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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 20 of the Book: Out Of Necessity

Written by | February, 2011
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Dear Friends in Christ,

Chapter 20 of the history of the CLC is entitled “The Changing Times.”

Everyone will have to admit that there have been many changes in the world and in the church world since our church body was organized in 1960. But have there been changes in the Church of the Lutheran Confession?

clcconvention1963marquettemi

By God’s grace our doctrinal platform remains the same now as it was then. That is good, because it is written: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” How happy we can be that God does not change! Nor does His love for us sinners change! Jesus died for the sins of the world, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Those facts do not change, and they assure us that our sins are forgiven, and we have a place in heaven reserved for us. Read More…

Chapel Talk on Chapter 19 of the Book: Out Of Necessity

Written by | January, 2011
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Dear Friends in Christ,

There are sixteen congregations in our church body that are presently enjoying a special blessing from the Lord. These congregations are operating elementary Christian day schools. Some of these schools have been in existence since the very beginning of the CLC, such as Immanuel Lutheran School in Mankato, Minnesota. In fact, Immanuel congregation has also been operating its own Christian high school ever since Immanuel Lutheran College moved from Mankato to Eau Claire in 1963. Read More…

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.

Chapel Talk on Chapter 17 of “Out of Necessity”

Written by | November, 2010
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Dear Friends in Christ,

Chapter 17 of the history of the CLC is entitled “Doctrinal Controversies.”

Yes, we have to admit that in the history of our church body there have been serious debates and controversies concerning doctrinal matters. I doubt that there is any church body on Earth that has never had such controversies.But we should hasten to add that the controversies in the CLC have never dealt directly with the basic teachings of Christianity. There has never been any dispute among us as to whether the true God is the Triune God, whether Jesus is true God and true man, whether Jesus died for the sin of the world, whether we are justified by faith rather than by works, whether the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. By the grace of God we have been spared from such controversies, even though many other church bodies have been troubled by these things.

Still we have had controversies on doctrinal matters, and in some cases these controversies have led to the withdrawals of some of our members because they did not agree with the resolution of the controversy that was adopted by the CLC. Our history book refers to eight controversies in the CLC. We do not have the time to go into detail on any of these controversies this morning. We would probably need a full class period on each one of these controversies to get a good grasp of the specific problems and how they were resolved.

The point I want to make here this morning is that sometimes controversy is necessary, and that God uses controversy to get us to study His Word more carefully and to examine our own beliefs and practices in the light of God’s Word.

There was one major doctrinal controversy in the Christian Church in the days of the apostles. It was a controversy that involved the apostles Paul and Peter and the brother of the Lord Jesus named James. The question that was debated was a very important one: What is necessary for salvation? The one party taught that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation and nothing else. The other party insisted that faith in Christ was necessary for salvation but that following the Old Testament regulations concerning circumcision and the eating of certain foods was also necessary for salvation. Those that taught this are generally called Judaizers because they were insisting that following the Jewish laws was necessary for salvation.

Acts Chapter 15

The book of Acts tells us about this controversy in chapter 15. It came to a head at the conclusion of the apostle Paul’s first mission journey. On this mission journey Paul preached the gospel of Jesus to Jews and Gentiles. He assured the Gentiles that they too were children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. He did not tell them that they had to follow certain Jewish rules in order to be saved.

But when he came back to Antioch after his mission trip, some of the Christians from Jerusalem were telling the Gentiles: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Since these Christians came from Jerusalem, the birthplace of the Church, and since they claimed to represent the views of James, the brother of Jesus, this became a major controversy.

The apostle Paul was certain that the position he was taking was the right one. He regarded the Judaizers as false teachers. So we read in his letter to the Galatians: “We did not yield submission to them even for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you.” Paul did not want to go along with the wrong view even for a moment for the sake of avoiding an argument or for the sake of outward peace. He resisted what he considered to be false teaching. He spoke up.

At one point in this controversy it seemed that even Peter was siding with the Judaizers. Peter stopped eating with the Gentile Christians in order to please the men from Jerusalem. Paul could not let this pass without saying something, even though it would involve more controversy. Paul wrote to the Galatians: “When Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face.” Yes, here we have the unpleasant scene of one apostle disagreeing with another apostle in front of the whole congregation. Controversy in the church! You see, it is sometimes necessary.

How was it resolved? The book of Acts tells us: “When Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.” They had a meeting, just like our church conventions today. There at that meeting, on the basis of God’s Word, they resolved the controversy. Peter, Paul, and James, the brother of the Lord, all agreed that the view of the Judaizers was false teaching and could not be tolerated. In Peter’s words: “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.” May our gracious Lord help us always to resolve our controversies through the written Word of our Savior God. (TLH #260:5-6)

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