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Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 (ESV)

The Christian faith is one of particularity, distinctiveness, and exclusivity.  Though we welcome all people, we also make clear distinction between truth and error.  This is so because of her Lord, the Head of the Church.  Jesus Christ is this Head, the only one.  Neither the pope nor a bishop, neither a pastor or even a President, is the Head of Christ’s  Bride.  Only the very Son of God has this position, the same one who now sits at the right hand of God the Father (Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:12; 1 Peter 3:22).

This is He of whom Scripture says, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard (Colossians 1:14-23).

This Jesus Christ, the Church’s Head, is the Only Way to eternal life.  None other has right to this claim.  There is salvation in none other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).  This has been the proclamation of the Christian Church throughout the ages, and it will continue to be so.  Her message is Christ crucified and this is the content of her preaching.  In both her speaking and in her doing, Christ receives all glory, honor, and praise.

 This is because all these go to Him. His is the Name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9).  And though all do not now acknowledge Jesus for who He is, there will come a time when every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

 In the meantime, God’s people witness of Christ and delcar Him as the only Savior from sin, death, and the plwer of the devil.  In both love toward God and love toward neighbor, the Christian shows forth the unique claim of Christ, that He Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

 God’s command to love neighbor means to love both friend and foe, ally and enemy, Christian and nonChristian.  Here, there is no distinction.  As Christ loved us and all people, whether they be Pharisee or tax collector, Jew or Gentile, believer or unbeliever, so are we to love all others.  Whoever it be that needs our help, we help as we are able.

 This our Lord would have us do.  In truth, He has done the same for us.  He loved us before we ever loved Him (1 John 4:10).  He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.  Even those who reject God and His love in Christ, for them too did God send His Son to suffer and die.

 This demonstrates how God’s love works.  It’s not conditional, but unconditional.  This means that it can be rejected and denied.  But only those who believe receive the blessing.  God’s love is given to all, though only few accept it by faith.  But this doesn’t change God’s love towards the world.  This He has shown and demonstrated with Christ’s death for us.  God wants all to repent of their sinful ways and so be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).  God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:7).

 This is why God sent Jesus into the world, why God gives His Word, and why the earth is still going on today.  The end is not yet.  God’s grace is abundant.  It is by His grace that we are alive yet and that the world continues, not because of what people do, but because of God’s providence and provision for everything we need, even through what people do.

 The point here is this, that as God is towards the sinner, whether believer or unbeliever, in providing what is needed for the body for either, so are we to do the same.  We don’t not help someone because they are not Christian or because they’re in error.  God here would use us to be His hands and feet, as it were, that they in need be cared for.

 These things have to do with our life towards one another, love to our neighbor, whether inside or outside the home, and whether to a fellow believer or heathen.  With regard to these, the Christian is is willing to give up even their very life for the sake of another.

 On the other hand, when it comes to the holy things of God, when it comes to God’s Word and His teaching, His doctrine, the Christian can give up nothing, but remains steadfast to Him who is forever faithful.  With regard to physical needs, we give everything we’ve got.  With regard to God’s Word, we cannot but press on in the truth of our Lord and declare the mercies of God through Jesus Christ.

 Because God in the Second commandment says, Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain, using God’s Name to defend teaching that is not true is not tolerated in Christ’s Church (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11).  The Church follows in the path that her Lord has already given, that of His Holy Word.  This the world does not like or appreciate, but this is the path that leads to life because it directs Christ.

 Though the world see intolerance for just any kind of teaching as a bad thing and would have it so that anything goes, this is not so with the Lord.  This is because the Lord desires salvation, not acceptance by the world.  There is no other way to heaven but through Christ.  Muhammad, Buddha, the Pope, and even Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus, let alone any other, including ourselves, do nothing for anyone with reference to status before God.  Any who follow another besides Christ on the way to God the Father are in fact on the way to perdition.  All roads do not lead to heaven.  It really does matter what one believes, regardless of how sincere on is.

 This is so because only Christ saves.  As man, Jesus died the death of sinners, though He Himself knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).  As God, Jesus’ death covered the sins of all people.  Only through Him does one go to the Father.  Man cannot save Himself from God’s wrath.  Nor can any other do anything for us to turn His anger away.

 All religions that are false will teach another way to heaven than through Christ’s suffering, dying, and rising on the third day.  Others will even include Christ’s work, but add also their own.  This is not Christian.  Neither is it acceptable.  There is only one true religion, and it has Christ as beginning, middle, and end, giving Himself for us, sinners as we are, that we be saved, remain in His Word, and receive the crown of  life when we pass from this life to the next (John 8:31-32).

 This is why we are so insistent on distinguishing between man’s word and God’s Word.  Said another way, man’s doctrine and God’s doctrine.  This is the difference between heaven and hell.  Though many in Christendom believe Christ to be their savior, and for this we are thankful, their doctrine is not completely in agreement with Scripture.  Whether this be church or individual, this is something of which to take heed and for which to be careful, for it is written, A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9).  And as said in another place, Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine.  Continue in them (1 Timothy 4:16).

 It is possible for even Christians to be misled and deceived.  Following man’s thoughts and ways concerning Godly things is dangerous business.  To Christ, then, we hold fast, to Him and to His Word.  His Word is truth, truth that leads to life.  Our word does not.  We distinguish between ours and His because He does.  And because He does, we do.

 When it comes to Christ and His Word, the very truth itself, we dare not budge.  Nor do we give an inch.  Christ alone is our Savior, and the only One for the world.  Compromising the Word of truth because of personal struggles or for the acceptance of others is something that we cannot do.  God does not lead this way.  He leads through the narrow gate and the difficult way, to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14).

 There are few who remain on this way of our Lord to life because it is not easy.  It is the way of faith, not of sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  It means fighting the good fight of faith, daily bearing one’s burdens, denying oneself, and following Christ (1 Timothy 6:12; Galatians 6:5; Luke 9:23). It means, contrary to hope, in hope believing, believing the promises of the living God though everything, including our sinful hearts, and the world, speak against them (Romans 4:18).

 Our faith is not founded, however, on sinking sand.  Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, our foundation is unshakeable (Colossians 2:20).  The rain will descend.  The floods will come.  The winds will blow and beat against us.  But our foundation will remain because our foundation is Christ.  (Matthew 7:24-26). It is as the hymn says, ‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.’  God will not leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  He helps us and gives to us the strength to remain in Him by means of His Word and through His blessed body and blood.

 Christ Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  This we know because this He has revealed in His Word.  There is no other way, no other truth, and no other life than He who journeyed to the cross, put to death our sin, and was raised to life on the third day.  The world would like to think that there is another way to God, but such is not the case.

The Christian faith is the only true faith.  Only Christ is the way that leads to life.  There is none other.  Though the world will pass away, The Word of the Lord will endure forever (1 peter 1:25).  And all who believe in God’s promises through Jesus Christ will receive the crown of life.  The Lord grant us this faith and keep us in this faith, through Jesus, God’s Son, Amen.

Jn14.1-14, Easter 5, 2011A, Notes

“1 Timothy 3:2 and Women’s Ordination”

Does 1 Timothy 3:2 support women’s ordination, only declaring that it is not permissible for a bishop (Pastor) to have more than spouse, while not distinguishing between a male/female pastorate?

2006ATP.1 Timothy 3.2, rev.pdf

Music & Theology-Jewel’s “Intuition”

Reading the words of a song, even analyzing it for its content, is a good thing to do.  However, it might be a heavy dose of reality, a wake up call of sorts.  Many a popular song has moving melodies, but the words greatly lack genuine substance, let alone the truth, and often contain many a falsehood.

 

Take for example Jewel’s, “Intuition” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rraYK1QgMn0).  I like the melody, though I might here be illiterate when it comes to ‘good’ music in general.  I’m of the populists in this area.

But when it comes to theology, this is a different story.  I admit that I often gloss over the words of the songs that I listen to on the radio.  The music often drowns them out.  But I have to give this kind of practice of ‘not listening’ second thought.  Taking the words of songs for granted and even singing along with them may be more telling than not.

In “Intuition” by Jewel, she sings in part:

“…Follow your heart

Your intuition

It will lead you in the right direction

Let go of your mind

Your intuition is easy to find

Just follow your heart”

Granted, this is a ‘love’ song…but following your heart is a dangerous thing.  In reality, your heart does not “lead you in the right direction.”

Jesus says, for example, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…” (Matthew 15:18-20).

From these words alone, we have reason not to follow our hearts, but the Word of God, and the Word alone.  “The Holy Scriptures…are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

Even when it comes to love, the Word of the Lord is not deficient.  Led by our sinful hearts, we go by what we want in the moment and not by what God says.  It’s not always genuine love that we seek, but gratification.

We are to keep watch over our hearts, that our sinful desires not come to fruition, as St. Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

And in another place he says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

Note also these words from St. James, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:13-18).

Rather than “follow your heart,” follow what the Lord says.  Hear the preached Word.  Deny yourself.  And hold fast to Christ.

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ…)

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me

Galatians 1:1-2

To the Christians in Thessalonica, St. Paul wrote, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

The Christian Thessalonians, when they heard the Word from Paul and his companions, they accepted it as God’s Word.  How foolish they would have been not to do so!  Paul wasn’t preaching his own Word, but the very Word that the Lord gave him to speak.

So also with preachers today, preachers who do indeed preach only according to the Word!  It is them you are to hear.  They direct you to God and His Word.  They direct you to Christ.  If any preacher direct you elsewhere, then he is not a faithful preacher of Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23).

The servant of the Lord preaches God’s Word.  He doesn’t just say that he does; he actually does.  This doesn’t imply perfection.  But it does indeed indicate that he preaches nothing else than Jesus, for only in God’s Son do you have the hope of eternal life.

It would be foolish to listen to another, to another who doesn’t preach God’s Word and Jesus our Savior!

Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

The Lord’s sheep hear His Word.  Thus do they go to hear where the Lord’s Word is truly preached and spoken.  Thus do they rejoice and give thanks for Godly ministers who really do preach the truth.  And that’s where they go—not because of the man, but because of the Word!

Luther

What does Paul intend by this bragging?  I reply: This doctrine has as its purpose that every minister of the Word of God should be sure of his calling.  In the sight of both God and man he should boldly glory that he preaches the Gospel as one who has been called and sent.  Thus the king’s emissary boasts and glories that he does not come as a private person but as the emissary of the king.  Because of this dignity as the king’s emissary he is honored and given the position of highest honor, which he would never receive if he were to come as a private person…When Paul commends his calling so highly, he is not arrogantly seeking his own praise, as some people suppose; he is elevating his ministry with a necessary and a holy pride…He has to do this to maintain his authority, so that those who hear this may be more attentive and more willing to listen to him.  For they are not listening to Paul; but in Paul they are listening to Christ Himself and to God the Father, who sends him forth…Just as men should devoutly honor the authority and majesty of God, so they should reverently receive and listen to His messengers, who bring His Word. (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p16)

Prayer: Lead us, heavenly Father, to rejoice and give thanks for Your Holy Word, through which You, according to Your abundant mercy, make known to us our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  Help us to uphold and encourage those who preach the truth, that we honor them rightly as Your called and ordained servants.  Amen.

Increase our faith, O Lord

The writer to the Hebrews writes in the 11th chapter, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Just a later, he writes Without faith it is impossible to please Him (that is, God), for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:1-2, 6)

St. James writes in his epistle, the first chapter, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).

Not least of all, our Lord Jesus says, Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:26).

To a woman who came to Jesus with her sin and sought His mercy, He says, Your faith has saved you. Go in peace (Luke 7:50).

In today’s text, Jesus says, If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed,you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Lk17.1-10. Pentecost 19, 2010C.pdf

Guide To Church Shopping

GuideToChurchShopping.pdf

Why use the name ‘Lutheran’?

Some Lutherans denounce the name Lutheran as somehow schismatic, separatistic, or downright unchristian. But is this really the case? Read on to learn more about the name Lutheran.

ConcerningTheNameLutheran-Walther.pdf

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