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* TWO SOULS PASSING (The obituary of Pastor Carl Thurow appears in this issue. The September 19, 1999 worship service bulletin of Messiah Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, Wis. contained the following “comparisons” between one who has just begun and another who has just ended a Christian’s earthly pilgrimage.)

September 9th. An important date for two souls in our congregation.

For Hunter Cole Diede, the youngest of our members, it was the day of his baptism.

For Carl Thurow, one of our oldest members, it was the day of his stroke, admission to the hospital, and the last week of his life.

Neither would see the other this side of eternity. Yet they are brothers–in Christ Jesus.

Hunter begins a life of promise.

Carl begins the promised life.

Hunter starts a journey only God knows how long.

Carl begins an endless reign in heaven.

Hunter is right in the middle of the war, a fierce and deadly struggle with the flesh, the host of evil angels, and a very evil world.

Carl has the complete victory and for the first time enjoys real life in the presence of God and the holy angels.

Hunter sees the promised land by faith.

Carl is in the promised land.

Hunter is in need of daily Bible readings to see Jesus.

Carl sees the Savior for himself.

Hunter needs a lifetime of prayer.

Carl needs no prayer.

For Hunter, we seek countless blessings from Jesus.

For Carl, we thank Jesus for countless blessings.

A final thought. There are many who would make Jesus optional. They would say: “Believe in Him if you wish, but you can also believe in other ways of salvation.” Both Hunter and Carl remind us that Jesus makes all the difference in the world–this one and the one to come. And some day Hunter and Carl will meet–in heaven, thanks to the work of their brother, Jesus Christ.

* HOW SHALL WE ‘TAKE GOD’S WORD’? (From the September 5, 1999 worship service bulletin of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, West Columbia, S.C.; Vance Fossum is pastor.)

Here at Holy Trinity we offer the unqualified grace and mercy of God in connection with His Gospel message of forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ. Because this saving message from God is revealed to us only in His Word–the Bible–we also teach the Bible. And we make no apologies for our unquestioned acceptance of the whole Bible as the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God. If we did not regard the whole Bible in this way, we could not continue to preach the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in Christ without reservations and qualifications.

For this reason, the remark of a local pastor of a large “Christian” congregation (Episcopal) is very disturbing. He was asked: “Do you believe that the creation account of Genesis 1-2 is literally true, and that the miracles of the Old Testament happened exactly as recorded?” Without hesitation he answered: “No, I do not take the Bible literally. I take the Bible very seriously.”

How deep the man is! To take God at His Word is for simpletons, you see. For deep-thinker theologians the historical record of Scripture is too confining. Their great intellect sees more than meets the eye. You can bet that God is impressed with those swelled heads who say: “O Lord, I take what you say very seriously, but don’t expect me to believe that you mean exactly what You say!”

Of course, we recognize that in parts of the Bible God conveys His truth by means of poetry and symbolic visions. But those who regard the Bible as a poetic/symbolic book of myths and parables with hidden meanings, do so not to “find” the truth but to escape it.

They do the same with the New Testament teachings of Christ and the apostles. Wherever the expressed will of God clearly opposes the desires of modern man, the “serious” theologians look for that “other, deeper meaning.” Because their proud hearts say of such passages, “I don’t want to hear this!” their intellect concludes: “God has not really said this!”

How thankful we are at Holy Trinity for the grace to take God at His Word, seriously. For the God who tells me that His universe was created in six twenty-four-hour days (Gen. 1), also tells me that He “gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). May this Savior-God continue to strengthen us through His Word–taken seriously and literally–until His coming in glory. Amen.