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"Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted  on the day of his fierce anger. From on high he sent fire; into my bones he made it descend; he spread a net for my feet; he turned me back; he has left me stunned, faint all the day long. My transgressions were bound into a yoke; by his hand they were fastened together; they were set upon my neck; he caused my strength to fail; the Lord gave me into the hands of those whom I cannot withstand. The Lord rejected all my mighty men in my midst; he summoned an assembly against me to crush my young men; the Lord has trodden as in a winepress the virgin daughter of Judah. For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my spirit; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed." (ESV)
Assume the Gospel?
Friday in Lent 3
4 March 2016
Sometimes we hear it said in church circles that we have the gospel settled and that what gives the church problems are all the other external things that seem to impede the growth of the church. The gospel then becomes the "assumed" thing. A pastoral conference speaker once opined, "Oh, well, we have the gospel. Let's get busy taking care of the other things." This assumption of the gospel gets us into a world of problems in the church and everyone knows what happens when we assume.
What would happen if the NASA Space Shuttle launch team just assumed that the external rocket tanks of the space shuttle booster were filled by someone else on the team? Without fuel the Space Shuttle is going nowhere, despite the fact that the rest of the spacecraft is a marvel of modern technology. If they would assume the fuel is there without deliberately loading the external tanks, the space shuttle becomes an enormous, beautiful, and expensive paper weight. The most important things can never be assumed.
The gospel is the fuel of the good ship Church. It cannot, must not, be assumed. The devil would be very pleased to lead us into the shame and vice of assuming the gospel. We cannot assume the gospel any more than we can assume our spouse knows we love them without telling them. Do other things need to be taken care of in a marriage? Yes, of course. Food has to be put on the table, children fed and clothed, the mortgage paid, and so on. But most of all love must not be assumed. So it is in the church, forgiveness, sacraments, holy absolution, preaching, and all the gifts of God must be the constant meat and drink of those whose life depends on these things. Everything the church is and does must be ordered to the delivery of these gifts. Let us reject this godless assuming, so that the gospel would always abide among us.


Martin Luther

"We believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is worked through the holy sacraments and absolution (Mt 26:28; Mk 1:4; Jn 20:23) and through all kinds of comforting promises from the entire gospel. Therefore, whatever ought to be preached about the sacraments belongs here [under the Third Article of the Creed]. In short, the whole gospel and all the offices of Christianity belong here, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. God's grace is secured through Christ (Jn 1:17), and sanctification is worked by the Holy Spirit through God's Word in the unity of the Christian Church. Yet because of our flesh, which we bear about with us, we are never without sin (Rm 7:23-24).
"Everything, therefore, in the Christian Church is ordered toward this goal: we shall daily receive in that Church nothing but the forgiveness of sin through the Word and signs, to comfort and encourage our consciences as long as we live here. So even though we have sins, the grace of the Holy Spirit does not allow them to harm us. For we are in the Christian Church, where there is nothing but continuous, uninterrupted forgiveness of sin. This is because God forgives us and because we forgive, bear with, and help one another (Gal 6:1-2)."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism, 2.54-55
Lord Christ, the most precious gifts are given to us through Your peace-filled speaking. Grant that the church would be busy about the things of the gospel, so that what forgives sins and gives life might never be assumed among us, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For Florence Brimberry, who is recovering from fall, that God the Lord would give her strength and healing
For pleasant spring weather, that we might give thanks to the Creator for His blessings to us
For those who have been on spring break this week, that it would be for them a time of rest and renewal

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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