Reforming the Church?
Wednesday of Pentecost 5
22 June 2016
Those who are perishing do so because they do not love the truth (2Thess 2:10). The divine truth is set down for us by our gracious heavenly Father in the canonical Scriptures. It is impossible to love that heavenly Father without loving the Word of His truth. What would it mean if I said to my wife, "Honey, I love you. But I don't believe anything you tell me"? It would mean that I didn't love her at all, wouldn't it? If we claim to love God but reject what He tells us or attempt to improve upon it, fix it, or adjust it, then our claim is hollow. We wouldn't mean it at all, would we? Faith in the catholic truth presumes that we are willing to subordinate ourselves, our own thoughts, and our own ways to the Word of God (Is 55:10-11). This is what it means to let God be God.
 
In these latter days people are beginning to ask the question, "How can we renew the church?" Perhaps the question is wrongly put. The question should be, "How can our heavenly Father renew His church on earth?" If the church is to be revived from its supine state then only He can do it. He has promised to do it with the means that He has given the church in His life-giving Word. There can be no renewal of the church or reformation of her life and teaching apart from that Word. Only where there is a revival of the catholic truth as taught by Holy Scripture can there be any kind of reformation in faith and life. The church can only be reformed by the Word of God.
 
The Word of God demands that we be bound to its own speaking, because its speaking is the voice of God. We love what our church leaders teach, not because we love them, but because the teaching is from the Word of God. We oppose what our church leaders teach, not because we dislike them, but because what they say is not the catholic and universal truth. The Scripture is the received text which conveys the Christian truth to God's people. What does not come from Scripture is not the church's and is not God's voice. It is then genuinely loving to reject false teaching. By this rejection we love God whose truth is not ours to manipulate as we please. By this rejection we love our neighbor because false teaching is hurtful to him or her. The truth of Jesus Christ is our love. So we may not love ourselves and our own opinions more than the catholic and universal truth.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"As in all my writings I certainly desire not only a pious reader, but also a unrestricted corrector, so I especially desire this in the present inquiry, which is so important that I would like to have as many inquirers as there are objectors. But as I do not wish my reader to be bound to me, so I do not wish my corrector to be bound to himself. Let not the pious reader love me more than the catholic faith. Let not the corrector love himself more than the catholic truth. I say to the pious reader, do not be willing to yield to my writings as to the canonical Scriptures. But when you have discovered in the Scriptures what you did not previously believe, believe it unhesitatingly.
 
While in my writings, unless you have understood with certainty what you did not before hold as certain, be unwilling to hold it fast. I say to the corrector, do not be willing to amend my writings by your own opinion or disputation, but from the divine text, or by unanswerable reason. If you apprehend anything of truth in them, its being there does not make it mine, but by understanding and loving it, let it be both yours and mine. But if you detect any falsehood, though it had once been mine, in that I was guilty of the error, now by avoiding it let it be neither yours nor mine."

Augustine On the Trinity
, 3.1
Hebrews 13:7-19

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 
 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.(ESV)
Prayer
Dear heavenly Father, You have given the catholic truth to us sinners through the canonical Scriptures. Grant through Your Holy Spirit that we would read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest Scripture, that by patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we might hold fast and love the truth and finally be saved. Amen.
 
For the family of Joy Campbell, whom our Lord Jesus Christ has taken to the bosom of Abraham, that they would rejoice in the triumph of Christ over death
 
For newly re-elected President Matthew C. Harrison of the LCMS, that he would be loved by us because he proclaims the catholic truth
 
For Olivia Taylor, who will be undergoing hip surgery, that Lord who is the great Physician would grant her healing and a full recovery
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
Sent by smurray@mlchouston.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact