Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Monday, November 7, 2016
What’s Different about You Lutherans? (Or why I am Lutheran)
(This article was included in our church's November Newsletter. This article and the ones following, as mentioned in this article, will be posted each month as printed. I pray they will be helpful to those who wish to share the joy of being Lutheran with others so they might rejoice in the same grace.)
On the Mount of Ascension Jesus addressed His disciples and told them that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given Him, implying that He was in turn giving that authority to them, and to us. The authority He gives is that as we are going, that is as we are living our lives in our various vocations, we are to make learners, disciples of Jesus, and we do that by baptizing and teaching. And then we have the promise that He is with us, even to the end of the age. We know that as we have the opportunity to give an answer for our faith in Him, He gives us His authority to speak such Word, as well as the promise that He is with us and will even give us the very word He would have us to speak.
So, how is this done? After our Vacation Bible School closing program this past summer someone approached me and asked, what is it that is different about you Lutherans? “Oh ho,” I said to myself. “Someone has asked me a question and so now I have an opportunity to give an answer.” Interestingly enough, it is only as we are asked questions that someone is truly interested in what we have to say. In other words, we might speak of our faith all the time, but unless someone wants to know, they really are not paying attention.
So, how do we answer such a question? Would that more people ask us what is different about us Lutherans so we might boldly, with God’s authority, give an answer. My answer at the time and continues even today to be of such: We Lutherans have a better understanding of Justification and Sanctification, a better understanding of the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, a better understanding of God’s grace and mercy, and a better understanding of the Sacraments. Next month we will discuss our better understanding of Holy Baptism and the following month our better understanding of the Lord’s Supper.
I would pray that each one of us is always ready to give an answer for the hope that we have in Christ and further I would pray that each one of us is asked what hope we have so that we might give an answer. How do we answer and how do we know what to answer? One answer we might easily give is the Apostles’ Creed as the Apostles’ Creed gives a simple short answer of what we believe about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But I believe we can do better than simply speaking our words of faith. I would pray that we would be able to enunciate clearly what we believe, teach and confess. How and from where do we get our words of witness? We get our words of witness from the Lord and His Word, from our reading our Portals of Prayer. How often it is that the morning devotion contains the answer for the afternoon question I am asked. We get our words of witness from our family devotions and personal reading of God’s Word. We get our words of witness from our Divine Service attendance and especially from our Bible Class study. It is only as we are filled with the Lord’s Word that the Holy Spirit can access our brains data banks to have the words to give an answer for the faith and hope in Christ we have, thus as you hear me constantly speak, regular and diligent use of the means of grace is so important, not only for ourselves, but also for our ability to give an answer.
As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (October 31, 2017) there will be more and more opportunities for our family, neighbors and friends to hear something about the Reformation and Lutherans, and I would pray that we would be able to give an answer as to how we are different, why we are different and how great it is that we are different and what a wonderful message and answer we have for them. And certainly we would invite them to “come and see Jesus.”