Concluding Our Observance Of The Clc’s 50th Anniversary
In the calendar year now drawing to a close, our church body with its respective congregations has individually and collectively marked a half-century of wonderful blessings. As the synod’s official “spokesman,” our little magazine too has been noting the event.
Together we have looked back to the days of our founding in thankful remembrance of our eternal Savior – God’s gracious guidance and protection all along the way. At the same time we have encouraged one another to look ahead confidently, trusting in Him who – with all His holy attributes, including His unconditional, sacrificial love for us poor, unworthy sinners – is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In sermons throughout the year, each of our pastors has surely made frequent reference to the synod’s anniversary. A number of our congregations have, in fact, observed their own anniversaries – some more or less than fifty years – simultaneously with the synod’s.
As we conclude the synod’s anniversary year, your editor/pastor wishes to share a portion of what was preached in a Transfiguration Sunday sermon last Spring at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Cheyenne, Wyo. (a site of one of the original Interim Conferences). The text included these words:
“While [Peter] was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’ And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’ When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only”
The sermon on this text concluded as follows.
This concluding frame of the holy video we are witnessing calls attention to the fact that we are to HEAR JESUS ONLY (as God the Father says)! Jesus is not just one of many prophets or religious teachers, but the unique Prophet prophesied by Moses and Elijah centuries earlier. Him, Jesus, we are to hear, none other! We have one Master, Christ, in all things spiritual!
And where is it, fellow Christians, that Jesus can be “heard”? Where else but in His Word in the Scriptures? As Peter would later testify in his epistle: “We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place…” (2 Peter 1:19). Jesus teaches in the Gospel: “If you continue in my Word, then are you my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 18:15) Yes, even in this truth-denying, supposedly everything-is-relative, nothing-is-absolute, one-religion-is-as-good-as-another day and age, there still is truth! There still is error, false teaching! In His great commission on the Mount of Ascension, the risen and glorified Lord sent out His disciples with the directive: “Teach all things, whatsoever I have commanded you,” promising, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Truly, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28).
All of this helps to explain – this, our 50th anniversary year as a synod – the sensitivity we in the CLC have for the purity of Bible doctrine. We would see JESUS ONLY in all things. We would see JESUS ONLY in clear focus, and we have learned from Scripture itself that all false teaching blurs and distorts the picture of Jesus as our only and all-sufficient Savior. Any false teaching can cause the gospel of Jesus to become a blurred, fuzzy, murky, distorted picture causing us to miss the glory of Jesus. Let us not weary then of the struggle to maintain pure doctrine. May God in His grace keep us sensitive to the truth, and preserve unto us a holy loathing for any besmirching of the complete picture He paints for us in the Bible. We would see and hear JESUS ONLY, for alone in Him and His saving Word do we have a clear panoramic view of God’s plan for our eternal salvation.
“Heavenly Father, keep the eyes of our holy faith focused on JESUS ONLY and our ears and hearts attuned to hear JESUS ONLY. Do this, Father, for Your glory and honor, and for the eternal welfare of our and our children’s blood-bought souls.”
As we sing in the hymn:
Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus
Can my heartfelt longing still
Lo, I pledge myself to Jesus —
What He wills alone to will…. Amen.