20 July 2006

Catechumenate and Book of Concord

The big task of evangelism is at heart a very simple invitation: “Come to the waters!” It is an invitation that will be authentic as it arises from hearts that have discovered where God supplies living waters and quenches spiritual thirst; hearts that want others to taste the sweet waters of Word and Sacrament with them. It’s not a matter of having all the answers; it’s not even a matter of “getting the doctrine straight.” It is a simple matter of saying: “Here is where I have found spiritual refreshment; you come too!”

Here are some quotes from the Book of Concord with Import for the Catechumenate. What would the task of mission look like in our parishes if we ordered our outreach along the lines suggested in the following?

“So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and the sacraments as through instruments the Holy Spirit is given, who effects faith where and when it pleases God in those who hear the Gospel, that is to say, in those who believe that God, not on account of our own merits but on account of Christ, justifies those who believe that we are received into grace on account of Christ. Gal. 3:14b: ‘So that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Spirit comes to human beings without the Word through their own preparations.” AC V

“Places, times, persons, and the entire outward order of worship have therefore been instituted and appointed in order that the Word of God may exert its power publicly.” Large Catechism, I:94

“On the other hand, when we seriously ponder the Word, hear it, and put it to use, such is its power that it never departs without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devotion, and it constantly creates clean hearts and minds. For this Word is not idle or dead, but effective and living.” Large Catechism, 1:101

“Therefore in his immeasurable goodness and mercy God provides for the public proclamation of his divine eternal law and of the wondrous counsel of our redemption, the holy gospel of his eternal Son, our only Savior Jesus Christ, which alone can save. By means of this proclamation he gathers an everlasting church from humankind, and he effects in human hearts true repentance and knowledge of sin and true faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. God wants to call human beings to eternal salvation, to draw them to himself, to convert them, to give them new birth and to sanctify them through these means, and in no other way than through his holy Word (which people hear proclaimed and read) and through the sacraments (which they use according to the Word). SD II:50

“All who want to be saved should listen to this proclamation. For the proclamation and the hearing of God’s Word are the Holy Spirit’s tools, in, with, and through which he wills to work effectively and convert people to God and within whom he wants to effect both the desire for and the completion of their salvation.” SD II:52

“A person who has not yet been converted to God and been reborn can hear and read this Word externally, for in such external matters, as stated above, people have a free will to a certain extent even after the fall, so that they can go to church and listen or not listen to the sermon. Through these means (the preaching and hearing of his Word), God goes about his work and breaks our hearts and draws people, that they recognize their sins and God’s wrath through the preaching of the law and feel real terror, regret and sorrow in their hearts. Through the preaching of the holy gospel of the gracious forgiveness of sins in Christ and through meditating upon it, a spark of faith is ignited in them, and they accept the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake and receive the comfort of the promise of the gospel. In this way the Holy Spirit, who effects all of this, is sent into their hearts.” SD II:53,54

“Because the natural powers of the human beings cannot do anything or help in anyway (1 Cor. 2:4-12; 2 Cor. 3:4-12), God comes to us first, out of his immeasurable goodness and mercy. He causes his holy gospel to be preached, through which the Holy Spirit desires to effect and to accomplish this conversion and renewal in us. Through the proclamation of his Word and meditation upon us he ignites faith and other God-pleasing virtues in us so that they are the gifts and the activities of the Holy Spirit alone.” SD II:71

“The Father wills that all people should hear this proclamation and come to Christ. And Christ will never thrust them away from himself, as it is written, ‘Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away [John 6:37]’ That we may come to Christ, the Holy Spirit creates faith through the hearing of the Word, as the Apostle testifies when he says, ‘So faith comes from hearing God’s Word’ [Rom 10:17] when it is proclaimed purely and clearly.” SD XI:68,69

“According to his normal arrangement, the Father draws people by the power of his Holy Spirit through the hearing of the divine Word, as with a net, through which the elect are snatched out of the jaws of the devil. For this reason every poor sinner should act in such a way as to hear the Word diligently and not doubt that the Father is drawing people to himself. For the Holy Spirit wills to be present with his power in the Word and to work through it. This is the drawing of the Father. The reason why not all who hear the Word believe it (and thus receive the greater damnation) is not that God has not allowed them to be saved. Instead, it is their own fault, for they heard the Word not so that they might learn from it but only to despise, revile, and ridicule it; and they resisted the Holy Spirit, who wanted to work in them through the Word, as happened at Christ’s time with the Pharisees and their adherents [Matt 23:26-36; Luke 11:37-54; John 7:48; 8:13; 9:16, 41; 12:42]” SD XI:76-78

2 comments:

stagiare said...

Poweerful, Powerful is the Word of God.

I have been pondering the issue of evangelism as of late...

Knock..Knock...Hi, my name is Bill and I thought I'd just stop by to tell about Jesus and the love He has to give all who believe in him OR

Gottendienst....

What is in between? how does sharing the Gospel look outside of the Divine Service?

It seems to me we (believers in general but undershepherds as well) do a poor job of representing the Way,the Truth and the Light as we walk about our lives.

I watched with agony a group of men working on a roadway in blistering heat, as they struggled to take the next step, that lifting their head from their chest required great effort and as they looked into the sun there was this lost and depressing puzzlement on their faces. I thought is that not mankind through the ages.

Come Jesus quickly.

Paul Gregory Alms said...

Pastor Weedon,

Couldn't agree with you more.

Sir, we would see Jesus.

Alms