once said, "I must still read and study daily, and yet I cannot
master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism,
and am glad so to remain." The very writer of the Catechism himself,
Martin Luther, said this. Each of us needs to examine and review the
instruction we received from it. All the short, pithy statements
demonstrate how clearly and simply Luther described the essence of
the Biblical doctrine which is essential for our learning. If you
haven't done so for a long time, open your Catechism and daily spend
a few minutes in it. Our catechism isn't intended only for the children.
It is for ALL of us. A world of Christian understanding will open before
your very eyes. (Bulletin, Our Redeemer's, Red Wing, Minn. John
Hein is pastor)
* RE: ILC VOLUNTEERS -- The October 1997 Immanuel Lutheran College
Newsletter had an article titled 'Volunteers, Thank You.' Here is some
of what was said: "This summer, we were thankful to see many volunteers
come to ILC. There is much more work on this campus than can be
managed by the staff that we have. Every volunteer lightens the load
and makes an impossible task almost possible. . . . There is no way to
properly thank everyone that helped this summer. We regard each of them
as a blessing from the Lord. . . ."
We made reference to these ILC volunteers in our December 1997
SMORGASBORD and suggested that a future ILC Newsletter would acknowledge
their contributions. We are blushing, for it is we who missed an
acknowledgment of appreciation. Our apologies.
* 'REFORMED JUNKIE TELLS ALL' -- This was a headline in the October 23,
1997 Sleepy Eye (Minn.) Herald Dispatch as a reporter told of the
appearance of Russell Simon at the local high school. Many CLC folk
will recognize Simon's name and message as in recent years he has taken
that message--intended mostly to reach the younger generation--to many
of our area congregations as well as to public high schools. In the
last three years Russ says he has "shared his life experiences about the
deadly powers of drugs and alcohol addiction" to large and small groups
in over 20 states.
Here is a bit more from the Sleepy Eye newspaper report:
"Reformed drug user and drunk turned author and public speaker Russell
Simon Jr., told students at Sleepy Eye Public school Tuesday morning
that having fun isn't supposed to kill them.
"'Celebrate the right way, not by getting drunk or high. . . . Try
faith, hope and love, the greatest of which is love,' he told students
and faculty,' in the high school gym.
"Simon spoke eloquently for a recovered and admitted 'dope fiend and
drunk' who grew up in the Minnesota communities of New Prague, Princeton,
and Elk River.
"'It's my hope that none of you will ever, ever wind up on the same
path I chose. If you are (on that path), I hope you stop, take a couple
steps back and re-evaluate some of the choices and decisions you make in
your life. That's what it's all about. Choices, decisions, and
consequences,' he said."
Simon, an ex-con who has become a member of our CLC church in Fridley,
Minn., realizes that he can't tell his whole story in a public school
setting. Specifically, he is limited in what he can say about the Lord
God and His Holy Spirit helping him turn his life around.
For that reason Russ announced to the Sleepy Eye public school audience
that he planned to return a week later to tell "the rest of the story."
Some eighty people, half of them non-members including the entire
confirmation class from the local ELCA church, came back to this return
engagement at Grace church in Sleepy Eye. Again Russ kept everyone's
attention for around 90 minutes. And this time Bible passages and Gospel
truths were sprinkled through his inspiring talk.
Simon has already written one autobiographical book titled "Inside The
Walls -- Drugs, Prison, Gangs, And Recovery." He is working on another
which will detail more of the spiritual side of his life's story.
Assisting Russ in the second book is his pastor, Daniel Fleischer, who
is quoted as saying: "Russell's message is a powerful indictment of a
life without Christ. He is living testimony to the truth: 'The Lord is
not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to
To contact Russell J. Simon Jr. write to: Inside the Walls, P.O. Box
131684, Roseville, MN 55113-0015, or phone (612) 407-8355.
* REDLIN RETIRES
Members of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mankato, Minn. honored Pastor and
Mrs. L. D. Redlin on Sunday, October 26, 1997. Pastor and Mrs. (Hope)
Redlin retired after serving Immanuel congregation for 18 years.
Several members made presentations recognizing the service given by
the Redlins. Gayle Stelter served as Master of Ceremonies and
introduced Gene Schreyer, Martha Backhaus, Herb Geiger, Mark Redlin,
President Daniel Fleischer, Immanuel Grade School Choir, and the
Congregation President Ted Schreyer and School Principal Kevin Hulke
presented gifts from the Church Council and the School Faculty. A
lunch followed in the church parlors. (Gayle Stelter, Reporter)
Studies In Galatians--
Standing Fast In The liberty By Which Christ Has Made Us Free (See 5:1)
The Well-dressed Christian
"Clothes make the man!" said the smartly dressed collegiate to a
classmate. "Not so" retorted his 'fashion-challenged' friend; "You
can't judge a book by its cover!"
Thus went the battle of clichés in a debate with no satisfactory end.
But if the discussion revolves around the clothing referred to in our
precious letter to the Galatians, the "clothes make the man" side
carries the day. For here is a case where what you wear makes all
the difference. The 'well-dressed' Christian is wearing Christ, and
that alone make him who he, or she, is.
To fully understand where Paul is going with this idea of "putting on
Christ," we need to understand where he is coming from at this point
in his letter. The peace and unity of the group is being troubled by
'Judaizers' whose aim it is to compel all the believers to adopt the
ordinances and practices of Old Testament Judaism. Paul's message all
along has been that they are all complete in their righteousness
through faith in Jesus Christ. The suggestion that their standing
before God can be improved upon by the addition of human works is
actually a step backward -- a fatal one.
But, since the law is given by God, Paul must explain the relation of
the Mosaic Law to the Gospel. The Law, Paul explains, was our "tutor"
until Christ (3:24). Like a strict headmaster it kept its immature
subjects in line, not from inward motivation but by outward discipline.
Paul argues that, under the Law, one is in a period of minority, a
time of being under restrictions. Under the Gospel one has reached
full maturity, and is free of youthful constraints. Here is where
one's 'apparel' begins to make the difference.
He states "you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus"
(3:26). "Sons," that is, in the sense of being rightful heirs to a
father's estate. We Christians are like "sons" who have reached the
age of maturity.
In contrast, those who are "under the law"--either Jews striving to
fulfill the outward requirements of Moses, or Gentiles trying to
observe the moral promptings of their conscience--are regarded as
minors, awaiting the privilege and freedom of adulthood, but for the
time being, still juveniles, kept in check by "guardians and stewards
until the time appointed by the father" (4:2). A grand inheritance
awaits them, but it is in the form of a trust which they cannot touch
until they 'come of age.'
And until they come of age "the heir . . . does not differ from a slave"
(4:1). As the slave's ragged and worn clothes testify that he has no
part in the inheritance, so also the juvenile's childish clothes
indicate that the inheritance is also out of his reach.
But at the time appointed by the Father, His Son dressed up like a
Man: "When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son,
born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under
the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (4:4). What a
marvelous bit of theology: the eternal God--God of God, Light of
Light, etc.--became true Man. God "put on" man in the person of
Jesus Christ, veiling the divine majesty under mortal flesh:
All praise to Thee, eternal God
Who, clothed in garb of flesh and blood,
Dost take a manger for Thy throne
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.
Hallelujah! (TLH 80:1)
Furthermore, Christ put on the yoke of the law, obeying both the moral
and ceremonial laws that God required of His Old Testament people. He
came to us as the Son in whom God was well-pleased (Mt. 3:17); He came
as our Redeemer and Substitute "that He might taste death for everyone"
(Heb. 2:9). All the ordinances that confined and shackled us--laws
that accused and condemned us--were fulfilled in Him.
Those who, believing in Him, come to be baptized in His Name "have put
on Christ" (3:27). Repenting of our sins and self-righteousness, we
shed our childish apparel; baptism unites the believer with Christ and
His perfect righteousness before God. We put on the garments of
righteousness that identify one as a true son and heir of the Kingdom
of God (remember the robe given to the Prodigal Son? Lk. 15:22). What
belongs to Christ as heir of the Kingdom of heaven is open also to His
believing co-heirs. We have full access to the realities of the
Kingdom: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
"Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into
Your hearts crying out 'Abba, Father'" (4:6). We enjoy the riches of
the heavenly kingdom with full maturity; but we approach our Father
with perfect innocence, appealing to Him with the 'daddy' words of
Jesus' mother tongue (Mk. 14:36); addressing Him with childlike trust
and openness. This boldness and intimacy with God is the privilege of
all those who are in Christ: earthly divisions and distinctions
become irrelevant, for we all approach the Father cloaked in Christ:
"there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there
is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (3:28).
Earthly distinctions do remain in our earthly lives. The Christian
Gospel has never been a social agenda: a plan to wipe out social
divisions. Rather, the spiritual apparel of Christ grants dignity to
each of us in our callings, drawing diverse people together in one
Christian calling, fostering sacrificial love and genuine respect,
whatever clothes we put on for the day.
-- Pastor Peter Reim
5. LUTHER AS HUSBAND AND FATHER
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and
gave Himself for her . . . . Fathers, do not provoke your children to
wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord"
-- Ephesians 5:25, 6:4.
Martin Luther proposed to and married Katherine von Bora on the same
day. She was a former nun, placed under Luther's care. He tried to
find her a husband, but with no success. The parents of one willing
young man refused to permit him to marry her. Katherine refused to
marry several prospects suggested by Luther. She stated that she would
marry Luther himself, but his friends strongly advised against that.
She was far too headstrong, they felt, and would be a poor match. When
Luther finally married her, he did not do it for love. He stated that
he was marrying, first, to please his father, and second, to confirm
by example his teaching that marriage was a good and God-pleasing act.
The couple was blessed with six children, three sons and three
Through his marriage Luther established by example the Lutheran
parsonage and reestablished God's intentions for the Christian home.
Celibacy, as embraced and enforced by the Roman Church, contradicts
both the Word and intentions of God. Man was not created to be alone,
and very few individuals possess the gift of continence. In Luther's
day, as well as in our own, the sad results of forced celibacy are
obvious. What a blessing it is for pastors to have wives and to be
blessed with families.
But Luther's example goes beyond simply the marriage of clergy. Before
the Reformation people lost a proper understanding of God's will for
marriage. Sometimes wives were viewed as chattel--the personal
property of husbands, and were married, not for loving companionship,
as God intended, but to work and to produce heirs. Luther
reestablished God's will, that men marry and be faithful to their
wives. In the pulpit and at home he upheld God's directive, that
"husbands love (their) wives, as Christ loved the Church." In other
words, they were to love their wives self-sacrificially. Luther grew
to love Katie and stated that he would not give her up for all of
Venice and France put together. She was God's gift to him--a gift he
By example Luther also reestablished God's will for fathers and their
children. He took Paul's words seriously: "Do not provoke your
children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition
of the Lord." Luther spent time with his children. He used strict
discipline, but in love. He maintained that a father needs a "rod in
one hand and an apple in the other." He shared God's truths with his
children in ways they could understand. He once wrote a delightful
letter to his son, Hans, in which he described heaven as a pleasant
garden, in which boys "wore golden jackets" and "gathered apples and
pears and purple and yellow plums." Luther went on to describe how
there were "ponies with golden reins and silver saddles" to ride,
"whistles and drums" to play and "crossbows" to shoot.
Recently I have heard more than one individual lament that our young
people seem to take little interest in church. May I suggest that a
most important remedy to that problem is for our men to remember the
example of Martin Luther--love your wives as Christ loved the Church
and take the time personally to bring up your children in the training
and admonition of the Lord!
We thank God for His gift to the church in Martin Luther also as
husband and father.
-- Pastor Paul D. Nolting
(Series concluded -- Ed.)
Mixture of Worthy Goals and Anti-Biblical Teaching
"Promise Keepers" is a national men's movement that is sweeping the
country. It is built around some very good ideas about men taking
responsibility for family obligations--in particular, exercising
spiritual leadership within the home. It began when a former football
coach, Bill McCartney, held a rally in 1990 at Colorado University in
Pueblo. Men were invited to come and acknowledge their past failings
over toward their families, to sing, pray, and dedicate themselves to
righteous living by keeping their promises.
Among the promises they make are commitments to "honoring Jesus Christ"
through worship and prayer, meeting in small groups with other Promise
Keepers, practicing ethical and sexual purity, building stronger
marriages and families, supporting their local church and clergy,
practicing racial tolerance, and being obedient to God's commands.
Each year since 1990 this movement has become more and more popular
nationwide, and has sold millions of dollars worth of books and tapes.
In 1996 the rallies drew 1.2 million men to 22 events.
While many of its stated goals are good ones, this organization is
also a vehicle for the spread of a different gospel--which is no gospel
at all (Gal. 1:6-7). We will do well to become familiar with this
organization, since it continues to grow by leaps and bounds and
will no doubt provide us with an opportunity to bear witness to the
truth about the "real" Gospel of Christ crucified for sinners.
Here are some of the reasons why the conscientious Christian will
steer clear of this group.
* Lots of laws -- no gospel. Although words such as
"gospel," "faith," and "grace" are used, the "gospel" that is being
preached is this: You can be right with God by reforming your life.
All kinds of "vows of obedience" and commitments to holiness are made,
but what is hidden is the fact that NO ONE can become personally holy
enough to satisfy God. Such vows that are not a product of the true
Gospel either become vows lightly taken or sources of despair when
failure comes. The real Gospel has to do with what JESUS did for US by
paying the price for our sins. It is HIS holiness alone that counts with
God. The Promise Keepers movement virtually ignores this true Gospel,
despite the fact that it is only this Gospel that can motivate a person
to practice righteous living that is truly God-pleasing. See Galatians
chapter three for the Lord's admonition about this.
* Strong charismatic element. The organizers and board chairmen
of Promise Keepers have many members of charismatic churches among
them. The rallies mimic the style of a charismatic revival. What is
presented as being an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is actually the
product of the minds and emotions of men, while the true vehicle of
the Holy Spirit, God's Word, is ignored in many ways. Like other
charismatic movements, the Promise Keepers substitute a person's own
emotions and experiences for faith. That which is seen, felt, and
experienced is presented as spiritual reality, rather than what the
Lord Jesus experienced, as related in the Bible.
* Doctrinal indifference. The Promise Keepers is an ecumenical
movement. It says that differences in teaching between churches are
unimportant, thereby belittling something that the Bible clearly warns
us about. God says in His Word that ALL of the Bible's teachings are
important, and worth taking a stand on. Romans 16:17 and many other
passages warn us not to be religious partners with those who do not
teach all the truth of God's Word. Public worship and prayer without
agreement about what the Bible teaches dishonors God.
* Encouragement to support false teachers. One of the promises
that a Promise Keeper must make is to honor and pray for his pastor,
and to support his local church. This may sound great, until we
realize the implications of this. For instance, according to this
idea a Unitarian Promise Keeper should support his pastor and church,
which teaches that all gods are really one, and there is no such
thing as the Trinity. A Roman Catholic Promise Keeper is supposed to
be more devoted to the Catholic church, which teaches him that a
believer has to pay for his own sins in purgatory. The list goes on.
From this we see that the Promise Keepers movement is one of many
groups that encourages the worship of a "generic" god, which is
really a false idol. God says that we have the responsibility to
reject false teaching, using the doctrines of the Bible as our
To sum up, the "Promise Keepers" organization has a lot going for it,
but only on the surface of things. There is much to be admired in
their outward goals for the personal righteousness of men. However,
their message consists of lots of law, very little gospel, and a
destructive mingling of both. By contrast, the Bible shows us that
our commitment to righteous living is very important, but our
relationship with God dare not be defined by our promises to
Him. Instead, the center of our spiritual life is about His
promises to us in Christ Jesus.
There is every reason to avoid this organization completely, and to
reject the false doctrine that hides behind the laudable goals.
-- Pastor Bruce Naumann
(prepared for his congregation, Faith of Markesan, Wis.)
In accord with our usage and order Wayne C. Eichstadt who was called
as associate pastor by Immanuel Ev. Lutheran Church of Mankato,
Minnesota was installed on January 11, 1998.
-- Pastor P. D. Nolting
In accord with our usage and order, Warren Fanning, who had been
called as Exploratory Missionary in Gold Canyon, Arizona, was
commissioned (installed) on February 8, 1998.
-- Pastor Michael Eichstadt
The Call Committee on Graduates will meet at Immanuel Lutheran College
on April 22. All congregations calling for a pastor or teacher through
the committee should have the call form (without candidate designation)
and other pertinent information in the hands of the president by April
-- Daniel Fleischer, President
The Coordinating Council will meet Wednesday and Thursday, April 22 &
23, at Immanuel Lutheran College, Eau Claire, Wis. The first session
will convene after chapel on Wedneday.
-- Daniel Fleischer, President
Prof. John Pfeiffer, currently finishing a term as President of
Immanuel Lutheran College, Eau Claire, Wis., has been nominated for
a two-year term beginning June 1, 1998. No other nominations were
-- Rev. Vance Fossum, Board of Regents for ILC
1998 Immanuel Lutheran College Tour Choir Itinerary
March 8 -- Trinity, Millston, Wis., 10:15 a.m.
March 14 -- St. Peter's, Stambaugh, Mich., 2:00 p.m.
March 14 -- Calvary, Marquette, Mich., 7:30 p.m.
March 15 -- Gethsemane, Saginaw, Mich., 7:30 p.m.
March 16 -- Faith, Coloma, Mich., 7:00 p.m.
March 17 -- Faith, Ballwin, Mo., 7:30 p.m.
March 18 -- Immanuel, Batavia, Ill., 7:30 p.m.
March 19 -- Peace Thru Christ, Middleton, Wis., 7:30 p.m.
March 20 -- Messiah, Hales Corners, Wis., 7:00 p.m.
March 21 -- Luther Memorial, Fond du Lac, Wis., 7:00 p.m.
March 22 -- Faith, Markesan, Wis., 10:30 a.m.
March 29 -- Grace, Fridley, Minn., 10:00 a.m.
March 29 -- Messiah, Eau Claire, Wis., 7:00 p.m.
Please confirm concert times with local congregations.
-- John Reim, Director
Brice Prairie Preaching Station
The following information was inadvertently omitted from last month's
Table of CLC Exploratory Services. Worship services are being held
every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Brice Prairie (La Crosse area), Wisconsin.
For information regarding location of the service, call either John
Hein, pastor in charge (612-388-4403), or lay person Kirby Pabst
Monthly mailings of the Lutheran Spokesman on audio-cassette are
available for the blind and anyone else who would like it in this
format. Order from Pastor Walter Schaller, 517 Bayberry Pointe Dr.
NW, Apt. C, Grand Rapids, MI 49544.