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Ephesians
5:22-33

 
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
 
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)
We Believe in the Church
Friday After Pentecost
20 May 2016
St. Paul says that "we walk by faith, not by sight" (2Co 5:7). This principle of the Christian life could not be truer than in the doctrine of the church. The church is the holy bride of Christ cleansed by His holy and precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.
 
Though the church is wed to the King of righteousness and is cleansed by Him, the world sees her like the harlot who dons a wedding dress to gull customers into the price of her wantonness. She can't be holy, just look at what her members do! And if we judge by sight, that judgment is correct.
 
But we judge the bride of Christ not by sight, but by faith. And if so, she will have all the adornment that her Lord can lavish upon her: His righteousness, His holiness, and His redemption. Though she brings nothing but the poverty of her sin to the wedding feast, He fêtes her with the choicest of wines and the best of foods. She receives His body and His blood for the forgiveness of her sins and she lives by His life. She is holy because He makes her so, not because we see her to be so.

 

Martin Luther

"We should know and believe that the church is holy, but we are not to see it as such, since the article of faith says: 'I believe a holy church,' not, 'I see a holy church.' But if you want to judge by sight, you will see that it is sinful. You will see many, in fact, countless occasions for offense, brothers dominated by their passions ('passionate brothers,' as they are called), one person incited by impatience, another by anger, another in some other way. It is not written: 'I see a holy church,' but, 'I believe'; for it does not have its own righteousness but Christ's, who is its head. In that faith I perceive its holiness, which is a holiness that is believed and not one that is palpable or visible.
 
"However, I am saying these things at such length for our comfort against certain individuals, who when they see a little dirt on our body, marvelously exaggerate it: 'Look, these are the fruits of the Gospel!' and they say such things, while they themselves are completely leprous. They neither see nor are concerned about the dangerous abscesses and ulcers all over them, and in us they condemn even the smallest things. They say, 'Aren't these Christians to be condemned, in whom no special holiness is to be seen? They eat, drink, dress, and work the same as others.' To be sure, you should be able to see the true holiness of the church with your impure eyes! But if you can see nothing else, you can still see this, that there is not that bitter hatred among them that is to be found among the opposition. Furthermore, they have the pure Word; they study it and mutually comfort one another with the Word of Christ. They exercise other Christian duties that you do not see and are not fit to see, since the true fruits and certain marks of the church are hidden from the eyes of those of you who are very good at judging very small offenses but do not see the great miracles the church does. Is it not a great miracle that I can teach the Word and that another person can hear it and that this goes on against Satan's will and opposition? But they are not fit to see this." 

Martin Luther, Commentary on Psalm 45, 45.6
 
Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, King of righteousness and bride groom of the holy church, give us the humility to accept both your gifts by faith and the ridicule of the world by sight. Keep us from being offended because of the weakness of Your members and through Your Holy Spirit keep us steadfast in Your Word and truth that we might be covered in the gifts of Your righteousness. Amen.
 
For the members of the Board of Regents of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, who are travelling home from their meeting, that their ways would be safe and homecomings joyful
 
For graduates of Concordia Theological Seminary, who will be receiving degrees in graduation exercises today, that the Triune God would go with them wherever they will serve in the church
 
For all parents, that they might be strengthened in their vocation in bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord
Art: DYCK, Anthony van  Pentecost (1618-1620)

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