The Implanted Word

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls

James 1:21, RSV

From Luther

By filthiness, James means the impure life of the world—indulgence, voluptuousness, and knavery of every sort. These things, he says, should be far from you Christians who enjoy blessings so great and glorious. Could you rightly recognize and appreciate these blessings, you would regard all worldly pursuits and pleasures mere filth in comparison. Nor is this overdrawn; they are such when contrasted with the good and perfect heavenly gifts and treasures. You have the Word, says James, a Word which is yours, not by your own fancy or effort, but which God gave you and implanted in you by grace. It has free course, is preached, read and sung among you. It is of the utmost importance to receive it, to make profitable use of it, to handle it with meekness that we may hold it fast and not allow it to be effaced by anger under persecution or by the allurements of worldly lusts.

Meekness and patience are necessary to enable us to triumph over the devil and the world. Without them we shall not be able to hold fast the Word in our strife against those evil forces. We must fight and contend against sin, but if we essay to cool our wrath by grasping the devil and his followers by the hair and wreaking vengeance upon them, we will accomplish nothing and may thereby lose our treasure, the beloved Word. Therefore lay hold of the Word planted or grafted within you, that you may be able to retain it and have it bring forth its fruits in yourself. You have the Word; it is able to save you if you but steadfastly cling to it. Why then need you take any account of the world, and anything it may do? What injury can it render, what help even can it offer, as long as you hold the treasure of the Word?

The Word is implanted within you in a way to give you the certain comfort and sure hope of your salvation. Be careful not to permit yourselves to be wrested from it by the wrath or the filth of the world. Take heed to accept in purity and to maintain with patience the Word so graciously and richly given you by God without effort or merit on your part. Those, who are without the Word in their endeavor to attain heaven, accomplish nothing.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 179–80.

Source: Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions

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Faith Is the Victory

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 

1 John 5:4–5, RSV

From Luther

He who is born of God overcomes the world, John declares. Verily, this is a significant and forcible assertion which the Holy Spirit makes. It represents a tremendous power, a great work. The child of God must attempt and accomplish great things. The birth effected through the Word and faith makes men true sovereigns, above all earthly rulers. It gives them power even to overcome the world, something impossible to any Roman or Turkish potentate. They effect not their victory by physical force or temporal power, but by the spiritual birth through faith.

In order to understand the nature of the spiritual victory and how it is effected, we must know what John means by the term “world.” The reference is not to dominion over territory, to property, or money. He implies the existence of two kingdoms. By the heavenly kingdom we must understand not only spiritual life and godly people, but the Lord and Regent of that kingdom — Christ with his angels, and his saints, both living and dead. The kingdom of the world represents not only the earthly life with its worldly interests, but particularly its lord and regent — the devil and his angels, all unchristian, godless, wicked people on earth. So John means by “world” the devil and his whole earthly dominion.

The workings of these two kingdoms are plainly evident, though the leaders are not visible to mortal eyes. Christ rules effectually in his own power through the Word and the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers, through the angels who guard his followers, and through his people themselves who exercise authority over one another in loving service, each teaching, comforting and admonishing a noble band of godly, obedient, chaste, benevolent souls. The nature of the devil’s kingdom is easily apparent. This kingdom is simply a huge booth filled with faithless, shameless, wicked individuals, impelled by their god to every sort of disobedience and contempt of God and his Word; to false doctrine, the practice of wantonness, vice, and wickedness.

These two kingdoms are opposed. Christians are brought into the conflict to hold the field against God’s enemies, whose rule is one of falsehood and murder; they must contend with the enemy’s servants, factions, spirits, and wicked individuals, in an effort to restrain evil and promote good. Christians must know how to meet and successfully resist the enemy, how to carry the field unto victory and hold it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 155–57.

Source: Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions

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The Gentle Rebuke of the Greatest Sin

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 

Mark 16:9–14, RSV

From Luther

Christ upbraids the disciples with their unbelief and hardness of heart. He does not reject them, nor deal too severely with them, but reproves them. It is not an insignificant matter that the Lord rebuked his disciples; for unbelief is the greatest sin that can be named. Christ tells them the cause of their unbelief when he says that their hearts are hardened, still he deals mildly and gently with them. This is told us for our comfort, lest we despair, when, lacking in faith, we doubt, stumble and fall. It is to help us to rise again, to strengthen our faith and lift up our hearts to God, that we may grasp and hold fast the confidence of God, who does not deal severely with us, but can indeed bear with us and overlook much. If we believe him to be a merciful God, he will be found merciful and thus shows himself to us; but a bad conscience and an unbelieving heart have no such trust in God, but flee from him. So should we also deal with our neighbor. If we see him fall from the faith, or err and sin, we should not strengthen him in his wickedness, nor justify his cause, but admonish him and in meekness reprove his faults, yet not hold enmity, nor turn our love from him.

But let no one think that the apostles were altogether unbelieving; they believed what was written in the law and the prophets. There was a faith there, but they did not yet believe all things. Faith is a thing that always grows. Therefore the Lord shows wherein they lacked in faith; it was that they did not believe the resurrection of Christ from the dead. I hold that they believed that they had a gracious God, but this was not enough; they must believe also the resurrection of Christ. Thus the Lord upbraided them with their unbelief and said that in spite of all they had seen, they were not believing, they still lacked a certain article of faith, that on the resurrection. We should therefore expose and reprove what is wrong, but exercise truth and love toward everybody. We see that even the apostles were lacking in the chief things, yet they were corner stones, the foundation and the very best part of Christendom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 153–54.

Source: Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions

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Be Certain

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

10 As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

1 Peter 4:10–11, RSV

From Luther

It is necessary that both preachers and hearers take heed to doctrine and have clear, unmistakable evidence that what they embrace is really the true Word of God revealed from heaven; the doctrine given to the holy and primitive fathers, prophets and apostles; the doctrine Christ himself confirmed and commanded to be taught. We are not permitted to employ the teachings dictated by any man’s pleasure or fancy. We are not allowed to adapt the Word to mere human knowledge and reason. We are not to trifle with the Scriptures, to juggle with the Word of God, as if it would admit of being explained to suit the people; of being twisted, distended and patched to effect peace and agreement among men. There would then be no sure, permanent foundation whereon the conscience might rely.

Still it is not enough that the office and commandment be God-appointed. We ministers should be conscious—and the people should be taught—that efficacy of office is not of human effort, but is God’s power and work. That which the office was designed to accomplish is not effective by virtue of our speech or action, but by virtue of God’s commandment and appointment. He it is who orders; and himself will effectively operate through that office which is obedient to his command. In baptism, the Lord’s Supper and absolution we are not to be concerned about the person administering the sacraments or pronouncing absolution,—who he is, how righteous, how holy, how worthy. Worthiness or unworthiness of either administering or receiving hand effects nothing; all the virtue lies in God’s command and ordinance.

The motive for all Christian effort is named in the words, “that in all things God may be glorified.” No one may seek or ascribe to himself power and honor because of his office or gifts. Power and glory belongs only to God. God himself calls his Church, rules, sanctifies and preserves it through his Word and his Spirit. To this end he bestows on us his gifts. All is done purely of grace, wholly for the sake of his beloved Son, Christ the Lord. Therefore, in return for the favor and ineffable goodness bestowed upon us regardless of our merits, we ought to thank and praise God, directing all our efforts to the recognition and glory of his name.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 143–44.

Source: Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions

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The Mind of Faith

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:26–27, RSV

From Luther

The Evangelist states that their heart burned within them while he opened to them the Scriptures, and the gospel following says that Christ opened their minds to understand the Scripture. Here is the point: Moses certainly writes concerning Christ, and Christ is found in the books of Moses; but it is necessary not only to read, but also to understand what is said. Therefore the Bible is a book that must not only be read and preached, but it also requires the true interpreter, that is, the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Not a single article of faith has ever been preached that was not more than once attacked and denied by heretics, though they read the same Scriptures that we have.

This revelation, therefore, requires pupils of the right kind, who are willing to learn and to be instructed, like these pious and simple-minded disciples, not wise and puffed up minds and self-made masters who reach beyond the very heavens with their knowledge. This is a doctrine that makes our wisdom foolishness and blinds our reason, before it can be believed and understood; for it is not born of man’s reason, like other sciences and arts, which have sprung from reason and can be grasped by means of reason. All heresies from the beginning have had their origin here; both Jews and Gentiles, and the Turks at present, grow foolishly violent in regard to our doctrine, because it does not agree with reason and human wisdom. Only pious, simple-minded people can grasp and understand it—they who say: “God hath said it, therefore I believe it.” Christ himself thanks the Father with a joyful heart that he hides these things from the wise and understanding and reveals them unto babes.

Thus poor, ignorant women came to the sepulcher without considering that the tomb was covered with a heavy stone; yet these foolish persons are the first to whom Christ reveals his resurrection and calls to be his preachers and witnesses. So he gives these disciples a knowledge of the Scriptures which all the learned scribes did not possess, so that now they view Moses with different eyes, and are forced to confess: I have read and heard this before, but never understood it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 140–41.

Source: Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions

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Drinking the Word

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:1–4, RSV

From Luther

Among us one element (bread) alone is not to be offered to the communicant; he who wants the Lord’s Supper should receive the whole of it. We have preached and practiced this long enough and cannot assume that there should be any one unable to understand it; yet if there be one so dense, or claiming to be so weak that he cannot grasp the true meaning of it, we will excuse him; it is just as well that he remain away. For any one to hear God’s Word so long, to have himself coddled like a child, and after all to continue saying, I do not understand, is not a good sign. For it is impossible for you to hear so long and still be unenlightened; since then you remain blind it is better for you not to receive the Lord’s Supper. If you cannot grasp the Word that is plain, clear and certain, you can not grasp the sacrament; for the sacrament would be nothing, if there were no Word.

Moreover this Word has now resounded again and again throughout the world, so that even they who oppose it know it. These, however, are not weak but obdurate and hardened; they set their heads against the doctrine which they hear us prove from the Scriptures with such clearness that they are unable to reply or establish the contrary. Therefore it is out of the question for us any longer to yield or to endure them, since they defy us and maintain as their right what they teach and practice. We wish to receive both elements in the Lord’s Supper, just because they wish to prevent us from having them. The thought of causing offense no longer applies to them. The Roman bishops have forbidden both elements as contrary to God’s ordinance and command. If now we wish to confess Christ we must receive both elements, so that the people may know that we are Christians and abide by the Word of God. When we go to the Lord’s Supper people can see who they are that have heard the gospel; they can observe whether we lead Christian lives. So this is a distinct mark whereby we are recognized, whereby we also confess the name of God and show that we are not ashamed of his Word.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 125–26.

Video with Comment

Source: Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions

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Election of a New Dean: Pastor Steve Bliss

Congratulations to our new mission district dean, Pastor Steve Bliss, who was elected this Saturday during our gathering in Brookings. Pastor Bliss leads a three point parish in Wannaska, Minnesota.  God be with him in his work!

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Save the Date: Spring District Meeting

We’ve set the date for the joint meeting with the Minkpta District and the Eastern South Dakota Mission District.  It will be April 23 and 24 at the Institute of Lutheran Theology in Brookings, South Dakota.  More info to come on agenda, speakers, registration and all the details. Hope to see you all there.

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Merry Christmas!

Online jigsaw

Click image for online jigsaw. • Image  • Music

  Click for a recording of the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Now it came to pass in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first census made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to register themselves, every one to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to enrol himself with Mary, his betrothed, who was great with child. And while they were there it happened that the days were fulfilled for her to give birth. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord was standing by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they feared a great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this is the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is delighted.”

15 And it followed that when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they went with haste and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the matter that was told to them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard marveled at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary stored up each of these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, just as it was spoken to them.

Source: Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions

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Sola Publishing adds Crossways Studies

With the help and support of the Minkota District, Sola Publishing was able to acquire the inventory of Crossways International, which closed operations at the end of this summer. Crossways Bible survey courses, written by the Rev. Dr. Harry Wendt, have been used worldwide for over forty years, and are well-loved by many pastors and congregations throughout the NALC. The Minkota district provided financial assstance to make this transition happen.

Materials were transferred in late August from Converse TX to Graham NC where Sola’s facility is located. Instrumental to this move was the NALC Distaster Relief team, led by Mary Bates, who supplied the transportation. Since then, the staff at Sola have been working hard to incorporate the materials into their online store. They have already released a majority of the Crossways materials, making them available for purchase on the Sola website: www.solapublishing.com.

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