Trinity Lutheran Church

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The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

SEPTEMBER 12, 2021              Isaiah 50:4-10            16TH Sunday After Pentecost

Merciful and Gracious Father bless us now as we hear Your Holy Word.  May it truly be for us the Word that calls us from sin, that guides us in the way we should go and brings us the assurance of forgiveness and life everlasting in the kingdom of heaven.  This we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.


Grace, peace and mercy be to each one of you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our message for this Day is from the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God as recorded in the appointed Old Testament Lesson from Isaiah, chapter 50, hear again from verse 8, “He who vindicates me is near.”
                                    

This far our text.



For all of us, there are times in life when the path ahead looks dark and difficult. There are times when we are unsure which direction we should take or whether we should take any direction at all.


These are times we are called into the darkness, and the darkness is frightening. When these moments occur, where do we find the strength to move forward? Our reading for today will put light on this.
The lesson for today is from Isaiah chapter 50. This is the third of what are widely known as the “Servant Songs” in Isaiah. In the Jewish world, there is debate as to whether the Servant is Israel, Isaiah, or the promised future Messiah.


But as Christians, we hear the witness of the texts themselves. Each of the songs paints a picture of the Servant. And with each successive song, one becomes more and more convinced that the Servant is Jesus, the Promised Messiah, who came into the world to redeem the world.


Listen to the depiction of the Servant in this song. In verses 4 and 5, the Servant is depicted as one who sustains the weary and listens. In verse 5, he has not been rebellious and does not turn away.


Verse 6 offers a stark description of the Messiah. He offers his back and cheeks to blows and does not hide his face from the mocking and spitting.


Undoubtedly, this is a picture of Jesus, who was beaten, mocked, and spit upon and who, through it all, did not hide his face or turn away as we are told in the 27th chapter of Matthew,  (cf Mt 27:27–31).


And what does this Servant do amidst such obstacles? Verse 7 provides the answer. He sets his face like a flint and is not put to shame. This is a picture of Jesus encountering Satan during the temptation in the wilderness.


It is Jesus in the days leading up to Holy Week as he sets his face toward Jerusalem. It is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying that this cup would pass.


But after the night of praying and sweating blood, Jesus arises. He looks into the darkness and cries, to His Heavenly Father, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Lk 22:42).


There are times in life when our paths ahead may be dark. We are familiar with these times. Perhaps it is when a series of tests has taken place and the diagnosis is not good


Or perhaps it is more common and mundane. There is so much to do, and we are not sure where to start. In each case, we are similar to the Servant. The world is beating us on the back and pulling our cheeks, mocking and spitting on us.


All this reflects the human heart after the fall. In response, our own sinful condition will, at times, bring doubt and fears into our lives, and we question whether God really cares. The Stoics would have an answer.


They would tell us to endure. One of the most famous Stoics, Marcus Aurelius, once said, “Everything that happens is either endurable or not. If it is endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining. If it is unendurable, then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well.”


Or perhaps the Epicureans could bring some light. They would encourage us not to get too attached to anything in this world because someday it will all be gone. Just live for today. But that offers no hope, because a life without attachments brings no joy.


Sadly, many Christians will also tell us that the answer is simply to pray harder or trust harder. They will say that if we just find more strength internally, we can get through whatever struggles we face.


The Servant, however, provides an alternative way. The key is found in verse 8. It is here that the Servant says, “He who vindicates me is near.” We have already established that the Servant is Jesus. Why does he need vindication? Why is it important that the one who vindicates is near?


Well, for his own sake, Jesus did not need vindication. His standing before the heavenly Father was always secure. But for our sakes, when bleak times are ahead, it is important for us to find two things in God’s vindication of Jesus.


First, we should understand that the root cause of all doubt is our separation from God after the fall. There was a time when we walked with God in the “cool of the day.” We had no worries or concerns or doubts because God was walking beside us every step of the way.


We knew that we were his beloved. But when sin entered the world, we broke that relationship with God, and now we doubt whether God really does walk with us. A famous historian of the Reformation period relates that in his days as a student he was seriously bothered by doubts about the Christian religion.


He related his troubles to a minister and the minster told him, “If I were to rid you of your doubts and difficulties, others would soon arise. There is a simpler way of getting rid of your doubts.


Let Jesus Christ really be the Son of Almighty God and the divine Savior to you and no doubts will be able to disturb the serenity of your mind. The person who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ and says,


 “Just as I am though tossed about, with many a conflict, many a doubt Fightings and fears within, without O Lamb of God, I come, I come.” That person will find that the Lord will erase doubts and will fill the heart with a sure faith.


We should remember that God the Father sent the Servant into the world to provide vindication for his beloved. Jesus was fully human and fully divine, but he allowed himself to rely only on the promises of God’s Word.


While confronting Satan in the wilderness, there was temptation. Before heading to Jerusalem, he must have paused. In the night in the garden, he cried out to God to take the cup away. But God, who vindicates, was near.


And Jesus set his face like a flint and headed to Calvary. There, by his atoning death, he reconciled us to God the Father, restored that relationship we broke. So now God is with us, walking with us, again.


The cure for dark times is to remember that this same Jesus, the Servant, has walked before us. He who needed no vindication nevertheless trusted his Father to do just that, to declare him the very Son of God by raising him from the dead (Rom 1:4).


Christ—obeying his Father perfectly, dying in our place, rising from the grave—has done everything; we need to do nothing. And now we can trust the same promises of God that Jesus trusted—that in his time, God will vindicate us, declare for all to hear that we are his beloved children.


When the guilt of sin is overwhelming, remember that he who vindicates is near. When the diagnosis is not what we have hoped for, remember that he who vindicates is near. When the work ahead seems daunting, remember he who vindicates is near.


God, Who Vindicates Us, Is Always Near.


For Christians, that is those who have real abiding faith in Jesus, our victory happened when the Servant broke through death and won eternal victory. Even in our sins, even in our doubts and the very real troubles with which a sinful world assaults us, he has vindicated us, and he is near.


Perhaps you have heard the following phrase. When I was younger it was in common use. When a group of people are going to get into a car one person will claim the front passenger seat of the car with the phrase, “I’m riding shotgun.”
It is a rather curious phrase, with an even more curious history. For those who do not know that history. It was back in the days of stagecoaches and stagecoach robberies; two people would ride up front. The driver controlled the horses and spent his efforts making sure that they worked as a team to pull the stagecoach.
But the second person, sitting right beside him, watched for potential bandits and other bad guys. Sitting on his lap was his firearm. He was riding shotgun.
Sometimes when the road ahead was precarious, the driver’s concentration could be so focused on the task at hand that he might actually have forgotten that his partner was near.


But the sidekick never left. Through all road and weather conditions, he protected the driver, the team, the stagecoach, and the payload. In our text we hear, “He who vindicates me is near.”


Even when we get busy with life, when we are afraid or troubled or threatened, when the truly wicked one is hot after us, God is riding shotgun, for He is watching out for all those enemies that would destroy our God-given faith.

 
He will protect us and get us safely to our eternal destination in heaven.  So, when life gets too burdensome, when we are tempted to sin, enticed to follow a path away from God, when we leave God on the shelf,  
let us forever remember and be comforted with the truth that He who vindicates, that is He who defends and redeems us our Almighty God is near.     Remember the words of the old hymn---He walks with me, and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own.

                 
AMEN


May the peace of God which is beyond all human understanding truly keep your hearts and your minds in and on Christ and Him alone, now and forever. Amen .





































September 5, 2021                                                                                            Pentecost 16

Let us pray:  O Lord, it is with thankful hearts that we have gathered in Your house today.  We are bold to pray that You would bless us again through Your Holy Word.  Comfort us with the assurance of salvation and encourage us and give us the courage to share the good news of salvation with all those we meet.  In the name of our Lord and Savior, we pray. Amen.



Grace, Peace and Mercy be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.



Our message this morning is from the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God as recorded in the Book of Acts, where we hear these words, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."



This far our text.

Our text is from the 4th chapter of Acts, and it is another account of the courage of the apostles.  This time it is Peter and John.  It is the story of how the early Christians told a message to their friends and neighbors.  The message was not popular with the religious authorities, but it was such good news that they told it anyway and through the message many people were saved for eternity.


The account we are looking at took place near the time of Pentecost.  We recall that on that particular day about three thousand people were brought to faith in Christ and beyond that we are told in Scripture, “The Lord added to that number daily those who were being saved.” 

 
Then through Peter God healed a man who had been a cripple since birth.  Peter and John continued preaching salvation through faith in Jesus and as we are told in Scripture, “many who heard the message believed and the number of men grew to about five thousand.”


When we add to the number of men, the women and the children who were also brought to faith, it is possible that the number of Christians easily numbered more than ten thousand.  The Jews had a real problem.  


Earlier in this fourth chapter of Acts we are told that the Jews “were greatly disturbed because the Apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.”


The Jewish leaders had Peter and John arrested.  Then they had them brought before the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law and they began to question them with these words, “By what power or what name did you do this?”  They were referring to the healing of the crippled man.  Peter responded, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ whom you crucified.”


The admonition throughout Scripture is that God’s people are to be “strong and courageous.”  This is what Peter and John were doing.  They were proclaiming the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  


They proclaimed this message to the people in the streets, to the religious leaders and to the civil leaders.  They understood what we are told in Second Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”


They were teaching as we hear in Scripture that “salvation is found in no one other than Jesus.”  He is the One who came into the world to save us from eternal condemnation.  That good news of Jesus has not changed throughout the centuries.  
On our televisions it is possible for us to watch events as they happen on the other side of the world.  We can transplant human organs.  Computers enable us to do things we never thought possible.  Scientists are involved in cloning.


And yet, and yet, the only way of salvation is still through faith in Jesus Christ.  Who, other than God, knows what will happen in the future?  Perhaps one day everyone will have their own personal robot to do all the housework and yard work.  


Perhaps one day the secrets to eliminating deadly diseases such as cancer will be discovered.  The possibilities are unlimited.  But no matter what happens in any area of life, eternal salvation will still be possible only through true and abiding faith in Jesus.
There never has been, there is not now and there never will be salvation in anyone or anything other than Jesus of Nazareth, the only-begotten Son of Almighty God.  We certainly cannot save ourselves.  


From the Book of Ecclesiastes, we are told, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”  We might be able to refer to someone as a self-made millionaire or we may speak of a self-educated person, but there is no one who is self-saved.


Salvation is not found in a particular religious system. As much as we might like to believe otherwise, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is not going to save us or anyone else.  We might be listed as members of this congregation, but that does not secure our salvation. 

 
Many who are in churches around the world today will find themselves in hell for eternity.  The only way to go into the paradise of heaven is through real abiding faith in Jesus, not faith when it is convenient or faith which will not offend anyone.


The messages Peter and John were preaching was that Jesus gave His life as a ransom and that He had been victorious over death, over sin, over the world, over Satan and that this Jesus was alive.  He was living in heaven and had gone there to prepare a place for all who would believe in Him.


The message is the same today.  Jesus Christ is still risen from the dead, He still lives and reigns to all eternity.  This is the message which is to be taken into all the world.  What a beautiful, life-giving message the apostles were proclaiming. 

 
And how different from the religious messages the people had been hearing.  The people had been told that the only way to be saved was to be a Jew.  And that meant among other things the keeping of over six hundred laws.  It was a works righteousness religion. 


In contrast to this, the Apostles were, in effect saying, “Look you don’t have to keep these laws.  You do not have to observe specific religious holidays.  It is not necessary to make animal sacrifices.  


You do not have to be a Jew.  None of these things will secure your salvation.  What you must do to be saved is to believe that Jesus is the Christ.” Which is what we, in this congregation, confess every Sunday. 


There was resistance to this message about Jesus being the only way of salvation.  
In this section of Acts, the jewish leaders said, “To stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name."  We too can expect resistance to the Gospel message.  Peter and John were warned to stop telling the message and in many ways we are also warned to be quiet.
The message of Jesus is resisted by those who forbid prayer in His name in the public schools.  We are warned not to tell the message by those who have seen to the elimination of nativity scenes on public property.  We have heard about these things before and there are many more examples we could give.


However, our emphasis today is in a different area.  Much of the resistance we encounter in proclaiming Jesus as the only way of salvation is because of those within the church who teach that all religions are equally good and therefore we cannot say that Jesus is the only way of salvation. 

 
There are Lutherans who believe that as long as people have some type of belief in some type of god, they are going to be saved.  God forbid that anyone here believes that.


Such a teaching should infuriate us because what it is saying is that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for nothing.  Such a teaching is against everything we are told in God’s Word.


In telling the good news to others, Peter and John risked being put in prison and even being put to death.  They kept telling the message anyway.  Eventually Peter was put to death and John was banished to a lonely island.  But they had done what Jesus had commanded them to do and what He also commands us to do. There are risks when we tell the message to others.


We do not face prison or exile or death, at least not yet, but we may risk losing a friend or being estranged from a family member. This is a risk we should take not because we have to but because we want to. 


If we have a friend or relative who needs a blood transfusion, do we say, “I certainly hope somebody gives blood”? 

 
Again, if someone we care a great deal about, does not have enough food or clothing, is our response to wait and see if someone else helps them?  No, in both cases we are going to do what we can to help them.


What about a friend, a neighbor, a relative who does not have faith in Jesus?  We know that those who die without faith in Jesus are lost for eternity.  Is this what we want for them?  Do we want to know that they left this life headed for the eternal fires of hell? 
 Or are we willing to risk losing a friend, neighbor or even a relative when there is the possibility that in sharing the good news of Jesus, they might be brought to faith and so be saved.  The question is, are we concerned enough about their eternal salvation to share Jesus with them, or do we just hope someone else gives them the message? Or do we think that for some reason God will overlook their denial of His Word?


This also applies to sharing the truth of God’s Word with those who are in unbelieving churches. Churches which accept all kinds of sinful teachings. You cannot be a true saved Christian and attend a church which teaches lies.


Remember what Jesus said, “a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:36-38) So people must decide to they love Jesus or the false church more.


Peter and John were bold.  In our text the religious leaders made this observation about Peter and John, “they were unschooled, ordinary men.”  While that was true from a human viewpoint, it was incorrect because Peter and John had been filled with power and understanding by the Holy Spirit.  


That same Holy Spirit lives within us today and He has not lost any of His power throughout the ages.  Therefore, the same power and understanding that Peter and John had is available to us.


But notice in our text what else the religious leaders observed, “They took note that these men had been with Jesus.”  When you and I spend time with Jesus, it makes a difference.  We are with Jesus every time we have private devotions, every time we open the Word of God.  Every time we are in prayer. 


In this worship service we are with Him and in the Holy Communion we are with Him.  And the fact is that the more time we spend with Jesus, the bolder we will be in speaking of Him to others.


One way to speak of Jesus with others is to invite them to church. In fact, bring them.   Tell a friend, neighbor or relative about Jesus.  Tell of His love.  Tell what He has done is doing and will do for you.  To tell someone about Jesus is the greatest thing that we can do in this world.  We cannot leave it to someone else.


What an eternal tragedy that someone we care about, maybe even someone we love might miss out on the joy and happiness of living with Christ in this life and in the life to come and they might spend eternity in hell because we fail to give them the message of salvation through faith in Jesus.  We cannot leave it to someone else to tell them.
This week, pray for someone you know who is without true faith in Jesus. Pray that those in false churches will see the light of Christ.  Tell someone the good news about Jesus, about His life, His death, His resurrection, tell them that He is alive and gives eternal life to all who believe in Him. 

 
We can expect resistance, but we tell others about Jesus because we care for them, and we tell them with boldness.  The boldness that comes through the Holy Spirit.
Wherever we live, people need to hear the Gospel.  May God use us to spread that good news for the salvation of people’s souls and to His honor and His glory.  May we say with the apostles, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
  
Amen.
May the peace of God which is beyond all human understanding keep your hearts and your minds in and on Christ and Him alone, now and forever. Amen. 












































August 29, 2021                             (Ephesians 6:10-20)          14th Sunday After Pentecost

Let us pray: O Eternal God, bless the proclaiming and the hearing of Your Holy Word.  Grant that we might go forth from this sanctuary to boldly proclaim the message of salvation.  By Your grace, grant us the courage to live as Your children so that our joy might be complete.  This we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Grace, peace and mercy be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
Our message this day is from the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God as recorded in the appointed Epistle, the 6th chapter of Ephesians, hear again from verse 13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”


This far our text.


Our opening hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” is one of my favorite hymns and I would imagine that it is a favorite of many of you.  However, why is it a favorite hymn?  In my case, it inspires me.  


And, if we look carefully at the hymn, it really is a call to battle.  For other lines in the hymn say, “Lift high His royal banner---The trumpet call obey---Stand forth in the mighty conflict---Let courage rise with danger---Stand in His strength alone---Put on the Gospel armor.” 


This is a hymn for “soldiers of the cross.”  And while I might wish that I could make some bold stand for Jesus and you may wish that as well, we have to be honest and admit that we have all had the opportunity, in fact, more than one opportunity, to stand up for Jesus and what we really did was fall flat on our face.  Not only was our confession not bold, we did not even make the “good confession.”  
By our silence, by our failure to stand up for Jesus and the truth of God’s Word, we have made another confession and that is that we have failed to rely on God’s strength, and we have instead relied on our own strength.  
When we do that we are certain to fail for our conflict, our battle is not really with people meaning friends and neighbors, our text says we battle “against  the rulers, against the authorities” and never has that been more true that it is our day.  
Our text also says that we battle against “the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
That is we battle against the devil himself and his millions and millions of angels. For that battle we need spiritual strength and equipment. The most important thing for us to know and the hardest to accept is that those who rely on their own strength will never stand.
Many people are into strength building today.  Almost every major sport from the high school level through professional competition requires strength building to be included in the process. The idea being that no matter what the sport, the stronger one is the more likely the team or the person is to win, to be able to stand and not fall. 
Strength building has many advocates even among people who are not engaged in athletic competition. The reason for its popularity varies.  Some people like it because being strong gives them a sense of power and well-being.  Others like it because it helps them have confidence or gives them a sense of worth.
People might be impressed with physical strength, but God is not.  God wants us to be strong, as our text begins, “Be strong”.  However, it is not primarily physical strength that God is concerned with as our text does not just say, “Be Strong.”, it says, “Be strong in the Lord.”  
That does not mean that body building exercises do not have any value at all.  It means that their value is very limited when compared with what is of value to the true Christian.  Being strong physically is much less important than being strong in the Lord as we are told in First Timothy, “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
People work so hard for physical strength and well-being and yet one day the body will lie silent in the grave. All the while they fail to see to spiritual strength and well-being for the soul which will never die.
The value of physical strength is very limited.  There have been airplane crashes in which all the members of a college basketball team were killed;  Another where a company of airborne paratroopers perished.  It would be imagined that all of these people were in great physical condition, they were physically strong.  And yet, their physical strength could not save them.
Not only accidents but also disease claims the lives of the strong as well as the weak,  Physical strength is not a guarantee that one will escape sickness and most certainly physical strength cannot defeat death. The Psalmist declares, “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 
Physical strength might be a source of pleasure to us, but it is not a source of pleasure to God.  God takes pleasure in a different kind of strength as the Psalmist writes, “(God’s) pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  


One of the most successful devices that Satan uses is to have people depend on their own spiritual strength.  An example of this is the account a young man named Paul who got a job with a service station.  It was a good job except that Paul had to work on Sundays.  One day the pastor went to see Paul and find out why he was not in church.  The Pastor warned Paul about the danger of staying away from worship.


Paul’s response was, “don’t worry about me Pastor.  I have a firm faith in God that nothing will shake.”  But it wasn’t long before Paul lost interest in the church and in the Lord.  After about a year he was no longer working on Sundays, but by that time he had closed God out of his life, and he was depending on his own spiritual strength.  He was no longer strong in the Lord.


Consider your family and friends who are no longer coming to God’s house to be fed with Word and Sacrament.  They might think they have faith, you might think they have faith, but Scripture warns us, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall.”

 
So, my heart breaks for those who are listed as members of this congregation, but they are not faithful in their worship of God. In fact some have not been here for weeks, months and even years. They are not being fed spiritually and so they are either dying or already spiritually dead. You see they be listed as members of this physical church but they are not members of the invisible church and that is what matters. 


Next week, God willing, we will begin Sunday School and adult Bible study. By my count there should be 50 people in theses classes and the same number in worship and the same number at the picnic, However, based on recent attendance there will probably be 10 total in Sunday School and Bible Study, there will be 28 in worship and 22 at the picnic. 


May God have mercy on those who no longer seek to know God’s Word, to be fed with the living bread from heaven and drink the of the living water which never runs dry and which alone satisfies our spirit for this is the bread and the water which is Christ Himself.



An obsession with physical strength can blind us to the fact that there is a spiritual strength with which we ought to be concerned.  But even more deadly is the blindness of imagining that one has spiritual strength when it is merely confidence in one’s own spiritual ability.  .Our own self-righteousness is our greatest obstacle to being strong enough to stand 


The reason that our own strength, whether physical or spiritual, will not help us in the least is that our basic conflict as we heard earlier might at times be with other people, however, the real enemy is the devil and all his followers.  That may include those we consider friends, it may even include our own family members because anyone who is not a follower of Christ is a follower of Satan. 


Because the enemy is the devil, human strength is not effective in the conflict.  To stand against the devil, we need spiritual strength and equipment from the Lord.  When Jesus was tempted by the devil, Jesus overcame the devil not by the use of His divine attributes, but by relying on the Word of God.  


On the cross when Jesus bore the sins of the world, He broke the devil’s hold on mankind. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the devil is powerless to condemn us. Have we forgotten those reassuring words of Scripture, “He who is in you is “greater than he who is in the world.”


Now the Lord provides us with His strength and the equipment that we need so that we can also stand, so that we can be victorious in the battle.  Our text calls what we are given, “the full armor of God.”  Did you catch that?  It is not our armor, but God’s.  God has given us this armor so that we might be able to stand, to withstand all the fiery assaults of the devil.


Look at what God has clothed us with; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, a shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and on our feet the Gospel of peace.  That is to say, God has given us that which will protect us from our head to our feet.  And with that armor too many of us are content to just stand.

God has prepared us so that we will not be defeated in the battle, but we fail to enter the battle.  We are content to just stand by and let others lift high the cross of Christ.  In the sermon hymn we just sang, “the Son of God goes forth to war, A kingly crown to gain, His blood red banner streams afar----Who follows in His train?  Brother, are you following the Lord Jesus Christ into the war?  Sister, are you following? 

 
The war, O redeemed of Christ is the battle for the eternal salvation of our own soul and the souls of all the people of the world. It is a battle we cannot lose because we are clothed with the full armor of God, however, we must enter the battle and this is why along with all this body armor, the Lord has given us “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”


God has given us that which will protect us and He has given us that with which we might slay the enemies of Christ and that weapon is nothing less than the Holy Word of God.  Being equipped to survive and to defeat the enemy, we are told to “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”
Another blessing, we are able to speak with the Almighty God.  As we enter the battle, we pray; we pray that we might be able to stand, which we will be able to do and we pray for the defeat of the enemies of God, and they will be defeated.  In our text, St. Paul wrote to the congregation in Ephesus asking them to pray for him that he might be fearless in his declaration of the Gospel.


So, you and I need to pray for each other that we also might be fearless in our proclamation of the blessed Gospel.  In the last chapter of St. Matthew, our Lord commands us, “go and make disciples of all nations.”  God has not clothed us with His armor and given us the sword of His Word that we might remain in the pew.  But that we might remain in faith as we go out into the world.


Whether we are young or old, healthy or fighting disease, whether we are rich or poor, all of us have had and will continue to have opportunities to stand up for Jesus.  One day we will no longer need the armor of God; the battle for us will be over.


But as long as we draw breath on this earth, we need to “fight the good fight of faith” so that not only can we stand against the devil but just as importantly so that we will one day stand on the golden street in the glorious city of God, our heavenly home, where we will behold our Eternal God and there sing His praises for all eternity.


So, brothers and sisters, how goes the battle??????????????????????????????  Are you even in the battle??????????????????????????????????????????????
Amen.



May the peace of God which is beyond all human understanding keep your hearts and your minds in and on Christ and Him alone, now and forever. Amen.





























​August 22, 2021                                                                           13th Sunday After Pentecost

 

Let us pray:  O most Gracious God, bless the meditation of our hearts, turn our minds to the truth of Your Holy Word.  Grant that we might in this hour be moved to that place where we will more and more live as Your children seeking always to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Grace, peace and mercy be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

 

 

 

The Bible has two primary doctrines, as we know, ---the Law and the Gospel.  The Law is the Lord God Almighty’s holy will.  The Ten Commandments are Law.  The Law tells us and even more than that, the Law demands what we are to do and what we are not to do, what we are to say and what we are not to say, and even what we are to think and what we are not to think.

 

For example as we hear in Philippians, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.”

 

The first primary doctrine is the Law which is directed to the activities of mankind.  The Law always accuses our old sinful self.  Even one violation of one commandment, like a little white lie as lies are often referred to, even though there  is no such thing, or some gossip, taking the name of the Lord in vain, one act of disobedience toward our parents.

 

No matter how slight we consider our sin to be, that one sin condemns us to everlasting separation from God and keeps us from the eternal paradise of heaven, for as the Scripture tells us, “Whoever keeps the entire Law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”  Further we are told in Ezekiel, “The soul who sins shall die.”

 

That means that when we sin, “even a little”, we are as guilty under God’s Law as any serial killer or any heathen. And, each one of us has broken God’s Law. Time and time again, we sin.  You know it.  I know it.  And most assuredly, most importantly, God knows it. 

 

We deserve nothing less than God’s punishment and banishment, both in the here and now and in eternity.  That is the good, perfect, holy and just Law of God and the Law kills.

The other primary doctrine of Scripture is the Holy Gospel.  This is the Good News of God in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of all sins.  This is God the Father’s gracious gift of salvation because of what His only-begotten Son did when He suffered and died on the cross and rose again from the dead. 

 

The Gospel makes no threats, issues no demands and forces no obedience.  It is God’s sweet, comforting, soothing message of complete pardon, full forgiveness, eternal life and the bestowing of salvation by and through His Word.  Given through Baptism, and sustained in the Lord’s Supper, the forgiving Word gives, grace, mercy, peace, joy and life. 

 

These doctrines, simple to know in terms of what Jesus said, were not, and are not at all easy to understand and acknowledge as true.  The teachings were hard to take and many were offended by what Jesus said about Himself and why He had come into the world.  So what causes people to be offended at Jesus?  The Law or the Gospel????

 

This causes us to examine the scandal of Christianity. The offense is not the Law.  For we find forms of the Law outside of Christianity.  Human nature as it relates to God seeks to earn God’s favor by doing something and by being “good”.

 

Cain sought God’s favor by making an offering.  His offering did not get the job done.  Cain failed.  Judas sought to undo his sin by an offering in the temple.  But his faithless act only condemned him further and led him to die in his sin and suffer eternal death.

 

Even for those within the pale of Christendom, it is the natural inclination to try to earn one’s salvation. Indeed there are many attempts to turn the tables on God by putting Him in a position where He owes eternal life to the individual.  Entire religious systems are built around a form of the Law, including Roman Catholicism.

 

Many religious groups demand that a God-pleasing decision be made.  Adherents of another religious group are obligated to do penance to earn forgiveness and salvation.  Still others slave under the ladder-climbing litany of progressive elevation. And even some here today believe that salvation is tied to church attendance and putting some coins in the offering plate.

 

In the midst of all this, people just like you and me, people whose days in this world are ticking off, which includes every human being, people ponder what eternal place will be ours when our last day on this earth is checked off. 

The natural question is, How much does God’s gift cost me?  What must I do to “earn” God’s grace?  The question was put to Jesus in these words, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Just tell me what I must do to be right with God. 

 

You see, people are not offended by a system of laws.  What astonishes people is that they cannot do it, they cannot earn it.----------------- Why not??

 

Because, if eternal life and salvation are to be earned, then the Law of God demands perfection from our first breath to our last breath.  We reply, “no one is perfect.”  God replies, “No, not one of you is perfect.”  If a law had been given which could make people alive then righteousness would indeed be by the law.

 

Brothers and sisters, the scandal of Christianity is not the Law, it is the Gospel.  Jesus proclaimed the Gospel and “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it?"  

 

First there is the scandal of who Jesus is.  This is the offense of the incarnation of the Son of the living God.  Jesus is the One who came down from heaven, He is the one and only perfect man, the only one ever born without original sin.  Despite what the church in Rome teaches, Mary was not sinless.

 

Jesus is the One who is “God of God and very God of very God.” Who was born of a virgin for our salvation.   He is God with us.  This is the Gospel and it offensive to many in the fallen world.  Many of His disciples said, “this Word is difficult.  Who is able to listen to it?”

 

Second is the scandal of the work of Jesus.  This is the offense of what Jesus came into the world to do.  Many want Jesus to be a new law-giver showing us how to accomplish our own salvation.  But this is not why Jesus came into the world.  He came not to be a law-giver but a sin-bearer.  In that work, He paid the eternal price for the sins of all mankind, and therefore He bore the penalty for us also.

 

The Son of the living God satisfied the wrath of the Almighty Father in order that we might eat and never be hungry, that we might drink and never be thirsty. He descended into hell so that you and I would never spend a split second in that never-ending torment.

 

This is the Gospel and it is offensive to many in the fallen world.  Many of His disciples said, “this Word is difficult.  Who is able to listen to it?”

 

Next is the scandal of the Resurrection.  Jesus  speaks of His ascending back to heaven and knowing that the disciples were grumbling about this and about His teaching that he would die and rise on the third day, He says to them, “Does this offend you?” 

 

That is, are you scandalized at this?  This is the Gospel and it offensive to many in the fallen world.  Many of His disciples said, “this Word is difficult.  Who is able to listen to it?”

 

Fourth is the scandal of the Word of God.  People are offended that God works through His Word and His Word alone to bestow faith.  God also gives through that Word forgiveness, salvation and eternal life.  As Jesus said, “The Words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.  Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” 

 

The Gospel, the Good News, is that salvation is not by or because of our works, but only by the grace of God alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. 

 

There is the Word of Christ in the floodwaters of Holy Baptism wherein we are in the words of Scripture, “justified by grace becoming heirs of eternal life.”  There is the Word of Christ in the Holy Communion wherein He says, “Take eat, this is my body, take drink, this my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins.”

 

This is the Gospel and it is offensive to many in this fallen world and sadly, this also occurs within the congregation of those who call themselves Christians.  They leave the Lord when they change Baptism from the Gospel in which God bestows His grace to a law which mankind is fulfilling.

 

They neglect the true, clear Word of God in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar denying the Real Presence of the Lord where we receive forgiveness, life, salvation, peace and joy and they turn it into no more than another Law where we remember Christ’s death.

 

It is little different with many people today than it was when Jesus said that His Words are Spirit and Life as well as when He spoke the truth that “no one is able to come to (Him) unless the Father has enabled him.”

 

In Scripture we are told that “many of (Jesus)disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”  Oh, how we see the reality of those words yet today.  Look at the church and you see this taking place because people are “offended” scandalized by the Gospel. 

Lonely pews in the Sanctuary bear witness to the fact that many have gone away.  Places at the Lord’s Table are empty. This should not surprise us for our Lord said, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Well there are certainly are many churches where He would not find true faith. For one cannot have true faith and accept that which is in contradiction to God’s Holy Word.

 

And what of those who have not left but still believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him?  What of you??  Listen, for it is Jesus, our Brother, our Lord and our Savior who is speaking.  He asks a question even of the faithful as they behold so many others leaving the presence of the Lord and abandoning the Body of Christ.

 

We are told in the first chapter of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  We know then that the Word is Jesus, so Jesus not only asks this question of those who have left the presence of the Lord by failure to worship and those who have left him by failing to partake of the Lord’s Supper often as He commands, but He also would put the question to those who have left His Word.

 

It is a question which Jesus put not only to His disciples, He also puts the question to each one gathered here today, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”  What a soul-searching question and it is also asked of those who still claim membership in this congregation and yet they are not faithful in worship.  

 

Let us understand that even though we might come to worship every week, if we accept any teaching which is in contradiction to either the Law or the Gospel, we have already left the Lord.  For as Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, (then, and only then,) you are really my disciples.”

 

Let each one of us hear the question once again from the lips of Jesus, as He says to us, “you do not want to leave too, do you?”   

 

God grant that we might ever respond in the words which we proclaim every week in our liturgy, and we should echo every day of our life, “Lord to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Indeed, to whom shall we go, Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life. He said so and it is therefore the Truth.

                                                                                                 

Amen.

 

May the peace of God keep your hearts and your minds in and on Christ Jesus and Him alone, now and forever. Amen

















August 15,2021                        (John 6:51-69)            12th Sunday After Pentecost

Let us pray:  O most gracious Father in heaven, we pray that in this hour we might be assured of the forgiveness of our sins.  Feed us with Bread from Heaven that our souls might be filled and that one day we might enter the paradise of heaven to live with you and the Holy Spirit and your only-begotten Son in whose name we pray. Amen.

Grace, peace and mercy be unto you from God or Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Our message this day is from the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God as recorded in the appointed Holy Gospel, the 6th chapter of St. John, hear again the words of the living Savior from verse 54, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
This far our text.


From all eternity and forever, the Lord God Almighty, is in His heaven.  From the Bible we perceive that heaven is up---up there somewhere.  For a time and until time is no more, mankind---man, woman, child, is on this earth.  From this experience, that is, from our life, we understand quite clearly that we are not in heaven, but rather we are down here and heading even farther down.


For awhile, but not forever, we today, are down here.  God is in heaven, up there.  Unless history ends in our lifetime, it will not remain that way forever, for it is most certainly true, it is a guarantee that on a certain day, whether that day be today or a day in the unknown future, we will lie down and for one reason or another we will be unable to arise. 


And, if we are not able to raise ourselves up from even six feet under the ground to stand once again on this earth, is there any possible hope that we will one day physically be with God in His heaven---up there??


Left to us, the answer is, no.  Even if we assemble all our resources and exert the greatest exercise of our wills and think only positive thoughts, and speak a million nice words, and do all the good works possible, we still will not be able to raise ourselves up to heaven.  As Jesus said, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven-- the Son of Man.”

Even if we could send a crew into the air beyond the atmosphere of the earth, the rocket will never reach heaven. 

 
You might recall that a Russian Cosmonaut said on his return that he was certain that heaven and God did not exist because on his trip he never saw heaven or God. The problem was that he did not go far enough because such a trip is impossible.  


We are well aware of the deadly, downward plunge of rockets and also the fall of mankind.  Our best efforts at reaching heaven miss the mark and left to ourselves our aspiration to someday be with God in His heaven---up there--- is beyond us.
No one is able to ascend to God.  We certainly know that and every day we are being convinced of it.  Therefore if you or I or anyone else is going to be with God in His heaven, then God must come and make it happen. 

 
Does God want us to be with Him in heaven?  Does God want to make this happen for all people?  The answer is in our text for today as we consider “Jesus---the Living Bread from heaven.”


The words of our text are the words of Jesus and in His words there is the Good News that is intended for all people to hear and believe and have. Not one of us alone and not all of us together could ascend to be with God.  The Lord knew this from eternity and so He put forth the plan for our salvation and the salvation of the world before the foundations of the world came into being through His Word.
Before time ever began, we are told in Scripture that the Lamb of God was slain from before the creation of the world.  The plan was that the Son would be the One who would come down and be the Savior of the world.  It would not be the Father, it would not be the Holy Spirit, our Redeemer would rather be the Lord Jesus Christ.


Throughout history the minds of mankind have conjured a god or gods which they have taught came down into this world. The mythical gods of Greece and Rome came down to stir up trouble, to mettle in the affairs of man and to engage in competitions with one another where the people were simply pawns on a chessboard or puppets on a string. 


And this is exactly what we are left with when leave the truth of God’s Word.  The flight from truth is always in the direction of myth or more precisely falsehood.
But the Good News of the Son of the living God coming down to the earth to be Immanuel, God with us, is not myth.  Rather this Gospel, like all the words of Holy Scripture, this Gospel is doctrine—true, unwavering and eternal doctrine. 


It is true that God’s Son came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and made man. He was born of a virgin and given the name “Jesus” which means Savior.


When He was about thirty years of age, Jesus, the eternal Son of the eternal Father and also the Son of Man taught in a synagogue of Capernaum saying to those assembled in His presence, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh”


There from the lips of Jesus we are told that He is sent from heaven, that He has come down to give Himself for the life of the world.  This living Bread came down from heaven to expose His flesh to whip so that by His stripes we might be healed.  


He poured out His blood and gave His body as the perfect sacrifice for all our sins. In response, we are told in our text, that the “The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat" 

 
It is a question of reason and in it there are two assumptions, one wrong and one in the direction of what was right.  Their first assumption was that Jesus was only a man.  He did not appear different than other men.


His hands were the same as any other carpenter who swung a hammer and drove a spike.  His head bore beads of sweat.  His feet were covered with same dirt as any other person who walked the dusty roads.  He became tired, He was hungry.  He felt the pain of the whip and the crown of thorns and the nails driven into His body. 


The people who were arguing among themselves were looking with their eyes at a man and not hearing with their ears the Words of the Almighty God.  They got it wrong and like so many today they imagine a different Jesus, one who is only human, but Jesus is Jehovah, He is God.


The second assumption is leading in the right direction.  They, in effect, say, “Look in order for anyone to eat His flesh, He will have to die and be a sacrifice.  Is He going to sacrifice Himself?  For unless that takes place, how will this man be able to give us His flesh?”


Being a sacrifice is exactly why Jesus came to the earth.  Jesus then says to the people, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”  


The question then becomes, how is the Lord able to give us His flesh to eat?  The answer is, that He gives us His Word.  In the first chapter of the Gospel of John we are told, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.’ 

 
And anyone who believes those words, has eternal life.  This is the very reason the Living Bread came down from heaven.  In Scripture we are told, “Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed.”  He has been sacrificed and yet He is not dead.  


He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity.  In these words from the Book of Hebrews, “when Christ was offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, (then it was that) He sat down at the right hand of God.” 


Therefore listen, listen to the Savior speak such wonderful news for those who trust in Him, for those and those alone who have faith in Him, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  


Another way of saying this came from the mouth of Jesus after His resurrection, when He said, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved.” 
Or, as we are told in Romans, “don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.


In Holy Baptism we were buried into Christ’s death; That being so, we have already been raised spiritually.  We have already been raised from spiritual death.  We are spiritually alive and the second death has no power over us.  
By God’s grace, our bodies shall also one day be raised to life eternal in heaven, not by our power but by God.  We have the certain promise from God’s Word that the Lord Jesus Christ “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

 
That being so, we do not have to concern ourselves with ascending to heaven because our Lord also gives us this promise, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Heaven is our eternal destiny and it is proper that you and I should desire to leave this world and be with our loving God, even as we are told in Second Corinthians, “We are confident…. and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”


For as long as we are in this world, not only will we have trials and troubles, sickness and sorrow disappointments and sufferings of all kinds, but more importantly we will never love God the way we should, we will never give Him the proper praise; in this life we continue to do that which is against God’s Word because we are still in a body of sin.


But once we enter the portal of heaven, we shall behold the living God and then we will not only be free from all the adversities, the pains and suffering of earthly life, but then, then at long last and for all eternity we shall love God the way we should, we will give Him all the praise and all the glory. 


And, in heaven, we shall partake of the Living Bread from Heaven, who once descended to the earth so that we might be delivered from the earth.
“The hope of heaven is like the sun which as long as we keep it before us, casts the shadow of our burden behind us,” someone has said.  That being so, rather than becoming entangled with and enticed by this world, let us ever look forward to our eternal home—up there--the city God has prepared for us. 
Amen.


May the peace of God which is beyond all human understanding keep your hearts and your minds sin and on Christ and Him alone, now and forever. Amen.
















August 1, 2021                (Ephesians 4:1-16                10th  Sunday After Pentecost     


Let us Pray:  Heavenly Father, when we hear the Law preached fill our hearts with godly sorrow realizing that we have dared to offend You. Make us despair of any attempts to merit eternal life.  When we hear the Gospel comfort us with the assurance of forgiveness.  Bless here and everywhere the preaching of the Law and the Gospel for the sake of Jesus. Amen.


In His great high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This prayer Jesus prayed on the night when He was betrayed and yet in the face of the great agony which He was about to endure, He prayed this prayer for you and for me. It was a prayer which was offered in love for us. As the Son loves us so the heavenly Father’s love has taken hold of us through Jesus.  There is only one Jesus and one Father. In Holy Baptism, the Father has made us His own children and by His grace we confess One true faith.  When doubt is cast on any aspect of our faith, or if our faith is contradicted, in the least, this is heresy and with heresy comes division. We can look in the distance and see this happening or we can look closer to home among ourselves and see this happening.  We see congregations torn apart by petty arguments.  Others are bitterly divided over Christian preschools, building programs and new hymnals. Families and friends are divided, the pious are offended and the very souls of the weak are imperiled. Grace peace and mercy be unto each one of you from God or Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4, our text for today directs us to church unity, to how we should live what we confess and so our text begins with these words, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ”Threats to the Spirit-given unity are all around us, but the greatest act of being without love is to deny, distort or compromise the truth.  In opposition to that, we are told in our text, “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”  


We must take the threat of false doctrine seriously.  The stakes are very high, in fact, eternal life itself, is in the balance.  Before the Ephesians heard the Gospel, they never knew were they stood with God.  They tried everything possible to bridge the gap between themselves and God.  They tried living moral lives.  They indulged in mystery cults. They tried the speculation and wisdom of Greek philosophy.  Bu no matter how sincere their efforts, no matter how much good they did, they could not overcome that wall of sin that separated them from the holy, sinless God. Some of us know how they felt.  We sometimes think that we are good people.  We want to live positive lives.  But then we also realize that all our human efforts, good living and positive thinking are to no avail. God remains silent and we feel alone.  At times we feel that we are making progress as we seek to move closer to God, but then it is that our hearts whisper the truth spoken by St. Augustine, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. ”Our loving God understands how we feel and so by His inspiration these words of the second chapter of Ephesians were written, “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. ”Here we find comfort, peace and freedom.  In these words God frees us from uncertainty and from the endless grind of trying to make sense out of life and death by our own efforts, hear the blessed words again and note that it is all God’s doing---Out of God’s love He made us alive, by His grace, God has saved us.  Life and salvation are not earned, they are the free gifts of God. We know that in the Bible the number seven stands for completeness and so listen to our text, “There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Seven times the number one is used to drive home the point that true oneness, complete unity with God and within the church is possible only through the one True God. God the Father has given us His Son, the Word made flesh and the Son has given His life that He might also give us the forgiveness of our sins.  Luther says that we deal with this gift of the forgiveness of sins in two ways; how it is achieved and won and how it is distributed and given to us.  Christ has achieved it on the cross, but He has not distributed it there. Luther correctly notes that God delivers His gift in the Word and Sacraments and He does so continuously until the end of the world.  When the delivery system is attacked the unity of the church is destroyed.  For Lutherans, the problems of disunity must be addressed at the point of Word and Sacraments.  When a church damages or destroys the delivery system for the forgiveness of sins by the misuse of the Word and Sacraments any hope of true unity is destroyed. The resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ has given His church the gift of apostles and prophets to make sure that it would continue receiving forgiveness until the end of the world.  These men were inspired by God to write, “the holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.”To this day the gift of Holy Scripture remains our only source and norm for doctrine. The primary doctrine being what we just heard that we have salvation through God-given faith in Christ.  And the gifts keep coming.  Christ gives the church of every generation the office of the holy ministry—pastors and teachers who according to our text are “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”  I am to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the preaching of God’s Word in its full truth and purity and when that is done then according to our text, this is done  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ “Nevertheless, having said that, it is the lay people who are to preserve the unity of the church.  If you leave the task of preserving the doctrinal integrity to the clergy alone, it will not be preserved, souls will be lost and the church will die.  
Unity will be preserved only when you listen intently to God’s Law and Gospel and when you come on a regular basis to the Lord’s Table to receive the assurance of the forgiveness of sins  and witness to the unity of the faith.No one can look into another person’s heart, but unity can be seen, observed, kept and preserved in the outward confession of faith.  This is why the Lutheran Church teaches and we as Lutherans agree that “it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with thedivine Word.”In these days of blurry denominational lines, of the disintegration of belief in the Bible as God’s inspired, inerrant and infallible Word, it is ever more difficult to maintain unity, but it is ever so necessary. Few issues have received more attention in recent years than church unity.  Dialogs, mergers and even schisms have occurred on both the denominational and congregational levels.   Developments on the national level go virtually unnoticed by the majority of people, but when the unity of the local congregation is shattered, the effects are felt by all.To keep a balanced perspective it is helpful to remember that the church in every generation has had to struggle with the problem of disunity.  In addition to studying the Bible, it is helpful to observe how our forefathers dealt with the problem during the time of the German Reformation.  Let’s go back to Luther. It is hard to imagine what was going through his mind as he secretly left the Wartburg Castle and returned to Wittenberg.  He had to return. The church was in an uproar.  Misguided reformers were teaching false doctrine, causing chaos, instigating riots, and destroying church property. So Luther went to the parish, entered the pulpit, looked out at the people of Wittenberg and said, “The summons of death comes to us and no one can die for another.  Everyone must fight his own battle with death by himself, alone….therefore everyone must himself know and be armed with the chief things which concern a Christian. First, we must know that we are the children of wrath; and all our works, intentions and thoughts are nothing at all.  
Second, we must know that God the Father has sent us His only-begotten Son that we may believe in Him and that whoever trusts in Him shall be free from sin and a child of God…Here we should all be well versed in the Bible.  Next, we must have love and finally, we must have patience. ”Luther displayed an incredible trust in the power of the Word of Truth, to be more precise, He trusted beyond all trust in the power of the Law and the Gospel.  And so it was that tranquility was restored in Wittenberg.  Arguments at voters meetings, personality conflicts, disputes over policy, secret meetings, angry words thoughtlessly spoken, scandalous living, nonchalant attitudes toward doctrine, all threaten the unity of the church. And beyond that we cannot pretend to have unity with those with whom we are not united, for such is hypocrisy.  It is the One Holy Spirit working through the One Word of God that empowers those of the One faith to follow these words of our text, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, ”People and religious groups which teach and believe that the Lord’s Supper is simply a memorial to the death of Christ, that the entire Bible is not the Word of God, that evolution is how the world was created, that abortion and homosexuality are acceptable, that it is okay for women to be pastors, that one may be saved without faith in Christ, that it is okay to pray to saints, that Jesus is not God, that we all believe in the same God, no matter what we call Him, that God will save all people, that faith means going to church once a month or so, All such doctrines are falsehood, they are abominations in God’s eyes and with such people we cannot have unity because they are not one with God and for us to pretend that we are one with them is a mockery of God’s Word.  The Scripture admonishes us to "watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them."  By God's grace we know the truth and we cannot exchange that truth for a lie.