14 May 2022

Had a wonderful visit…

…with my friend, Pr. Jim Krauser, and we capped it off last evening with dinner at David and Meaghan’s place: 







13 May 2022

Catechesis: Person of Christ

The apostle Peter testifies in clear words that we also, in whom Christ dwells only by grace, on account of that great mystery [of the communion of the two natures], are "partakers of the divine nature" in Christ.—FC SD VIII:34

Luther

The marks, nails, crown of thorns, and scourgings I must bear, and so must all Christians, and not just painted on the wall, but stamped in our flesh and blood.—Sermon, 1535

Patristic Quote of the Day

CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism -- if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.—Council of Orange, 529, presided over by St. Caesarius

Good time with old friends...

...Michael, Jim and I went to Concordia, Bronxville together; and additionally Michael lived with Cindi and me for a while when we were at seminary (ironically, he slept on our couch again last night!). 





12 May 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, "The will is prepared by the Lord" (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).—Council of Orange, 529, presided over by St. Caesarius of Arles

Luther

By this we should learn that God does not want people to be sad and that He hates sad thoughts and sayings, and doctrines which oppress us. He makes our hearts joyful. For He did not send His son to make us sad, but to make us glad. That is why the prophets and apostles and the Lord Christ Himself admonishes us and even commands us at all times to be joyful and of good cheer.—Commentary on the Prophet Jonah

Catechesis: The Person of Christ

On account of this personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most bleed Virgin, did not bear a mere man. But, as the angel Gabriel testifies, she bore a man who is truly the Son of the most high God. He showed His divine majesty even in His mother's womb, because He was born of a virgin, without violating her virginity. Therefore, she is truly the mother of God and yet has remained a virgin.—FC SD VIII:24

11 May 2022

Yesterday...

...was my friend's 62nd birthday. Jim and I have known each other since Concordia, Bronxville (may she rest in peace!) days, and it is always a joy to catch up with him. He's a pastor in the ELCA and David's godfather. We travelled up to Springfield to check out the Lincoln home and tomb yesterday, and then came back to Edwardsville and had an early dinner.





07 May 2022

Our niece, Grace, was married yesterday...

 ...to John. Cindi made the wedding; I'm still at home. She sent along a few pics:






06 May 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

CANON 3. If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me" (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1).—Council of Orange 529, Presided over by St. Caesarius of Arles

Luther

And yet He says here: 'My Father knoweth me' (even in such shame, and suffering, and disgrace) as His beloved Son, sent forth by Him to be made the sacrifice and to surrender my soul to save and to redeem My sheep. And in the same way I know the Father and know that He will not forget Me or forsake Me, but that through shame, and cross, and death, He will lead me to life and to eternal glory.—Exposition of Jn 10

Catechesis: Sacrament of the Altar

With heart and mouth we reject and condemn as false, erroneous, and misleading all errors that do not agree with but contradict and oppose the doctrine mentioned above and founded in God's Word, such as these: The papistic transubstantiation. It is taught that the consecrated or blessed bread and wine in the Holy Supper entirely lose their substance and essence. They are changed into the substance of Christ's body and blood in such a way that only the mere form of bread and wine is left, or the accidents without the object.—FC VII:107, 108

Cf. Certainly the sacraments of the body and blood of Christ are a divine thing, through which we are made partakers of the divine nature; and yet the substance or nature of bread and wine does not cease to be. – Pope St. Gelasius, De duabis nature. In Chr. Adv. Eutych. Et Nestor. Patrology IV, 1:422

One of the excellent...

...sermons I was blessed to hear at the South Wisconsin Pastors' Conference. Shared with permission of Pr. Chris Raffa:

Spring Pastor’s Conference Meditation: Sola Scriptura
May 2nd, 2022
St. Matthew 4:1-4

In Nomine Jesu

“It is written.” Sola Scriptura. Without fail the church is convulsed with various crisis that shape their whole subsequent existence. I think here of the Ecumenical Councils which hammered out sound credal confession. I think of the Christological controversies that carefully navigated the proper understanding and relationship of the two natures in Christ. I think of Seminex and those who fought tirelessly for the sole authority of the Scriptures over against any human authority. I think of the educational and confessional crises that we face in our higher institutions of learning. And as of late, I think back mostly to the Predestinarian controversy in the 1880’s over the doctrine of election, and I ponder the words that were exchanged between C.F.W Walther and one of his former students.

Walther: “I ask you upon your conscience, in the presence of God, do you not believe that this controversy on Election will shiver our dear Missouri Synod into fragments? Alas! What will become of us? How many will remain? The pastor replied: “Dear Doctor, I do not believe any will leave us, excepting perhaps seven or eight who are not and have not been Missourians at heart, such as heed the Word only, though it be contrary to all reason…But in every controversy only this, what has God said?” Or as Jesus said to the tempter, “It is written.” Or as the Reformers confessed, Sola Scriptura.

Right after His baptism, our Lord endure a most grievous crisis. Sent out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil for 40 days. Then proceeded all sorts of grandiose plans for a successful career. The decisions He faced were fundamental to His person and work as the Messiah. I suppose, some might flippantly say that it wasn’t that bad for Jesus. Yet at its core, they were as simple as they were crucial: faith or unbelief, obedience or disobedience, cross or no cross, “It is written” or, “Did God really say,” Sola Scriptura or Sola Ratio.

As pastors, you are on the frontlines and in the trenches of a cosmic war. You know intimately that Christ’s Church is assailed by Satan, by those who don’t want to live beneath Word of God but above it, by those whose confessional subscription would reflect more a quatenus (in so far as) than a quia (because), and by those who want to fashion the Church according to the alluring promises of Satan. You are aware of the theological hesitation and indecision over the years in our Missouri Synod that has simply accumulated to a point where we now have produced crises in our life as church that can no longer be evaded or ignored.

To break the hypnotic spell of the ecumenical mushiness and pagan progressive ideals that buffet the Church we must return to the “It is written,” to the Sola Scriptura. We must have a clear grasp of the true Biblical doctrine of what the Church really is, as it is so beautifully confess in AC 7 and 8, in the Smalcald Articles, and in the Large Catechism. A pile of stones is not yet the Church, thus a pile of churches is not the Church. Only that is the Church which is built on the foundation of the prophetic and apostolic Word, Jesus Christ Himself being its cornerstone. “It is written.” Sola Scriptura. In every controversy only this: “What has God said?”

St. Athanasius wrote after outlining the Old and New Testaments, “These are the fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me” (Festal Letter, 39:6-7). Jesus is clear, anything but Him as the key that unlocks the fountains of truth and grace from the well spring of Scripture is a demonic imitation. Sadly, many pastors and laity are tragically trapped within their own hubris, the false piety of the devil, or their conscience is ever vacillating between “Did God really say,” or the Sola Scriptura of “It is written.”

It is quite evident that the real Church, the mystical body of Christ, is and remains hidden to mortal eyes. It lives under the cross and suffers many weaknesses, sins, and offenses, within and without. We may see the Devil’s enticing promises of grandeur and magnificence, of “all the kingdoms of the world,” but we must believe and confess the Church—she is an article of faith. We find her not by sight but only by faith in her pure marks, in the purely preached Gospel, and the purely administered Sacraments. For as a creature of the Word of God, the Church always remains under the Word. She lives, not by the bread of men, but by the bread of God that comes down from heaven and gives life and salvation to the tempted, the fallen, and the broken. The Sola Scriptura of Christ’s Word comes first, and it alone determines what the Church is and what it is not.

The promise, “It is written,” alone keeps you, even as it keeps the One who spoke it into existence. This is the great confession of Jesus in desert amid the devil’s wiles: “It is God’s promise alone which keeps me. By it I live by faith, and not by gazing at bread. No, I see no bread and am starving; I see no water and I am dying of thirst; I see no men who believe in me, yet I am to bring them the kingdom.” Jesus does not believe in bread but in the promises; He believes in “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Sola Scriptura. And if the Word now gives Him bread in His great hunger, He will thank God. The connection to sola fide and sola gratia should be obvious to you here. And if that same Word refuses Him the loaf, he will go on hungering and believing in God’s promise that He is destined to a great work and will not die of hunger. The very Word of God is the Lord in this hour, and Jesus lives by it. And so do you as His undershepherds, men who feed and tend the lambs of the Good Shepherd’s flock even as you are tended and fed by same living voice, the same living waters of Baptism, and the same Table prepared in the midst of fierce and demonic enemies.

This is always the real crisis: that we are always in temptation, even as we pray not to be led into it. The tempter is always within our hearts. He comes not as foe, but as friend. He courteously said what we had always thought: “Did God really say this? Did He not mean it this way? Would it not suit Him if you now did this or that, instead of taking His Word, all too literally, of believing Sola Scriptura?

Even as the devil is deep within our hearts. Though our hearts condemn us, Christ Jesus justifies us in His blood-sealed promise, “It is written,” your sins are forgiven. Your death is destroyed. Your life is always with me, for I am in you and you are in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches.” Abiding in your Savior, you will join your voices to the confession of St. Gregory of Nyssa, “Let the inspired Scriptures then be our umpire and the vote of truth will be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine Words” (on the Holy Trinity, NPNF, p. 327). “It is written.” Sola Scriptura.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son [+] and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Helmut Thielicke, Between God & Satan: The Temptation of Jesus (Michigan, Oil Lamp Press, 2010), 65-66.

 “The Election-by-Grace Doctrinal Controversy and Doctrine of Justification” in Propter Christum: Christ & the Center: Essays in Honor of Daniel Preus (Luther Academy, 2013), 400-401. 

 Truth, Salvatory and Churchly. Works of Kurt E. Marquart. Vol III Essays Historical and Historic (Luther Academy, 2018), 17, 22. 


05 May 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam's sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12).—Council of Orange, 529, presided over by St. Caesarius of Arles

Luther

Behold, if we could so portray our Lord and imprint His heart [as the Good Shepherd] on our heart, with His overflowing longing, concern, and desire for us, it would be impossible for us to be afraid of Him. Rather we should joyfully run towards Him, and stay with Him and listen to no other word or master.—Sermon, 1532

Catechesis: Sacrament of the Altar

Our faith in this article about the true presence of Christ's body and blood in the Holy Supper is based on the truth and omnipotence of the true, almighty God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This foundation is strong and firm enough to strengthen and establish our faith in all temptations about this article. They overthrow and refute all the Sacramentarians' counterarguments and objections, however agreeable and plausible they may be to our reason. A Christian heart can rest securely and rely firmly on these truths.—FC SD VII:106

04 May 2022

Whew!

We had our Weedon grandsons with us on Saturday night and Sunday night (David, Meaghan, and Lydia flew out to California for the Baptism of the youngest Yow), but then bright and early on Monday I drove up to Steven's Point, Wisconsin, for the South Wisconsin District Pastors' Conference. Was an absolute joy to be there with the brothers. Wonderful worship, richly using LSB. Great homilies. I presented on the topic: "The Solas and the Fathers, Etc." My last session finished up on Tuesday, we prayed an early Vespers and I hit the road again. Got home last night about 10:15. The most fascinating thing to be me about the long drive, and particularly the long drive when I was tired and it got dark: I was able to stay alert without coffee. No coffee since Easter. And it was actually EASIER than with the coffee. Not to mention, less stops! I would never have guessed that. Big job for today is cutting grass and maybe writing a podcast. But that's why I've been missing in action on the blog.

Tomorrow Cindi flies out to Maryland for niece Grace's wedding. She'll be gone till the following Wednesday. And in the evening I get to head back to the airport and pick up longtime friend Jim Krauser, who's heading out for a visit. I told his godson, David, that he had to fix Jim a birthday feast to celebrate his 62nd birthday.