From the Disk of the Pastor November 2009
Dear Friends in Christ,
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19 ESV) These words of Christ take on new importance in our day. We are beset on all sides by false teachers. This was illustrated on a recently aired edition of the radio program “The White Horse Inn”. They sent their producer out on to the floor of the National Christian Booksellers convention. He interviewed a number of people at random. Now remember that these are Christian authors, publishers, editors and the like. These are supposed to be people who are very knowledgeable about the Christian faith. Virtually none of the people interviewed believed that we are saved by grace. When asked if the human heart was essentially good, 100% of those interviewed said yes it is. Yet, what does Christ say comes out of our hearts? Sin! In fact the deeper we delve into our hearts, the more sins we find. I have often pointed out that maturity of faith is the recognition of our own sins. The more truly mature we are in our faith, the more fully we see our own sins. The more fully we see our own sins, the more fully we see what Christ has done for us in His death and resurrection.
The founders of the Missouri Synod included men like Walther, Wyneken, Craemer and Sihler. Looking at their writings is insightful. One of the points to focus upon is who did they write against? Did they write against Rome? No. Not too much. In fact when later generations of the LCMS started to get fixated on Rome, it is a reflection of a degeneration in their thought process. The founders used the most ink writing against other Lutherans who had departed from our historic teachings. That makes sense because you always respond to those closest to us. But what about outside of Lutheranism? They wrote extensively against the Methodists. They wrote extensively against revivalism. In fact the first constitution of the LCMS, in 1847, banned the practice of revivalism. What were their beefs against the Methodists? Preaching to the emotions rather than instructing people in the word of God. Preaching work righteousness. And not conducting responsible missions - that is not focusing on forming local congregations and placing pastors in pulpits.
Where are these same ideas today? Methodism today is dominated by liberalism and no longer looks much like it did in 1847. So where do we find these same ideas today? In popular, megachurch, evangelicalism. Most of American evangelicalism believes that we are saved by our own works. It further teaches that if we are good enough, God will bless us with material wealth. So wealth is seen as a reflection of how tight we are with God. Yet, what is in our hearts? What did Christ say? Sin. We can never be good enough. Wealth is not a reflection of God’s blessing. Wealth may even be a curse. Yet, people eat up the teaching of the megachurch evangelical pastors. Why? St. Paul has the answer for us in II Timothy 4: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Men like to hear that we can save ourselves. So they are drawn to preachers who will confirm this. We don’t like to admit that we are sinners. But it is a myth - a lie. The preaching of this lie is as popular as ever. The problem is we are not good, deep down. We are sinners, from the depths of our hearts. We cannot save ourselves. Thanks be to God, that in Jesus Christ, we are given forgiveness and salvation as a free gift apart from anything we have done or even could do.
Rev. Jody Walter
Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:104-105