We Err, He Forgives
Thursday of Pentecost 23
16 November 2017
Jesus warns us that false teachers will have no end of His name on their lips (Mt 7:21-23; 24:23): "Jesus told me this. Christ led me to do that." There is no guarantee that speaking the divine name will bring the truth. Only faithful teaching brings the true message of Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We recognize the true teacher when he teaches the truth, not merely makes the right sounds. The correct measurement of the teaching which sounds forth from the church must be made. Some years ago, NASA had a spectacular failure in one of its unmanned missions to Mars when it failed to reach the proper orbit above the Red Planet. After doing some research into the cause of the failure, NASA engineers discovered that some of the calculations for reaching the proper orbit had been done in US standard measurements and not converted back into the metric system, which was the method for the rest of the measurements for the orbital physics. When the measure is incorrect, the results can be disastrous.
 
Many people want to be able to measure their heavenly Father based on their own reason, will, or emotions. People will say, "God would never do...this or that," with no more basis for such an assertion than a whim or their own personal predilections. Such people are more than willing to give themselves the benefit of the doubt, while doubting God. "God will think just what I want Him to think." Such people no longer have a God, they have themselves and they call themselves "god." The first commandment is at stake. People will often treat God's eternal truth as their personal "take it or leave it" smorgasbord of doctrinal choices. When we have treated God's Word this way we have become our own gods.
 
This plays out in their presupposition that God will give them a pass on their evil lives. Usually, their self-deluding argument is a variation of "God is a loving God. He would never hold me strictly responsible for all my sins. After all, I have done the best I could. I am not as bad as other people." Uh-huh. God is loving indeed; so loving that He will not abandon you to your own pitiful best efforts. Instead, He has seen to your salvation only in the best efforts of the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ. He demands not an offering from you, but gives the righteousness of His blameless Son to you.
 
What shall we do when we find that we have devalued the precious blood of Jesus and his innocent suffering and death through dependence on our own works? What happens when we find out that we have been using the wrong measuring rod and have been found wanting? We need to confess our wickedness in God's presence. He will not cast us off forever (Ps 44:23). Those who err are always welcome in the home of their Father. We need to receive the righteousness of His Son. Let God be God. We err. He forgives.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"What are we going to say about our heretics and hypocrites, who hold nothing more common and trite in their mouths than Jesus Christ, the Son of God? It is not enough to say this with one's mouth. No, the Spirit is required. 'No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit,' as 1Co 12:3 declares. Therefore even though they say this with their mouths, yet in their hearts it is anathema. For they confess that they know God, but with their deeds they say no and, as 2Pt 2:1 states, 'denying the Master who bought them.' When they say that they are Christians, they attribute righteousness and salvation to their works, which they also sell to others. They deny the whole Christ and what Christ has achieved, namely, justification and salvation, and ascribe this to themselves.
 
"The sectarians do likewise. They deny the body and the blood of Christ, and in the matter of the Holy Supper they believe what they please. What displeases them, they reject. Accordingly, they call the Lord Jesus a curse. For He must be confessed in all deeds and words as the only Savior. He who denies Christ in one point necessarily denies Him everywhere. He who denies one article denies Christ. Therefore it is one thing to err, and it is something else to persist stubbornly and to deny. Augustine says, 'I shall be able to err, but I will not be a heretic.' Our sectarians simply persist in their empty opinions. Because of the flesh which we carry about we can err, but in the Spirit we must see to it that we do not persist in error when it has been recognized.
 
"Therefore, the holy fathers, who were also human beings themselves, must be read with discernment where they follow their own views. We know what we must follow. When our papists read Augustine, who ascribes everything to grace, they say that he said too much. As a result, Augustine has to this day not been accepted by the Roman Church. Everywhere among the teachers one must see how much of the Spirit there is in them. It is the Spirit if they sincerely confess Christ as the only Savior, not only in part but completely and everywhere, not only with the mouth but also with the heart itself. But where they stumble, they do not have this from the Spirit of God; but this is due to the flesh."

Martin Luther, Lectures on 1 John, 4.15
Matthew 24:1-28

As [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
 
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 
 
"So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, receive me back again into Your forgiveness that I might never depend on my own reason or righteousness in Your presence. When I err lead me to humble repentance that I might ever again receive Your righteousness and confess the foolishness of Your cross as true wisdom. Amen.
 
For Sheila Sovis, who has undergone eye surgery, that she would receive full and complete healing from the God who is the Light of the world
 
For members of the Council of Presidents who will be traveling, that they would safe travels and joyful homecomings
 
For Sophia Grace Benton, that she would continue to grow and be strengthened
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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