Beautiful. After a long day of carrying a pastoral load, it's sheer grace to be reminded that I am being carried in the arms of the Lord.
New Lutheran Quote of the Day If we are in the flock today, we must confess it is because Jesus has so often come after us and carried us back. -- Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 168 New Lutheran Quote of the Day Every so often I hear someone say, "You believe in doctrine. I believe in Jesus." Such an expression may sound very pious, but the devil is behind it. We cannot believe in Jesus unless we are taught the doctrine of Jesus. You cannot separate Christ from the doctrine of Christ. -- Klem Preus, The Fire and the Staff, p. 56. “IF” we are in the flock? If “the flock” is the Kingdom which our Lord proclaimed during His lifetime, then there should be no doubt whether we are in it or not, though we will have doubts about it from time to time. But the fact of our doubt does not take us out of the Kingdom. Besides, there is nothing in Scripture that encourages the notion of our coming and going into and out of the Kingdom constantly. Or is the idea here that every time we sin, we leave “the flock” or the Kingdom? Our Lord seemed to be satisfied with giving us the Fifth Petition to His prayer to take care of that. Or is the “flock” some other group of God’s people that I am not aware of?You take a chance being critical of an expression of piety. But either there is a doctrine of Jesus or a Jesus Who “walks with me and He talks with me.” There is also a doctrine of the Kingdom, and a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. They know of no Jesus Who repeatedly “carries us back.” They know of a Jesus Who is the Good Shepherd, Who gave His life for His sheep, Whose voice the sheep know and follow, Who indeed goes after the lost, but the idea of the latter is that He brings us into His flock forever.I find it difficult to understand how we can assent to opposing sides of a contradiction, while insisting on the piety of both. Peace and Joy,George A. Marquart
Dear George,Because in this life it is quite possible to sin against conscience and fall away from the Lord and so from His flock, it is a comfort to know that the Lord, the Shepherd, comes after His sheep, not merely to gather them in at the beginning of faith, but to keep them in His flock when they wander away to their own damage and hurt. Many of us have experienced this in our own lives and are very glad of such a loving and persistent Good Shepherd. Perverse and foolish oft I've strayedAnd yet in love He found meAnd on His shoulder gently laidAnd home rejoicing brought me.
P.S. One more thought, George: 2 Cor. 13:5.
Dear Rev. Weedon:It did not take all that much time to write this. It took me more time to decide whether I should respond at all. I would like you to believe me that I am writing this not in order to win an argument, but because I cherish the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and the Doctrine of the Kingdom.Our Lord proclaimed the Kingdom. This Kingdom is also known as: the Church, the Communion of Saints, the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, and even “the Flock,” as in “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” To enter the Kingdom, one has to be reborn of water and the Spirit. Now, if you fall away from that Kingdom, or Flock, do you have to be re-reborn, or does the Lord just “bring us back”? Or is there some other place, neither in the Kingdom, nor out of it, from which our Lord brings us back again and again when we “fall away from the Lord”?Actually, Scripture has very little to say about the sins of those in God’s Kingdom. Our Lord does say, in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, that the Good Shepherd will leave the 99 to find the one that is lost. But nowhere is anything said about our Lord Jesus repeatedly bringing back all of the sheep. He did promise His Apostles, and He has given us the Holy Spirit, to live in us and to be our Spiritual Guardian. According to St. Paul, one of the functions of the Kingdom Itself is to, (Acts 20) “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” And as long as we are using hymns as proof texts, I think the author of one of the best known hymns, an Anglican, had it right when he wrote in the last line of the first stanza of “The Church’s one Foundation”, “and for Her life He died.” Our Lord’s last discourse and all of the Epistles give evidence that it is the Lord, the Holy Spirit, who guards us, strengthens us, and finds a way to keep us from falling into sin. But so often we prefer to “believe in Jesus” who “walks with us and talks with us,” and “holds us in His arms” and “walks with us in the garden.” But there is no doctrine to cover this latter kind of Jesus in our Church. Luther’s explanation of the second and third articles of the creed in the Large Catechism (as well as the small one, but not as fully) makes this abundantly clear.Finally, this “bringing back” needs to happen only when we “sin against conscience”? Is there some special form of repentance we must undergo for our Lord to then “bring us back”? Surely something more than saying “I have sinned against the Lord,” as David said to Nathan, to which Nathan replied, “Now the Lord has put away your sin …”? I think that the people of God have enough doubts about the certainty of their salvation without having to distinguish between various categories of sin. Is it not enough that our Lord said, “Any blasphemy against the Son will be forgiven”?Peace and Joy!George A. Marquart
Dear George,I'm glad you sent it. I appreciate your concern - believe me I do. Yet do not our Symbols clearly confess it to be biblical teaching that the righteous (i.e., justified) may fall? I think particularly of AC XII:7; SA III, III:43-45, but also of Ap IV:115; V (III):21-23; FC SD XI:32;42.
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