Sermon Text: Matthew 13:44-52
July 27, 2014
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the 13th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
A. Acquiring the Kingdom
Thinking equality with God something to be grasped humanity follows the pattern of Adam’s behavior. Reaching for the wrong fruit from the wrong tree men, women, and children establish in their heart of hearts the wrong gods. This is the way of our nature, fallen and depraved as it is. It is the way of sin and unbelief in the true God, a way which we have trod and are tempted time and time again to follow.
As with all that is false this bears a mixture of truth and deceit. It is certain that our God, the true God, wishes to be had; to be found, to be our God. And He wishes for us to be His people delighting in the goodness of His presence. But He will not be had the way we would have Him. Neither He, nor His Kingdom will be taken, seized, or grasped. Salvation is not acquired by our doing. It is God who justifies. His is a Kingdom of grace and is to be received by faith alone. There is no room for the labors of men. The path that leads to heaven is too narrow for such things.
Thus we are given our text this morning (evening). Jesus continues to teach of the Kingdom of God. In the previous parables He has unfolded before our hearts the means by which the kingdom is bestowed – a sower goes out and sows seed. And He has removed the veil from our eyes revealing to us how the kingdom operates, how it grows and permeates and preserved for the harvest day. This morning (evening) we are blessed with more parables and thus more insight into the Kingdom of God. With these words Jesus now holds before our hearts the key to the Kingdom’s acquisition . Our God wishes to be gotten, received, tucked away in our heart. And Jesus’ words set before us just such a way.
B. Hiding away the Grace of God
Whether it’s a treasure in the field, a pearl found by a merchant, or a dragnet catching fish, the way of our God is found. His treasures are located on the earth, in this world. They are of great value, and they are attainable by all. Thus the God who justifies sinners places Himself with His gifts of righteousness, and pardon, and peace, and mercy and love in the midst of dirt and disease and war and the brokenness of this world. He locates Himself. He establishes His kingdom in a very real place, a place that can be seen, heard, and visited. He sets His Word in a particular place to be preached at a particular time, that a particular people may receive a particular salvation through His means of grace. He can be found! He wishes to be found. And He wishes our hearts to appropriate, to receive, to acquire Him by faith in His means of grace.
That our God is found in a specific place giving out specific gifts is a stumbling block to many. “How can God be found here?” “Why would God be in water, or in the word, or in bread and wine?” “ How is that even possible?” God’s Word is questioned, doubted, and rejected.
Surely He is to be found in the field, but where in the field? Anywhere? If God is anywhere then God is everywhere? If God is everywhere, then really, He is anywhere I want him to be. Then I will look for Him everywhere except where He’s promised to be. Then I will never find Him. God will remain lost. And I . . . well, I will be confused. How can I find Him? How can I receive Him? These sorts of questions abound by those plagued with false teachers and false teaching.
For, false teachers and false teaching steals away the promises of our God and directs hearts everywhere and anywhere except where He’s promised to be. They empty God’s vessels of His gifts and seek to insert their own gifts, their own strength, their own merits. Such lies attempt to expand the narrow path just enough to give room for our idols while at the same time squeezing out the God who justifies. As Luther says, “This is what happens when you fall away from the First commandment: you immediately set up an idol in the form of some meritorious work in which you trust. Therefore, Moses says, My dear children, be careful to remain in God and follow Him. Otherwise, you cannot avoid idolatry. You will fall into that sin. For at all times the devil assaults the grace of God.”
Thus, the enthusiast in us all chases after our emotions, seeking after a God who comes to us apart from means, who can be felt and experienced without His Word. The pietist in us goes after deeds not creeds, devotions rather than doctrine, symbols instead of sacraments. The fanatic in all of us fails to heed the Word, stubbornly refusing to “Listen to Him,” as the Father instructs, thus not to look for Christ where He’s promised to be for our good.
These false teaches and false doctrines that have their roots in the sin of Adam preach the first commandment, grace, and salvation, but they ignore God’s Word and renounce the means by which He is attained. Each of these is an assault on the grace of God, each emptying the Word of God of the promises of God. Thus each lead the soul further out into the wilderness, further away from the certainty of the Kingdom of God.
C. Hidden that He may be found (though art a God who Hides Himself)
Yet, Holy Scripture is clear. “ It is God who justifies.” We may attempt to locate God where we want Him to be, but we are not God, we cannot seize the Lord, put Him in a box and carry Him around with us like some genie in a bottle who must do as we say simply because we’ve rubbed Him the right way. God will not be gotten that way. He will not be seized by our works, nor our merits, not even our pious love and adoration. It is God who justifies.
The God who justifies gives us a Word that He may be found in that Word. That Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The treasure of heaven clothed Himself with human frailty. Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but He humbled Himself taking the form of a servant and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Thus the Father beckons from heaven, “This is my beloved Son.” And that we may be more certain He does again on the mount of transfiguration. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” We have a sure and certain Word directing our hearts to Jesus; Jesus in the water of Baptism and Jesus where He says “Here I am.” Thus the Words, “this is my body and this is my blood” show us, tell us, direct us to the bread and wine that we my find Him, receive Him and all His heavenly gifts, though they be hidden under common, earthly elements.
God is hidden, as Isaiah says, “surely You are a God who hides Himself.” He is hidden but He wishes to be found. There are no secrets here. No mysteries to be solved. Like the treasure buried in the field, or the fine pearl happened upon by the merchant, our God is located in space and time, flesh and blood, Word and Sacraments. He was made man, was born, suffered, died and rose again. He was placed in the midst of sin, death, and the power of the devil. He did not appear godly. He wasn’t attractive that we should be drawn by Him. He wasn’t rich. He wasn’t extravagant. He wasn’t mighty or powerful or glorious that the world should chase after Him like some celebrity. He was in fact, poor, humble, meek and low. He was with sinners, eating with them, forgiving them, healing them, even joining them in death. Hidden under the cross is where we find our God. He is there for us and He is risen for us. He is our treasure in the field, our fine pearl in the world. He is the God who justifies sinners. There is room on the path only for Him and His righteousness. It is truly a narrow way, but it is the way to eternal life and it is a way that can be found.
B’. Revealing the Grace of God - The Certainty of the Word
Therefore, we Christian ought always to be found where the Word of Jesus’ directs us. We ought to receive baptism, not because it’s commanded as though our submission to it were a good work, but because the Word of Jesus is in the Water. The water is full of His death and resurrection and all the treasures of Heaven. For, these have been poured into the water by the Word.
We ought to run to confession and absolution. For there, in the voice of a man, Christ speaks what He alone has earned. He has voiced His absolution into the Office of the Ministry and now gives His mercy through His called pastors.
We ought to bow before His altar, open our mouths and our hearts, and receive from Him His true body and true blood “given for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These are sure and certain because the Word of God is sure and certain. If Jesus says He is hidden in, with, and under bread and wine, He is there. No need to look elsewhere. No need to doubt Him. No need to debate Him. If Jesus says He is there for your good, then trust Him. He will not lie. He will not deceive.
And there is no need to bring Him anything. Cast off all that hinders and cling to Him by faith. Don’t worry about how these may or may not make you feel. Your feelings are not to be your spiritual gauge. Don’t stubbornly ignore what Jesus says. His Word is not given in vain, but seeks to open before you the very treasure chest of the Kingdom of God. That you may plunder His mercy He tells you where to look for Him. He gives you a precise location through a very real word from heaven spoken by a very real voice sent you in His messengers. Don’t look to yourself, your works, your strengths, your merits, your anything. But cast your eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith.
A’. Acquiring the Kingdom grace through faith
Yes, beloved, cast your eyes upon Jesus for “It is God who justifies.” He is the treasure in the field. He is the fine pearl, and His is the boat that gathers you into its net. There is nothing for you to bring, rather Jesus would have you empty yourself. Thus, go and sell everything you have, and fix your heart on the Kingdom of God. In other words, surrender your hearts desires. Give up trying to acquire by feats of strength, what can only be received by faith. Leave your labors by the wayside, for there is no room for them on the Lord’s Highway. The path that leads to heaven is too narrow for such things.
Rather, YOUR HEART must be emptied of your labors. You must trust neither their strength nor their merits but adhere by faith to the One who is both Just and Justifier of sinful mortals such as you.
Beloved in the Lord, our God wishes us to find Him. Therefore, look where He’s promised to be. Hear His Word. Listen to Him. Come and receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Perhaps you have heard the latest from Religious News Services reporting the recent decision of the Anglican Church of England which in the United States is called the Episcopal Church, USA . The Church of England has purged references to the devil and to sin in a new baptism ceremony, saying it is easier to understand compared to the older service. From the Ecumenical News we have:
In the current wording, parents vow to “reject the devil and all rebellion against God,” “renounce the deceit and corruption of evil” and “repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbor,” Britain’s Independent newspaper reported.
The 16-year-old alternative version agreed by the churches’ General Synod on Sunday, however, only asks parents and godparents to “turn away from sin” and “reject evil.”
In approving the new text, the synod said there were apprehensions that the current wording was too complex to understand and easily turned off people particularly occasional churchgoers.
Hmm. If the “current wording” in the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer is “too complex to understand and easily turned off people particularly occasional churchgoers” how long before the “complexity” of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone is removed to accommodate the unbelievers amongst the church? Oh wait, this is already happening in quarters of Christendom.
From the Scriptures down through the Early Church all liturgical / sacramental churches have had a reference to the renunciation of Satan in the Rite of Holy Baptism. What follows below shows what we in the LCMS have in our Rite of Holy Baptism by way of renouncing Satan. Sometimes it is referred to as the triple renunciation of Satan:
|P:||[Name] , do you renounce the devil?|
|C:||Yes, I renounce him.|
|P:||Do you renounce all his works?|
|C:||Yes, I renounce them.|
|P:||Do you renounce all his ways?|
|C:||Yes, I renounce them.|
|P:||Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth?|
|C:||Yes, I believe . [etc.]|
The Rite of Holy Baptism used in the LCMS continues with confessing the Baptismal Creed—the Apostles’ Creed. To omit a renunciation of Satan and his works and ways minimizes much needed teaching which through the Word grows faith in Christ’s delivered gifts. It will not be long before such churches confess that Baptism is a powerful symbol of what, no one can be sure, but a powerful symbol just the same. If Baptism’s deliverance from Satan is hushed or more tragically denied the need to have our children or anyone baptized is certainly minimized as it is among the Evangelical Churches.
Some churches which include the parish where I serve incorporate Luther’s language of exorcism for in Holy Baptism Satan is truly cast out of the individual. In short form the language reads as follows:
P: Therefore, depart, you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit in the name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit.
For those interested in pursuing this subject I would highly recommend Concordia Publishing House’s recent publication: I Am Not Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare , by Robert H. Bennett, Item #: 531204.
Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. … Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” (Jn 14:15, 21). What helps us keep and treasure Christ’s commandments of Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and Holy Absolution is teaching and confessing the salutary redeeming work delivered in and through these Sacraments. These benefits are kept and treasured when their benefits are extolled.
Luther succinctly instructs us when he wrote the Meaning of the Second Article of the Creed:
Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, …
This deliverance from Satan expressly happens in Holy Baptism which “… works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare” ( What benefits does Baptism give? )
What the Anglican Church has done is most unfortunate. Souls are at stake for eternal salvation is the subject. Perhaps the rise of the global South in the Anglican Communion will be able to address and reverse this unfortunate turn of events. In reading this critique some may object saying we ought not to meddle in other denominational concerns especially since the Episcopal Church USA is one step further removed from the LCMS than is the ELCA who at least still officially retains the name “Lutheran”. In a slightly different context these words from Herman Sasse respond to such thinking. The reader may exchange the words “Missouri Synod” with “The Anglican Church.”
“It is not meddling in the affairs of another church if we today undertake to speak on one of the basic problems of the Missouri Synod. For the life of a church is not like the life of an individual Christian, a private matter; it is a matter for all of Christendom. Whenever a church, whether it be a small congregation or a major part of Christendom, confesses her faith, she does so ‘to those now living and those who shall come after us’ (FC SD XII 40 [BSLK, 1099.42f.; Tappert, 636]).”
We in the Missouri Synod need to be in prayer for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion which includes the Episcopal Church USA. And, may we in Missouri in a repentant humble spirit continually judge all our teachers. Lovingly may our members exhort all pastors and officials to cling to the confession of faith enunciated by Luther as received from Sacred Scripture regarding Baptism and all Christ’s Commandments.
- Pastor Weber
 Miko Morelos, “Anglicans Purge Devil References in Simplified Baptism Liturgy,” Wednesday, July 16 2014, Ecumenical News <<http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/anglicans-purge-devil-references-in-simplified-baptism-liturgy-25621>> [Accessed July 18, 2014]
 Hermann Sasse, “Confession and Theology in the Missouri Synod” in Letters to Lutheran Pastors- Volume II, 6, quoted in: John T. Pless Crossing Bearing and Life in a Lutheran Synod: What Can We Learn from Hermann Sasse? , The Emmaus Conference, Tacoma, Washington, 1-2 May 2014.
Dr. Dale Meyer, current president of Concordia Seminary, relates that one of Dr. Dean Wenthe’s favorite stories was of a cab ride he shared with the president of another denomination’s seminary. Wenthe asked what the hottest debate was on his campus, and he answered “whether or not Jesus Christ was/is divine” (“Pedagogy for a Politicized Church,” Concordia Journal , Winter 2014, 6). Well, we aren’t debating whether Jesus was/is divine. We’re doing worse than that. We’re not debating at all, and we don’t regard the debatable things between us as divisive of church fellowship.
We’re not debating at all because resolutions sent in to synodical conventions by congregations and whole districts to get the debate on the table, like whether we should continue to be fellowship with the AALC who publicly and proudly practice open Communion, are kept off the convention floor. A floor committee consisting of a handful of people effectively forestalls the debate, but in truth, even if such things made it to the convention floor only about 11% of the LCMS pastors and congregations are represented there. N.B. 100% of LCMS bureaucrats are.
Worse than our non-debate is our continuing to go to communion together when we know we are not of the same mind as Scripture pleads with us to be (1 Cor. 1:10). Into the beautiful union Christ gives to us in His Body and Blood we bring our human disunity.
As there is no possibility of light having fellowship with darkness, so there is no possibility that open Communion has any fellowship with closed Communion. Moreover, Jesus doesn’t say both that His order of creation pertains to home and church but not at all to world and that it pertains to all three. Also, Jesus doesn’t say both that Christians pastors may pray with pagans to spread the Gospel and that they may not. Finally, Jesus doesn’t say the world was created in six days and that it evolved over billions of years. When those who hold such contradictory teachings commune together, they are either saying that Jesus doesn’t care about the differences or that He is speaking out of both sides of His mouth.
One of the main points of Meyer’s article is that discussion between pastors is to be theological not political. I agree. And the very first theological thing that ought to be spoken by our leaders is a plea for us to stop going to Communion together when we know we do not agree. Stop pretending a koinonia exists where we know it doesn’t. As Elert’s Eucharistic and Church Fellowship abundantly demonstrates, even the Arians and other heretics wouldn’t do that. Neither would the orthodox of course. The only ones who were in favor of continuing and even forcing opposing theologies and contradictory truths to commune together were the politicians of the State and later of the institutionalized church.
Finally, what bugs me with the “well at least we’re not” argument is that it is contrary to Paul warning us not of big bugs in loaves of bread but of a little leaven that leavens the whole lump. Besides the argument for pure doctrine can never be one of degrees. There is no such thing as being close enough to the truth. If you’re close to the truth you’re still in error.
In honor of 300 shows of miserable radio, today’s edition remembers all those games that never made it to regular rotation. They include Church Father Or…, Page for points, and 20 questions.
Often the topic of how God governs all things comes up in parish life during suffering and struggles. Questions will arise about God being the cause of something (sin is the cause of this damned mess), allowing something (as if He is distant from things and is often merely wordplay), or even sending something. This is of course a difficult topic, and it deserves much attention in the lives of Christians who indeed will suffer in this life.
Recently I had a opportunity to sing and meditate upon one of my favorite hymns, “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me” (LSB 756, but if you want a longer version check out TLH , although an even older English version includes even more stanzas to it [truncation of hymns is bad hymnal practice and often reflects a desire to avoid the hard stuff]. There are several points in the hymn where Gerhardt lays even sadness and suffering squarely at God’s feet as the one who sends them.
Is God sending sadness or suffering such horrible news? From one point, suffering sucks. Life in a fallen world is not fun, no matter how much we think we have advanced or progressed, in the end the fallen world catches up with us and grabs hold of us. Sometimes it is at death, more than often it is during a time of great trial or suffering. Then all of the fake gods have to move aside, all of the petty idolatries we have set up for ourselves show their powerlessness to maintain our good life. At that point it is only God and us who are left and it appears we will not last long. So what is wrong with saying that God sent suffering?
Nothing. I don’t want to endure suffering that happens by chance or by some distant God allowing it and watching on. I don’t want the cliche which tries to paint a rosy picture in a fallen world. I don’t want a theoretical or philosophy daydream of a god. I don’t want anything other than the God who I know, or more importantly Who knows me. He has to be the one to lay down a heavy cross or burden upon me. Why? Because I know that God, for He has revealed Himself to me as a God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who is slow to anger, merciful, compassionate, abounding in steadfast love – the God who in the Son gave Himself up for my temporal and eternal benefit. The God I want pushing down on my flesh is the very same one who gave up His flesh for me and still feeds the same along with His blood to me each week. The God I want sending the waters over every last bridge and breaking the dams in my life has to be the very same God who baptized me and claimed me as His own. The God I want to receive a cross from has to be the One who endured the cross and now sits at the right hand of the Father. The God I want to hear words of sorrow from is the God who has spoken to us by His Son, a man of sorrows and well knowing of grief. This God is with me, the God named Immanuel (God with us), Jesus.
If my suffering is not from Him, that same God who baptizes, preaches, teaches, and feeds – then who can know my suffering or bring relief to it? If it is by chance, then by chance I will come out of this. If it is only allowed by God, then I suppose maybe He will allow relief? If it is sent by Him – the very God of very God who cared for my life and well-being more than anyone else ever could, then I suppose there is something greater to it. If it is sent by THAT God, then it can be somehow good (What God ordains is always good). This is a matter of faith, of trust – but there is no one except the Triune God who deserves such trust, even when He sends sadness.
So as you experience suffering, trial, sadness, loss, and all of the various other crosses which come in this life take heart – God your loving Savior sends them. He has been faithful to you for all of your days up to now, and He will not leave you now either.
“They look so peaceful sleeping. Don’t they?” I remember speaking these words to my wife about our children. After praying, we lay them down to sleep and they sure look peaceful. It almost makes you forget the rest of the day; almost.
If you have any experience with children, you know what I am talking about. From morning to evening, there is only word that comes to my mind: chaos! It is one fight to another, one toy to another, one topic to another, and plenty of not listening to go along with it. During the summer we can send them outside to wear off some energy, but they always seem to find more.
Children remind us of who we truly are: we are children! We are God’s children. As our Heavenly Father tells us and teaches us what and how we are to live with each other, we act just like children. We go from one fight to another, from one toy to another, from one topic to another, and we don’t always listen to Him either. Many times during the summer, we take a break from God’s Word. We are absent in churches. We are absent in His Scriptures and then we wonder why our children we don’t’ care. We fail to raise our children in God’s Word. We fail to teach them the importance of God’s Word by failing to be in worship and Bible Study ourselves. We don’t teach them that is it important, and then when they are older, we ask the question, “Why?” Why don’t my children think God’s Word is important? How come my children don’t know the basic Bible stories? Why do they fight and act just wild at the town celebration? Well, how do we teach and what do we teach by our actions? Before we come down on our children, we must remember who raised them and how they were raised.
Yet, among our sinning and fighting, we have forgiveness. We teach our own kids that they need to forgive each other, and then live in peace. We have been forgiven by God through the blood of Christ, and we are free to live in peace with each other. We live in peace until we fall asleep in faith. There we hear these words again, “They sure look peaceful. Don’t they?” Jesus has said “You faith has saved you, go in peace.” (Luke 7:50) These words we hear from the mouths of our Pastors. These words we should hear from each other, and more importantly live with each other. Yes, we will not always get along, but we still live in love. After all, we are kids. May you enjoy this summer and don’t forget to take of your children both physically and spiritually. In the chaos, may the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
A couple years ago I began asking our college students to be featured in our church newsletter. This was to help the members of our congregation become acquainted with these fresh young faces. Admittedly, I was a little nervous about what they might write! What has ensued, however, has been a special reminder to me of the joy and importance of confessional Lutheran campus ministry.
In the article I ask each student:
Have you been a Lutheran your whole life? If so, what makes you so convinced to remain in the Lutheran faith, especially having been exposed to new worldviews on campus? If not, when and why did you become a Lutheran?
As Luther explains the third article of the Creed, it is the work of the Spirit in keeping us in the “one true faith.” The questions above are helpful for the students to reflect upon this and to confess God’s work through His Word and sacraments.
Below are responses from sixteen of our students. It is interesting to see that many of them understand Lutheranism to be Christ-centered, faithful to Holy Scripture, and as the first student notes “liturgical, sacramental, and confessional.”
#1 My father is an LCMS pastor, so I was baptized and raised in the Lutheran faith. I wrestled a lot with the different worldviews my first semester at UNI, and I found myself stumbling over my words when I tried to explain my own faith to others. So, I began studying Lutheranism more in depth. I’ve stayed in the Lutheran faith because we are liturgical, sacramental, and confessional. Everything we do in service, believe, and confess adheres to the Bible.
#2 From birth until 6 th grade, I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene. My family came familiar with the Lutheran church, because my siblings and I attended Clemons Lutheran School. This school is connected with St. John Lutheran Church in the rural area of State Center, Iowa. From attending the school, my parents became curious about Lutheran theology. They recognized that chapel services at school spoke of grace and forgiveness of sins. The emphasis at the Church of the Nazarene was often focused on the importance of good works to prove a person is saved. We were taught we needed to make a personal decision for Christ. This was done by asking Jesus into our hearts at some point in your life. Through teaching we started to understand that it’s not about us, but what Christ has done for us on the cross. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
Eventually, my family started attending Lenten services at St. John Lutheran Church and my parents and older brother started adult catechism classes. In August of 2003 my parents and older brother were confirmed, and my three younger siblings and I were baptized by Pastor David Steege.
#3 I have not been a Lutheran my whole life, in fact I have only been Lutheran for a little over a year. I was originally Roman Catholic, then Methodist, Baptist, Reformist, etc, etc, etc. My mother was a big fan of church jumping, as she was trying to find something that worked for her. Due to this, I have often been confused in my own relationship with God and was in a kind of limbo concerning what denomination I was. To use my own words, I was ‘non-denominational’. However, after attending College Hill Lutheran for almost a year I decided that this denomination was the one for me. I liked that it was very structured, Bible based, and conservative. Over the years I have been in a lot of churches that were not any of those things. The last few churches were all emotionally based experiences and it was nice to finally attend a service that could be traced back to the Word of God completely.
#4 Yes, I was baptized and raised in the Lutheran faith since birth. I have always been proud of my Lutheran upbringing; however before I came to college I assumed every Christian basically had the same beliefs. Upon reaching college, I was overwhelmed when my new friends at UNI began teaching me about their own denominations of Christianity and even some of my friends’ atheistic worldviews. This caused me to want to take a closer look at my own faith, so I began studying Lutheranism in greater detail. What I found and continue to find in the Lutheran faith is a Christ-centered, Biblically accurate response to any other Christian denomination’s differing beliefs as well as a solid apology of the Christian faith for those of non-Christian beliefs.
#5 I was baptized and raised Lutheran, which is typical of someone whose father is a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor. As many worldviews are constantly thrust upon me by the university and world in general, I have found that only one holds true when inspected closely: Christianity. Not only is it logically sound, but it is also exactly what sinners like me need. All other worldviews I have encountered seek to explain life and solve the problems of humanity but fall short with unattainable rewards, false promises, and the like. Studying Lutheranism further at College Hill has been a joy as I see more and more how Lutheranism is firmly scriptural and Christ-centered. God’s gift of faith in Christ is far more important than any homework assignment or business arrangement. I am completely dependent on Christ and His death and resurrection. Thus it is important to me to be part of a church that treats the Sacraments properly and has solid doctrine in accordance with the Word of God. It is wonderful to be able to confess with fellow believers what God has made known to us in His Word and to continually receive God’s blessings.
#6 No, I was baptized into the faith at a Catholic Church in Illinois within the first few months of my life. After moving to Norwalk, my mother, being raised Catholic, and my father, being raised Baptist, found a perfect mix of their confessional faith at the LCMS Church in Norwalk. I have been blessed to have remained a Lutheran in my upbringing, and continue to hold fast to this confessional church’s faith and practice. When I came to UNI, my faith had prepared me to hold fast to the true teaching of the Word regardless of my own logic or other human opinion I was about to receive from the “educated teachers of the world.”
#7 I have been a Lutheran since I was born so it is easy to stay in the faith. I have always been privileged enough to be surrounded by other Lutherans so there is always another person to lean on if I begin to question my faith. When surrounded by such a liberally biased campus it is easy to begin to question one’s faith, but with a church and a good surrounding one can just as easily stay grounded in the faith.
#8 I was baptized Lutheran as a baby but I did not grow up going to church every week. I had a friend invite me to her Methodist church camp one year and I went to her church/youth Wednesdays from 6 th to 10 th grade and was confirmed in that church. It wasn’t until Spring Break of freshman year in college that I decided to reconnect with my Lutheran roots. I was confirmed in the Lutheran faith – June 2010!!
#9 Yes, I have been a Lutheran my whole life which is one of the reasons I find it easy to remain in the Lutheran faith. I have been fortunate to hear the truth of our Lord for my whole life, a truth that is the foundation I hold to. The new worldviews I am exposed to on campus are certainly thought provoking but at the end of the day these ideas are like candy bars, they can feed you but they will not sustain and nurture your body or soul in the same way His word will. Also, knowing that I am a poor miserable sinner who is still forgiven, despite my missteps, is a beautiful assurance that no other thought from campus that I am exposed to can even come close to.
#10 Yes, but I have not been in the LCMS my whole life. Growing up, my family went to the church that my father had gone to pretty much his whole life, which was at the time affiliated with the ELCA (now affiliated with the NALC). During the winter of 2010 (my senior year in high school) we switched churches to the church I currently go to now as a result of changes in the ELCA. The main reason I still remain a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is due to the fact that we have easily the purest and most well thought out doctrine and practices that do not stray at all from the main bastion of our faith, the fact that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.
# 11 I have been raised in the Lutheran faith my whole life. I agree with the doctrine of the Lutheran faith, which is based on Scripture and one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. As I participate in Bible Studies, I have compared and contrasted the other faiths with the Lutheran faith. Our faith is the only faith that is completely based on Scripture.
#12 I have been Lutheran throughout my life, and one thing specifically enjoy about being and staying Lutheran is the fact that Lutheran sermons/teachings are more scripturally based in comparison to other surrounding church teachings. It is my joy to study the Bible every time I am at church, whether it is at Sunday service or Wednesday night youth group.
#13 I have been blessed to be raised in a strong Lutheran family my entire life. This has given me a solid support system to rely on whenever questions arise. However, I have not always been good at defending my faith. Being a part of CHLC’s Campus Ministry has equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to proclaim to others the one true faith, founded in Christ alone. The knowledge that what we believe and confess as Lutherans is based on nothing less than Christ is what gives me the confidence to continue in the faith.
#14 I was raised in an LCMS family and have always considered myself a Lutheran. However, I have not always known what that title meant until the past few years. During my freshmen year of college I started getting really involved in other campus ministries such as the Navigators and Prairie Lakes Church. Attending church services there led me in a different direction, encouraging you to do more to become a “better Christian” and really “feeling God in your heart”. I ended up working at Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca that summer, an LCMS camp in Solon, Iowa. There, I learned a lot more about Lutheran beliefs and started attending LCMS services again. While I was there I made some really strong connections with great friends who encouraged me to go back to College Hill. Ever since then I have remained grounded in the Word.
#15 I’ve been a Lutheran my whole life. Growing up in a college town, I encountered many different faiths before I came to UNI. With a lot of great teachers (parents, friends, youth leaders), I learned a lot about what it means to be a Lutheran. Christianity is the only religion where I stand a chance, because I am judged by faith instead of works, and Lutheranism follows the bible in the most Christ-centered way.
#16 I was raised in the Lutheran faith, and I have been attending an LCMS church all of my life. When I first came to college, I was attending services at College Hill, but I was also part of a Bible study in my residence hall that was affiliated with a non-denominational church in town. Although I enjoyed the social aspect, I started to realize that some of the things we talked about in this study were different from what I had been taught in my Sunday School and Catechism classes, which was pretty confusing. Attending Pastor’s Wednesday night study and looking more closely at Scripture has shown me that everything the Lutheran faith confesses comes directly from the Word.