What about those Resolutions?

The New Year Resolution… often times made, but never kept for long! Each New Year, one hears talk about resolutions. To lose weight. To exercise more. To spend more time with the family. Maybe it is more spiritual; read our Bibles more, attend church more faithfully or stop doing a particular sin. But soon, all those resolutions to do a good work for ourselves or others turn into failure, disappointment and shame.

But don’t be discouraged. Although we are weak and unfaithful to ourselves, others and towards God, there is one who is faithful and true in everything He does, says and promises… the Lord Jesus Christ. And he remains faithful for us, even when we are not. God is forever faithful. He will not leave his promises unfulfilled or his work unfinished (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23; Romans 8:28-30)

2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

So this New Year, don’t put faith in yourself or make promises you have no lasting power to keep. Rather, rely on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to finish the good work he started in you and you will never be disappointed.

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

by, Timo Matero – Guest blogger

Close Communion – How Dare We?

The issue of the Lord’s Supper can be a very emotional one, especially as it involves the question of who can and who cannot attend at any particular altar. For those who prefer the emotional route to theology, there is nothing here that will settle your mind and heart. I would simply ask that you approach this post with the desire to learn the “why” of the “close communion”.

I want to look at this briefly from three points from the Holy Scriptures.

First, when our Lord Christ says to His disciples, “Take eat, this is my body… Take drink, this is my blood” He is not doing so metaphorically, symbolically, or allegorically. He is speaking on the basis of the entire Old Testament that eating and drinking the sacrifices for sin and the establishment of covenant with God are necessary to gain the benefits of that sacrifice. Being the final sacrifice as the true Lamb of God (not metaphorically, symbolically, or allegorically a sacrifice), the benefits of what the sacrifice accomplishes comes to us through the eating and drinking of the flesh of sacrifice. (I don’t make this stuff up! Go search the Scriptures!)

Second, St. Paul, knowing this truth that the body and blood of Jesus are present and distributed to those gathered to receive, reminds us all in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 that to receive the elements of the Supper without recognition of the body and blood of Christ is guilty of sinning and brings harsh judgment on themselves. The pastor of a congregation is charged by the Lord to be stewards of the mysteries of Christ (and this would qualify as a mystery, I would think), As a result of this charge they are held accountable for the souls under their care as we see in Hebrews 13:17. A pastor knows his flock and so can vouch for them with confidence. A stranger he does not know, so for the protection of all, close communion.

Third, and related to the above, there is the obvious fact that there is division in the earthly church, and most all of the divisions relate back to Jesus and the cross. True unity of the church is possible in this world only through true unity of teaching. For example, how can one group say that Jesus was born of a clinical virgin, was fully God and fully man in one Christ, died as the Lamb of God on the cross to take away all sins, and physically rose from the dead after three days also claim to be in untiy of teaching with those groups who deny all of it? Two different teachings, two different Christs! As the communion is a demonstration of the oneness of faith and the avoidance of error (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Romans 16:17) we are bound to make the confession and practice close communion for the very sake of the Gospel.

How dare we practice a close communion? A better question is: how dare we not?

Pastor Barnes

Terrorism and the Two Kingdoms

It is a sad commentary on the condition of this world to say that terrorism is nothing new. In its latest manifestation we find Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic Brotherhood, and a host of other identifiers that all have the same goal, the elimination of Western culture and laws and Christian faith, and the establishment of a world-wide Caliphate governed by Sharia law. The means to accomplish these goal are threats, violence, terror, and bloodshed.

I am not here to give a history lesson, or to engage in political debate. I’ll leave that up to you in a different venue. Let’s just say that the means of their goals has been seen yet again, this time on the streets of Paris.

As we struggle to come to terms with such violence I am asked what should be the Church’s proper response. I can give the Lutheran viewpoint and you can take it from there.

We believe that God operates in this world through two kingdoms: the kingdom of the right and the kingdom of the left. The kingdom of the right is the kingdom of grace as seen in His Church. Christ rules over His church in love, guiding and directing her in the mission of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation to the entire world. It is a kingdom in which He directs us to love even our enemies and to pray for them and their conversion. Christians are to be the quintessential speakers of peace and love in the world that flows from our understanding of the cross.

The kingdom of the left are the governmental forces of the world. God works through them to keep order in the world, to punish evildoers, and when needed, to wage just wars for the protection of all. It operates from the basis of the law of God that is written into the hearts of all people.

As government officials can also be true Christians, so also can true Christians operate within the governmental sphere, as both are from God and are therefore ultimately to His glory.

The Christian/Lutheran response to terrorism then is this: we pray for our enemies, for those who do evil and conspire against us and our most holy faith. We love our enemies, our hearts breaking at the demonic madness that enslaves them and praying for their conversion through the power of the Word made Flesh. As citizens we serve as we are called upon to serve for the protection not only of our personal families and friends, but also that of the nation, and yes, even at times the world. Love for humanity directs that protection.

In all this keep in mind that ultimately it is Christ who has the victory. His promises to us are trustworthy, and He has promised that He is returning to put an end of all our suffering in this life. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Pastor Barnes

Why Do Lutherans Call Themselves Lutheran?

As Lutherans we honor the name and memory of Martin Luther, the 16th century monk who defied Pope and Empire for the sake of the Scriptural teaching of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. By the grace of Almighty God, Luther’s examination of the Scriptures freed the Church from the bondage of works righteousness and a theology of glory that made man the center of his own salvation. Lutherans maintain that Gospel in all aspects of their lives.

So why do we maintain the use of Luther’s name in defining who we are? Unlike a cult, which focuses on the man, Lutherans focus on what the man taught. Luther never wanted his name attached to anything of a movement. Rather, his desire was that the Church maintain the name Christian. Reform, not replacement, was his goal. Unfortunately his enemies would not let it drop.

With the resulting protestant splinter groups that came out of the original Reformation, the name eventually stuck, and has been used to identify those churches that still hold to the Scriptural teachings of justification. True Lutherans find their ultimate identity in Jesus Christ alone. To be Lutheran means to follow Jesus Christ.

Aren’t Lutherans Just a Liberal Cult?

First, we would like to make it abundantly clear that there are those who call themselves Lutheran and attach that nomenclature to their buildings and publications, yet they have, sadly, wandered from the Word of Truth as revealed in the Scriptures. The congregations of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are not counted among them. Rather….

As Lutherans:

We believe, teach, and confess that the only rule and norm according to which all teachings, together with ‹all› teachers, should be evaluated and judged [2 Timothy 3:15–17] are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testament alone. For it is written in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” St. Paul has written, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

 

We believe that the meaning of any text of the Sacred Scriptures is arrived at on the basis of the Scriptural context in which the passage rests, and the Scripture as a whole. Interpretation is not understood on the basis of its own, isolated existence. [On the basis of such “proof texting” many heresies have arisen within the Church. Scripture interprets Scripture.]

We believe that the center of all Scriptural doctrine is Jesus Christ on the cross as the only atonement for the sins of all people of all times.

We believe that Genesis 1-11 is historic narrative; that God created out of nothing all that exists in six 24 hour days as is commonly understood in normal conversation, that there was a universal flood at the time of Noah and that this man and seven others were saved through the waters of the flood by God.

We believe Jesus when He declares that He is spoken of, and is found in, the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. To fully understand Jesus, we are directed to the Old Testament as well as the New.

 

We condemn all those who say that the Scriptures are simply the opinions of men from a former time.

We condemn those who, through deception, say that they acknowledge the inspiration of the Scriptures as the Word of God, yet understand it to be the same inspiration that poets, writers, and artists experience in their work.

We condemn those who, although saying that the Scripture is the Word of God, yet by deception mean that the Scriptures simply contain the Word of God, which the individual Christian is left to discover.

We condemn those who say that human reason is a necessary element in the understanding of the Sacred Scriptures, as human reason is tainted by the devil, the world, and the sinful flesh.

 

 

On social issues we are pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family.

Learn to Know Christ and Him Crucified

 

“Learn to sing to Him, and say,

“Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin.

“You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours.

“You have become what you were not so that I might become what I was not.”

—- Prayer by Martin Luther