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"…the Scriptures cannot be broken." John 10:35

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Chapel Talk on Chapters 21-22 of the Book “Out Of Necessity”

Dear Friends in Christ,

It is fitting that we conclude this series of chapel talks on the history of the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) on the day of our Lord’s ascension. For just as our risen Lord and Savior at God’s right hand has guided us in the past, so our present and our future are in the hands of our Savior who rules over us at God’s right hand.

The Gospel of Mark concludes with these words: “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”

“…What will our church be like in the year 2060? That is a long ways away, but many of you will probably be living at that time, if the world lasts that long. We can barely even imagine what it will be like in 2060. Our present and our future are in the hands of the Head of our Church, Jesus Christ.”

What does it mean that Jesus is sitting down at the right hand of God? We do not have to figure out the meaning of these words by using our imaginations. God has revealed to us what is meant by His sitting at the right hand of God. Listen to these words from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “God raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power. …And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.”

On the basis of this Bible passage our catechism says:

“Christ’s sitting at the right hand of God means that He rules everything for the benefit of His people. God is a spirit; He does not have a body which has a right hand. Sitting at one’s right hand is a picture of a position of honor and authority. Christ rules at God’s right hand as our Prophet, High Priest, and King.”

Our CLC has officers and boards. Our congregations have pastors and elders and teachers and committees. It is important that we have these officers so that all things may be done decently and in order, as we are instructed. But the real and only Head of the Church is Jesus Christ at God’s right hand. All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth.

All the blessings we have enjoyed in the past have come from Him. As our Prophet He has taught us through the prophets and apostles in His Word. As our High Priest He made the supreme sacrifice of offering Himself up on the cross to atone for all our sins. As our King He has worked all things together for our good. For He rules over all in the interest of His Church on Earth, that is, His sheep and lambs who trust in Him as their Savior and Lord. He has used His almighty power for our benefit, guiding us, watching over us, keeping us safe.

And now, what about
the future?

Back in 1960 the year 2010 was a long ways in the future. Fifty years. The ascended Lord was with us during those fifty years, blessing us in ways too numerous to mention at this time. Will He be with us during the next fifty years? What will our church be like in the year 2060? That is a long ways away, but many of you will probably be living at that time, if the world lasts that long. We can barely even imagine what it will be like in 2060.

Our present and our future are in the hands of the Head of our Church, Jesus Christ. He may decide to wrap things up before that time, bringing to an end this whole world and everything in it. That would be a good thing, would it not? All the Christians who have died from the beginning of the world would then arise from their graves and be ushered into the presence of their Savior, together with the living believers, all of us then to enjoy the presence of our Lord forever. Fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore, as the Bible says.

But if our Lord delays His coming and allows the world to continue for another fifty years, there are some things we can count on for sure. We can continue to count on the assurance given us in God’s Word that our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. Jesus, as our High Priest, is interceding for us at God’s right hand as our Mediator, telling the Father that He has already paid for all of our sins. We can continue to count on all of the promises of our God in His Word, for Jesus, our Prophet, has given us His Word in Scripture, and Jesus will continue to see to it that His Word will not perish from the Earth.

And we can continue to count on Jesus as our King in the years to come, ruling over all things in the interest of His people. But we cannot count on ourselves. We cannot depend on the strength of our faith and love. We cannot depend on the loyalty of the Church of the Lutheran Confession or on its leaders. There have been orthodox, confessional Lutheran church bodies in the past that at one time were faithful in their teaching and practice but now they have fallen away, some of them very far away from where they were. God has not promised anywhere that the CLC will remain on Earth or that the CLC will remain faithful in its teaching and practice. We can’t trust in ourselves or in our church body.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right hand of God. He is our Head. He is our Savior. May we always put our trust in Him. We sing the hymns stanzas.

Christ, Thou art the sure Foundation,
Thou the Head and Cornerstone;
Chosen of the Lord and precious,
Binding all the Church in one;
Thou Thy Zion’s Help forever
And her Confidence alone.
Praise and honor to the Father,
Praise and honor to the Son,
Praise and honor to the Spirit,
Ever Three and ever One,
One in might and one in glory,
While unending ages run.
TLH #466:1 & 4

We are a “church in the world”— and how!

Written by | March, 2011
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In this issue we have the last in a series of chapel talks which Pastor David Lau delivered during the 2009-10 school year to the student body at Immanuel Lutheran High School, College, and Seminary, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. ILC is our synod’s school for training the up-coming generation—pastors, teachers, and lay-people—to be disciples of Christ.

Pastor Lau’s talks on the various chapters of our synod’s history book (which he had written for the synod’s fiftieth anniversary) stressed the importance of upholding a staunchly Bible-based foundation for our “church in the world.”

Yes, our church is in the world, yet—pray God—not of the world, for its members have been called out of the world, as Peter writes: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

As we serve our Savior in the world, we strive to do so 1) as Christians; 2) as Lutherans; 3) as confessional Lutheran Christians.

1) As Christians

we serve our Savior aright when we do so as those firmly convinced that the God-Man Jesus Christ is alone “the way, the truth, and the life” for, as He Himself taught, “no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

The book of Acts reports how this absolute truth claim was staunchly upheld by the Lord’s apostles even in the face of persecution to the point of martyrdom. While under arrest by the civil authorities, these “uneducated and untrained men” said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Earlier they asserted, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

While we in the CLC strive to maintain this absolute truth, many “Christian” denominations today have relinquished it.

2) As Lutherans

we serve our Savior aright when we do so as those firmly convinced that the salvation which Christ provides for sinners can be found only and alone in the divinely inspired Holy Scriptures, which “are able to make you wise for salvation,” for they are “given by inspiration of God and (are) profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15ff).

We believe—with the sixteenth century Reformer of the church, Dr. Martin Luther—that these Holy Scriptures are all-sufficient, teaching all we need to know about God’s wondrous grace and mercy toward the world of sinners, “for 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” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Many “Lutheran” churches today don’t uphold the Holy Scriptures as the objective, all-sufficient, and only source of Truth. The result is that poor souls are robbed of the certainty of their undeserved, free, and complete salvation in and through Christ Jesus.

3) As confessional

Lutheran Christians—we serve our Savior aright when we do so as those firmly convinced that there is no license or liberty to tamper with His teachings.

Jesus said to those “who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31f). In His Great Commission the same Lord who directs His disciples to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…” goes on to say that they should teach would-be disciples “to observe all things that I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28:19f).

Yet evidence abounds today that large segments of the visible Christian church in general, and Lutheranism in particular, have jettisoned the “observe all things” directive of the Great Commission. Choosing to be “progressive” rather than confessional before the world, they condone and/or accept abortion, same-sex marriage, women clergy, evolutionary origins, and many other “less obvious” but equally dangerous (Scripture-undermining, faith-scuttling) false teachings.

From this backdrop we say: the CLC history book gives its readers an historical snapshot of one small Lutheran church body’s struggles to establish and maintain a truly Christian, truly Lutheran, truly confessional church which, while in the world, is not of it.  As such, we recommend it as a very worthwhile resource book for would-be disciples of Jesus Christ in the 21st century.

Chapel Talk on Chapter 18 of the Book: Out Of Necessity

Chapter 18 of the Book: Out Of Necessity
A History of the Church of the Lutheran Confession

Dear Friends in Christ,

Pastor Christian Albrecht (1900-1970)

Pastor Christian Albrecht (1900-1970)

The summer of 1963 was a very busy
one on this campus. There were volunteers from many CLC congregations on the scene, trying to prepare the former Ingram Estate for the fifth school year of Immanuel Lutheran College. For the first four years Mankato, Minnesota, was the home of our school.

There were two major projects underway in 1963: the remodeling of the big barn and the remodeling of the little barn. Two Albrecht brothers were in charge of the remodeling crews: Pastor Christian Albrecht of Watertown, South Dakota, and Pastor Paul G. Albrecht of Bowdle, South Dakota. If these brothers were here with us today, what would make them the most happy?

I am sure they would be pleased to see the new Academic Center. Already in 1963 they had hoped to build a structure for classrooms, but our church body could not afford it. That is why the two barns had to be remodeled. It is true that the two buildings they worked on are no longer on campus, but they would be happy to know that the big barn, to be known as Northwest Hall, served for many years as boys’ dormitory, classroom building, and administration center. They would be happy that the little barn served for many years as the Sem House.

Pastor Paul G. Albrecht (1898-1976)

Pastor Paul G. Albrecht (1898-1976)

But I believe the two Albrecht brothers would be even more happy to know that some of their great grandchildren are students on this campus today, together with the descendants of many of the other volunteers who contributed their talents in 1963.

But I believe that what would make the Albrecht brothers the happiest today is the blessing from God that in the past fifty years the doctrinal basis of Immanuel Lutheran College has not changed. For this certainly was the main reason that the volunteers gathered on this campus in 1963. They wanted to establish and maintain a school where the Word of God would hold sway, where the Word of God would prevail not only in religion classes but in history classes and science classes and sociology classes and psychology classes, where the Word of God would be the guide and norm in all campus life, in the dormitories, and in all extra-curricular activities.

Anyone who has studied American history knows that many of the schools begun by Christians on sound Christian principles in this country are no longer guided by Christian teaching. They have become secular institutions, and in some cases have become anti-Christian in their teaching and practice. Three of the oldest schools in our country are Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, all of them founded as Christian schools to be guided by the Word of God. But that certainly is not the case in these schools today. So it is a very special blessing of God that throughout the history of Immanuel Lutheran College there has never been a teacher who denied the inspiration of the Bible or the six-day creation of the world or the teaching that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world, or the fellowship principles taught in the Bible. This is not a blessing to be taken for granted, but a blessing to be thankful for every day of our lives, and something that we need to keep on praying for and striving for continually.

There were eight full-time teachers at this school in 1963, and there are twelve full-time teachers today. None of the original eight teachers is still teaching today. But Prof. Ron Roehl was here in 1963, and he still has an office as registrar in the new Academic Center, and he is still living on campus.

In the fall of 1963 the total enrollment was less than 100, but in six years it was up to 137 and, of these, 47 were in the college department. We would like to have that many college students today. By the 1974-1975 school year the total enrollment was 179, which, I believe, was the highest enrollment in ILC history. But the enrollment did not remain at that level. In fact, by the 1982-1983 school year the high school enrollment was down to 74.

But the teachers kept teaching, and soon the Lord gave us the gift of more students. Even as every child is a gift from God, so also every student is a gift from God, a gift to be guided and molded by the Word of God. The enrollment began to climb again in the 1980s. By 1988 there were 105 in high school, 38 in college, and 7 in seminary. But by 1993 the total enrollment was down to 125, with only 12 beginning ninth-graders. Was the school going to die for lack of students? No, the very next year there were 30 ninth-graders, and by the year 2000 there were 132 high school students, and the total enrollment was 176, close to the all-time high.

We pray that the Lord will give us this many students again, not for the glory of this school, but so that our teachers have the opportunity to teach God’s Word and ways to the next generation, so that they in turn can pass this on to their children and grandchildren.

For this is the will of God, as recorded in Psalm 78: “He established a testimony in Jacob, …which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God.” We sing TLH #629.

Bera — Then and Now

Written by | November, 2010
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50th Anniversary Observance

“Berea–Then and Now” was the theme of Professor Steven Sippert’s message to 50th anniversary worshipers at Berea Lutheran Church of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, on June 20, 1010.

2010_bereachurchoutside

Exterior of Berea Lutheran Church, Egan, MN

Prof. Sippert called attention to the fact that, guided solely by the truth of God’s Word and grounded firmly in faith in Christ Jesus, the Bible Bereans (Acts  chapter 17) treasured Holy Scripture and measured all–including the Apostle Paul’s message–by its divine standards.

berea_sippert_dschbk

Prof. Sippert and Pastor Schierenbeck

With its birth date paralleling that of the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC), those who founded and continued the ministry of Berea Lutheran Church have sought to follow the footsteps of their biblical namesake. From its beginnings in a Minneapolis home, to its first church home in the city of St. Paul as a mission congregation of the CLC, to its present Inver Grove Heights (St. Paul suburb) location, through several building and expansion programs—all along the way God has blessed the preaching and teaching of His Holy Word and Gospel in both our church and our Christian Day School (established 1978).

Current membership of the congregation is 380 souls, with enrollment in the Day School at 28.

Those over the years who have provided pastoral leadership include Gordon Radtke (conducted first worship service), Marvin Eibs (1960-1970), Paul Larsen (1970-1983), and David Schierenbeck (1983-present).

Full-time Day School teachers have included Marlys Gerth, Beth Nolting, David Bernthal, Robert and Judith Snell, Susan Rehm, and Matthew Thurow (presently).

It was a wonderful anniversary day as the Lord granted good weather, a jubilant anniversary service, a wonderful program, and a fellowship meal. Many willing hearts and hands served in readying all for this God-glorifying festival.

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your Name be glory because of Your mercy and truth” (Ps. 115:1).

As our Lord guided and blessed the Bereans in the book of Acts, so may we ever look to Him as our Strength and Hope in the future.

berea_congregation50th

Sanctuary of Berea Lutheran Church, Egan, MN

Surveying CLC History

From the 25th Anniversary Booklet (1985)
“Reflections–Projections”

“Projection” Number Eleven of Twelve

THANKSGIVING
I. TO BE SHARED
II. KNOWING WHAT TO DO WITH A LOT

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).

If we give a child a cookie, we expect the child to enjoy it. If, on the other hand, we give the same child a sack full of cookies, we expect it to be shared and passed around.

The greatest gift of all is God’s love for us through Christ. Jesus died on the cross to bring this love to all. Like any other gift given to us, we are to use it. Use God’s love by accepting it and enjoying it. Use God’s love by loving God. Use God’s love so you won’t be lonely or afraid. Rejoice and be glad that God loves you and has paid for all your sins.

But God did not limit His love to just a select few. He gave a whole sack full of love. His love goes far beyond the love which we need. “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom. 5:20, NIV). God’s forgiving grace covers more than our sins. It gives hope greater than our fears.

What are we going to do with that great love which Christ has given in overflowing measure?

Peter suggests that “each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Peter suggests that we are to minister–that is, to serve others–with God’s love. Christ has given us His love beyond our own needs, but that doesn’t mean it is wasted love. He tells us to pass it on to others.

Thanksgiving means thanksliving! Tell others of Christ’s love. Share this love by spending time with the lonely, by cheering up the sad, by giving of your means for mission work.

It is easy to know what to do with a little love, but see if you can use the unlimited love Christ has given to you!

Defending the Good Name of a Seminary Dean

Written by | November, 2010
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It all began as a book review intended for the Lutheran Spokesman. Early in 2009 your editor had in mind to inform our readers of a book of sermons titled Morning Bells at Our Saviour’s by Rev. Norman A. Madson(1886-1962)—a book compiled and edited by his son Norman A. Madson, Jr. in memory of his parents. Most of the sermons in the book were preached by Rev. Madson when he served in the pastoral ministry at Princeton, Minnesota, while he was a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). He was called to and served as Dean of Bethany Lutheran Seminary (ELS), Mankato, Minnesota, 1946-1959.

One reason it was felt such a book might be of interest to Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) readers is its supplementary section called “Sermons for Special Occasions.” Within that section are a couple “CLC sermons” which this reviewer–at the time, a young CLC Seminary student–heard in person, including an October 1961 Reformation sermon (Turner Hall, New Ulm, Minn.) and a September 1962 Anniversary sermon (for and at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mankato, for its 95th anniversary). Dean Madson’s earthly sojourn would come to an end in December, 1962.

This quick historical sketch suggests something which is not insignificant: during the last couple years of his life Seminary Dean Madson had—for conscience reasons based on the Word of God–severed fellowship relations with the synod and seminary which he had served so faithfully, admirably, and long, and had taken membership within the newly-formed Church of the Lutheran Confession.

The why and wherefore behind this action taken by Dean Madson is detailed in our book A BOOK REVIEW…AND AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE—and aptly subtitled, Dean Norman A. Madson’s association with the Church of the Lutheran Confession.

Besides containing a review of the Morning Bells… volume, the book includes a number of personal memoirs of Dean Madson by other CLC pastors and professors who had the privilege to sit at his feet in Bethany Seminary, while also reprinting some of Dean Madson’s sermons, particularly those preached after he had become a member of the CLC. Readers of the book will discover that Dean Madson was by word and deed a staunchly confessional, orthodox Lutheran theologian, even as were his CLC colleagues such as Professors Edmund Reim (1892-1969) and C. M. Gullerud (1908-1995).

Readers Agree: An Interesting Supplement!

Lurking in the background as we wrote/compiled this book was a desire to “set the record straight” regarding off-hand comments heard over the years, particularly from folks connected with the ELS—that Dean Madson’s words and actions in his retirement years were those of a senile if not incipient Alzheimer-ish and even “crazy” old man. Against such a scurrilous insinuation (sins against the eighth commandment), our book presents abundant evidence to the contrary. We are happy–thankful!—that the good Lord has permitted us to defend the good name and reputation of Dean Norman A. Madson, a long-time powerful spokesman and influence for conservative, orthodox Lutheranism and faithfulness to God’s Word during some trying and difficult days in the Church Militant.

Allow us then to refer to more objective comments from a few of those who have purchased the book:

Item 1) “…I spent nearly all day Sunday reading your book. So much of it was relevant as we knew Dean Madson personally, but only in a social way and as a listener at his chapel talks at Bethany. Thank you for your time and efforts in remembering a great man.

Item 2) “Thanks again for a copy of your book. I have completed the reading of it, and I found it both edifying and heart-warming. By the way, the binding of the book seems good….It did not crack even when I laid the pages flat for easier reading.

Item 3) Passed along second-hand: “[A retired Bethany College, ELS, professor who read the book] did not feel the book was in any way harsh or unfair.

Item 4) Since the name of Dean Norman Madson appears a number of times in the CLC history book written by Pastor David Lau [OUT OF NECESSITY—A History of the Church of the Lutheran Confession], our book serves as an interesting supplement to Pastor Lau’s book, as is indicated in the following words of a reader: “Among many other things that I could write to express my gratitude and appreciation [for your book], let me say that the Addenda and Appendices ‘bring to life’ much of the early history of the CLC that, of course, could not be included in OUT OF NECESSITY…—so THANK YOU!

Item 5) A fellow servant in the CLC writes: “…I am afraid I do not have the courage of Dean Madson, to welcome being counted among the ‘trouble-makers,’ as your APPRECIATED book quotes Madson on p. 255….I thank you for your A Book Review…, for otherwise I would not have access to ANY of the Dean’s sermons…printed in the Addenda section. That’s a wonderful contribution you have made to the cause of the Truth!!

Dear reader, A BOOK REVIEW… deserves to be in the church library of every CLC congregation, right next to OUT OF NECESSITY…. At the same time, those having a copy of OUT OF NECESSITY… in their home would be equally well served having A BOOK REVIEW… next to it.

As the Dedication Page suggests, for younger (second, third, and future generation) CLC members, A BOOK REVIEW… presents both a word-and-action (doctrinal-and-practical) reaffirmation of the synod’s stance taken before the world in 1960 and which it continues to uphold fifty years later.

Then also A BOOK REVIEW… can be used for Christian witness and outreach. We say so because a careful reading will help folks understand what true Reformation Lutheranism—true Bible-based Christianity!–was and is all about, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen again, for the justification of the world of sinners before holy God.

The 276-page perfect-binding book A BOOK REVIEW…AND AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE–Dean Norman A. Madson’s association with the Church of the Lutheran Confession sells for $12.95 per copy (copies to be mailed should add $2.50 postage) and is available through the CLC Bookhouse, 501 Grover Road, Eau Claire, WI 54701; clcbookhouse@ilc.edu. Or you may order directly from the author, Pastor Paul Fleischer, 1741 E. 22nd St., Cheyenne, WY 82001; paulgf@qwestoffice.net.

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