“Treasuring Our Heritage of Truth” -First of Three…
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” Hebrews 13:7
In our service today we are trying to do what God is telling us to do in this text. We are trying to remember those individuals who have spoken the Word of God to us. Since we are celebrating both the Lutheran Reformation and the anniversary of the Church of the Lutheran Confession, we are trying to remember particularly those from the sixteenth century who spoke the Word of God to us, and those in the middle of the 20th century who spoke the Word of God to us in connection with the founding of our church body.
From the Editor: The Minnesota Conference of the CLC held
its annual Joint Reformation Service on October 31, 2010, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mankato. Three sermonettes discussed the Reformation as well as the 50th anniversary of the CLC from different angles. The overall theme was “Treasuring Our Heritage of Truth.” We thank the speakers for sharing their thoughtful and inspiring devotions with our Spokesman readers.
Of course, the key question is this: Did Martin Luther speak the Word of God? After all, he was teaching things that had not been taught for many years. His opponents kept on asking him: How can you be right since you disagree with so many of the church fathers and the church authorities? What makes you think you are right and they are wrong?
These questions troubled Martin Luther very much, but the fact that sustained him was his conviction that the Bible was the very Word of God, and that he was simply teaching what the Bible says, and therefore he could not be wrong.
In the year 1528, in the midst of the conflict over the Lord’s Supper, Luther wrote his detailed confession, summarizing all the various articles of the Christian faith. These are his words: “By the grace of God I have most diligently traced all these articles through the Scriptures, have examined them again and again in the light thereof. …We would rather cling to the naked, bare text which God Himself has spoken than to…glosses devised by men.”
Thus Luther confessed his faith in the Triune God, in the person and work of Jesus, in salvation by faith in Jesus, and all the other articles of faith that we know from our Lutheran Confessions. He concluded with these words: “This is my faith, for so all true Christians believe and so the Holy Scriptures teach us.”
Of course, Martin Luther was a sinner like us, and he freely confessed his sins. He considered his greatest sin to be that he taught false doctrine for so many years as a Roman Catholic monk and priest, before God led him by means of Scripture to a right understanding of justification by faith in Christ, and by faith alone.
As we remember Martin Luther for having spoken the Word of God to us, so we remember the founding fathers of our church body. They also had to contend with the fact that the vast majority of professing Christians did not agree with their position or confession on church fellowship. How could the few of them be right, and all the many others be wrong? Surely the many others knew their Bibles, didn’t they? Weren’t the many others faithful teachers of all the other teachings of God’s Word? How could they go wrong on this
So what did these fathers do? Leaders like Edmund Reim, Norman Madson, C. M. Gullerud, M. J. Witt, Paul G. Albrecht, Egbert Schaller, Otto J. Eckert and others diligently studied the Scriptures so that they would know and be
certain of what the Word of
God actually says.
Over a period of many years they worked on a confession concerning church fellowship based entirely on God’s Word. They wanted to follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther in tracing God’s teaching on this subject through the Scriptures and examining this again and again.
In this way they gained certainty that they were teaching the Word of God, and in this certainty they took the bold step of leaving their former church bodies and establishing
We are assembled fifty years later to thank and praise our Lord for having given us faithful teachers like Martin Luther in the 16th century and the founders of our church body in the 20th century, who have spoken the Word of God to us. How can we follow their faith? By diligently studying the Scriptures, where we will find our Savior Jesus Christ and all His blessings and where we will find certainty and truth in the midst of all the uncertainty and false teaching of our times.
May our God preserve us in this faith!