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Jude 3-13


 

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day - just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

 

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you." But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (ESV)

A P0ke in the Eye

Friday of Easter 6

15 May 2015

In a recent Bible class discussing the church's practice of preparing children for the rite of confirmation, one of the members of the class expressed the opinion that it was still important for children to have the content of the catechism committed to memory in the catechetical regime. This mother and teacher has children who will be subject to this kind of instruction in a few years so she is serious about this. It will affect her family. After expressing this opinion, she said that to me, "I agree with you, Pastor." To which I quipped: "Of course you do." Although I was joking and I was seeking a discussion about something that is truly a matter of indifference, that is, the specific details of how children should be catechized, my quip does illustrate what some people think of harmony. People (including me!) think that there is harmony when others agree with them and that there is disharmony when others disagree with them. They are their own standard of rightness.

 

God, our heavenly Father, holds a different standard of rightness. He declares all human opinion to be faulty. We are all equally wrong when we depend on our human reason. The only correct standard in matters of theology and in the faith of Christ, is God's holy Word. About this we have no right to compromise. The slightest compromise here will hurt the whole. Luther uses a slightly obscure Latin proverb to illustrate this inviolability of the Christian teaching: "Reputation, faith, and the eye cannot stand being played with." Luther means that the faith will be irreparably damaged. It would be something like: a poke in the eye could cause you to go blind or one small lie could destroy your reputation. Thus the faith damaged is the faith destroyed; like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

 

People would prefer to poke doctrine in the eye rather than have their opinions deflated by God. Some years ago, I had a school parent call me about half way through the school year demanding to know why I was insisting on instructing her child in the faith of the Lutheran Church. She thought I should be more tolerant and loving toward her child, so that she could believe whatever she wanted. She suggested that I could adopt a pattern of "generic Christianity" with which to teach her child. She was fairly irate when she pointed out how unloving my approach toward teaching her child was. Then I asked her what this "generic Christianity" actually looked like; what was its content? She rattled off about four doctrinal points that seemed to suffice for her. Although I can't now remember what they were, after hearing them I instantly said to her, "You are a Southern Baptist, aren't you?" "Yes, how did you know?" "Because what you are describing as 'generic Christianity' is in fact the doctrinal position of the Southern Baptist Convention." If I only had agreed with her, I would have been considered quite loving by her and a person seeking harmony in the church. I would also have been betraying my Lord's Word and my ordination vows to teach nothing contrary to that Word. This is God's business and I may not yield, "not even if an angel from heaven should preach another gospel" (Gal 1:8). We may not lose the teaching or we will lose Christ.

 

Martin Luther

 

"We perpetually reply to the Sacramentarians when they accuse us of neglecting love, with this proverb of Paul's: 'A little leaven leavens the whole lump' (Gal 5:9). And another proverb says: "Reputation, faith, and the eye cannot stand being played with." I have said this at some length to encourage our own people and to instruct others, who are perhaps offended by our constancy and who do not think that we have definite and serious reasons for this constancy. Therefore let us not be moved when they make such a boast of their zeal for love and harmony. Whoever does not love God and His Word does not count for anything, regardless of what or how much he may love.

 

Accordingly, Paul warns both preachers and hearers with this statement not to think that the doctrine of faith is little or nothing and that we can play around with it according to our own desire. It is a sunbeam coming down from heaven to illuminate, brighten, and direct us. Just as the world with all its wisdom and power cannot bend the rays of the sun which are aimed directly from heaven to earth, so nothing can be taken away from or added to the doctrine of faith without entirely overthrowing it."
 
Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 5.9
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, continue to give us the grace of Your Word, even though we have never merited it. Amen.

 

For the members of altar guilds, that they would find joy in their labor at the altar and font of the church

 

For all those who are traveling during vacation times, that the Lord would keep them safe

 

For the staff members of Memorial Lutheran Church and School, that the Lord would grant wisdom to them

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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