Full Text for Unchanging Truth in Changing Times: The Complete Collection of the What About Pamphlets (Text)

Unchanging Truth in Changing TimesThe Complete Collectionof the What About Pamphlets© 2001 The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodThe OfÞce ofthe PresidentNote:permission is granted to copy this book,or any part ofit,as long as there is no sale ofthe copied material and no change in content.PrefaceThe What About pamphlets are anchored in the unchanging truth ofGodÕs Holy Word and the faithful exposition ofthat Word provided in the Lutheran Confessions.Unchanging truth in changing times is precisely what these summariesofChristian doctrine are all about.When President Barry issued the Þrst four What About pamphlets in 1996,little did herealize how popular they would prove to be.Twelve million copies later,they continue to be used throughout the English-speaking world in churches and schools,parish meeting rooms,small-group Bible studies and in private homes.They arefound in hospitals and nursing homes,colleges,universities and seminaries.Military chaplains use them around the worldon board ships and at various military installations.Prison chaplains have used them in state and federal facilities.Theyare used in parish evangelism programs and a wide variety ofcommunity events.More uses for the What About pam-phlets have been found than were imagined by President Barry when he Þrst thought ofproducing them.When the What About series began,hundreds ofparish pastors were asked,ÒIfyou could have some clear doctrinalpamphlets to give people as you go about your ministry,what would be helpful?ÓThe response to that question providedus with the titles in this series.You will notice that the What About series begins with the most important issue ofall:theGospel,followed by one on the Bible.These two are followed by a series on the six chiefparts ofLutherÕs Small Catechism,encouraging the reader always to return to this foundational confession ofthe Lutheran Church.The rest ofthe WhatAbout series present briefstatements on key doctrinal and ethical issues.A number oftitles ofthe What About series weredevoted to anti-Christian cults and groups,the JehovahÕs Witnesses,Mormonism and Islam.President Barry was keenly interested in whatwas said in these pamphlets and howit was said.No matter where hetraveled in the Synod,the subject ofhis What About pamphlets was sure to come up.He received countless expressions ofthanks from laypeople and pastors alike who told him how much the church needed these clear,to-the-point expressionsofChristian truth.Some ofthe most appreciative comments received came from pastors in other churches.For example,a pastor from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wrote a letter to the Lutheran Witnessfollowing the special issuedevoted to Dr.BarryÕs death.Many ofus in the ELCA greatly appreciated Dr.Alvin L.Barry.I especially admired the way in which he was able toexplain divisive doctrinal and social issues in his many,ÒWhat AboutÓpamphletsÑthe one on ÒThe DifferencesBetween the ELCA and the LCMS,Ófor example.In producing this material,he proved to be an outstanding com-municator on behalfofhis Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.He always combined pastoral sensitivity and precision ofterminology with uncompromising faithfulness to our Lutheran Confessions,as they are fully based on HolyScripture.By GodÕs grace,Dr.Barry was a true teacher and pastor for GodÕs people in our time! Soli Deo Gloria.(Letter to the Lutheran Witness,July 2001,p.4).It is important that the Marvin M.Schwan Charitable Foundation be recognized and thanked for providing the fundsthat made it possible to distribute the What About pamphlets for free to all those who requested them.The SchwanFoundationÕs support,encouragement and devotion to faithful,genuine Lutheranism has proven to be such a blessing toThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod and many other Lutheran entities and agencies throughout the world.This book has been designed to provide the user with the What About pamphlets in a camera-ready format.This is abook that is intended to be copied! Permission to copy is given,with the stipulation that no copies be sold,but always dis-tributed for free.The blessing ofthe Holy Trinity,the Father,the Son and the Holy Spirit,attend all who use these faithful expressions ofunchanging truth in changing times.Rev.Paul T.McCainAugust 2001iWalk into any large bookstore and you will Þnd walls ofbooks about personal enlightenment,pop-psychology,self-help,self-improvement,meditation,Eastern religions,andthe ever-popular subject ofspirituality.Many people aresearching for truth today.They try to Þnd it by peeringwithin themselves,trying to Þnd meaning in the ßeetingemotions they work so hard to experience from one day tothe next.Too many try to Þnd meaning and purpose in thevery things that will only continue to let them down:plea-sure,power or possessions.We are constantly tempted tolook for truth in the wrong places.We confess that at timeswe have not only looked in the wrong places,but believed thelies we found there.We are following in the footsteps ofourÞrst parents who doubted GodÕs Word and thus fell into sin,plunging all the world into the darkness ofsin and death.Where then is the truth? What is it? How may it be found?What Is Truth?PilateÕs question,ÒWhat is truth?Ódemands an answer.Truth that lasts,truth that changes us forever,is found onlyin the One who is truth incarnate:Jesus ofNazareth.Jesussaid,ÒI am the way,the truth,and the lifeÓ(John 14:6).Thisbold claim has scandalized peoples ofall times and all placesever since that small group ofJesusÕÞrst followers took Hismessage out from the city ofJerusalem,into the surround-ing lands ofJudea and Samaria,and then to the uttermostparts ofthe world.This great mission task continues to thisvery day and hour.The apostles and the Þrst disciples werebeaten,tortured and killed by various groups that rejectedtheir message as utter foolishness and profoundly offensive.The same thing continues to today whenever this message isdeclared:All human beings are sinful.From the moment ofourconception,we are at war with God and enemies ofGod.Weare slaves ofour sinful desires,thoughts and actions.We des-perately need GodÕs forgiveness,which He gives,freely andcompletely,through Jesus,His Son.Jesus was true God andtrue Man,born ofa virgin in the land ofPalestine.He lived alife in complete obedience to GodÕs will,thus doing for uswhat we can never do.He was executed on the Romaninstrument oftorture and death,the cross.His death was theatoning sacriÞce for the sins ofthe entire world.His bloodcleanses us from our sins,all ofthem.Jesus came out ofthegrave alive after three days,conÞrming and demonstratingHis absolute and Þnal victory over sin,death and all theforces ofSatanic evil.God the Holy Spirit calls us to trust and believe that weare forgiven by God through Jesus Christ and thus we receivethe gift ofeternal life forever in heaven.Our Lord cares andguides and leads us throughout this life,sustaining and nur-turing us through His Word and Sacraments.Christ Jesusreplaces our cold,stony hearts ofunbeliefwith living heartsthat trust in Him and express that faith in thankful service toothers.This message,this good news,is the heart and soul ofChristianity.It is still disregarded and even violently resistedin many parts ofthe world.It runs contrary to the commonopinion that human beings are basically good,with the abil-ity to save themselves through their own efforts.Ironically,never has this good news message been proclaimed withoutcausing division,conßict and turmoil.Jesus Himselfsaid,ÒBlessed are you when men hate you,and ostracize you,andcast insults at you,and spurn your name as evil,for the sakeofthe Son ofMan.Be glad in that day,and leap for joy,forbehold,your reward is great in heaven;for in the same waytheir fathers used to treat the prophetsÓ(Luke 6:22Ð23).The Growth ofthe Church and the Scandal ofDivisionJesusÕfollowers moved through the known world oftheirday,starting congregations ofChristian believers every-IntroductionUnchanging Truth in Changing Timesby Paul T.McCainJesus said,ÒFor this I was born,and for this I have come into the world,to bearwitness to the truth.Everyone who is ofthe truth hears my voice.ÓPilate said to him,ÒWhat is truth?Ó(John 18:37-38).iiiwhere they went.These congregations were led by men whowere given the task ofcontinuing to hand down the teach-ings ofJesus Christ by proclaiming His forgiveness throughpreaching and teaching His Word and administering HisSacraments.These small congregations ofbelievers drewpeople from all walks oflife into a living and active faith,expressing itselfin works oflove with the goal ofbearingwitness to Jesus their Lord.From the very early days,false teachers arose within thechurch,twisting and distorting the teachings ofChrist,eitheradding something to the Word ofGod or trying to takesomething away.With each false teaching,the church had theopportunity to speak the truth clearly.When ÞnallyChristianity was legalized in the fourth century,the churchfaced new pressures and challenges that came with ofÞcialtoleration and then even popularity among the people whorecognized the social,economic and political beneÞts ofbeing a part ofthe church.Sadly,in 1054 A.D.,there was amajor split between the churches ofthe West and thechurches ofthe East,a division that remains to this day.For the next Þve centuries the Western Christian churchendured various storms and crises,attempting to preservethe faith in times ofintellectual decline and cultural chaos,but always moving the Gospel out among peoples in theworld who had never heard it.A profound error was made bythe church when it located its authority and power in theperson ofthe Bishop ofRome.The Pope,as he came to beknown,claimed to be the one,and only one,who could speakas God Himself,setting himself,as it were,in the very templeofGod,ordering and enacting regulations and insisting onteachings that were never given to the church by her Lordand His apostles (1 Tim.4:1-3;2 Thess.4:3-4).During the Middle Ages,the good news about JesusChrist and the teachings ofGodÕs Word became increasinglyobscured under layers ofpapal doctrine.The people ofthechurch were plunged ever further into superstitious dark-ness.They could not even understand the worship servicesince it was recited in a language they did not know.Therewere pockets here and there ofquality Christian teaching,but for the most part,the common people were headed everfurther into the darkness ofignorance about the most basictruths ofthe Christian faith.Efforts to reform the directionand leadership ofthe church during the later Middle Agesmet with only minimally lasting results.What was a neededwas a sweeping renewal and rediscovery ofthe the coreteachings ofthe church,drawn from,and founded on,theApostolic and Prophetic Scriptures.The Gospel had to cometo light again in the church.During the 16th century,MartinLuther and his followers were intent not on starting a newchurch,but in reforming the existing church and bringing itback to its Gospel center.They were eventually expelled fromthe Roman Catholic Church and therefore had to standagainst it,forming what would become known as theLutheran Church.The Lutheran reformers realized that as long as Romecontinued to insist on false teaching,the Gospel was beingneglected,forgotten or set aside.It had been replaced withteachings that elevated manÕs ability to work to earn GodÕsfavor and love,thus always throwing man back onto himself,making him either hopeless,or self-righteous,and in eithercase ignorant ofthe comfort and promise ofChrist.Theyacknowledged and thanked God that,in spite oferror,Hehad preserved His Word and the message ofthe Gospel.Theyknew that there were Christians in the Roman CatholicChurch.The same is true today,among not only the RomanChurch,but among all erring churches.People sometimesignorantly accuse faithful Lutherans ofbelieving that they,and they alone,are the only Christians in the world.Nothingcould be further from the truth.Unfortunately,at the same time that the LutheranReformation was bringing the Gospel to light again,therearose various erring Protestant splinter groups,which led tothe bewildering number ofdenominations today.The vari-ous Protestant churches all trace their origins to either theso-called ÒReformedÓchurch,or the more radical groupsfrom the days ofthe Reformation,with a variety ofsplintergroups originating from these Reformation-era churches.The number ofdenominations and various sub-groupingswithin denominations strikes the outside observer as hope-lessly confusing,and indeed,the divisions in Christendomare scandalous.Though it is relatively easy to explain the var-ious denominations with a briefreview ofchurch historysimilar to this one,the scandal ofChristian division remainsreal and offensive.It is not what our Lord intends for Hispeople.But is the solution to be found in the trends we noticetoday? A pell-mell rush into various ecumenical agreementsand declarations ofÒfull communion?ÓNo.Equally as scandalous as the divisions withinChristendom are attempts to resolve the differences betweenChristians on the basis ofwhat is known as Òreconcileddiversity.ÓMany ecumenical agreements today are based onan agreement to disagree about teachings ofGodÕs Word.Better is the approach followed by those churches that areintent on upholding Christian truth:honest expression ofdisagreement with the intention ofbearing witness to thetruth ofGodÕs Word and working toward actual agreement,ivIntroduction: Unchanging Truth in Changing Timesand,where this is not possible,refusing to express a fellow-ship in the Gospel and all its articles that does not exist (see1 Cor.1:10 and Rom.16:17).The Greatest Threat to the Church TodayOvershadowing all these issues today is a near-totalcapitulation to the worldview ofliberal theology that we Þndin many ofthe so-called ÒmainlineÓchurches.It has resultedin a skepticism about any speciÞc truth claims and a rejec-tion ofthe insistence that there is one,and only one,savingtruth,found and located in Jesus Christ alone.This trend hasworked its way deeply into all major church bodies,Catholicand Protestant alike.What many well-intentioned laypeopledo not realize is that in many Christian denominations,including the larger Lutheran churches in the United Statesand around the world,the Bible is no longer regarded asactually being GodÕs Word.Readers should know that TheLutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod continues to insist thatthe Scriptures arethe Word ofGod,infallible and inerrant.The miracles ofboth Old and New Testament are consid-ered by many theologians and pastors within liberalchurches to be largely Þctional accounts.The events in thelife ofour Lord recorded in the Gospels are not considered tobe factual,but rather myths created and repeated by the ÞrstChristians to overcome their dismay about the death oftheirleader,Jesus.Other scholars,in an attempt to modify suchradical views,today emphasize that the factuality oftheBiblical accounts is not the issue,but rather what those textsmean to the reader.According to this view ofthe Bible,thefactuality ofthe texts are not the point,but rather theresponse these texts,true or not,elicit from the reader.TheBible becomes authoritative only in a way similar to theauthority we would attribute to any ancient legend or myththat has the power to move us to beliefand action.LetÕs take but one example ofhow the predominant lib-eral view ofthe Bible results in ecumenical agreementsbased on agreement to disagree.For example,why shouldthere be any church-divisive disagreements today aboutJesusÕwords,ÒThis is my bodyÓand ÒThis is my bloodÓifwecan no longer be certain Jesus actually said these things? Ifwe do not believe that Christ actually said these words,thereis no point in letting disagreement about them stand in theway offull communion.And the same principle works itselfout in many areas ofChristian teaching.Churches today that have compromised the faith byrejecting the historic truths ofthe Bible,tolerate and evenpraise false teachers in their midst.We notice many symp-toms ofthis:toleration ofthe murder ofunborn childrenthrough abortion,the acceptance and even advocacy ofhomosexual relationships,the ordination ofwomen andnow even homosexual clergy,and so forth.While theseissues may receive the most attention in the media,theyremain symptoms ofa much deeper problemÑdoubt aboutthe reliability and truthfulness ofHoly Scripture,GodÕsWord.Confronting the Challenges TodayThese are the changing times in which we today live.Wemay wish to hide ourselves from this reality,or pretend thatit is not so,but ifwe do,we are only deceiving ourselves.Morethan ever do we need GodÕs unchanging truth.Christianswho want to remain faithful to GodÕs Word must actuallylearn and study the doctrines ofthe Bible,acquaint them-selves with the basics ofchurch history,and become familiarwith modern trends and current issues facing the church.They need to receive high-quality and in-depth instructionin Christian truth from their pastors and other church work-ers.Faithful parents need to work carefully with their chil-dren,and by prayer and meditation on GodÕs Word,teachthem the basic truths ofthe Christian faith,using LutherÕsSmall Catechism.Lutheran laypeople need again to becomefamiliar with the Book ofConcord,thus coming to knowwhat it is to be a genuinely confessional Lutheran.People are hungry for substance in their spiritual lives.They may not be able to articulate precisely what that sub-stance is,but they are hungry for itÑparticularly youngerpeople.Many ofthem have had enough with the emptyentertainment ofpopular culture.They are not impressed byattempts to mimic this culture.They are looking for authen-tic spiritual reality,not an imitation ofTV culture.Churchesofthe so-called ÒmainlineÓcontinue their rapid decline inlarge part because there is Þnally no reason for them to existifthey can not offer anything much different than can befound in any social club or organization devoted to charityand friendship.When churches are no longer willing or ableto say with certainty that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son ofGod,the second person ofthe Holy Trinity,born ofa virginmother,and that His death was the sacriÞce for the entireworldÕs sin,and that he did truly bodily rise from the dead,there is no point in proclaiming Him at all.The world does-nÕt need a spiritual master,an enlightened teacher,or a goodrole model and leader.It needs a savior from sin and deathand hell.The world needs Jesus Christ.Truth liberates.Lies enslave.To reject ChristÕs truth is tobecome a slave to ignorance,fear,sin,and death.This slaveryresults Þnally in separation from God in hell,forever undervIntroduction: Unchanging Truth in Changing TimesHis judgment and condemnation.But there is freedom.OurLord promises us,ÒIfyou continue in My Word,you are trulymy disciples,and you shall know the truth and the truthshall set you freeÓ(John 8:31-32).Churches are under enor-mous pressure,even churches that wish to be and remaingenuinely historic,confessing Lutheran churches.The pres-sure comes from from outside the church,but also fromwithin.Our Lord warned us against false teachers,ÒBewareofthe false prophets,who come to you in sheepÕs clothing,but inwardly are ravenous wolvesÓ(Matt.7:15).How do we resist pressures on the Lutheran church tocompromise and water down its insistence on the Biblicaltruths that have been confessed since the time oftheReformation? We resist these pressures by remaining Þrmlyanchored in the truths ofGodÕs Word,the Holy Scriptures.The stormier the times,the more the need for a stronganchor to hold us fast to GodÕs Word.The LutheranConfessions are that anchor.The Lutheran confessors them-selves understood this when they wrote in the introductionto the Book ofConcord of1580:The most acute and urgent necessity demands thatin the face ofso many invasive errors,aggravatedscandals,dissensions,and protracted divisions aChristian explanation and accord ofall the disputesthat have arisen come into beingÑone well foundedin GodÕs Word and one according to which the pureteaching will be differentiated from the false andeverything will not be left free and open to restless,contentious people,who do not want to be bound toany Þxed form ofpure teaching so as to excite scan-dalous disputes at will and to introduce and defendabsurd errors from which can only result that in theend right teaching will be entirely obscured and lostand that nothing else will be transmitted to futuregenerations than uncertain opinions and dubious,disputable imaginations and viewsÓ(Preface to theBook ofConcord,paragraph 22,Kolb/Wengert,p.14).The Þrst Lutherans learned that deÞnitive statements ofChristian doctrine are necessary in order to keep the churchÞrmly Þxed on the Word ofGod.Every generation ofLutherans must learn that lesson as well.GodÕs Word movesLutheran Christians to say with joyful conÞdence and allboldness,ÒThis we believe,teach and confessÓand also tosay,ÒThis we reject and condemn.ÓThis twofold aspect ofconfessing GodÕs Word,declaring the truth and rejectingerror,characterizes all who desire to remain genuinelyLutheran.Patient Joy and Calm StrengthWe dare never give in to a tendency that has become alltoo common in some circles.When we see the great chal-lenges that lie before us,we are tempted to despair andindulge in self-pity and hand-wringing.Though we arealways on vigilant watch,and though we do realize theurgency ofthe mission task our Lord has given,we go aboutour various callings in life with patient joy,and with calmstrength.Why? Because we know that the Lord whom weserve is always praying for His church,is always with us,andwill always guide,guard and govern His church on earth.With King Jehoshaphat we are comforted by GodÕs promise,ÒDo not be afraid or discouraged ...for the battle is notyours,but the LordÕsÓ(2 Chron.20:15).Therefore,the ÒpanicmodeÓthat seems to grip some concerned Christians is notwhat our Lord desires for His people.We are ever realistic,never pessimistic.We are marked by the joy ofthe Lord,which remains our strength.In that strengthÑin HisstrengthÑwe move ahead patiently and carefully,faithful toScripture and the Lutheran Confessions,eagerly engaged inthe churchÕs great mission task.For people searching for spiritual renewal,Christ givesnew birth through the washing ofwater with the Word inHoly Baptism.For those seeking a personal relationship withGod,Christ gives His body and blood,under the bread andwine,for forgiveness,life and salvation.For those strugglingwith the burden ofguilt,Christ speaks the sure and certainword ofabsolution.For those who feel lost,without direc-tion,and without hope,the Lord comes to them throughpreaching and teaching and meditation on the HolyScriptures,which are like a refreshing stream ofcool water,atrue lamp in the darkness oflife.While many search for spiritual direction,seeminglyfrom every self-help guru who appears on the afternoon talkshows,our Lord continues to send faithful pastors who shep-herd,lead and care for ChristÕs church with His Word andSacraments.In an era ofremarkable advances in communi-cation technology,people feel more lonely and isolated thanever before.Here again,they Þnd what they are looking for inthe LordÕs church.Together,as brothers and sisters ofourLord,they bear one anotherÕs burdens,weeping with thosewho weep,rejoicing with those who rejoice.They care for oneanother,loving even as He has loved us.Resting beneath allthese treasures and gifts lies GodÕs unchanging truth inChrist,which all Christians are given to share and proclaim.There is truth.God has revealed it.God has given itthrough His Word,which never can err or deceive.There aremany truth claims competing for our attention,but only OneviIntroduction: Unchanging Truth in Changing Timeswho ever claimed to be thetruth (John 14:6).Him we praiseand honor.Him we serve and obey.Him we follow and onHim our hope is built.Jesus Christ is the same,yesterday,today and forever.And so,with sure and certain hope,grounded and rooted in His life,death and resurrection,weproclaim Jesus Christ to be the One who has smashed apartSatanÕs chains that held us captive as a result ofsin,setting usfree to be His people,serving Him now and forever.To Himbe all praise,honor and glory,who with the Father,and theSpirit,reigns ever one God,world without end.Amen.viiIntroduction: Unchanging Truth in Changing TimesThe GospelWhat About . . . Greetings to you in the name ofour Lord Jesus Christ.This pamphlet has been prepared to show you howmuch we need the Gospel,why it is such good news,how we receive it and how we respond to it.Why do we need the Gospel?We cannot really understand how good the message oftheGospel is until we understand how bad our situation is withoutit.We are poor miserable sinners.We sin daily and deservenothing but GodÕs wrath and punishment.Without Jesus Christ,our situation would be totally hopeless.The Scriptures describe human beings as dead intrespasses and sin.Without the mercy and cleansing ofGodthrough the blood ofJesus Christ,there awaits for us only everlasting punishment in hell.Thus,we need the GospelÑdesperately!What is the Gospel?The word ÒgospelÓis a translation ofa Greek word thatmeans,Òan announcement ofgood news.ÓThe Gospel is thegood news that God the Holy Trinity decided not to abandonhumanity when Adam and Eve Þrst fell into sin.God decidedthen and there that sin and death would not have the last word.He promised to send a Savior.When the time was right,God sent His Son into our worldto be born ofthe Virgin Mary.Our Lord Jesus Christ lived a perfect life for us.On the cross,He received the penalty andpunishment for the sins ofthe whole world,offering Himselfasthe perfect sacriÞce for sin.Jesus rose from the dead,victoriousover our ancient enemies:sin,death and the devil.Therefore,each Christian is able with great joy and conÞ-dence to declare before the whole world:ÒMy Lord Jesus Christhas redeemed me,a lost and condemned person,purchasedand won me from all sins,from death,and from the power ofthe devil;not with gold or silver,but with His holy,preciousblood and with His innocent suffering and death.ÓWhat glorious good news! The one,true eternal and all-powerful God came into our world to live,suffer,die and riseagain for us.We,who are unholy and unrighteous,receive theforgiveness ofall our sins and thus receive the perfect holinessand righteousness ofChrist our SaviorÑas a free giftÑpurelybecause ofHis love for us.That is good news! That is theGospel!How do we receive this great salvation in our lives today?How do we personally receive the forgiveness Christ wonfor the entire world? How does what happened on the crossnearly 2,000 years ago ßow into our lives today?Here too there is very good news.God,through His Gospel,offers us forgiveness and help against sin in more than one way.God is surpassingly rich in His grace.He gives His Gospel to usthrough His Word,through Baptism,through the Sacrament ofthe Altar,and through confession and absolution.These are theways God enters our lives today to apply to us personally thegreat salvation Christ won for the world.The Holy Spirit works through the Word ofthe Gospel tocreate and sustain faith in our heart that Christ is the Savior ofthe world,and thus our Savior too.The Bible is the Word ofGod,written down for our learning and ediÞcation.The Scripturesare Þlled with the good news ofJesus Christ and all that He hasdone for us.Through the almighty,Spirit-Þlled Word,God gath-ers us into His church,which is truly the mother that begets andbears every Christian through the Word ofGod.The Holy Spiritis present,effective and active through the Word when it is pro-claimed,heard and meditated upon.The Sacrament ofHoly Baptism is water included in GodÕscommand and combined with GodÕs Word;or as St.Paul saysin Holy Scripture,ÒThe washing ofwater with the word.ÓThrough Baptism,we are made partakers ofChristÕs death andresurrection.Therefore,we know that Baptism works forgive-ness ofsins,rescues from death and the devil,and gives eternallife to all who believe.Since Baptism is connected to the Wordand promise ofGod,it is truly a life-giving water,rich ingraceÑa washing ofthe new birth in the Holy Spirit.Christ has provided a special application ofthe Gospelthrough confession and absolution.Confession is admittingour sins to God and receiving His forgiveness from our pastor,as from God Himself,not doubting,but Þrmly believing that byit our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.Thus,by divineordinance,Christ Himselfhas entrusted absolution to hisChristian church and commanded us to absolve one anotherfrom sins.The LordÕs Supper is the true body and blood ofour LordJesus Christ,under the bread and wine,instituted by ChristHimself,for us Christians to eat and to drink.In the LordÕsSupper,ChristÕs body and blood are given to us as our treasureWhat About the Gospel?and gift which sustains our faith and life in Him.Ifyou areheavy-laden and feel your weakness,go joyfully to theSacrament and receive refreshment,comfort and strength.Those who want to be forgiven by God and who want toenjoy His presence in their lives,hunger and thirst for the Wordand Sacraments.With the Psalmist we say,ÒMy soul thirsts forGod,for the living God.When can I go and meet with God?ÓGod has provided the means to receive Him.So,Christianshunger and thirst for GodÕs Word,absolution,the Sacrament,etc.We have the certainty that God meets us and gives us whatwe need in His means ofgrace.The forgiveness Christ won for the world on the cross is applied to us personally by God through His Word and Sacraments.What a joy for us toknow that where there is forgiveness ofsins,there is also lifeand salvation.Thus,we believe that we cannot,by our own reason orstrength,believe in Jesus Christ our Lord,or come to Him;butthe Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel,enlightens us with Hisgifts,sanctiÞes and keeps us in the true faith.In the same way,He calls,gathers,enlightens and sanctiÞes the whole Christianchurch on earth,and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one truefaith.In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all ofour sins,and the sins ofall believers.How does God cause us to respond to His Gospel?We love God because He Þrst loved us.Our Lord is at workin us both to will and to do what is pleasing to Him.Christianslook to the Ten Commandments to know what is pleasing toGod and wish to serve Him in gratitude for the great salvationthat is theirs in Christ.From the Word ofGod we learn that God wants us to putHim Þrst,above any other person or thing,to respect His nameand not misuse it,to hear and obey His Word.Children are tohonor and obey their parents and others in authority.We are tolook out for the welfare ofothers,doing nothing to hurt or harmour neighbor.We are to live sexually pure and decent lives,withhusbands and wives loving and honoring each another.In look-ing out for our neighborÕs welfare and helping him to improveand protect his property and business,we are also to take carenot to lie about our neighbor,but to help,support and defendhim in every need,and,Þnally,we are to be content with whatwe have been given,and not want what is not ours.What a joyful privilege we have to serve God and others! Hegives us the opportunity to bear witness to our faith throughboth our words and our deeds.How is the Gospel obscured?The Gospel is obscured by well-intentioned people whowant to encourage a life ofgood works,and end up makingChristians think that it is by their works that they are saved.This is a great danger.Through His Word and Sacraments,Jesus is constantly working in our lives to forgive our sins andstrengthen our relationship with God.God always receives thecredit for our salvation.He is the one working in us.This is notsomething we can do.Our good works are the result ofGodÕslove in our hearts and lives.Our good works in this life do not save us,only Christ saves us.Works serve our neighbor and show to the world that we are grateful for GodÕs mercy inour lives.Another way the Gospel can be obscured is when too muchemphasis is put on an emotional response to the Gospel.SomeChristians believe that unless they have some sort ofecstatic,charismatic experience,or feel some sort ofÒspiritual high,Óthey are not really Christians.It is truly sad that some peoplelook into their own hearts for the security that they are childrenofGod,instead ofputting their hope and trust in the objectivework ofChrist for them,and in the means God uses to come tothemÑHis Word and Sacraments.Ifwe Þnd ourselves beginning to ask,ÒAm I doingenough?Óor thinking,ÒIt doesnÕt matter what I do,for God willforgive me anyway,Óthen we are at risk oflosing Christ and Hisforgiveness.We look always to Jesus and put our hope and trustin Him.He is our Savior.And,thatÕs good news!All blessing,honor,thanks and praise to Father,Son andSpirit,the God who saved us by His grace.All glory to Hismerit! O triune God in heaven above,you have revealed yoursaving love.Your blessed name we hallow.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodGreetings in the name ofour Lord Jesus Christ.The Biblecontinues to be the best selling book ofall time.Throughout the ages,the Bible has provided inspira-tion,comfort and guidance to those who have read it.But is theBible merely an inspirational book? It is this,but so much more!LetÕs spend a few moments reviewing some importanttruths about the Bible.What is the Bible?The word ÒBibleÓis from a Greek word that means Òbook.ÓWhat is this Ògood bookÓ? That question has a two-partanswer.First,the Bible is actually a collection ofbooksÐ66 ofthemto be exactÐfrom the Þrst book,Genesis,to the last,Revelation.These books cover thousands ofyears and were written ineither Hebrew,Aramaic or Greek.There are many differentkinds ofwriting in the Bible:historical narrative,prophecy,poetry,speeches,letters and so on.From a merely human perspective,there is no question that the Bible is a masterpieceofliterature.Second,the much more important answer to the question,ÒWhat is the Bible?Óis this:The Bible is the Word ofGod.TheBible is the collection ofthe thoughtsÐeven the verywordsÐthat God gave to the authors ofthe Biblical books.TheBible is a gift God has given to His church.It is not a collectionofancient fables and myths.The Bible is the sure and certainmeans that God the Holy Spirit uses to communicate GodÕsWord to us today.How did we receive the Bible?The Bible itselfexplains how we received it.ÒAll Scripture isGod-breathed and is useful for teaching,rebuking,correctingand training in righteousnessÓ(2 Tim.3:16).We read else-where that,ÒProphecy never had its origin in the will ofman,but men spoke from God as they were carried along by theHoly SpiritÓ(2 Pet.1:21).Because people knew that the Bible was the actual Word ofGod,it was copied and re-copied with painstaking care andattention to detail,letter by letter,word by word.Though todaywe no longer possess the actual,original text ofthe Bible,wecan be certain that the Holy Spirit has preserved the Word ofGod for us.Careful study ofthe many thousands ofcopies ofthe New Testament reveals that though there are minor differ-ences between the various copies,there is no place where anykey teaching ofthe Bible is contradicted.Our English Bibles are translations from the original languages.When we use reliable translations,we can be surethat we have the true Word ofGod.Whatever the Word ofGodis in Hebrew,Aramaic or Greek,it is also the Word ofGod inEnglish,or in any other language,as long as the translation isfaithful to the original languages.Reliable translations includethe King James Version,the New King James Version,the oldRevised Standard Version,the New International Version andthe New American Standard Bible.Why is the Bible so important?Someone may say,ÒThe Bible is important to me becauseit tells me what to doÓand another person might say,ÒThe oldstories remind me ofmy childhoodÓor ÒThe Bible is a guide-book for daily living.ÓThese answers all have a grain oftruth,but they miss the real reason why the Bible is so important:Itis the sure and certain source for knowing who Jesus Christ isand what He has done for us.Jesus said,ÒThe Scriptures testify about meÓ(John 5:39).The main message ofthe Bible is the good news ofGodÕs workto reconcile the world to Himselfthrough the life,death andresurrection ofJesus.Throughout Old and New Testaments,the central message ofthe Scripture is the account ofhow Godwas in the world preparing it to receive His Son and then whatHis Son did when He was here.It also tells how the churchreceived this glorious message ofsalvation,and how it grewand spread throughout the known world.Luther once com-pared the Bible to the swaddling clothes the baby Jesus waswrapped in.Thus the Bible is Christ-centered.Our Lord Jesus said,ÒIfyou remain in my Word,truly youare my disciplesÓ(John 8:31).The divine authority and relia-bility ofthe Bible does not rest on the persons God used towrite the Bible,nor on the endorsement ofthe Bible by thechurch,but rests entirely on the fact that it is the Word oftheLord.How do we know this? This confession ofthe BibleÕscomplete authority is part ofthe certainty ofthe faith Godgives to us as a gift.Real human beings were given real words from God towrite down.As our Lord Jesus Christ was both true God andWhat About . . . The Bibletrue man,so the Bible is truly the Word ofGod and also thewriting ofhuman beings.Even as our Lord Jesus took onhuman ßesh free from sin and error,so God used humanbeings to provide a written revelation ofHimselfthat is freefrom error.Thus,we believe that the Bible is both incapable oferror (infallible) and free from error (inerrant).The Bible has a very important distinction one needs tokeep in mind in order to understand the Bible correctly:thedifference between Law and Gospel.The Bible reveals GodÕsperfect holiness and righteousness,and His expectation ofperfection.His Law,summarized best in the TenCommandments,reveals our sinful rebellion and our inabilityto save ourselves.The Gospel is the joyful news that our LordJesus Christ has given us complete forgiveness from our sinsthrough His life,death and resurrection for us.The proper dis-tinction between Law and Gospel is the key to understandingthe Bible correctly.The most important message ofthe Bible is not the Law ofGod.The Bible is not merely a collection ofprinciples fordaily living.The Bible is not a textbook that answers every pos-sible question we may have.Nor for that matter is the Bible abook that predicts every last detail about the future.The cen-tral and most important teaching in the Bible is the Gospel,thegood news ofGodÕs gift ofsalvation through Jesus Christ.TheGospel is the message that predominates throughout the Bible,from Old Testament to New Testament.Thus the Bible isGospel-centered.We know that the Bible was not given merely for the sakeofitself.We are not saved because we own a Bible.We are savedby our Lord Jesus Christ,who is revealed in the Bible.Webelieve the Bible because it is the LordÕs Word.We believe inHim,thus we believe His Word to be true.We receive what Hehas given.He has given us the Scriptures.Thus,the Bible is thefoundation and touchstone for everything that the churchbelieves,teaches,confesses and practices.Why? Because theBible is the inspired,Christ-centered and Gospel-centeredWord ofthe Lord.How Do We Use the Bible?The Bible is foundational for the churchÕs ministry.TheBible was never intended to stand alone or apart from thecommunity offaith we call the Christian church.It is sad whensome people think that,ifthey just read the Bible,they can stayaway from church.We receive our LordÕs gifts with joy and donot say,ÒWe want this,but not that.ÓIt would be misleading ifour high respect for the Scriptures was used to drive a wedgebetween the Bible and the church.The church is the gatheringofGodÕs people around the LordÕs Word and Sacraments.TheScriptures are the sure and certain revelation ofGodÕs Wordand thus are to be read,studied and meditated on byChristians at church and at home.We Lutherans realize that Scripture must be interpretedaccording to the central truth ofthe Bible,the Gospel,notpicked apart and made to teach things that actually conßictwith the Gospel.Therefore,we pay close attention to the gram-mar and words ofthe Bible,seeking out the intended meaning,which is the plain sense ofthe text.We recognize that God theHoly Spirit works through the Scriptures to create and sustainthe church as it comes together around the preaching oftheWord and the administration ofthe Sacraments.Whenever the Word ofGod is preached,taught,studied,read,learned or meditated on,the Holy Spirit is actively turn-ing people from their sin and drawing them to Christ for theirsalvation.Thus,we will want to be in the Word daily.At homewe read and meditate on the Word through our private andfamily devotions.At church,our hymns and liturgy areanchored in the Word ofGod.Our pastors preach to us on thebasis ofthe Scripture lessons appointed for each Sunday in thechurch year.Our school teachers lead our children into adeeper knowledge ofthe Word ofGod.In Sunday school,children learn the biblical accounts and thus have a foundationfor their lives.In youth and adult Bible studies,the Scripturesare studied in a variety ofways so they can inform andenlighten us and help us understand how we live out our livesas GodÕs people.What a blessed gift the Holy Scriptures are to us and to allpeople! Everything God wants us to know about Himselfiscontained in His Word.Through the Scriptures,the Holy Spiritreveals the truth about our sinful condition and the joyfulnews ofGodÕs saving work for us through His Son,Jesus Christ.Truly,GodÕs Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path(Ps.119:105).For that reason we pray,ÒLord,keep us steadfastin your Word.ÓÑ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About the Bible?What is the Small Catechism?The Small Catechism,written by Martin Luther in 1529,isa collection ofquestions and answers on six topics:the TenCommandments,the ApostlesÕCreed,the Our Father (theLordÕs Prayer),the Sacrament ofHoly Baptism,Confession,and the Sacrament ofthe Altar.Luther wanted the Catechismto be used by the head ofthe household to teach the family theChristian faith and life.Also included with the Small Catechism are daily prayers,a table ofduties for Christians in their various callings in life,and a guide for Christians to use as they prepare to receiveHoly Communion.Most editions ofLutherÕs Small Catechismalso come with an explanation ofthe Catechism,which is alonger collection ofquestions and answers with extensive quo-tations from the Bible.These explanations have a long historyand were added during LutherÕs lifetime.Why did Luther write the Small Catechism?Luther answers that question in the preface to the SmallCatechism:ÒThe deplorable,miserable conditions which I recentlyobserved when visiting the parishes have constrainedand pressed me to put this Catechism ofChristian doc-trine into this brief,plain,and simple form.Howpitiable,so help me God,were the things I saw:the com-mon man,especially in the villages,knows practicallynothing ofChristian doctrine,and many ofthe pastorsare almost entirely incompetent and unable to teach.Yet all the people are supposed to be Christians,havebeen baptized,and receive the Holy Sacrament eventhough they do not know the Our Father,the Creed,orthe Ten Commandments and live like poor animals ofthe barnyard and pigpen.What these people have mas-tered,however,is the Þne art oftearing all Christian lib-erty to shreds.ÓYou can tell how strongly Luther felt about the need for a clearexplanation ofthe Christian faith and life!Luther also wrote what is known as the Large Catechism.The Large Catechism is yet another excellent resource thatmost adults Þnd very helpful after studying the SmallCatechism.Your pastor can help you obtain a copy ofthe LargeCatechism.What is the beneÞt ofthe Small Catechism?The Small Catechism is an excellent summary ofwhat theBible,GodÕs Word,teaches us.The shape ofthe Catechism is theshape ofthe Christian life:Repentance (Ten Commandments),Faith (Creed),Prayer (Our Father),Forgiveness ofSins(Baptism,Absolution,LordÕs Supper),then daily prayer andour daily work.It is very important for us to learn by heart thetruths ofGodÕs Word as summarized and beautifully explainedin the Small Catechism.God uses the precious truths ofHis Word to keep us strongand growing in our faith in Jesus Christ.The Catechism helpsus understand GodÕs Law,which shows us our sin,and how weare to live as His people.The Catechism beautifully articulatesthe Gospel,the good news ofJesusÕlife,death and resurrectionfor our salvation.Luther realized that the truths ofGodÕs Word,as summa-rized by the Small Catechism,were matters ofeternal life anddeath.They are the most important truths we can ever know.It is genuinely unfortunate when people think they no longerneed the Small Catechism and say to themselves,ÒThatÕsenough ofthat;now I can move on to more important things.ÓHow can the Small Catechism be used in the life oftheindividual Christian?Luther offers us good advice when he writes in the LargeCatechism,ÒEvery morning and evening,and whenever I havetime,I read and say word-for-word the LordÕs Prayer,the TenCommandments,the Creed,the Psalms,etc.I must still readand study the Catechism daily,yet I cannot master it as I wish,but must remain a child and pupil ofthe Catechism,and Igladly do it.ÓThe Small Catechism is intended to be a prayerbook for individuals and families.As we meditate on the vari-ous portions ofthe Catechism,we look for instruction fromGod,then look for what we can thank God for,then for what weneed to confess to God and,Þnally,we Þnish our prayerfulmeditation by asking God for His blessing and mercy so wemay live according to His Word.It is in this way that daily useofthe Catechism is a powerful tool for the Christian life.How can the Small Catechism be used in the home?The Small Catechism was designed to be the familyÕsChristian handbook.In fact,some have referred to the SmallWhat About . . . The Small CatechismCatechism as the ÒlaymanÕs BibleÓbecause it provides such anexcellent,brief,clear summary ofGodÕs Word on the essentialsofthe Christian faith.Families can use the Catechism in their daily devotions.Luther provided suggested prayers for the family to say at thebeginning and end ofmeals,and for each member ofthe fam-ily to pray when they go to sleep and when they wake up.Families that use the Catechism Þnd it helpful to pray theLordÕs Prayer together and then to say the ApostlesÕCreedtogether.Then they continue to work on the explanation oftheTen Commandments,the Creed,the LordÕs Prayer,HolyBaptism,Confession and Holy Communion.Gradually,overthe months and years,the entire family will be able to recite theCatechism from memory and discuss together its meaning.How can the Catechism be used in congregations?The Catechism is a key resource in conÞrmation instruc-tion for both children and adults.The Catechism can be usedin so many other ways as well.It is an important resource forBible classes and other groups that meet at the church.WouldnÕt it be good for every group that meets regularly in aLutheran congregation to begin their meeting by reviewing a part ofthe Catechism and then concluding that review with prayer?Many congregations make it a practice to print out a portion ofthe Catechism and recite it during the Sunday wor-ship service.Other congregations devote the seasons ofAdventand Lent to a careful review ofthe CatechismÕs six chiefpartsduring their mid-week services.Still other congregations will spend time during the non-festival halfofthe church year devoting special attention to reviewing the Catechism.There are pastors who use the Catechism as the subject ofchildrenÕs talks during the worship service.That is certainly aÞne practice.Other congregations have been richly blessed by using theCatechism and its explanation in adult Bible classes,or otherstudy groups.Study groups have found much to discuss andlearn by working their way carefully through the Catechism.Many people have discovered that the Catechism is also avery helpful resource for witnessing to others about JesusChrist and all that He means for us.Being able to repeat theexplanation to the Creed is a good way to tell others what Jesusis all about and how one receives salvation in Christ.What is the beneÞt oflearning the Catechism by heart?There is a great deal ofbeneÞt! The Catechism is learnedby regular and repeated reading,discussion and prayer.Thehead ofthe house should lead the rest ofthe family in speakingthe various parts ofthe Catechism and so,slowly but surely,learning the Catechism by heart.One week,for instance,thefamily can work on the First Commandment and its meaning,or the First Article ofthe Creed and its meaning,and so forth.Learning the Catechism by heart is vital for teaching theCatechism.Perhaps every word will not make sense at Þrst.That is not a problem.Just keep working on learning them.Understanding will come in time,but learning the words mustbegin right away.We are making a serious mistake ifwe wait tohave children memorize the Catechism until they can under-stand every word.We need to learn to speak the language ofour faith before we can understand it.Families might be sur-prised at how quickly children can memorize the words oftheCatechism and then learn to understand them.Martin Luther was very concerned that this be done.Hewrote in his Preface to the Small Catechism,ÒSo adopt what-ever form you wish,and then stick with it at all times....keepto a single,Þxed and permanent form and wording,and teachthem Þrst ofall the Ten Commandments,the Creed,the LordÕsPrayer,etc.,according to the text,word for word,so that theycan repeat it after you and commit it to memory.ÓWhere can we obtain copies ofthe Small Catechism?You may purchase copies ofthe Small Catechism fromConcordia Publishing House by calling their toll-free number,800-325-3040.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About The Small Catechism?Here is the tenfold sure command,God gave to men ofeveryland,through faithful Moses standing high,on holy Mount Sinai.Have mercy,Lord! *This pamphlet will help you study the Commandmentsand use them in your daily life.We recognize sin in our lives as we examine ourselvesaccording to the Ten Commandments.Sin takes a gift God hasgiven and uses it in a way God does not want it used.Eachcommandment also teaches us how GodÕs gifts are used to Hishonor and glory.IÑYou shall have no other gods.I,I alone,am God,your Lord;all idols are to be abhorred.Trust me,step boldly to my throne,sincerely love me alone.Havemercy,Lord!Where the heart is right with God,all the other command-ments follow.When a commandment is broken,this is sympto-matic ofthe fact that the human heart,by nature,is turned awayfrom God.God made us to be His own.He has given Himselftous through our Lord Jesus Christ.Whatever claims our greatestloyalty,fondest hopes or deepest affection is our god and takesthe place God alone wants to have in our lives.Through theWord and Sacraments,the Holy Spirit works in our hearts truefear,love and trust in God above all things.(Is.42:8;Matt.4:10;Prov.11:28;Ps.118:8;John 14:15;Phil.2:13).IIÑYou shall not misuse the name ofthe Lord your God.Do not my holy name disgrace,do not my Word oftruthdebase.Praise only that as good and true which I myselfsay anddo.Have mercy,Lord!The Lord gave us a great treasure when we were baptizedin the name ofthe Father,and ofthe Son and ofthe Holy Spirit.The name ofour Lord is above any other name,in heaven oron earth.With GodÕs name,comes His power to save.Using thename ofthe Holy Trinity as a curse word,or swearing by it fordishonest or frivolous purposes,or using it to mislead peopleabout His Word,is sin.How good to know that we can call on the name oftheLord at any time,and in any situation in life,for any need.Because the Lord opens our lips,we declare His praise as wepray and give thanks in His holy name.(Ex.20:7;Lev.24:15;James 3:9-10;Lev.19:12;Jer.23:31;Ps.50:5;Ps.103:1;Eph.5:20;Phil.2:10Ð11).IIIÑRemember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.Celebrate the worship day,that peace may Þll your homeand pray,and put aside the work you do,so that God may workin you.Have mercy,Lord.God has blessed us with the gift ofHis Word.We honorGod when we gladly hear the Word ofGod preached and wehold it sacred.We also honor GodÕs Word when we use it it inour daily prayer.We are tempted at times to think:ÒI can be aChristian without attending church.ÓThat is as true as saying,ÒI do not have to eat today to live.ÓBut how long can we livewithout eating? We are able to go to church,because God is atwork in us with His gifts so that we hold His Word sacred andgladly hear and learn it.(Acts 2:42,46;Heb.10:25;Matt.12:8;Col.2:16-17;Heb.4:9-10;John 8:47;Luke 10:16;Is.66:2;Ps.26:8;Acts 2:42;Col.3:16).IVÑHonor your father and your mother.You are to honor and obey your parents,and masters everyday,serve them each way that comes to hand;youÕll then livelong in the land.Have mercy,Lord!God has given us parents,pastors and other authorities forour good.They serve as His representatives.Through them,God richly blesses us,and our world,with orderly authority,asopposed to the chaos that sin brings.By honoring parents andothers in authority,we honor God.(Prov.23:22;Rom.13:2;Eph.6:2-3;1 Tim.5:4;Rom.13:7;Col.3:20;Titus 3:1;Prov.23:22).VÑYou shall not murder.Curb anger,do not harm or kill,hate not,repay not ill withill.Be patient and ofgentle mind,convince your foe that you arekind.Have mercy,Lord!Human life is the crowning gift ofGodÕs creation.We arenot to end human life through murder,abortion,euthanasia orsuicide.Prejudice,bigotry and abuse ofthose less fortunate areforbidden.We recognize that we can ÒmurderÓa person withour thoughts,certainly with our words,and then most dra-matically with our actions.As GodÕs representative,the gov-ernment has the authority to execute criminals and to wagejust wars in order to punish evildoers,protect us,and maintainorder.As we continue to receive mercy and kindness in Christ,so we support our neighbors when they need help.(Gen.9:6;Matt.26:52;Jer.1:5;Prov.31:8;Matt.5:22;1 John 3:15;Eph.4:26;Rom.13:4).What About . . . The Ten CommandmentsVIÑYou shall not commit adultery.Be faithful,keep the marriage vow;the straying thought donot allow.Keep all your conduct free from sin.Be self-controlledand disciplined.Have mercy,Lord!God has given marriage,our sexuality,and our family asgreat blessings.This commandment confronts us when ourthoughts,words and actions fall short ofthe sexual purity Goddemands ofboth the married and unmarried.God wants allpeople,both married and single,to honor and uphold mar-riage as His gift.In Christ,we are set free to live sexually pureand decent lives,and to honor and cherish the husband or wifeGod gives us.(Gen.2:24-25;Mark 10:6-9;Heb.13:4;Titus 2:11-12;1 Cor.6:18;1 Cor.6:18;Eph.5:3-4;1 Cor.6:19-20).VIIÑYou shall not steal.You shall not steal or cheat away what others worked fornight and day;but open up a generous hand to feed the poor inthe land.Have mercy,Lord!Everything we have is a gift from God,a trust from Him tobe used for His honor and glory.This is turned around whenwe do whatever it takes to get what we want.Christians are ledby the Spirit ofGod not to steal or cheat but instead to do whatis necessary to help others keep and improve what is theirs.(Eph.4:28;Phil.2:4;Heb.13:16;1 John 3:17).VIIIÑYou shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.A lying witness never be,nor foul your tongue with calumny.The cause ofinnocence embrace,the fallen shield from disgrace.Have mercy,Lord!Our good reputation is another gift from God.God givessome the duty to judge behavior and to punish evildoers,but ifthat is not our calling in life,we have no right to tarnish otherpeopleÕs reputations.We have the duty to speak in such a wayabout individuals or situations that we are putting the bestconstruction on them and speaking about them in the kindestpossible way,even as God treats us kindly,with mercy andcompassion,through Christ our Lord.(Eph.4:25;James 4:11;1Cor.13:7;1 Peter 4:8).IX and XÑYou shall not covet your neighborÕs house.You shallnot covet your neighborÕs wife,or his manservant ormaidservant,his ox or donkey,or anything thatbelongs to your neighbor.The portion in your neighborÕs lot,his goods,home,wife,desire not.Pray God he would your neighbor bless,as you your-selfwish success.Have mercy,Lord!Being content with the material gifts God has given us isthe theme ofthese last two commandments.The Lord willprovide for all our needs.We are free to help our neighbor andwish him well,rejoicing with him in his good fortune,or help-ing him in need.As Christ has served us,so we serve others.With these two commandments,we Þnd ourselves back againat the Þrst,for the heart that fears,loves and trust in God is con-tent with the gifts God gives.(Rom.7:8;1 Tim.6:8-10;Phil.4:11;1 Tim.6:6;Heb.13:5).How does God use the Ten Commandments in our lives?You have this law to see therein,that you have not been freefrom sin,but also that you clearly see,how pure toward God lifeshould be.Have mercy,Lord!Lord Jesus,help us in our need;Christ,you are our go-between indeed.Our works,how sinful,marred,unjust! Christ,you are our one hope and trust.Have mercy,Lord!The Ten Commandments cause us to ask ourselves the fol-lowing questions:Do I fear,love and trust in anything or any-one above the Triune God? Have I honored the LordÕs name onmy lips and in my life? Have I gladly held His Word sacred,lis-tened attentively to the preaching ofthat Word,and made useofit in my daily life? Have I honored and obeyed all the author-ities placed over me? Have I maintained the purity ofmy mar-riage and my sexual life in my thoughts,words and deeds?Have I stolen property or not helped my neighbor protect his?Have I gossiped,either by listening to it,or spreading it myself?Have I been content with all that the Lord has given to me?The Law is a blinding reßection ofour sin.The Law ofGodis what the Holy Spirit uses to make us realize how much weneed the forgiveness Christ won for the world and now dis-tributes through His Word and Sacraments.The Holy Spiritcalls us by the Gospel,to turn to Christ Jesus,who is our onlyhope,for He has fulÞlled the Law perfectly for us and died sothat our sin would be forgiven.Through His resurrection fromdeath,He conquered death.In Christ,we have been adopted asthe LordÕs own dear children.Therefore,God uses His Law in three ways:First,like acurb,by which outbursts ofsin are controlled.Second,andmost importantly,like a mirror,to show us our sin and ourneed for a Savior.And then,like a guide,to teach us what ispleasing to Him.Living in the forgiveness won by Christ,throughout our lives we pray,ÒHave mercy,Lord!Ó* The italicized verses in this pamphlet are from Martin LutherÕs hymn on theTen Commandments,Here Is the Tenfold Sure Command,Hymn 331 inLutheran Worship(St.Louis:Concordia Publishing House,1982).Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About the Ten Commandments?What does it mean to confess the Christian faith?There is nothing more sure or certain in this life than theword and promise ofGod.With the words ofthe ApostlesÕCreed,Christians through the ages have responded to GodÕsWord to them.With the Psalmist we pray,ÒO Lord,open mylips,and my mouth shall confess your praiseÓ(Ps.51:15).Theword ÒcreedÓcomes from the Latin word,Òcredo,Ówhichmeans,ÒI believe.ÓTo ÒconfessÓmeans to make a declaration ofwhat one believes.When we confess the faith ofthe Christianchurch in the words ofthe ApostlesÕCreed,we are confessingour beliefin who the Holy Trinity is,and what God has donefor us.Each section,or article,ofthe ApostlesÕCreed speaksabout the work ofone ofthe persons ofthe Holy Trinity:theFather,the Son and the Holy Spirit.Each article ofthe ApostlesÕCreed is our opportunity to speak back to God,and to eachother,the mighty deeds ofthe Holy Trinity by which He hascreated us,by which He has redeemed us,and by which Hekeeps us in the one true faith until life eternal.This is a veryimportant dimension ofour faith and worship ofGod.What do we confess about God the Father?ÒI believe in God,the Father Almighty,maker ofheaven and earth.ÓWe all believe in one true God,maker ofthe earth andheaven.ÒOur Father,Óhe would have us say;childrenÕs place to ushas given.He has pledged always to feed us;body,soul,to keep,tonourish.Through all evil he will lead us,guards us well that wemay ßourish.He cares for us by day and night and governs allthings by his might.1That there is a god is a truth known to all human beingssimply from the very existence ofall things.This is called thenatural knowledge ofGod.There is nothing very remarkableabout believing that there is a god.Only a fool says,Òthere is nogodÓ(Ps.53:1).The real issue is not that people believe in nogod,but that they are tempted to believe in a god who is not theone,true God.Or,that they are tempted to put in the place ofthe true God,ÒgodsÓofour culture,like money,success,popu-larity or pleasure.The Þrst article ofthe ApostlesÕCreed declares thatChristians believe,teach and confess that the one,true god isnone other than the One who has made the heavens and theearth,and everything in them.But more than that,He is ourFather who provides and cares for us as a father cares for hisbeloved children.We believe that He has made us and has given us all thegood things we have in this life.This He has done purely out ofthe love He has for us as our Father.He not only gives us life,Healso defends us,guards us,and protects us during this life,sothat we will join Him in heaven for all eternity.There is nothingin us that makes us worthy ofthe good things God gives us.Itis all from His love as a father.How glorious it is to know thatthe same God who created heaven and earth also created eachone us and cares for us personally.What do we confess about God the Son?ÒI believe in Jesus Christ,his only Son,our Lord,whowas conceived by the Holy Spirit,born ofthe virgin Mary,suffered under Pontius Pilate,was cruciÞed,died and wasburied.He descended into hell.The third day he roseagain from the dead.He ascended into heaven and sits atthe right hand ofGod the Father Almighty.From thenceHe will come to judge the living and the dead.ÓWe all believe in Christ,His Son,whom as Lord we areaddressing,ofequal Godhead,throne,and might,source ofeverygrace and blessing.Born ofMary,virgin mother,by the power ofthe Spirit,made true man,our human brother through whomsonship we inherit;He,cruciÞed for sinful men,through GodÕspower rose to life again.We are able to believe that God is our Father,because ofwhat His Son,our Savior Jesus Christ,came into this world todo:to live perfectly in our place,to suffer and die to pay for thesin ofthe world,and then to rise victorious over humanityÕsmost ancient and most evil enemies:sin,death and the devil.Jesus Christ,the second person ofthe Holy Trinity,the SonofGod from all eternity,was born ofthe Virgin Mary,to offerup to the Father His precious body and blood for the forgive-ness ofthe sins ofthe world.Through this sacriÞce,the Son ofGod won for us reconciliation and peace with God,a peace thathad been shattered by sin,both the original sin common to allhuman beings and the sin that is unique to each ofus.At the FatherÕs command,Christ came into this world to doall this for us so that we would be His very own by faith,serv-ing Him and living for Him.Our hope is in the One who rosefrom the grave and now lives as our Savior for all eternity.HowWhat About . . . The ApostlesÕ Creedblessed we are to have been brought to the knowledge thatJesus Christ is the Savior ofthe world and that in Him we havethe full and free forgiveness ofall ofour sins and the promiseofeternal life forever with Him in heaven.What do we confess about the Holy Spirit?ÒI believe in the Holy Spirit,the holy Christian church,the communion ofsaints,the forgiveness ofsins,the res-urrection ofthe body,and the life everlasting.ÓWe all confess the Holy Ghost,who grants comfort,grace,and power.He,with the Father and the Son,robes us for the triumph hour,keeps the Church,his own creation,in true unityofthe spirit;here forgiveness and salvation come to us throughJesusÕmerit.The body risen,we then shall be in life with God eternally.Amen.The Holy Trinity,the Father,the Son and the Holy Spirit,one God,three persons,equal in majesty and together being ofone essence,truly does love us as His own dear children.TheHoly Spirit calls us into fellowship with the Trinity,by the pow-erful means ofgrace that God has given:the Word andSacraments.With the Word and Sacraments,He keeps theentire church on earth in the one,true and saving faith.As Luther explains in his Large Catechism,the Holy Spiritworks in our life through the church because the churchÒis themother that begets and bears every Christian through theWord ofGod.The Holy Spirit reveals and preaches that Word,and by it He illumines and kindles hearts so that they graspand accept it,cling to it,and persevere in it.ÓIn the church,theSpirit ofGod is daily pouring out the forgiveness ofsins in richmeasure so that on the last day we will rise from dead and joinall believers in Christ in eternal life.Daily we want to thank andpraise God the Holy Spirit for His work in our lives.Why do we use creeds?Some church bodies shy away from making formal state-ments offaith.The Lutheran church is not hesitant to use thehistoric,universal (ecumenical) creeds.We use the ApostlesÕCreed,the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed.These threeancient creeds are how we confess the one,true faith oftheChristian church and they help us to identify with all believersin Christ throughout all ages.The historic creeds are,as our church recently stated inconvention,Òthe cherished possession ofthe entire churchdown through the ages and are not just the expression ofanyone individual.The church has maintained the confession ofthese creeds and has even suffered martyrdom rather thandeny the faith confessed in them.ÓTherefore,the use ofthe his-toric Christian creeds is a very important part ofLutheranworship services.Because we know that personal,individualstatements offaith are oftentimes subject to imprecise andeven erroneous confessions ofthe faith ofthe church,we dis-courage the use ofinformal statements offaith in the publicworship ofthe church.Creeds serve as a way to make sure that the church contin-ues to believe what the Word ofGod teaches.The treasure oftruth in the Word ofGod is what we wish to confess and tostand for as a church.It is based on these truths,as confessedin the ApostlesÕCreed,that the people ofGod are led to serveHim in both word and deed.When we confess the ApostlesÕCreed,and the other his-toric creeds,we confess the faith ofthe Christian church.We doso with joy and conÞdence.With these words on our lips andin our hearts,we have the assurance that we are speaking backto God the truths He has Þrst spoken to us.And thus,with con-Þdence in the LordÕs sure and certain Word,we say,ÒThis ismost certainly true.Ó1.Martin Luther,We All Believe in One True God,Hymn 213 in LutheranWorship(St.Louis:Concordia Publishing House,1982).Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about the ApostlesÕ Creed?What About ...The LordÕs PrayerThe blood ofJesus Christ cleanses us from all sin,recon-ciles us to God and thus makes it possible for us to come toGod in prayer.Prayer is a marvelous privilege from the Lord.He not only commands us to pray,but He invites us to pray toHim.He wants our prayers.What a fantastic blessing prayer is!The LordÕs Prayer is the prayer above every other prayerbecause our Lord Jesus Christ personally gave this prayer tothe church.LetÕs spend a few moments here exploring theLordÕs Prayer.The Introduction:Our Father who art in heaven.Our Father,who from heaven above has told us here to livein love.And with our fellow Christians share,our mutual bur-dens and our prayer,teach us no thoughtless word to say,butfrom our inmost heart to pray.1What a marvelous blessing! We are able to come to theLord ofthe heavens and the earth,the maker ofall things,bothseen and unseen,the all-powerful and almighty God,and callHim ÒFather.ÓBy nature,we human beings are not inclined tofaith,trust and love in God.Instead,the Scriptures reveal weare by nature children ofwrath,in rebellion against God,fallenand lost.Thanks be to God through Christ our Lord we are ableto call God ÒFather.ÓWhat is more,He even wants us to come toHim in prayer.We pray to our heavenly Father with boldnessand conÞdence,through Christ Jesus,our Lord,knowing thatHe will hear and answer our prayers,according to His goodand gracious will.Our Father who art in heaven....You who loved us enoughto send your only begotten Son to save us from our sins,I now come before You in prayer,even as Your Son has taught usto pray.The First Petition:Hallowed be thy name.Your name be hallowed.Help us,Lord,in purity to keep yourWord,that to the glory ofyour name,we walk before you freefrom blame.Let no false teaching us pervert;all poor deludedsouls convert.God surely does not need our prayer to make sure Hisname is kept holy.It is holy in and ofitself,and it is holy amongus when we teach His Word in all its truth and purity,and liveholy lives according to His Word.Anyone who teaches or livescontrary to the Word ofGod is actually profaning and blas-pheming the holy name ofGod.Hallowed be thy name....By grace You have brought me into Your kingdom ofsalvation.Ever keep me in the truefaith and help me through my words and actions to hallowYour name.The Second Petition:Thy kingdom come.Your kingdom come,guard your domain and your eternalrighteous reign.The Holy Ghost enrich our day with gifts atten-dant on our way.Break SatanÕs power,defeat his rage;preserveyour church from age to age.Again,GodÕs kingdom does not depend on our prayers,butwe pray here that His kingdom would come among us in all itsgrace and truth.GodÕs kingdom does not come because wemake it come,but because the Holy Spirit is working power-fully in us so that we believe His Word and live godly lives herein time and eventually in all eternity.Thy kingdom come....Lord,use me mightily to share yoursaving Gospel with others.The Third Petition:Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.Your gracious will on earth be done,as it is done before yourthrone,that patiently we may obey in good or bad times all you say.Curb ßesh and blood and every ill that sets itselfagainstyour will.God will have His way with us and with the world,that issure and certain.Here we are praying that His will may be doneamong us.We are asking God to prevent anything in ourlivesÑincluding the devil,the world,and our own sinfulnatureÑfrom placing an obstacle between us and the will ofGod.We ask that He would give us strength to keep us steadfastin His Word until our death.This is what GodÕs good,graciouswill is all about.Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven....Daily causeYour holy will to be done in my life,and when the world wouldentice me to turn from You,give me the strength to remainfaithful to You.What About . . . The LordÕs PrayerThe Fourth Petition:Give us this day our daily bread.Give us this day our daily bread,and let us all be clothed andfed.From warfare,rioting,and strife,disease,and famine saveour life,that we in honest peace may live,to care and greed noentrance give.We are asking God to lead us to recognize all the fantasticblessings He showers on us in this life,and so lead us to thankand praise Him for these blessings,which include all that weneed or require in this life.Give us this day our daily bread....Thank You for all ofthose temporal blessings You daily pour out into my life,andwhich I can so easily forget.The Fifth Petition:And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those whotrespass against us.Forgive our sins,let grace outpour,that they may trouble us no more;we too will gladly those forgive,who harm us by the way they live.Help us in each community to serve with loveand unity.Here we ask our heavenly Father not to see our sins,ordeny our prayer on account ofthem.We recognize and hereconfess that we are not worthy ofany ofthe abundant gifts Godgives us and that we surely do not deserve His blessing,butonly His punishment,because we sin.Through Christ ourLord,who gave Himselffor us,we are able to ask God to grantus His mercy,for the sin that daily we commit.Being forgivenso graciously by God,we want to forgive and do good to peoplewho sin against us.And forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those whotrespass against us....Help me to be forgiving ofothers,evenwhen this is difÞcult,always remembering how forgiving Youhave been ofme.The Sixth Petition:And lead us not into temptation.Lead not into temptation,Lord,where our grim foe and allhis horde,would vex our souls on every hand.Help us resist,helpus stand Þrm in the faith,armed with your might;your Spiritgives your children light.Here we are asking that God would protect us from temp-tation and keep the devil from attacking us through the worldand our own sinful ßesh.We are asking that we not be ledastray into false belief,or despair,or other shameful sins.Weknow we are attacked daily and tempted to live contrary toGodÕs will.We have the sure promise from God that Christ hasovercome the world for us and will,in our Þnal hour in this life,grant us Þnal victory over them.And lead us not into temptation....Lord,help me to resistand overcome the temptations that assail me in this life.The Seventh Petition:But deliver us from evil.Deliver us from evil days,from every dark and trying maze;redeem us from eternal death,console us when we yieldour breath.Give us at last a blessed end;receive our souls,O faithful friend.We are praying here that the Lord would rescue us fromevery evil in this life,evils that have to do with our body,oursoul,those things God has given us,our good name and soforth.We ask that when the time comes for us to be takenhome to be with the Lord,God would extend His loving pro-tection over us and take us from this valley ofsorrow to bewith Him forever in heaven.And deliver us from evil....Keep from me all those hurtsand evils in life that would assail me,and ever give me thepower always to resist the evil one.The Conclusion:For thine is the kingdom,and the power,and the glory,forever and ever.Amen.Amen,that is,it shall be so.Make our faith strong that wemay know we need not doubt but shall receive all that we ask,aswe believe.On your great promise we lay claim.Our faith saysÒamenÓin your name.At the conclusion ofthe LordÕs Prayer,we express a conÞdent hope in the truth that our Lord is the mighty One,whose kingdom and power and glory are for all eternity.Withthese words we are saying to the Lord,ÒYou are a great and glorious God.ÓWith the word,ÒAmenÓwe are saying,ÒYes,yes,it shall beso.ÓAnd thus,with the certainty that rests on the promise ofGod that He both invites and hears our prayer,we conclude theprayer He taught us.We say,ÒAmenÓthat is,ÒYes,Lord,you havecommanded me to pray to you and you promise to hear me.ÓAmen,amen,may all these things we have prayed be so,forJesusÕsake.1.Martin Luther,Our Father Who from Heaven Above,Hymn 431,LutheranWorship(St.Louis:Concordia Publishing House,1982).Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about the LordÕs Prayer?Suppose for a moment that there was a doctor who hadsuch incredible talent that he could prevent people fromdying,and bring those who had died back to life,never todie again.Just imagine how people would do whatever theycould to be treated by this doctor! Now consider that in HolyBaptism,God actually does give us the gift ofeternal life! LetÕslearn more about this marvelous blessing.What is Baptism?Baptism is not just plain water,but it is the water included inGodÕs command and combined with GodÕs Word.1WhatÕs so special about a handful ofsimple water?Nothing,until God connects His Word to it! In Baptism,that isexactly what God is doing.He combines His life-creating andlife-giving Word with the waters ofHoly Baptism,and therebywe are born again ofwater and the Spirit (John 3:5).What is that Word ofGod?Christ our Lord says in the last chapter ofMatthew:ÒTherefore go and make disciples ofall nations,baptizing themin the name ofthe Father and ofthe Son and ofthe Holy SpiritÓ(Matt.28:19).Our Lord commands Baptism.It is not optional,nor is itsimply a nice Òextra.ÓGodÕs Word takes on many forms,accord-ing to His good and gracious will.The Word is preached,taught,and proclaimed.It is read,studied and meditated on.Itis shared by Christians,with non-Christian and fellow believer,alike.And it is that Word ofGod,His promise,that makesBaptism what it is.God Himselfis present as His name is joined to the water,with all His power and all His blessings offorgiveness,life andsalvation.Christ consecrates the water ofBaptism with HisWord,so as we in Baptism stand with Christ in the water,theFather calls us His beloved children,the Holy Spirit is given tous,and heaven is opened to us.Those who receive Baptism after they have been broughtto faith by the preaching or teaching ofthe Word also receive allthe blessings God has attached to Baptism.What beneÞts does Baptism give?It works forgiveness ofsins,rescues from death and the devil,and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this,as the wordsand promises ofGod declare.Which are these words andpromises ofGod? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter ofMark:ÒWhoever believes and is baptized will be saved,but who-ever does not believe will be condemnedÓ(Mark 16:16).In and through Baptism,God cleanses us from all ofoursins,snatches us from the power ofSatan,and gives us ever-lasting life.It is all GodÕs doing as He gives us His blessing.It isHis promise.In Baptism,our Triune God imparts to each ofuspersonally the gifts the Lord Jesus Christ won for the worldthrough His life,suffering,death,and resurrection.Please seeespecially Gal.3:27;Col.1:13Ð14;1 Peter 3:21;Titus 3:5Ð7 and1 Cor.6:11.How can water do such great things?Certainly not just water,but the word ofGod in and with thewater does these things,along with the faith which trusts thisword ofGod in the water.For without GodÕs Word the water isplain water and no Baptism.But with the word ofGod it is aBaptism,that is,a life-giving water,rich in grace,and a washingofthe new birth in the Holy Spirit,as St.Paul says in Titus,chap-ter three:ÒHe saved us through the washing ofrebirth andrenewal in the Holy Spirit,whom He poured out on us generouslythrough Jesus Christ our Savior,so that,having been justiÞed byHis grace,we might become heirs having the hope ofeternal life.This is a trustworthy sayingÓ(Titus 3:5Ð8).Ofcourse,simple water canÕt do such great things,but thewater ofBaptism is not simple water! Baptism is one very spe-cial way God delivers to us the blessings Christ won for us.Baptism is not something we do,but something God does.Therefore,it is far more than a symbol.It is a sacred act inwhich God Himselfis at work forgiving sins,giving new life inChrist and bestowing on us the Holy Spirit with all ofHis gifts.Baptism gives us the faith through which we receive thesegifts.God the Holy Spirit works faith in the promises attachedto Baptism.What does such baptizing with water indicate?It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contri-tion and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evildesires,and that a new man should daily emerge and arise tolive before God in righteousness and purity forever.Where is thiswritten? St.Paul writes in Romans chapter six:ÒWe were there-Holy BaptismWhat About . . . fore buried with Him through Baptism into death in order that,just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory oftheFather,we too may live a new lifeÓ(Rom.6:4).In Baptism we are buried with Christ,and in Baptism weare raised with Christ.His death and resurrection are made ourown,and because ofthat fact,through our entire life,we are ableto say,ÒI am baptized!ÓHaving been buried with Christ into Hisdeath we do not have to be afraid ofthe tomb in which we willrest one day.Christ has already been there.In Holy Baptism we have passed through His grave into His resurrection.As Luther says in his Large Catechism,ÒIfI am baptized,Ihave the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life,both in soul and body....No greater jewel can adorn our bodyand soul than Baptism....Baptism is a treasure which Godgives us and faith grasps,just as the Lord Christ upon the crossis not a human work,but a treasure comprehended and offeredto us in the Word and received by faith.ÓWhat does Baptism have to do with our daily life?Everything! Our entire life is a life lived trusting in thepromises ofGod,given to us in and through Holy Baptism.Weare constantly returning to Baptism.In moments oftempta-tion and suffering in our lives,when all seems to be crashingdown on us,and in particular in those moments when our sinand the guilt ofthose sins haunt us,we are able,as Luther says,to ÒPull out our Baptism and wave it under the devilÕs nose andsay,ÔI am baptized....I have GodÕs bath.It is ChristÕs own blood.ÕIt is a bath blessed and mixed with the blood ofChrist.Ó2WecanÕt return to the cross ofChrist,nor should we attempt toimagine ourselves back there.No,we turn instead to the Òhereand nowÓreality ofGodÕs work in our lives.We return to ourBaptism.For it was there and then that God buried us withChrist and raised us with Him to a new life.In his Large Catechism,Luther says,ÒEvery Christian hasenough to study and to practice all his life.He always hasenough to do to believe Þrmly what Baptism promises andbringsÑvictory over death and the devil,forgiveness ofsins,GodÕs grace,the entire Christ,and the Holy Spirit with Hisgifts.ÓAnd:ÒIfyou live in repentance,therefore,you are walkingin Baptism,which not only announces this new life,but alsoproduces,begins and promotes it.In Baptism we are given thegrace,Spirit and power to suppress the old man,so that thenew man may come forth and grow strong.Therefore,Baptismremains forever....Repentance,therefore,is nothing else thana return and approach to Baptism.ÓWhy are infants and young children baptized?They are baptized for the same reason adults are bap-tizedÑbecause ofthe command and promise ofGod.What ispromised in Baptism is given to all who receive it;therefore,infants and young children also have the promise ofGod.They,too,are made children ofGod.They,too,are included in thewords Òall nationsÓ(Matt.28:19).Jesus speciÞcally invites littlechildren to come to Him (Luke 18:15Ð17).But most impor-tant,as sinners,infants need what Baptism gives.By His word,God created all that is seen and unseen.ByHis word,our Lord Christ called a dead man from the tomb(John 11:43Ð44).The unborn child,John the Baptist,leaped inhis motherÕs womb when he heard the word ofGod (Luke1:41Ð44).Why is there any doubt that in and through the Wordand the promise ofBaptism,God works a similar gift offaithin the infant? Ifwe misunderstand Baptism to be our work,then we will always cast doubt on it.When we recognize that itis not our work,but GodÕs gracious promise and work,we real-ize that infants are to be baptized and receive the treasuresoffered in and through Baptism.Sadly,there are individuals and church bodies that denyBaptism to young children and infants.They do not believethat these little ones need what Holy Baptism gives.They donot believe what the Bible teaches so clearly,namely,that Godsaves us through Baptism.As a result ofthese false teachings,they deny both to themselves and to others the power,blessingand comfort ofHoly Baptism.That is tragic,for it is a mostserious offense against God to deny what He plainly declares inHis Word:ÒThe promise is for you and your childrenÓ(Acts2:39) and ÒBaptism now saves youÓ(1 Peter 3:21).ConclusionÒWe see what a great and excellent thing Baptism is,whichsnatches us from the jaws ofthe devil and makes God ourown,overcomes and takes away sin and daily strengthens thenew man.It always remains until we pass from this presentmisery to eternal gloryÓ(Large Catechism).The meaning,power and promise ofHoly Baptism restentirely on the One who lived perfectly in our place and whosuffered and died as the sacriÞcial ransom for the sins oftheworld.He rose victorious over death and the grave.In HolyBaptism,we receive all the blessings ofChristÕs atoning sacri-Þce.Thank God for His gift ofHoly Baptism!1.The words in italics are from LutherÕs Small Catechism.2.WA 47:651,10-19,32-36.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Holy Baptism?Are we poor,miserable sinners?JesusÕparable ofthe Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke18:9Ð14 confronts each ofus with an important question:Am I a poor,miserable sinner? The Pharisee in the parable is not alone.We too are oftenunaware ofour sinfulness,or donÕt want to admit it.How easyit is for us self-righteously to compare ourselves with others.Thanks be to God,that the second man,the tax-collector,is notalone either! Jesus Christ is with him.When Jesus calls,sinnerscome.They receive His forgiveness,life and salvation.Andthus,we too say,ÒLord,be merciful to me,a sinner,Ófor Jesus isthe friend ofsinners.The precious gift ofour LordÕs absolutionis what confession is all about.In confession and absolution,Jesus Christ,who poured outhis life-blood as the perfect and complete sacriÞce for all sin,pours into our ears the life-giving promise ofabsolution,ÒMy son,my daughter,go in peace,your sins are forgiven.ÓTrusting that promise,we say,ÒAmen.Yes,Lord,it is true.ÓThanks be to God!What is confession?Confession has two parts.First,that we confess our sins,andsecond,that we receive absolution,that is,forgiveness,from thepastor as from God Himself,not doubting,but Þrmly believingthat by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.1It is hard to say,ÒI was wrong.I am sorry.Forgive me.ÓGodÕs Word makes it clear that the Òwages ofsin is deathÓ(Rom.6:23).In confession and absolution,GodÕs Word is hav-ing its way with us,moving us to confess the truth about our-selves and our need for His forgiveness.Because ofJesus Christ,confession and absolution is ablessed,joyful,happy exchange! ÒFor our sake He made Him tobe sin,who knew no sin,so that in Him we might become therighteousness ofGodÓ(2 Cor.5:21).When Jesus hung on thecross,He became sinÑfor us.He was the ransom for sin.Godpoured out His just wrath on Christ.Christ won peace betweenGod and man.In confession,Christ takes the burden ofour sinand gives us in exchange His complete forgiveness and love.Absolution is the ongoing work ofHoly Baptism,in whichour old,sinful nature in Adam is drowned and the new man inChrist arises.Through Holy Absolution we receive Òthe gift ofGod,Ówhich is forgiveness ofsins and Òeternal life in ChristJesus our LordÓ(Rom.6:23).What sins should we confess?Before God we should plead guilty ofall sins,even those weare not aware of,as we do in the LordÕs Prayer;but before the pas-tor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel inour hearts.Which are these? Consider your place in life accord-ing to the Ten Commandments:Are you a father,mother,son,daughter,husband,wife,or worker? Have you been disobedient,unfaithful,or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered,rude,or quar-relsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Haveyou stolen,been negligent,wasted anything or done any harm?Confessing our sins in the Divine Service,we hear theLordÕs servant,our pastor,absolve our sins in the name ofChrist.Privately,we go to the pastor for confession and absolu-tion precisely for those sins we are most aware ofand thosesins that are particularly troubling to us.These we confess toour pastor and hear the words ofChrist,ÒI forgive you.ÓBy what authority does the church forgive sins?The OfÞce ofthe Keys is that special authority which Christhas given to His church on earth to forgive the sins ofrepentantsinners,but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as longas they do not repent.After His resurrection from the dead and before His ascen-sion into heaven,our Lord Jesus Christ breathed on His apos-tles and said to them,ÒReceive the Holy Spirit.Ifyou forgiveanyone his sins,they are forgiven;ifyou do not forgive them,they are not forgivenÓ(John 20:22-23).Sometimes visitors in a Lutheran service ofworship aresurprised to hear in the general confession and absolution ourpastors saying:ÒUpon this your confession,I,as a called andordained servant ofthe Word,announce the grace ofGod to allofyou,and in the stead and by the command ofmy Lord JesusChrist I forgive you all your sins in the name ofthe Father andofthe Son and ofthe Holy Spirit.ÓOur Lutheran Confessions help us to understand why ourpastors speak this way:ÒIt is not the voice or word ofthe manwho speaks it,but it is the Word ofGod,who forgives sin,for itis spoken in GodÕs stead and by GodÕs commandÓ(AC XXV.3).Absolution is the LordÕs life-giving,sure and certain wordthat does for us what no surgery,medicine,therapy,counsel-ing,or advice can do for us.The LordÕs word ofabsolutiondoesnÕt cover up or hide our sin.Nor does it give us only a tem-porary reliefthat soon fades away.Our LordÕs word ofabsolu-tion reconciles us to God the Holy Trinity.What About . . . Confession and AbsolutionLuther put matters well when he wrote,ÒIt would be far toogreat for any human heart to dare to desire ifGod Himselfhadnot commanded us to ask for it.But because He is God,Heclaims the honor ofgiving far more abundantly and liberallythan anyone can comprehend like an eternal,inexhaustiblefountain which,the more it gushes forth and overßows,themore it continues to give.He desires ofus nothing moreardently than that we ask many and great things ofHim;and,on the contrary,He is angered ifwe do not ask and demandconÞdentlyÓ(Large Catechism).What do you believe according to the promise ofGod?I believe that when the called ministers ofChrist deal with usby His divine command,in particular when they exclude openlyunrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation andabsolve those who repent oftheir sins and want to do better,thisis just as valid and certain,even in heaven,as ifChrist our dearLord dealt with us Himself.Burdened and weighed down by sin,we are able to go toour pastor and confess our sins,knowing that by virtue ofhisofÞce,he has been called to speak the word ofChrist to us andin the stead ofChrist to forgive our sins.Through the Christiancongregation,Jesus Christ calls men to the ofÞce ofthe min-istry He has given to His church,the ofÞce ofthe keys.Thus,our pastors carry out this ofÞce publicly,on behalfofJesusChrist,for the sake ofthe Christian congregation.Also,allChristians extend the forgiveness ofChrist to one another privately as they console fellow Christians sorrowing over sin.At times,our pastors,with considerable sorrow,may haveto tell a person not to attend the LordÕs Supper until he or shehas repented ofsin.Ifthe situation continues without repen-tance,the pastor may have to declare to the person,on behalfofthe congregation that has made this decision,that he or sheis excluded from the church until there is repentance.Excommunication is a last resort to help a person recog-nize the extremely dangerous situation he has placed himselfin because he will not repent ofhis sin.It is a Þnal attempt towin someone back from SatanÕs inßuence.Is confession and absolution a Sacrament?Although Holy Absolution has no visible element,it deÞ-nitely does have ChristÕs institution.The Lutheran Confessionsrefer to Holy Absolution as a Sacrament (LC IV.74;Ap.XIII.4).The Lutheran Confessions also wisely point out that ÒNo intel-ligent person will quibble about the number ofsacraments orthe terminology,so long as those things are kept which haveGodÕs command and promisesÓ(AP XIII.17).Luther speaks often about Holy Absolution,connecting itwith the oral proclamation ofthe Gospel and with the ongoingliving out ofHoly Baptism.While it is customary inLutheranism to speak oftwo SacramentsÑBaptism and HolyCommunionÑwe do well to keep in mind this importanttruth:ÒGod is surpassingly rich in his grace:First,through thespoken word,by which the forgiveness ofsin is preached to thewhole world;second,through Baptism;third,through the holySacrament ofthe Altar;fourth,through the power ofthe keys;and Þnally,through the mutual conversation and consolationofthe brethrenÓ(SA III.4.1).What is private absolution and what is its beneÞt?Our Lutheran Confessions say,ÒIt is taught among us thatprivate absolution should be retained in the churches and not beallowed to fall into disuseÓ(AC XI).The founding father oftheMissouri Synod,C.F.W.Walther,said that a pastor,in an evan-gelical way,through careful instruction and encouragement,and through praising private confession and absolution,shouldwork toward the goal where private confession and absolution isused in addition to general confession and absolution.2Private confession and absolution is a very important toolin the practice ofpastoral care.Pastors use confession andabsolution in a variety ofsituationsÑfor example,in the midstofmarital and family difÞculties,and in other such pastoralcounseling situations.Private confession and absolution isused by pastors to bring forgiveness and healing into the livesofthose who come to them with troubled and anxious hearts.Our churchÕs hymnal,Lutheran Worship,contains a sug-gested order for private confession and absolution (pgs.110Ð111).This order may be used in the context ofa visit withyour pastor.The order ofprivate confession and absolutionsuggests that speciÞc sins be confessed,but certainly does notrequire it.Another important point is that pastors are sworn attheir ordinations never to reveal the sins confessed to them.Asone Lutheran pastor put it,ÒThe pastorÕs ear is a tomb.Whatgoes in,never comes out.ÓConclusionRejoicing in the forgiveness ofsins,we pray that God givesus the strength to resist temptation,and to live lives that glorifyHim,seeking to please Him by what we do,in accordance withHis holy and perfect will.And as we do,we always are aware ofour sin and so we ßee for refuge to His boundless mercy,seek-ing and imploring His forgiveness for the sake ofour Lord JesusChrist.Thank God for the gift ofconfession and absolution!1.Words in italics are quotations from LutherÕs Small Catechism.2.C.F.W.Walther,Pastoral Theology,Chap.XVI.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Confession and Absolution?On the journey through our earthly life to heaven,ourgood and gracious God provides a holy and preciousmeal to sustain and strengthen us on our pilgrim-ageÑthe LordÕs Supper.What a privilege it is for us to receivethis powerfully comforting gift! Thanks and praise forever beto God for the Sacrament ofthe Altar.Guide me ever,great Redeemer,pilgrim through this barrenland.I am weak,but you are mighty;Hold me with your power-ful hand.Bread ofheaven,bread ofheaven,Feed me now andevermore.1Why do we need the LordÕs Supper?As we examine our lives in the bright light ofGodÕs holi-ness,we realize how much we have sinned and how much weneed His forgiveness.Our sinfulness and the troubles,sorrows,difÞculties and stresses ofour life in this fallen world are allreasons we need the LordÕs Supper.As great as is our need,even greater is the life-giving mealHe has provided! It is a very personal way God works in our lifeto save us,to strengthen us and to keep us close to Him.Jesuspromised to be with us always,to the very close ofthe age(Matt.28:20).Through His precious Word and Sacraments,our Lord continues to fulÞll His promise.Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament ofthe Altarwith these words:ÒThis is My body,given for you.This cup is Myblood ofthe new testament,shed for you for the forgiveness ofsinsÓ(Matt.26:26-29;Mark 14:22-25;Luke 22:14-20;1 Cor.11:23-25).The LordÕs SupperÒis the true body and blood ofourLord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine,instituted by ChristHimselffor us Christians to eat and to drinkÓ(Small Catechism).Soul,adorn yourselfwith gladness,leave the gloomy hauntsofsadness,come into the daylightÕs splendor,there with joy yourpraises render.Bless the One whose grace unbounded this amaz-ing banquet founded.He,though heavenly,high,and holy;deigns to dwell with you most lowly.2What is Jesus giving us in the LordÕs Supper?In the Sacrament ofthe Altar our Lord and Savior is con-tinually distributing to us the body and blood ofthe sacriÞceHe made for us,the sacriÞce by which He paid for the sins ofthe entire world.Thus,receiving His body and blood,wereceive forgiveness,life and salvation.Flowing from thesetremendous treasures ofGodÕs mercy are the love,peace andhope that He gives us in His Supper,and the ability and desireto do GodÕs will,living in love and harmony with others.It is often observed how there is a foreshadowing oftheLordÕs Supper in the Old Testament discussion ofhow the sac-riÞces were eaten by those for whom they were offered (1 Cor.10:18).The Scriptures indicate that without the shedding ofblood there is no forgiveness ofsins (Heb.9:22).The blood ofJesus Christ,GodÕs Son,cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7;Matt.26:28;Acts 20:28;Rom.5:9;Heb.9:14;Heb.12:24;1 Peter1:18-19;Rev.1:5;Rev.7:14).And it is this very blood He gives inHis Supper.Draw near and take the body ofthe Lord,and drink the holyblood for you outpoured;Offered was He for greatest and forleast,Himselfthe victim and Himselfthe priest.3How is Jesus present in His Supper?We do not try to explain how Jesus is present under thebread and wine ofthe LordÕs Supper,rather we believe,teach,confess and rejoice that He is present.We Lutherans let the wordsofJesus stand without arguing about their possibility,or tryingto explain how they are true.As Luther put it so clearly,ÒWemaintain that the bread and the wine in the Supper are the truebody and blood ofChristÓ(SA III.6).Everyone who communesreceives into their mouths the body and blood ofJesus Christ,whether they believe it or not,be they worthy or unworthy.JesusÕWord is sure and certain.The Holy Spirit gives usfaith to trust in and believe JesusÕwords,ÒGiven and shed foryou for the forgiveness ofsins.ÓFaith in ChristÕs promise iswhat makes us worthy to receive His Supper.ChristÕs words ofinstitution retain their validity and efÞcacious power and thus,by virtue ofthese words,the body and blood ofChrist are trulypresent,distributed and received.Your body and your blood,once slain and shed for me,aretaken at your table,Lord,in blest reality.Search not how thistakes place,this wondrous mystery;God can accomplish vastlymore than what we think could be.4Why do we receive the LordÕs Supper often?We receive the LordÕs Supper often because ofhow muchwe need what the Lord gives in His Supper.We dare nevermake a law about how often an individual ÒshouldÓor ÒmustÓWhat About . . . The Sacrament of the Altarreceive the LordÕs Supper.But this is a separate question fromhow frequently Holy Communion is offered in our congrega-tions.Our Lutheran Confessions make it clear that the LordÕsSupper is offered every LordÕs Day and on other days whenthere are communicants present (AC XXIV.34 and Ap.XXIV.1).In saying this,our Confessions are merely reßecting thetruth ofthe Sacred Scriptures,which place the LordÕs Supper atthe center ofworship (Acts 2:42;20:7;1 Cor.11:20,33),not asan appendage or an occasional extra.It is for this reason thatour Synod has repeatedly encouraged our congregations toprovide the opportunity for communicants who so desire toreceive the LordÕs Supper every LordÕs Day.My Lord,You here have led me within Your holiest place.Andhere Yourselfhave fed me with treasures ofYour grace;for Youhave freely given what earth could never buy,the bread oflifefrom heaven,that now I shall not die.5What should we do ifwe do not feel a need to receivethe LordÕs Supper?Because ofour sinful human nature,we are tempted attimes to think,ÒI donÕt need to take Communion.I just donÕtfeel like it.ÓBut when we feel this way,we need to realize that inthe LordÕs Supper,the holy God ofGod,and Light ofLight,veryGod ofvery God,is coming among us,under the bread andwine,to be with us,to join Himselfto us,to forgive,renew andstrengthen us.In preparing to receive the LordÕs Supper,it is good for us toreview,ÒChristian Questions with Their Answers,Óon page 306ofour hymnal,Lutheran Worship.There Luther talks aboutthose times when we just may not ÒfeelÓlike receiving theLordÕs Supper.Luther writes,ÒTo such a person no betteradvice can be given than that,in the Þrst place,he put his handinto his shirt and feel whether he still has ßesh and blood,andthat he by all means believe what the Scriptures say about it inGal.5 and Rom.7.ÒSecondly,that he look around to see whether he is still inthe world,and keep in mind that there will be no lack ofsinand trouble,as the Scriptures say in John 15-16 and in 1 John 2and 5.ÒThirdly,he will certainly have the devil also about him,who with his lying and murdering,day and night,will let himhave no peace within or without,as the Scriptures picture himin John 8 and 16;1 Peter 5;Eph.6;2 Tim.2.ÓO Jesus,blessed Lord,my praise,my heartfelt thanks to You Iraise.You have so lovingly bestowed on me Your body and Yourblood.Break forth,my soul,in joy and say;what wealth hascome me today,what health ofbody,mind,and soul! Christdwells within me,makes me whole.6ConclusionHere is how one Lutheran theologian beautifully describesthe precious treasure ofthe LordÕs Supper:ÒThe Israelites were fed with manna in the wilderness aswith bread from heaven (Ex.16:15).In this Holy Supper wehave the true manna which came down from heaven to give lifeto the world.Here is that bread ofheaven,that angelÕs food,ofwhich ifany man eat he shall never be hungry (John 6:35,51).ÒThe children ofIsrael had the ark ofthe covenant and themercy seat,where they could hear the Lord speaking withthem face to face (Ex.25:21,22).Here we have the true ark ofthe covenant,the most holy body ofChrist,in whom are hid-den all the treasures ofwisdom and knowledge (Col.2:3).Herewe have the true mercy seat in the precious blood ofChrist(Rom.3:25),through which God has made us accepted in theBeloved (Eph.1:6).ÒNor does Christ simply speak the word ofcomfort to oursouls,He also takes up His abode in us.He feeds our souls notwith heavenly manna,but,what is far better,with His ownblessed self.Here is the true gate ofheaven for our souls,andthe ladder reaching from earth to heaven on which the angelsofGod ascend and descend (Gen.28:12).ÒChrist holds us dear because He has bought us at so deara price.He holds us dear because He feeds our souls with sodear and precious a food.He holds us dear because we aremembers ofHis body,ofHis ßesh (Eph.5:30).ÒThe holy ßesh ofGod,which the angelic hosts adore inthe unity ofthe divine nature,before which archangels bow inlowly reverence,and before which the principalities and pow-ers ofheaven tremble and stand in awe,has become the nour-ishment for our souls.Let the heavens rejoice and the earth beglad (Ps.96:11),but still more let the believing soul exult andsing for joy,to whom God gives such an unspeakable gift!Ó7O Lord,we praise you,bless you,and adore you,in thanks-giving bow before you.Here with your body and your blood you nourish our weak souls that they may ßourish.O Lord,have mercy! 81 Hymn 220,LW.2 Hymn 239,LW.3 Hymn 240,LW.4 Hymn 249,LW.5 Hymn 244,LW.6 Hymn 245,LW.7 John Gerhard,Sacred Meditations,pg.103ff.8 Hymn 238,LW.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About the Sacrament of the Altar?What really is a Lutheran?While there are a variety ofways one could answer this ques-tion,one very important answer is simply this,ÒA Lutheran is aperson who believes,teaches and confesses the truths ofGodÕsWord as they are summarized and confessed in the Book ofConcord.ÓThe Book ofConcord contains the Lutheran confes-sions offaith.Perhaps you have attended an ordination ofa pastor andheard him promise that he will perform the duties ofhis ofÞce inaccord with the Lutheran Confessions.When people are con-Þrmed they are asked ifthey confess the doctrine oftheEvangelical Lutheran Church,as they have learned to know it fromthe Small Catechism,to be faithful and true.These solemn promises indicate to us just how important theLutheran Confessions are for our church.LetÕs take a look at thevarious items contained in the Book ofConcord and then we willtalk about why the Lutheran Confessions are so important forbeing a Lutheran.What are the Ecumenical Creeds?The three ecumenical creeds in the Book ofConcord are theApostlesÕCreed,the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed.Theyare described as ÒecumenicalÓ[universal] because they areaccepted by Christians worldwide as correct expressions ofwhatGodÕs Word teaches.What is the Augsburg Confession and Apology oftheAugsburg Confession?In the year 1530,the Lutherans were required to present theirconfession offaith before the emperor in Augsburg,Germany.Philip Melanchthon wrote the Augsburg Confession and it wasread before the imperial court on June 30,1530.One year later,theLutherans presented their defense ofthe Augsburg Confession,which is what ÒapologyÓhere means.It too was written by PhilipMelanchthon.The largest document in the Book ofConcord,itslongest chapter,is devoted to the most important truth oftheChristian faith:the doctrine ofjustiÞcation by grace alone,through faith alone,in Christ alone.What are the Small and Large Catechisms?Martin Luther realized early on how desperately ignorant thelaity and clergy ofhis day were when it came to even the mostbasic truths ofthe Christian faith.Around 1530,he produced twosmall handbooks to help pastors and the heads offamilies teachthe faith.The Small Catechism and the Large Catechism are organizedaround six topics:the Ten Commandments,the ApostlesÕCreed,the LordÕs Prayer,Holy Baptism,Confession,and the Sacrament ofthe Altar.So universally accepted were these magniÞcent doctri-nal summaries by Luther,that they were included as part oftheBook ofConcord.What are the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Powerand Primacy ofthe Pope?In 1537,Martin Luther was asked to prepare a statement ofLutheran belieffor use at a church council,ifit was called.LutherÕsbold and vigorous confession offaith was later incorporated intothe Book ofConcord.It was presented to a group ofLutheranrulers meeting in the town ofSmalcald.Philip Melanchthon wasasked to expand on the subject ofthe Roman pope and did so inhis treatise,which also was included in the Book ofConcord.What is the Formula ofConcord?After LutherÕs death in 1546,signiÞcant controversies brokeout in the Lutheran Church.After much debate and struggle,theFormula ofConcord in 1577 put an end to these doctrinal contro-versies and the Lutheran Church was able to move ahead united inwhat it believed,taught and confessed.In 1580,all the confessionalwritings mentioned here were gathered into a single volume,theBook ofConcord.Concord is a word that means,Òharmony.ÓWhat is the connection between the Bible and theConfessions?We confess that,ÒThe Word ofGod is and should remain thesole rule and norm ofall doctrineÓ(FC SD,Rule and Norm,9).What the Bible asserts,God asserts.What the Bible commands,God commands.The authority ofthe Scriptures is complete,certain and Þnal.The Scriptures are accepted by the LutheranConfessions as the actual Word ofGod.The Lutheran Confessionsurge us to believe the Scriptures for Òthey will not lie to youÓ(LC,V,76) and cannot be Òfalse and deceitfulÓ(FC SD,VII,96).The Bible is GodÕs Òpure,infallible,and unalterable WordÓ(Preface tothe BOC).The Lutheran Confessions are the Òbasis,rule,and norm indi-cating how all doctrines should be judged in conformity with theWord ofGodÓ(FC SD RN).Because the Confessions are in com-plete doctrinal agreement with the written Word ofGod,theyserve as the standard in the Lutheran Church to determine what isfaithful Biblical teaching,insofar as that teaching is addressed inthe Confessions.What is the main point ofthe Lutheran Confessions?The Lutheran Reformation was not a Òrevolt,Óbut ratherbegan as a sincere expression ofconcern with the false and mis-What About . . . Being a Lutheranleading teachings,which,unfortunately,even to this very day,obscure the glory and merit ofJesus Christ.What motivatedLuther was a zealous concern about the Gospel ofJesus Christ.Here is how the Lutheran Confessions explain what the Gospel isall about:ÒHuman beings have not kept the law ofGod but have trans-gressed it.Their corrupted human nature,thoughts,words,anddeeds battle against the law.For this reason they are subject toGodÕs wrath,to death and all temporal afßictions,and to the pun-ishment ofthe Þres ofhell.As a result,the Gospel,in its strictsense,teaches what people should believe,namely,that theyreceive from God the forgiveness ofsins;that is,that the Son ofGod,our Lord Christ,has taken upon Himselfthe curse ofthe lawand borne it,atoned and paid for all our sins;that through Himalone we are restored to GodÕs grace,obtain the forgiveness ofsinsthrough faith and are delivered from death and all the punish-ments ofour sins and are saved eternally....It is good news,joy-ous news,that God does not want to punish sin but to forgive it forChristÕs sakeÓ(FC SD,V,20).What is a ÒconfessionalÓLutheran?The word ÒconfessionÓis used in a variety ofways,but whenwe speak ofa ÒconfessionalÓLutheran we mean a Lutheran whodeclares to the world his faith and most deeply held beliefandconviction,in harmony with the documents contained in theBook ofConcord.You will catch the spirit ofconfessionalLutheranism in these,the last words written in the Book ofConcord:ÒTherefore,it is our intent to give witness before God and allChristendom,among those who are alive today and those whowill come after us,that the explanation here set forth regarding allthe controversial articles offaith which we have addressed andexplainedÑand no other explanationÑis our teaching,faith,and confession.In it we shall appear before the judgment throneofJesus Christ,by GodÕs grace,with fearless hearts and thus giveaccount ofour faith,and we will neither secretly nor publiclyspeak or write anything contrary to it.Instead,on the strength ofGodÕs grace,we intend to abide by this confessionÓ(FC SD,XII,40).What is an Òunconditional subscriptionÓto the Confessions?Confessional Lutheran pastors are required to ÒsubscribeÓunconditionally to the Lutheran Confessions because they are apure exposition ofthe Word ofGod.This is the way our pastors,and every layman who confesses his beliefin the SmallCatechism,is able with great joy and without reservation or qualiÞcation to say what it is that he believes to be the truth ofGodÕs Word.Dr.C.F.W.Walther,the Missouri SynodÕs Þrst president,explained the meaning ofan unconditional confessional subscription in words as clear and poignant today as they were then:ÒAn unconditional subscription is the solemn declarationwhich the individual who wants to serve the church makes underoath that he accepts the doctrinal content ofour LutheranConfessions,because he recognizes the fact that they are in fullagreement with Scripture and do not militate against Scripture inany point,whether the point be ofmajor or minor importance;and that he therefore heartily believes in this divine truth and isdetermined to preach this doctrine.ÓSo what is it to be a Lutheran?Being a Lutheran is being a person who believes the truths ofGodÕs Word,the Holy Bible,as they are correctly explained andtaught in the Book ofConcord.To do so is to confess the Gospel ofJesus Christ.Genuine Lutherans,confessional Lutherans,dare toinsist that ÒAll doctrines should conform to the standards [theLutheran Confessions] set forth above.Whatever is contrary tothem should be rejected and condemned as opposed to the unan-imous declaration ofour faithÓ(FC Ep.RN,6).Such a statement may strike some as boastful.But it is not;rather,it is an expression ofthe Spirit-led conÞdence that movesus to speak ofour faith before the world.To be a confessional Lutheran is to be one who honors theWord ofGod.That word makes it clear that it is GodÕs desire forHis church to be in agreement about doctrine,and to be ofonemind,living at peace with one another (1 Cor.1:10;2 Cor.13:11).It is for that reason that we so treasure the precious confession ofChristian truth that we have in the Book ofConcord.For con-fessional Lutherans,there is no other collection ofdocuments,orstatements or books that so clearly,accurately and comfortinglypresents the teachings ofGodÕs Word and reveals the BiblicalGospel as does our Book ofConcord.Hand-in-hand with our commitment to pure teaching andconfession ofthe faith,is,and always must be,our equally strongcommitment to reaching out boldly with the Gospel and speakingGodÕs truth to the world.That is what ÒconfessionÓofthe faith is all about,in the Þnal analysis.Indeed,ÒIt is written:ÔI believed;therefore I have spoken.ÕWith that same spirit offaith we alsobelieve and therefore speakÓ(2 Cor.4:13).This is what it means tobe a Lutheran.For Further Study:Robert Preus,Getting into the Theology ofConcord:A Study ofthe Book ofConcord(St.Louis:Concordia Publishing House,1977).David Scaer,Getting into the Story ofConcord:A History ofthe Book ofConcord(St.Louis,Concordia Publishing House,1977).To purchase a copy ofthe Book ofConcord,call ConcordiaPublishing House at 800-325-3040.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About being a Lutheran?Why does our Lord gather us for worship? The most precious gifts and treasures our Lord gives us areHis forgiveness,life and salvation.Through His innocent lifeand bitter sufferings and death,Christ has purchased and wonus from sin,death and the devil.Through Jesus Christ,all thesins ofthe world were paid for and the wrath ofGod wasappeased.Christ has reconciled the whole world to God.Jesus Christ serves us again and again as His Gospel is pro-claimed,as His people are baptized and as His Word is read.Heserves us as His forgiveness is pronounced and penitentsabsolved.He serves us as He gives us His body and bloodunder the bread and wine to eat and to drink.This is how our Lord gives us forgiveness,life,and salvation.What a bless-ing it is to be called and gathered for worship by our good andgracious God!What is at the heart and center ofLutheran worship?Lutheran worship puts the focus squarely on Jesus Christ,who is present for us and with us through His Word andSacraments.Lutheran worship is,therefore,Christ-centered,not man-centered.When we are gathered for worship,we arenot contemplating some far-offChrist or meditating onabstract concepts,or pondering various principles for living.Neither are we in church to be amused or entertained.Christ isliving and active among us,right where He has promised to bein His Word and Sacraments.Jesus said,ÒLo,I am with youalways,to the very end ofthe ageÓ(Matt.18:20).When He gath-ers us around His Word and Sacraments,He fulÞlls thispromise to us once again.What is the basic pattern or ÒrhythmÓofLutheran worship? Here is how our hymnal Lutheran Worshipdescribes it:Our Lord speaks and we listen.His Word bestows whatit says.Faith that is born from what is heard acknowl-edges the gifts received with eager thankfulness andpraise....Saying back to Him what He has said to us,werepeat what is most true and sure....The rhythm ofourworship is from Him to us,and then from us back toHim.He gives His gifts,and together we receive andextol them.We build one another up as we speak to oneanother in psalms,hymns,and spiritual songs.What does ÒDivine ServiceÓmean? Historically,the phrase used to describe Lutheran worshipis Divine Service.This helps us understand the rhythm ofworshipÑthat it is Þrst and foremost God serving us with Hisgifts,and then our service to Almighty God in thanksgivingand praise for all He has done.This rhythm ofGod giving Hisgifts and our giving Him thanks is conveyed aptly in the term,Divine Service.The Divine Service is a ÒholyÓtime,meaning a time Òsetapart.ÓIt is a time to be set apart from the workaday worldÑatime to spend with our Lord.Indeed,in the Divine Service weare gathered together in the presence ofthe holy,almighty,ever-living God,and thus we are part ofa time ofÒheaven onearth,Óas our Lord forgives our sins and gives us new life today,and eternal salvation with Him forever.This understanding ofthe Divine Service explains why many who experienceLutheran worship for the Þrst time describe it as digniÞed,reverent and sacred.What does Lutheran worship look and sound like? Lutherans use orders ofservice common throughout thehistory ofthe Western church.The two main parts oftheDivine Service are (1) the proclamation ofthe Word ofGod,and (2) the celebration ofthe LordÕs Supper.Other orders ofservice used in the Lutheran church feature a more extendedservice ofthe Word as well as times ofprayer,such as the ser-vices ofMatins and Vespers,Morning and Evening Prayer,Compline,and the Litany.In Lutheran services,pastors and congregations sing orspeak the liturgy back and forth or together.Congregationalsinging ofhymns has always been a hallmark ofLutheran wor-ship.The best ofmusical traditions,both ancient and modern,are embraced by the Lutheran church in its worship,with anemphasis on congregational singing,reinforced by the choir.Our pastors wear special clothing called vestments.Thesegarments cover the individuality ofthe man and emphasizethe sacred duties ofthe ofÞce he has been given to carry out.Throughout the course ofthe church year,an appointed orderofreadings and prayers helps the congregation focus on themajor events in the life ofChrist and how those events affect ustoday.Preaching,usually based on the appointed lessons,is ahallmark ofLutheran worship,distinguished by a clear pre-sentation ofGodÕs Law and Gospel.What About . . . Lutheran WorshipLutherans may stand,bow or kneel at various points in theservice to express reverence and devotion to the almightyTriune God.Pastors make the sign ofthe cross over the people,and the people may sign themselves with the cross at varioustimes as well.Lutheranism has continued to make use ofbeautiful eccle-siastical art such as statues ofJesus,the apostles,and otherimportant Þgures in the Bible or church history.You will Þnd inmany Lutheran churches altars,candles,paintings,statues,cruciÞxes,symbols,stained-glass windows,processionalcrosses,banners,and other forms ofart and decoration.All ofthese lend beauty,dignity and reverence to the service.Theyhelp us to focus our attention on Christ and His gifts.SomeLutheran churches are elaborately decorated and richly orna-mented.Others are more plainly adorned.We make no Þxedrules about such things.We rejoice in our Christian freedom touse all manner ofreverent artwork and decoration to glorifyand praise God.How does Lutheran worship reßect Lutheran theology? How a church conducts its worship is a reßection ofwhat itbelieves,teaches and confesses.It is difÞcult,therefore,to retainthe substance ofLutheran theology while at the same timeembracing non-Lutheran styles ofworship.It is important toremember that Martin Luther sought to reformÑnot to rein-ventÑthe church and its worship.Luther knew that theGospel was the heart and center ofthe Divine Service.Hechanged only what contradicted or diminished the Gospel.Luther never did away with faithful,Gospel-centered and his-toric worship practices and ceremonies ofthe church.Why are common orders ofservice in our Synod such a blessing? There are two extremes to be avoided in answering thisquestion.The one extreme would be the view that every con-gregation can do whatever it wishes,however it wishes,with-out any regard for the other congregations ofour confessionalfellowship.The opposite extreme would be the view that every-one in the church must do precisely the same thing everySunday,without any deviation,variety,change or difference.Neither ofthese extremes is appropriate or acceptable,and cer-tainly not Lutheran.Our Synod has always been concerned thatÑfor the goodofthe churchÑuniformity in liturgical practices be main-tained so that we confess our distinct,unique Lutheran faithboldly in a country where our church is surrounded by somany non-Lutheran churches.Uniformity in doctrine isreßected in uniformity in practice.Our SynodÕs Þrst president,Dr.C.F.W.Walther,had this to say about the value ofunifor-mity in worship practices:We are not insisting that there be uniformity in percep-tion or feeling or taste among all believing ChristiansÑneither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he.Nevertheless,it remains true that the Lutheran liturgydistinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship ofother churches to such an extent that the houses ofworship ofthe latter look like lecture halls in which thehearers are merely addressed or instructed,while ourchurches are in truth houses ofprayer in whichChristians serve the great God publicly before the world.Someone may ask,ÒWhat would be the use ofunifor-mity ofceremonies?ÓWe answer,ÒWhat is the use ofaßag on the battleÞeld? Even though a soldier cannotdefeat the enemy with it,he nevertheless sees by the ßagwhere he belongs.ÓWe ought not to refuse to walk in thefootsteps ofour fathers.But isnÕt Lutheran worship German? Sometimes we hear people conclude that because theLutheran Reformation began in Germany,Lutheran worshipmust,therefore,be German.This is a very common misunder-standing.The fact ofthe matter is that Lutheran worshipthroughout history has included hymns,canticles and ordersofservice that Þnd their origins in the early Christian worshipofthe Near East and even further back to the worship oftheJewish synagogue as it developed from ancient Jewish templeworship.Thus,Lutheran worship is rooted in thousands ofyears oftradition and reßects the contributions ofmany ethnicgroups:African,Asian,Middle-Eastern,Spanish,Greek,Italian,French,German,and American as well.It is deÞnitelynot the case that Lutheran worship is German.Conclusion As we Þnd ourselves being gathered by our Lord for wor-ship at the dawn ofthis new millennium,we realize that we joinour song with angels,archangels and all the company ofheavenfrom millennia past who are gathered before the Lamb uponHis throne and worship Him both day and night.As our Lordgathers us for worship Sunday after Sunday,we join the entirecompany ofheaven in praising our good and gracious God.Thesaints on earth and the saints in heaven praise Him who is thebeginning and the end,the Þrst and the last,the Alpha andOmega,even our Lord Jesus Christ,who with the Father and theHoly Spirit reigns as one God,world without end.ÒTo Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be bless-ing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!Ó(Rev.5:13).Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Lutheran Worship?By GodÕs blessing,The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouriSynod is committed to being strongly in the Word,Christ-centered and people-sensitive,reaching outboldly with the Gospel,faithful to the Scriptures and theLutheran Confessions,and marked by peace and unity in theLord.This pamphlet will help you better understand what TheLutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod is all about.A peace that passes all human understandingIn the fullness oftime,the Son ofGod descended to earthand became man in the womb ofthe Virgin Mary.In Jesus,God Himselfwas with us on earth.Jesus was not only with us,but for us.He came into this sinful and dying world to Þght ourenemies:sin,death and the devil.He came to set us free.Hedefeated these enemies by laying down His own life.Through His perfect life and by His death on the cross,Jesus paid the full debt ofsin for all people.He rose again andgives us a new life,a life that has meaning,purpose and direc-tionÑa life Þlled with hope and conÞdence,even during timesofsorrow and trouble.Jesus Christ is with us.He loves us andcares for us,giving us the peace that truly passes humanunderstanding.A Family ofChristian BelieversThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod is a family of2.6million Christians,gathered in more than 6,000 congregationsthroughout the United States.Our church body was foundedmore than 150 years ago by a small band ofimmigrants inAmerica who were dedicated to preaching and teaching theGospel ofthe forgiveness ofsins through Christ alone.Many ofthe founders ofour Synod were from Missouri,hence the wordÒMissouriÓin our churchÕs name.Our congregations are united in an association ofChristian fellowship called a ÒSynod,Ówhich means Òwalkingtogether.ÓEvery congregation is selfgoverned and unique.Webelieve and teach the same Biblical truths,but our congrega-tions also reßect the diversity ofthe people we serve.Some arelocated in rural areas,others in inner cities.Some are large,others are very small.Most use English,but some offer wor-ship services in Vietnamese,Spanish,Laotian,and other lan-guages.We are a family gathered from all nations,united in thewonderful truth that Jesus Christ is the Savior ofthe world.Strongly in the WordThe voice ofJesus calls sinners to repentance,and com-forts the brokenhearted through the preaching and teaching ofHis Word from our pulpits and in our classrooms.We are achurch that honors the Bible as the written Word ofGodÑthevery voice ofJesus,our Good Shepherd.God the Holy Spirit,through this Word,creates and sustains trust in Jesus Christ.Through this living and powerful Word,Jesus Himselfrebukes,comforts,forgives and guides His people through theperplexing,difÞcult and confusing questions and decisions weface in our lives.We believe strongly that Jesus is with us and that He stillrules His church today through His Word.Therefore,we arecommitted to reading,studying and growing in the Word ofGod,the Holy Bible.Our churchÕs deeply spiritual and reverentliturgical worship is Þlled with the Word ofGod,throughwhich Jesus blesses us with His presence and peace.Christ-Centered and People-SensitiveWe treasure the special means by which Jesus Himselfdwells among us with His forgiving grace.Therefore,ourSynod is very much Christ-centered.Our focus is on JesusChrist and His presence among us.We believe that Jesus is present among us through the life-giving waters ofBaptism,a Sacrament that unites us withJesusÕdeath and resurrection,washes away our sins,and bringsus into the body ofChrist,the Holy Christian Church.Werejoice in the gracious presence ofJesus in the Sacramentcalled the LordÕs Supper.It is the true body and blood underbread and wine given to Christians to eat and to drink.In thissacred meal,Jesus feeds us and sustains us with the forgive-ness ofsins,strengthening us for a life ofservice to Him in thisworld,and preparing us for life forever with Him in heaven.As the people ofthe Missouri Synod,we rejoice in ChristÕspresence,not only in our public worship assemblies,but also inour daily lives.Whether our place ofservice is small or great,humble or exalted in the eyes ofthe world,it is a holy calling inwhich we serve the Lord Jesus Christ with joyful hearts.Together and individually,we strive to follow the exampleofJesus who loved us and cared for us when we had nostrength.Through our churchÕs reliefprograms,our Synod ispresent with material and spiritual resources to care for thoseWhat About . . . The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synodwho suffer from natural disasters and tragedies in the world.We have built and help to maintain a large network ofLutheran hospitals,nursing homes,and human-care agenciesto serve the sick,the elderly,the victims ofabuse,those strug-gling with addictions,and many others coping with difÞcultsituations and transitions in life.The Missouri Synod has been a strong voice in America indefense ofthe sanctity and value ofall human life from theunborn to the handicapped to the elderly.Because we are peo-ple-sensitive,we want to serve others as God has loved andserved us in Jesus Christ.Reaching Out Boldly with the GospelThe Bible calls Jesus Òthe Lamb ofGod who takes away thesin ofthe worldÓ(John 19:29).Having paid our debt with Hisblood,Jesus rose from the dead and returned to the heavenlyFather to reign over all things.He gave His disciples the com-mand to go into all the world to baptize,teach and observe allthat He commanded.He promised that He would continue tobe with them through the ages.Through congregations,and our regional and nationalofÞces,we strive to carry out our LordÕs command to makeknown His love and forgiveness to the whole world.The LCMSoperates a worldwide mission program,sending more than400 missionaries into nearly 70 countries around the world.These missionaries bring the good news ofJesus into placeswhere His Name is not yet known and help to strengthen exist-ing churches.Because each Christian is a witness for the LordJesus Christ,it is our duty and privilege to tell the good news ofJesus to our family,friends,neighbors,co-workers and all thepeople God puts in our lives.The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod is a respectedleader in the Þeld ofChristian education.We place greatemphasis on instruction in the Word.We recognize this as oneofthe most effective ways ofreaching out boldly with theGospel.Therefore,we administer the largest Protestant schoolsystem in the United States,operating more than 2,000preschools,elementary schools,and high schools servingmore than 250,000 students.We also value higher education,operating 10 colleges and universities.Our SynodÕs schools arenot merely private alternatives to public education,but Christ-centered,Word-saturated havens ofGodÕs Spirit.To maintain the high quality and spiritual direction ofourschools,we educate a large number ofLutheran school teach-ers in our universities.These teachers are dedicated servants ofthe Lord who are able to lead students into the love ofChrist.ToÞll our church pulpits with mature men ofGod who know theScriptures and are able to proclaim and apply the Word,weoperate two seminaries.Faithful to the Scriptures and the Lutheran ConfessionsMartin Luther,the great Christian Reformer ofthe 16thcentury,boldly proclaimed the BibleÕs most important mes-sage:that Christ came into the world to save sinners,and livedamong us to defeat our enemiesÑsin,death and the devil.Luther believed and taught that JesusÕsacriÞcial death on thecross washed away the sins ofthe whole world,and that thosewho place their trust in Him are forgiven.They are declaredrighteous and are reconciled to God.What Luther began in 1517 reached its culmination in1580,when the ofÞcial statements ofLutheran belief(theLutheran Confessions) were gathered together in what isknown as the Book ofConcord.We place great value in retain-ing and advancing the cause ofthe Lutheran Reformation.Wesee in the Reformation movement the hand ofGod working to preserve the truth ofHis Word and the Gospel ofJesusChrist.Therefore,we are committed to genuine,historicalLutheranism.Marked by Peace and Unity in the LordFinally,we are united,not by our color,or our occupations,or our social and economic status,but by our union with theliving Lord Jesus Christ and our common confession ofthetruths ofHis Word.We rejoice and live in the faith that God hasgiven us.We are eager to share that faith with many others,sothat all may come to know Jesus Christ,the one who brings usreal peace,deep joy and life forever.Welcome to The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod!To locate an LCMS congregation near you or to receivemore information about us...Call:1-888-THE-LCMS (1-888-843-5267)E-mail:INFOCENTER@LCMS.ORG Fax:1-888-LCMSFAX (1-888-526-7329)Write:LCMS Information Center1333 South Kirkwood RoadSt.Louis,Missouri 63122Ð7295Internet:www.lcms.orgÑ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod?What is our great privilege as Christians?Through faith,we become disciples ofJesus Christ and,assuch,it is our privilege to tell the good news about Jesus.Weshare with others the message ofthe salvation that is ours.Andwho are the people with whom we are to share the faith? Well,they are certainly our family members:husbands,wives,chil-dren,grandchildren,parents and so forth.But it does not stopthere.That is only the beginning.It reaches out from there toour friends,to our fellow congregation members,to the peoplewith whom we work,to our neighbors,and to the strangers wemeet in our daily lives.Yes,this means actually talking to oth-ers about Jesus Christ and His great salvation.Our privilege as Christians is to identify and recognizeopportunities to tell others the good news about Jesus.Andthen,having recognized and identiÞed those opportunities,ours is the privilege and responsibility ofactually doing itÑtelling the good news about Jesus.Where does telling the good news about Jesus begin?It begins with our personal thankfulness for the salvationthat is ours in Jesus Christ.Each ofus daily sins much andbecause ofthat,ifleft to ourselves,we deserve nothing butGodÕs wrath and eternal damnation.And so does everyone inthe world who has not come into a saving relationship withJesus Christ.But thanks be to God,something miraculous happened inyour life! So great is the FatherÕs love for all humanity,that Hesent His precious Son into this world,to obey God perfectly,and to suffer and die for your sins and the sins ofthe wholeworld.Because ofJesus Christ,each and every one ofyour sinshas been washed away.You are cleansed,pardoned and giventhe peace that passes all human understanding.Ofall the blessings that God will ever give you in your life,without a doubt the greatest one ofall is the forgiveness that isyours in Jesus Christ,and with that forgiveness,the promisethat when you die you will spend all eternity with the Lord inheaven.Thanks be to God for His mercy!What do we do with the good news ofJesus?God has not given us this great salvation merely for us tocontent ourselves with it,and to stick it away and treasure itprivately.He has given us this great salvation and then calledeach one ofus to a life ofbeing His witnesses.He gave us thisgreat salvation to rejoice in,to live in and to shareÑyes,toshare with others! He wants us to bring many others into Hischurch,where they too will receive the blessings ofGodÕs Wordand Sacraments,where they too will be made part ofGodÕspeopleÑone ofHis own dear children.And what is more,Godhas promised that as we do,He will bless.For this fact too,wehave every reason to thank and to praise the Lord.The Þrst president ofour church,Dr.C.F.W.Walther madethis extremely important point:ÒAnother major duty ofa Synod that wants to be andremain an Evangelical Lutheran Synod is that it not seekits own glory,but only the glory ofGod,being intent not somuch on its own growth,but rather on the growth ofChristÕs kingdom and the salvation ofsouls.You see,dearbrethren,we are assembled here not for our own sake.Weare in the faith,and by this faith we hope to be saved! Butthere are still many millions who have no faith! This iswhy we are hereÑso that we might bring salvation to asmany people as we possibly can,so that the sad situationin Christendom and the corruption ofthe poor,blind heathen might be remedied.Only for this reason does ourgracious God allow Christians to live on earth,that theymight bring others to the saving faith.Otherwise Godwould immediately take a Christian to heaven as soon ashe is converted.Ó1IsnÕt evangelism just the pastorÕs job?Evangelism is one ofthe pastorÕs important duties,butevangelism is not only the pastorÕs responsibility.EveryChristian,through Baptism,is given the privilege ofdeclaringthe praises ofHim who called us out ofdarkness into His mar-velous light (1 Peter 2:9).Whenever we speak the Gospel,it is an actual communi-cation ofthe forgiveness ofsins.Telling the good news aboutJesus to another person is not merely a casual conversation,nor is it merely expressing pious wishes.When we share withothers the good news ofJesus,we are actually conveying tothem the forgiveness ofsins,for that is what the Gospel is allabout.When the Gospel is presented,God the Holy Spirit ispresent to work faith in the hearts ofthose who hear it.What About . . . Telling the Good Newsabout JesusPastors and laypeople work together in the great task ofmaking disciples ofall nations,as together they tell the goodnews ofJesus.Together they work to make their congregationsplaces where visitors feel welcome and places that have as apriority reaching out boldly with the Gospel.Hand in hand,pastors and congregations tell the good news about Jesus!What is the starting place for telling the good newsabout Jesus?It begins with our love for others.Love always takes aninterest in the good ofour neighbor,our friend,our familymember,without trying to Þgure out what we will receive inreturn.GodÕs love is poured out into our hearts and overßowsinto the lives ofothers.God doesnÕt need our good works,but our neighbors,our friends,and our family members certainly do.Once we recognize how great is our own personal salva-tion and the enormous love ofthe FatherÕs heart in saving us,we recognize that this love can remove barriers that stand inthe way ofour outreach to others.Barriers include apathy onour part and antagonism on the part ofthose with whom wespeak.When we tell the good news ofJesus,following up thatwitness with love and kindness,there is something here thatmakes people pause and consider just what it is that makesChristians unique.It can lead people to ask,ÒWhat do youhave? I need it.ÓHow do we respond to our neighborÕs question? We answerby telling the good news about Jesus.We explain that becauseofsin we are separated from God,but God loves us so muchthat He sent a Savior into this world to bring us back toHimself.The Bible says,ÒAlways be ready to answer anyonewho asks you to explain the hope you have,but be gentle andrespectfulÓ(1 Peter 3:15).Telling the saving Gospel is the great-est service any Christian can perform for a neighbor,or familymember,or even the most casual stranger.IsnÕt it rude for me to impose my beliefs on another person?Telling the good news about Jesus is certainly not rude,though the way we go about it might be.That we must avoid.The best way to tell the good news about Jesus is to do so gen-tly and kindly.Telling the good news about Jesus is not Òimpos-ing our beliefs on another person.ÓWe need to shake ourselvesfree from the myth ofour day that all beliefs are equally true,and one is no better than the other.We do respect the beliefs ofothers,but we canÕt give them Òequal timeÓwhen it comes tothe question ofwhere that person is going to spend all eternity.Telling the good news ofJesus is more than merely Òshar-ing my opinions.ÓIt is actually giving another person the WordofLifeÑthe powerful,faith-creating Word ofGod by whichGod brings that person into His kingdom.So,telling the goodnews ofJesus is not rude,it is the most wonderful gift youcould give to another human being.What can be done to prepare ourselves to tell othersabout Jesus?To witness about Jesus we need to be strongly in the Wordand Sacraments.In so doing,we are kept by the Lord in con-stant contact with the power and strength for witnessing,ourLord Jesus Himself.Receiving forgiveness and peace,we thenare able to share it with others.Turning to the Lord in prayer is the next thing we do whenwe wish to tell the good news about Jesus.Just imagine howmuch better we will be able to recognize opportunities to tellthe good news about Jesus when we ask our heavenly Father toshow them to us and then pray for the courage to speak.Whenwe ask for open doors to tell the good news,we will be amazedto notice how doors are open and just waiting for us to walkthrough,telling the good news about Jesus!Suggested ResourcesExcellent resources having to do with our churchÕs empha-sis on telling the good news about Jesus may be found on theInternet at:www.lcms.org/310.1.Walther,Essays for the Church,(CPH:1992) II:262.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about Telling the Good News about Jesus?Greetings to you in the name ofour Lord Jesus Christ.Christian families face enormous pressures in ourworld today.It is important that they have a goodunderstanding ofwhat God intends for the family andhow they best can respond to the many challenges that confront them.What does God say about families in His Word,the Bible?In the beginning,God created men and women to livetogether with one another as husbands and wives,andthrough their marriages to bring children into the world.Weread in Gen.2:22Ð24:ÒThe Lord God made a woman from therib He had taken out ofthe man,and He brought her to theman.The man said,ÔThis is now bone ofmy bones and ßesh ofmy ßesh;she shall be called Òwoman,Ófor she was taken out ofman.ÕFor this reason a man will leave his father and motherand be united to his wife,and they will become one ßesh.ÓOurLord Jesus Christ afÞrmed the divine institution ofmarriageduring his earthly ministry (Matt.19:5).Through the Apostle Paul,the Lord revealed that Christianhusbands and wives are to love and serve one another,model-ing before the world the love Christ has for His bride,thechurch.In Ephesians 5,St.Paul wrote:ÒSubmit to one anotherout ofreverence for Christ.Wives,submit to your husbands as to the Lord.For the husband is the head ofthe wife as Christ is the head ofthe church,His body,ofwhich He is the Savior.ÒNow as the church submits to Christ,so also wives shouldsubmit to their husbands in everything.Husbands,love yourwives,just as Christ loved the church and gave Himselfup forher to make her holy.É In this same way,husbands ought tolove their wives as their own bodies.He who loves his wifeloves himself.After all,no one ever hated his own body,but hefeeds and cares for it,just as Christ does the churchÑfor weare members ofHis body.Ò ÔFor this reason a man will leave his father and motherand be united to his wife,and the two will become one ßesh.ÕThis is a profound mysteryÑbut I am talking aboutChrist and the church.However,each one ofyou also must lovehis wife as he loves himself,and the wife must respect her husbandÓ(Eph.5:21Ð33).In this powerful description ofmarriage,there is no roomfor husbands to Òlord it overÓtheir wives,nor for wives to dis-regard their husbandÕs role ofÒheadshipÓin the home.The keyis mutual submission to and love for one another,modeledafter ChristÕs love for the church,and the churchÕs submissionto Christ her Lord.Parents are to provide discipline to their children with loveand compassion,doing what is best for their children.We readin Eph.6:4:ÒFathers,do not exasperate your children;instead,bring them up in the training and instruction ofthe Lord.ÓAndchildren are to honor and obey their parents,as the Lord com-mands,ÒChildren,obey your parents in the Lord,for this isright.ÕÔHonor your father and your motherÕÑwhich is the Þrstcommandment with a promiseÑthat it may go well with youand that you may enjoy long life on the earthÓ(Eph.6:1Ð3).What are some ofthe cultural trends impacting families?As we review what the Bible has to say about families,wequickly realize how far many ofour cultural trends are fromGodÕs will for families.Christian families are bombarded by signals which con-tradict GodÕs Word.Popular cultureÑthrough movies,music,magazines,books and especially televisionÑinundates uswith wrong messages.The signal is sent that a sexual relation-ship outside ofmarriage,or before marriage,is perfectly natural,or that even a homosexual lifestyle is merely an alter-native to ÒtraditionalÓmarriage.Children are led to believe thatbeing disobedient and disrespectful to parents is normal,evenamusing,or that the elderly are to be viewed as a burden,orsubjects for humor.So much ofpopular culture appeals tohumanityÕs most sinful inclinations,and encourages them in abarrage ofimages and words.The pressure on our childrenÑparticularly ourteenagersÑto do whatever is necessary to be ÒpopularÓamong their friends is sometimes difÞcult for parents tounderstand and appreciate.Our young people are often caughtup in destructive lifestyles and behaviors,encouraged by pop-ular music,which encourages rebelliousness and disdain forlife and the dignity oftheir fellow human beings.As ourteenagers grow older,they are given the impression that ÒlivingtogetherÓwithout marriage is perfectly acceptable.How tragicWhat About . . . Christian Familiesit is when their own families do nothing to resist this behavior!Men in our culture are encouraged to indulge their lustsand selÞsh desires.So little respect or attention is given to theman who wishes to be a faithful husband or father.How manychildren today grow up without a loving and responsible fatherin the home? The horrendous consequences ofthis trend willonly become greater as we move into the future.Women too are pressured to take a dim view ofwhat Godhas given them.They are pressured to view childbearing asless than fulÞlling,something perhaps only to be tolerated,andnot to be enjoyed as a gift from God.They too face temptationsto disregard GodÕs expectations for them when they are wivesand mothers,or to view marriage as something to be aban-doned when it becomes inconvenient for them.Yes,we surely do recognize that popular cultural trendsoften convey messages totally contrary to our LordÕs Word and His will for Christian families.This needs to be recognizedand resisted.What can a Christian family do to deal with the challenges ofour day?Openly facing the issues is the Þrst step.Pretending thatproblems do not exist will certainly not help.Nor will it do fora family simply to hope that they will not be faced with prob-lems.Ignoring reality will not make it go away.It is crucial for Christian parents to spend both quality andquantity time with their children.Reading with their youngchildren,discussing the questions they have and being there tosupport and encourage them is extremely important.Husbands and wives need to take time out ofbusy and hectic schedules to simply talk to one another,discussing theneeds they have and the problems they are experiencing,working together to grow in their love for one another,and fortheir children.More importantly,Christians need to pray for the LordÕsblessing on their marriages and families,asking God to forgivethem for their sins and failures as parents and spouses,andthen turning to the LordÕs mercy through their Savior JesusChrist.Christian families need to make every-Sunday worship anabsolute priority.As families are gathered by God around HisWord and Sacraments,they receive forgiveness,life and salva-tionÑthe strength they need to cope with the challenges ofdaily life.What role do daily devotions have in the life ofthe Christian family?One ofthe most important things a family can do is spendtime together in the Word ofGod.Key ingredients for the familyÕs devotional time are theScriptures,the hymnal and the Small Catechism.These areexcellent resources for meaningful time together in the Word ofGod.Parents should begin reading and reciting the chiefpartsofthe Small Catechism with their children when they are veryyoung,helping them learn the LordÕs Prayer,the TenCommandments and the ApostlesÕCreed,and then workingon the explanations,building as time goes on.Parents need to discuss their faith with their children,praywith them and encourage their children in love to do what isright,not hesitating to say ÒnoÓwhen necessary.And always,parents will want to be for their children a model oftheHeavenly FatherÕs love in Christ Jesus our Lord.How can parents help their children resist temptations?Parents often overlook the very important role they playsimply by the way they themselves handle life.A parent canprovide an important role model for his or her children.Ifa man constantly displays a harsh and Þerce temper athome,uses foul language and acts disrespectfully toward hiswife,it is little wonder why his son would grow up with similarattitudes and behaviors.Ifa woman constantly gripes andpoints out every fault,again,there is little surprise when herchildren do the same when they grow up.Christian parents need to model the faith,both to theirchildren and others around them.St.Paul wrote that aChristian marriage is to be an image ofChristÕs love for thechurch.This is both an awesome responsibility and a joyousprivilege.May God bless our families richly with His loving mercy,strengthening them as they seek to love one another and servetheir Lord and Savior.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Christian Families?It seems as though angels have captured the imagination ofpeople everywhere.Unfortunately,there is a lot ofmisin-formation about angels,along with superstitions andunscriptural understandings.This pamphlet will provide aBiblical perspective on angels.Do angels exist?The Word ofGodÑnot popular television shows or maga-zine articlesÑis our only reliable source for knowing whatangels are,and what they do.The Bible teaches us that angelswere made by God during the six days ofcreation.Before cre-ation there was only God (John 1:1-3),and after creation,we aretold that on the seventh day God Òrested from all the work ofcre-ating he had doneÓ(Gen.2:3b).The Bible does not indicate onwhich day ofcreation God made angels.But angels are very real.What does the word ÒangelÓmean?The word ÒangelÓcomes from a Greek word that meansÒmessenger.ÓAngels are GodÕs messengers.Elsewhere in theBible,angels are described as spirits (cf.Acts 23:9;Heb.1:14).The word ÒangelÓis actually a description ofwhat they do.What are angels?Angels are spirits.They are beings who do not have a phys-ical body.Jesus Himselfsaid,Òa spirit does not have ßesh andbones,as you see I haveÓ(Luke 24:39).Evil angels too aredescribed as not having Òßesh and bloodÓ(Eph.6:12).In theScriptures,when angels do appear in human form,this is onlya momentary appearance for those who need to see them.Angels are not gods.They are GodÕs creation and serve His holyand perfect will.The good angels are said to be ÒministeringspiritsÓ(Heb.1:14),sent by God to serve us,His people.Are angels human?Human beings are the crown ofGodÕs creation.Only ofhuman beings,and no other creature,did God say,ÒLet usmake man in our own imageÓ(Gen.1:26).Furthermore,theScriptures reveal that only into human beings did God breathethe breath oflife (Gen.2:7).Also,God did not give angels ruleover His creation.This privilege He gave only to mankind(Gen.1:26-28).Angels are not human beings.They exist asspirits who serve God and His people.Do human beings become angels when they die?No,human beings do not become angels when they die.The Scriptures are clear on this point.Until the last day,thesouls ofthe dead are before the Lord,enjoying peace and rest inHis presence,awaiting the Þnal day when they will receive glo-riÞed bodies for all eternity (see 1 Cor.15;1 Thess.5:17;Rev.7).Are angels intelligent beings?The Bible describes angels as having both intelligence anda will.The good angels know and follow the wisdom ofGod,which He has revealed through Christ to His church (Eph.3:10).They gladly serve us,who are the heirs ofthe salvationChrist has won for us (Heb.1:14).However,angels do not knowall things.For instance,they do not know the thoughts ofourhearts (1 Kings 8:39).How powerful are angels?Angels are extremely powerful beings.They are describedas Òmighty onesÓ(Ps.103:20;2 Thess.1:7).The good angelsguard and protect GodÕs children (Ps.91:11-13).The power ofthe angels is never unlimited,but is always subject to the willand authority ofGod.Evil angels too are powerful beings.The Bible tell us thatthey hold captive all unbelievers (Luke 11:21-22;Eph.2:2).Believers in Christ are able to withstand the temptation ofevilangels through the power ofGod (Eph.6:10-17).Where are angels?Angels,like God,do not inhabit the same physical dimen-sion that human beings inhabit.From time to time,they areordered by God to appear in our physical dimension.Thus,while there are times when angels will make an appearance at a distinct place (cf.Acts 12:7),they remain beings thatinhabit no physical space.How many angels are there?The Bible does not give us an exact number,but doesclearly teach that there are incredibly large numbers ofangelswho serve God.Scripture speaks ofÒten thousand times tenthousand angelsÓ(Dan.7:10).Elsewhere Scripture speaks ofÒagreat company ofthe heavenly hostÓ(Luke 2:13).From every indication in the Bible,there are an unimagin-ably large number ofangels,ofwhom we are totally unawaremost ofthe time.There is a Þxed and limited number ofangels,never increasing or decreasing.Unlike human beings,angels donot marry and have children (Mark 12:25).They are immortal.Are all angels the same?Within the large numbers ofangels there are apparently cer-What About . . . Angelstain orders or classes ofangels.Scripture speaks ofÒcherubimÓ(Gen.3:24;Ps.80:1),ÒseraphimÓ(Is.6:2),Òthrones or powers orrulers or authoritiesÓ(Col.1:16),ÒarchangelÓ(1 Thess.4:16).Also among the evil angels there are ranks and classes ofangels (Matt.25:41).Satan is described as the Òprince ofthedevilsÓ(Luke 11:15).It is pointless,however,to try to inventcomplicated divisions and ranks ofangels,since Scriptureitselfdoes not provide us with this information.What are evil angels,and what do they do?Originally,all angels God created were good and did Hiswill perfectly.At some point after God created them,someangels chose to rebel against Him.They fell away from Godand into great sin and evil.At that point,they were conÞrmedin their evil condition.There is no hope for them.In Matt.8:29,they recognize that there will be a time when they must suffereternal torment and punishment for their rebellion againstGod.Satan is the chiefevil angel,the Òprince ofdemonsÓ(Luke11:15).Here is how our Lord Jesus Christ describes Satan:ÒHewas a murderer from the beginning,not holding to the truth,for there is no truth in him.When he lies,he speaks his nativelanguage,for he is a liar and the father ofliesÓ(John 8:44).When precisely the evil angels rebelled and fell away fromGod we cannot say for sure,but we do know it was some timeat the very beginning ofthe world.Most Christian churchfathers believe that the evil angelsÕoriginal sin was pride,basedon the fact that SatanÕs temptation ofAdam and Eve was anappeal to their pride.Also,1 Tim.3:6 indicates that pride wasthe cause ofthe devilÕs condemnation.The devil is our great enemy,who Òprowls around like aroaring lion looking for someone to devourÓ(1 Pet.5:8).TheBible tell us that the devil is the cause ofunbeliefin the world(Eph.2:1-2).Every person who does not believe the good newsofChrist Jesus is thinking and doing what the devil wants.Unbelievers are described in the Bible as being in the devilÕskingdom and under his power (Acts 26:18;Col.1:13).The veryfact that people do not realize this,and even deny it,is thedevilÕs greatest deception.The devil is so deceptive,at times hewill even disguise himselfas an Òangel oflightÓ(2 Cor.11:14).In fact,the Old Testament once refers to Satan as ÒLucifer,Ówhich means,Òlight bearerÓ(Isa.14:12;KJV).We need to keep in mind that all the Bible says about evilangels,and their eternal punishment,is for the purpose ofmaking us recognize the need to repent and to believe in GodÕsSon,Jesus Christ,who has ransomed mankind by His death,and saved us for eternal life,not in hell,but in heaven.What do good angels do?Good angels enjoy the blessing ofbeing able to see God.They are in the immediate presence ofGod,always beholdingHis great glory,majesty and power (Matt.18:10).This is calledthe ÒbeatiÞc vision,Ówhich all Christians will enjoy one daywhen they are in heaven.GodÕs Word reveals the following things about the activityofgood angels:They praise God (Is.6:3;Luke 2:13),and theyare the LordÕs servants in the world and in the Church (Ps.103:20-21;Heb.1:14).God sends angels to serve and to protect Christian believ-ers in their work and their callings in life (Ps.91:11-12).Theyattend to the dying (Luke 16:22).They care for children (Matt.18:10).Angels are deeply interested in all that occurs in theChurch.They adore and take great joy in the work ofJesusChrist for the salvation ofthe world (Luke 2:13;Eph.3:10).They rejoice over every sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).Scripture mentions the presence ofangels at every greatevent in the Kingdom ofGod.Angels were present when Godgave His law on Mount Sinai (Deut.33:2;Gal.3:19).Angelswere present at the conception,birth,resurrection and ascen-sion ofour Lord (Luke 1:26;2:11;Mark 1:13;24:5ff;Acts1:10ff).Angels will come with Jesus when He returns on thelast day (Matt.13:41ff.;24:31).The Bible tell us that angels are present in the public wor-ship ofChristians (1 Cor.11:10).God also uses angels to helpthe family and to preserve law and order (Gen.24:7;Matt.18:10;Dan.10:13).How are we to treat angels?We need to praise and thank God for good angels.We aretold that we are to take care not to offend them through sin andunbelief(1 Cor.11:10;1 Tim.5:21).But the Scriptures are alsoclear that we must not pray to angels,nor offer them our wor-ship.The angels themselves protest any worship given to them(Rev.22:8-9).As believers,we have the privilege ofhaving angels sur-rounding us and protecting us and working to do GodÕs goodand perfect will in our lives.Our hope and trust is always inGod,whom we know sends His angels to watch over us and tosee us through whatever difÞculty in life may come our way.Because ofour Lord Jesus ChristÕs perfect life and sacriÞ-cial death for the sins ofthe world,we have the assurance ofthecomplete and total forgiveness ofall our sins.We know thatGod loves and cares for us as His own dear children.Furthermore,we know that the Lord sends His angels to carefor us in order that some day we may join them,and all thecompany ofheaven,in seeing God and singing His praises forall eternity.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Angels?Greetings in the name ofour Lord Jesus Christ.AsChristians we have a unique perspective on death,aperspective that is radically different from the worldaround us.This pamphlet is intended to help you,or someoneyou know,face death and understand what death is,and howChristians face death and deal with grief.What is death?The Bible teaches that death is not an annihilation inwhich we cease to exist.The Scriptures teach that death is theseparation ofour eternal soul from our mortal bodies.Ourbodies rest in the grave,awaiting the Þnal day when soul andbody shall be reunited.At the moment ofdeath,our souls,andthe souls ofall those who die in faith,immediately are in thepresence ofChrist,and will enjoy His presence,peace and joyuntil the great day ofthe resurrection ofall ßesh.Is Death Natural?It is popular to think ofdeath as something that is Ònat-ural.ÓSome people even are heard to say,ÒDeath is a friend.ÓNothing could be further from the truth! Death is a horriblereality.It is the enemy we each face at the end ofour lives.Death is the awful curse that fell on creation through the sin ofAdam and Eve in the Garden ofEden.Through that sin,deathcame into the world and so death spread to all ofhumanitybecause all people sin.God did not create human beings to die,but to liveÑtolive forever and enjoy Him forever.Death was not part ofourcreated nature,but only something that came about as a resultofthe sinful disobedience ofour Þrst parentsÑa sinful dis-obedience that has been passed down to every human beingsince that time.Why must Christians die?Scripture clearly indicates that Christians too must passthrough death to life.We learn that our bodies are actuallydead right now because ofsin (ÒThe body is dead because ofsinÓRom.8:10).And so Christians too must die.The sting ofdeath and sense ofGodÕs judgment are horri-ble punishments on those who have no faith in Christ as theirSavior.They face,at the end oftheir life,only the prospect ofanunknown future,or a terrifying vision ofeternal damnation.However,the death ofa Christian is not death in as full a senseas it is for the non-Christian.For the Christian,eternal life andjoy follows death,for our Lord Jesus Christ is the One whowalks with them through the Òvalley ofthe shadow ofdeathÓ(Psalm 23).What is the ChristianÕs response to death and dying?ÒYea,though I walk through the valley ofthe shadow ofdeath,I will fear no evil.ÓThese familiar words ofPsalm 23chart the direction for a Christian individual or family facingthe reality ofdeath.Here God identiÞes our greatest enemy insuch timesÑfear.Since none ofus among the living has evertasted death,we respond to the prospect ofdeath (whether ourown or that ofsomeone we love) with fear.Fear is natural.Now,iffear is the enemy,who is our ally? The Psalmist con-tinues:ÒFor thou art with me;thy rod and thy staff,they com-fort me.ÓJesus,our Good Shepherd,the One who laid down Hislife for the sheep,is our companion on the dark,winding roadthat leads through the valley ofthe shadow ofdeath.The jour-ney is not optional.Sooner or later each ofus,no matter howold or young,will walk that path.This will happen until thatday when Jesus comes againÑwhen,at the last trumpet,thefaithful will be changed in the twinkling ofan eye (1 Cor.15:51Ð52).But here is the important part:I walk through the valley.The One who is with us in that journey,who leads us on,bearsthe scars ofdeath in His living body.He was dead,but now Helives forevermore.All who believe and are baptized will besaved;they have a share in His victory over death.Christians,therefore,are able to see death not merely as an unfortunatereality to be endured,but as a defeated enemy.The resurrec-tion ofthe body and the life everlasting are the sure and certainrealities promised to all who remain faithful unto death.What happens after we die?For unbelievers,there is the Òsecond deathÓ(Rev.20:14) inwhich their souls are immediately in the presence ofSatan andimmediately begin to suffer the torment ofeternal punish-ment in hell,from which there is no possibility ofescape.Onthe day ofjudgment,their bodies join their souls in hell.Those who trust in the redemption won by Christ our Lordpass from death to life.This is why the Bible uses so manyWhat About . . . Death and Dyingcomforting images to describe the death ofthe child ofGod.Here are some ofthe phrases the Holy Spirit uses to describe aChristianÕs death:being gathered to oneÕs people;departure inpeace;departure and being with Christ;a turning away fromthe evil to come;sleep;rest;passing from death to life;deliver-ance from all evil;and,Þnally,Ògain.ÓGain? How can death be gain? When a baptized child ofGod passes through deathÑa son or daughter ofGod who hasbeen redeemed by the blood ofthe Lamb ofGodÑthen deathis gain.Through death the children ofGod pass into an eter-nity ofjoy and peace with their heavenly Father.Each Christian,therefore,may rejoice in the life that Christhas won and gives to him or her through the Word andSacraments.When we die,our souls await the Þnal consum-mation ofall things on the day Christ returns.We shall receivegloriÞed bodies that are free from tears,pain,sickness andageÑperfectly renewed and gloriÞed resurrection bodies.In these new and gloriÞed bodies,we shall spend all eter-nity in heaven,enjoying the presence ofGod and all His saints,forever and ever.The overwhelming joy ofthis truth is almosttoo much for us to even begin to comprehend,but it is true!How do Christians face death?Christians face death as they face lifeÑwith their eyesÞxed Þrmly on Jesus.We cling to the promises ofHis Word,which,when facing death,seem even more wonderful andpowerful.One ofthe most beautiful promises our Lord gave tous is found in John 14:2Ð3 where He says,ÒIn my FatherÕshouse are many rooms;ifit were not so,would I have told youthat I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and preparea place for you,I will come again and will take you to myself,that where I am you may be also.ÓWe realize that no matter how our lives may end,there isone thing ofwhich we can be absolutely certain.We shall passfrom death to life,from this life to the life beyond,with ourLord.And there we shall rejoin all ofour loved ones and otherswho have gone before us trusting in Christ their Savior.How does a Christian deal with grief?Christians should not hesitate to cry.Our Lord wept at thetomb ofHis friend Lazarus.We too Þnd ourselves in tears atthe pain ofour loss.But we do not sorrow in the same way asthose who have no hope.Since we believe that Jesus died androse again,even so,through Jesus,God will bring with Himthose who have fallen asleep (1 Thess.4:14).We look forwardto a grand reunion with loved ones who have died in faith.Still,we miss them.The separation can seem overwhelming attimes.This pain is part and parcel ofgrieving;it is to be under-stood,not resisted.Grieving for most people is a journey.It is a journey fromthe initial pain ofparting,toward healing and reconciliationwith our loss.The pain gradually subsides,but the lossremains.Griefhas many dimensions and may seem unpre-dictable in its ebb and ßow;yet in Christ we Þnd strength alongthe way.For in this journey we are not alone.Christians Þnd that family and friends are GodÕs gifts tohelp them bear the pain ofloss,which at times seems unbear-able.Such company is important in dealing constructivelywith grief.It must be consciously sought out by those whomourn.Most who mourn Þnd it very helpful to tell the story ofthe death ofthose they love to family and to trusted friends.The repeated narrating ofthat story brings release and insightinto the joy and sorrow ofthe parting.Friends and family willwant to lend a listening ear and heart for such telling andretelling;it is a rare privilege to be entrusted with such trea-sures.ÒBear one anotherÕs burdens,and so fulÞll the law ofChristÓ(Gal.6:2).Above all,Christian mourners will turn to the worship fel-lowship ofthe church and the rich comfort ofGodÕs holy Wordand Sacrament for healing along the path ofgrief.For JesusChrist abides within His church through His sacred means ofgrace.Through these channels He bestows the riches ofHisforgiveness,life and salvation now,and to all eternity.One daywe too shall stand with that great multitude ofheaven whohear these blessed words:ÒNow the dwelling ofGod is with men,and he will live withthem.They will be his people,and God himselfwill be withthem and be their God.He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,forthe old order ofthings has passed awayÓ(Rev.21:3Ð4).Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Death and Dying?Why does God give us pastors?When we look at our lives and measure them according tothe holiness and righteousness ofthe Lord God Almighty weare moved to say,ÒLord,have mercy on me,a sinner.ÓWereceive forgiveness ofsins,and become righteous before God,by grace,for ChristÕs sake,through faith,when we believe thatChrist lived,suffered,died and rose again for us,and that forHis sake our sins are forgiven,and righteousness and eternallife are given to us.But how do we receive this faith? In order to obtain suchfaith,God instituted the ministry ofteaching the Gospel andadministering the Sacraments.It is through the Word andSacraments that the Holy Spirit produces faith,where andwhen it pleases Him,in those who hear the good news ofJesusÕdeath and resurrection for the forgiveness ofsins.Pastors accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage.Theyserve us with ChristÕs Word and Sacraments,through whichthe Holy Spirit gives us forgiveness,life and salvation.Therefore,we believe,teach and confess that Òwhen the calledministers ofChrist deal with us by His divine command ...thisis just as valid and certain,even in heaven,as ifChrist our dearLord dealt with us HimselfÓ(Small Catechism).How does God give us pastors?The pastoral ofÞce is a gift that God has given to thechurch,as Paul says,ÒWhen he ascended on high he gave giftsto menÓ(Eph.4:8,11-12).Paul enumerates pastors and teach-ers among the gifts belonging to the church,and he adds thatthey are given for the work ofministry and for building up thebody ofChrist.Therefore,the right ofelecting and ordainingministers is a duty and responsibility ofthe church.Through a congregationÕs call,God places a man to be theshepherd ofthat congregation.ÒOur churches teach thatnobody shall publicly preach or teach or administer the sacra-ments without a regular callÓ(Augsburg Confession,ArticleXIV).Only those who are called and ordained to the pastoralofÞce may exercise it publicly.Although the Holy Scripturesmake it clear that all the baptized are priests,called to offer GodsacriÞces ofthanks and praise (1 Peter 2:9;Rev.1:6;5:10),it also teaches that in the church there is an ofÞce to teach,feed,guide and rule,which Christians,by virtue oftheir general calling as Christians,do not possess (1 Cor.12:29;Rom.10:15;1 Tim.5:17;James 3:1).While all Christiansthrough Baptism are made part ofGodÕs royal priesthood,notall Christians are ministers.When a man receives and accepts his Þrst call to serve as apastor,he is then ordained.Ordination is a conÞrmation ofamanÕs call into the ministry ofthe church and is the historicand apostolic rite by which,through Word and prayer,a man isset apart for service to Christ and His church as a pastor.During his ordination,he is also installed into the pastoralofÞce ofthe congregation that calls him.In the future,ifheaccepts other calls to serve,he will be installed,but notordained again.How are pastors described?The word ÒpastorÓcomes from the Latin word for Òshepherd.ÓShepherding is a predominant picture in the Bible for both thework ofChrist and the work ofour pastors (cf.Ps.23;Ezek.34;Eph.4:11;1 Peter 5:2-3).The Scriptures indicate that the HolySpirit appoints men to shepherd GodÕs people (Acts 20:28).Pastors are also referred to frequently in the Bible as Òmin-isters,Óa word that literally means ÒslaveÓ(Acts 26:16;Rom.15:16;Eph.3:7;1 Tim.4:6).In 2 Cor.4:5 Paul describes pastorsthis way:ÒWe preach not ourselves,but Christ Jesus the Lord;and ourselves your slaves,for JesusÕsake.ÓPastors model theirministry on the life and work ofthe Lord Jesus Christ who didnot come to be served,but to serve.The pastoral ofÞce is anofÞce ofloving,caring service to the people ofGod,in the steadand by the command ofour Lord Jesus Christ.ÒOversightÓis another less frequently used term thatdescribes the pastorÕs work.Pastoral oversight is the spiritualduty ofrebuking and warning ChristÕs people when they fall into sin,feeding and caring for them with the Gospel,andguarding and defending them from false teachers and theirfalse teachings.Pastoral oversight is not to be confused with institutional management or leadership,like a CEO typeofposition.Our Lutheran Confessions refer to the pastoral ofÞce as theÒPreaching OfÞce,Óto which men are called and ordained.Wealso speak ofthe ofÞce ofthe holy ministry.The ministry isholy not because ofthe men who are in it,but because oftheOne who established it.It is holy because ofwhat the Lord isdoing for His people through the work ofHis pastors.What About . . . PastorsWhat does God expect ofpastors?Pastors do not Òrepresent their own persons but the personofChrist,because ofthe ChurchÕs call,as Christ testiÞes (Luke10:16) ÔHe who hears you,hears me.ÕWhen they offer the WordofChrist or the sacraments,they do so in ChristÕs place andsteadÓ(Apology VII/VIII.28).The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Tim.3:2-4 that a pastor is to beÒabove reproach,the husband ofone wife,temperate,self-con-trolled,respectable,hospitable,able to teach,not given todrunkenness,not violent,but gentle,not quarrelsome,not alover ofmoney.He must manage his own family well and seethat his children obey him with proper respect.ÓIn 1 Tim.3:6we read that a pastor is not to be Òa recent convert,or he maybecome conceited and fall under the same judgment as thedevil.ÓIn Titus 1:9 is it is said that pastors Òmust hold Þrmly tothe trustworthy message as it has been taught,so that he canencourage others by sound doctrine,and refute it.ÓAlthough some Protestant churches ordain women to thepastoral ofÞce,this is a 20th-century innovation.For morethan 1,900 years,there has been nearly unanimous faithful-ness to the Word ofGod,given through the Apostle Paul,thatwomen are not to serve as pastors (see 1 Cor.14:33-35,37;1Tim.2:11-12;1 Tim.3:1-2 and Titus 1:5-6).Because it is God who places men into the pastoral ofÞce,through the congregation,only God,through the congregation,can properly remove a man from the pastoral ofÞce.Pastorsare forgiven sinners,as are all baptized children ofGod.Thus,we do not expect perfection ofour pastors,any more than pas-tors would expect congregations to be perfect.The awesomeforgiveness ofJesus Christ sustains us all.A Òhire and ÞreÓatti-tude toward our pastors must not enter into our thinking.Removing a man from the pastoral ofÞce must be based onlyon clear,Biblical,criteria;namely,persistent adherence to falsedoctrine,a scandalous life,or willful neglect ofduty.What are the duties and commitments ofpastors?Our pastors preach,catechize,administer the Sacraments,hear confession from penitent sinners,and comfort the sick.The church knows that even the most faithful pastor can neverdo enough ofthese things,but the church also knows these arethe precious duties our pastors are given to do.We must neverallow other things to take priority over these key pastoralduties and activities.With the help ofGod,our pastors have the responsibility to speak the truth in love,but this duty must be understoodcorrectly.Our pastors are not Òpeople pleasers,Ówatering down thetruths ofGodÕs Word.Pastors pledge themselves uncondition-ally,and without qualiÞcation,to the Lutheran Confessions ascontained in the Book ofConcord of1580,as a true and faith-ful exposition ofthe Word ofGod.This strong doctrinal commitment safeguards the teach-ing ofthe truth ofthe Word ofGod in the congregation.Also,itprotects the pastor from unjust criticism when he stands upfor the truths ofGodÕs Word.By means ofthis strong doctrinalfoundation,both pastor and people are able to evaluate theirrelationship to one another and the work ofthe congregation.How do we support our pastors?The most important way we support our pastors isthrough our prayers,asking the Lord ofthe Church to give ourpastors wisdom,strength,courage and peace,asking Him tobless our pastorsÕministry among us and to work powerfullythrough their proclamation ofthe Word and administration ofthe Sacraments.Our children should be taught each night toremember their pastor in their prayers.The members ofour congregations assist their pastor asthey encourage and support him in the ministry entrusted tohim.They volunteer their time,by serving in a variety ofwaysin the parish,and give oftheir treasures.The pastor is not aÒhired hand,Ówho is to do all the work ofthe congregation.Telling the good news ofthe forgiveness ofsins in Jesus,inmany different situations and opportunities in life,is a taskand duty given to all Christians,not only pastors (Matt.28:19-20;1 Peter 2:9;1 Peter 3:15).GodÕs Word also has these things to say about how we areto support our pastors.1 Cor.9:14:ÒThe Lord has commandedthat those who preach the gospel should receive their livingfrom the gospel.ÓGal.6:6-7:ÒAnyone who receives instructionin the word must share all good things with his instructor.Donot be deceived:God cannot be mocked.A man reaps what hesows.Ó1 Thess.5:12-13:ÒNow we ask you,brothers,to respectthose who work hard among you,who are over you in the Lordand who admonish you.Hold them in the highest regard inlove because oftheir work.Live in peace with each other.ÓHeb.13:17:ÒObey your leaders and submit to their authority.Theykeep watch over you as men who must give an account.Obeythem so that their work will be a joy,not a burden,for thatwould be ofno advantage to you.ÓWhat a blessing pastors have been to GodÕs people downthrough the ages! May God continue to bless the church might-ily through His gift ofpastors.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about Pastors?As we approached the year 2001,the beginning ofa newmillennium,we heard more and more predictionsabout the end ofthe world.There is a great deal ofcon-fusion about the end ofthe world and what the new millen-nium might bring.What a blessing it is to have the Word ofGodto help us sort through the many speculations we hear aboutthese things!Will the world come to an end in the third millennium?It is simply impossible to answer this question with eithera deÞnite ÒyesÓor a deÞnite Òno.ÓDuring his earthly ministry,our Lord Jesus Christ was asked when the end ofthe worldwould be.His answer was very clear.He said,ÒNo one knowsabout that day or hour,not even the angels in heaven,nor theSon,but only the FatherÓ(Matt.24:36).The Bible repeatedlywarns us about trying to set a date for the return ofChrist(Mark 13:32-33;1 Thess.5:1-3;2 Pet.3:10).We are not to speculate when Jesus will return.Rather,we are to be ready atall times for His return (Matt.24:33,42-44;Luke 21:28;1 Thess.5:6).What are the signs ofthe end times?Every generation should expect ChristÕs return as they seethe signs ofthe end times.The most important sign ofthe endis the preaching ofthe Gospel to all nations (Matt.24:14;Mark13:10).The time between ChristÕs birth and His return is the great missionary ageÑthe time that God is calling all people to be saved.It is the time that was predicted by the Old Testament prophets (see Isa.2:1-4;42:6-7;49:6;52:10;Amos 9:11-12).Other signs that the world will come to an end includewars,earthquakes,famines and widespread diseases.Theseare all indications ofGodÕs divine judgment.The Bibledescribes these signs in many places (see,for instance,Isa.19:2;2 Chron.15:6;Matt.24:6-8;Mark 13:7-8;Luke 21:9-11,25-26;Joel 2:30-31).We are not to see every incident ofnaturaldisasters as a direct punishment from God (cf.Luke 13:1-5).The upheaval and troubles in the world ofnature shouldalways remind us that our present fallen world is under thecurse ofGod on account ofsin (Gen.3:17;Rom.8:19-22).These signs show us GodÕs wrath and are signals to us that allsinners need to repent (Luke 13:3,5;Rev.9:20-21;16:9).Christians especially are urged by God in His Word to regardthese signs as Òbirth pangsÓofa new and better world to come(Rom.8:22;Matt.24:8;Rev.21:1-4).Believers in Christ can takecomfort in GodÕs promise to protect and preserve us even inthe midst ofsuffering (Rev.3:10;7:3-4).Jesus warned us that trouble would lie ahead for His people(Matt.5:10-12;John 15:18-20;16:33).Because the world willcontinue to oppose the Kingdom ofGod,Christians can expectto suffer persecution in a variety offorms throughout the timebetween ChristÕs birth and His second coming.It is for this rea-son that God calls on us to endure to the end,and gives us thestrength to do so (Matt.24:9;Mark 13:9-13;Luke 21:12-19).What will happen when Christ returns?The Bible teaches that the following events will take placewhen Jesus returns:1.Christ will come visibly and all people will see Him (Acts1:11;Matt.24:27,30;Luke 17:22-24;21:27,35;Mark 13:24-26;14:62;Rev.1:7).2.Christ will come in glory surrounded by His angels (Matt.13:39-43,49;16:27;24:30-31;25:31;2 Thess.1:7;Rev.19:11-14;Titus 2:13;Jude 14,21;1 Pet.4:13;Zech.14:3).3.When Christ returns,a bodily resurrection ofall the deadwill take place.Believers will be raised to salvation andunbelievers to damnation (John 5:27-29;6:39-40,44,54;Rev.20:11-15;1 Cor.15:12-57;Dan.12:1-2).All believers,both the dead and the living,will be Òcaught upÓto Òmeet theLord in the airÓ(1 Thess.4:13-17).Death will be destroyed(1 Cor.15:26,54-57;Rev.20:14).4.When Christ returns,He will judge all people,both the livingand the dead (Matt.25:31-46;John 5:27;Acts 10:42;17:31;Rom.2:16;2 Tim.4:1,8;Jude 14-15;Rev.20:11-15).Believerswill receive eternal salvation and unbelievers eternaldamnation (Matt.25:31-46;1 Pet.1:4-5,7;5:4;1 John 3:2;Heb.9:28;2 Cor.5:10;2 Thess.1:6-10).Satan and Antichristwill be destroyed (2 Thess.2:8;Rev.12:10-11).5.When Christ returns,a Ònew heavens and a new earthÓwillbe created (2 Pet.3:10-13).Nowhere,however,do theScriptures teach that at His return Christ will establish athis-worldly,political kingdom or Òmillennium.ÓWhat About . . . The New MillenniumWhat is Millennialism?Millennialism describes a variety oferroneous specula-tions about a supposed 1,000-year reign ofJesus Christ,hereon earth,during which there will be perfect peace and thecomplete victory ofthe church on earth.These views err inthat they place too much emphasis on highly Þgurative lan-guage in certain portions ofthe Bible.Dispensational Premillennialismdivides GodÕs dealingswith our world into seven distinct Òdispensations.ÓFrom the age ofinnocence before the Fall,to the MillennialKingdom,this theory holds that God is working through peri-ods ofhistory,culminating in a series ofdramatic battles onearth,after which Christ will return in glory,destroy all Hisenemies,and establish a 1,000-year reign on earth ofprosper-ity and peace,with worship centered around a rebuilt newtemple in Jerusalem.Historic Premillennialismis the view that the return ofChrist will be a one-time event following a period ofintensesuffering and tribulation.Christians will be resurrected fromthe dead and those still living will join Christ,who will destroythe Antichrist and Satan,and will begin a 1,000-year reign onearth.During this 1,000 years,there will be perfect tranquillityand peace.After the 1,000 years is over,Satan will be let loosefor a little while and then the end will come in one last greatbattle.After that,the judgment will begin,sending peopleeither to heaven or hell for all eternity.Postmillennialismis the theory that after a 1,000-yearperiod ofpeace and tranquillity,Christ will return,and the res-urrection ofall the dead will take place.Postmillennialists donot believe that the 1,000 years will be a literal 1,000 years,butit does claim that there will be a distinct period ofpeace andprosperity for the church before the return ofChrist.Amillennialism,however,is the teaching that there will beno millennium ofperfect peace on earth before or after ChristÕssecond coming.The Lutheran church,on the basis ofthe Bible,holds to this point ofview.The Bible does not teach that therewill be a deÞnite 1,000-year period oftime during whichChrist will reign on earth visibly.Christ Himselfsaid,ÒMy king-dom is not ofthis worldÓ(John 18:36);furthermore,the Bibleclearly teaches that we Christians are looking for Òa new heavenand a new earthÓ(2 Pet.3:13)Ñnot an era ofprosperity on thepresent earth.What are Christians to be doing as the new millenniumapproaches?God wants all people to come to believe and trust in HisSon for their salvation and to lead holy lives in service to Him,eagerly awaiting with patience and perseverance His return onthe last day (Rom.13:12-14;Titus 2:1-13;1 Pet.1:13-15;2 Pet.3:11-12;1 John 3:2-3;1 Tim.6:14;Matt.25:14-30).Our Lord says to us:ÒTherefore keep watch,because youdo not know on what day your Lord will comeÓ(Matt.24:42).This is a constant theme in Scripture.St.Paul writes,ÒSo then,let us not be like others,who are asleep,but let us be alert andself-controlledÓ(1 Thess.5:6).The Apostle Peter describes what Christians are to bedoing:ÒIn keeping with his promise,we are looking forward toa new heaven and a new earth,the home ofrighteousness.Sothen,dear friends,since you are looking forward to this,makeevery effort to be found spotless,blameless and at peace withhimÓ(2 Pet.3:13-14).As the end ofthe world draws closer,each day the Lordgives us is one more day to serve Him and to be a part ofthegreat effort to proclaim the Gospel.This is the great missionChrist has given His church:ÒGo and make disciples ofallnations,baptizing them in the name ofthe Father and oftheSon and ofthe Holy Spirit,teaching them to obey everything Ihave commanded youÓ(Matt.28:19-20).Our Lord promises tobe with us until the end ofthe world (Matt.28:20),as we con-tinue to tell the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:35).Finally,our Lord wants us to be watchful for His coming.We have the assurance that because ofHis death and resurrec-tion for us,we have the full and free forgiveness ofour sins.Wemay not know all the details about the end ofthe world,but we do not need to be anxious about them.Nor should we get all caught up in speculation about the end times.We live in thegreat period ofthe ÒnowÓand the Ònot yet.ÓWe have salvation inChrist right now.But we do not yet have the Þnal blessing ofour salvation:life forever with the Lord in heaven.Though we do not know when our Lord will return,we are able to look forward to His return with conÞdent hope andjoy (Rev.22:20):Ò ÔYes,I am coming soon.ÕAmen.Come,Lord Jesus!ÓFor further studyMuch ofthe information contained in this pamphlet isbased on the excellent study from The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodÕs Commission on Theology and ChurchRelations titled,ÒThe End Times:A Study on Eschatology andMillennialismÓ[September 1989].You may purchase a copyfrom Concordia Publishing House.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about the New Millennium?Ihave a suspicion Christian stewardship is one ofthoseareas to which we really do not give adequate attention.Unfortunately,at times when stewardship is discussed it isdone from the perspective ofthe Law,not the Gospel.In fact,itmay well be that a number ofpeople think that stewardship isonly about raising funds for the churchÕs budget.That is gen-uinely unfortunate,for,as we shall see,Christian stewardship ismuch more than this.To fully appreciate the privilege we have ofbeing Christianstewards,we need to return to those bedrock truths oftheChristian faith so that we will continually live in appreciationofthe glorious truths ofGodÕs Word,truths that set us free forlives ofChristian stewardship.Why are we here?The age-old question is this,ÒWhy am I here?ÓWe need toadmit that sometimes our answer goes something like this,ÒIam here in order to accumulate as many things as I possiblycan in order to have a successful life.I work to earn money tobuy more things.ÓBut the real answer to that question is found in the Þrstbook ofthe Bible,ÒGod created man in His own image,in theimage ofGod He created him;male and female He createdthem.Ó(Genesis 1:27).We are here because we are GodÕs creation.There was perfect and complete harmony between humanbeings and God.He created mankind to be in perfect fellow-ship with Him,reßecting His glory.He wanted this perfect relationship to continue forever.What went wrong?When Adam and Eve fell into sin,the beautiful relation-ship God intended them to have with Him was destroyedthrough their sinful rebellion against Him.ÒIn Adam all dieÓ(1Cor.15:22).To this very day and hour this fall impacts all areasoflife.From the moment ofour conception we are sinful (Ps.51:5).By nature,every thought and imagination ofhumanbeings from their childhood is evil continually (Gen.8:21).Human beings,as they come into this world,are at war withGod (Rom.8:7),and Òalienated from the life ofGodÓthroughthe ignorant blindness oftheir sinful condition (Eph.4:18).That is the most fundamental challenge and problem weface in regard to Christian stewardship.Ever since the fall intosin,human beings are always turned in upon themselves,withlives that revolve around what they want,what they need,andwhat they are concerned about.Believers are constantly Þghting against the old sinful ßeshthat wants to pull them back into these old patterns ofthoughtand action.How did God deal with our greatest need?God promised to send a Savior when Adam and Eve fell(Gen.3:15).When the time had come,God sent His Son intoour world,to live perfectly under His Law,and to be the perfectatoning sacriÞce for the sins ofthe world (Gal.4:4,5).By Hisinnocent suffering and bitter death,our Lord Jesus Christopened to us the gates ofparadise.By the shedding ofHis holy,precious blood,Jesus hascleansed you from all ofyour sinÑall ofit,not just some ofitÑall ofit.You are forgiven.Your debt is paid.In Christ,youhave become a new creation.He has opened all the doors thatsin had closed (Is.59:2).He has pulled us out ofdestruction and made us new crea-tures to live under Him in His kingdom,serving Him in ever-lasting righteousness,innocence and blessedness.We aresaved from eternal damnation and saved for an eternity oflifewith God that begins right here and now.The source and strength ofChristian stewardship is theblood-bought salvation that is so richly and daily given us inChrist.We are given a new purpose in life and a new hope.Weare given new hearts and renewed minds.We are set on a newpath oflife.We are freed from our former slavery to sinful pat-terns ofthought and action.Having been saved redeemed and forgiven by our goodand gracious God,we now live in the reality ofthat salvation.We realize that life is not just about us,but about GodÕs will forus.We live now in the awareness that all things belong to God.We are called to be stewards ofthose things God has entrustedto us.What is the stewardÕs highest priority?Luke 19:11Ð27 is the parable ofthe talents.I wouldencourage you to take a few moments to read this parable.What About . . . Christian StewardshipHere our Lord clearly indicates how He wishes us to be stew-ards ofHis precious Gospel,the good news ofsalvation that isours in Christ.Jesus told this parable as He was on His way toJerusalem for the Þnal time in His earthly life.He knew thatsoon He would no longer be present visibly with His disciples.God has given us the soul-saving and life-changing Gospelthrough Word and Sacraments.These Gospel-treasures are tobe guarded,defended and preserved,as Jude 3 makes clear.Weare not,however,simply to bury these treasures,instead we areto make good use ofthem! Christian stewards use the treasure ofthe Gospel in theirown lives by faithfully gathering every Sunday around theWord and Sacraments.There they receive the life and strengthand hope and power that makes Christian stewardship possi-ble.We gather regularly with other Christians to study the Bibleso we can grow in our understanding and knowledge aboutGodÕs Holy Word.And having so gathered around Word andSacraments,we then are ready to ÒinvestÓthese treasures.Stewards donÕt just bury this treasure,they put it to work!This is our sacred trust and responsibility.Christ wants us toshare the saving Gospel He has committed to our trust,so thatwith it and through it,others may be won for Him for all eter-nity (Mark 5:19Ð20).He died for all (2 Cor.5:15) and it is Hiswill that none should perish,but that all should be brought torepentance and faith (2 Peter 3:9).As Christian stewards joyfully use the greatest gift ofallÑthe Gospel given through Word and SacramentÑthey willÞnd that priorities in their life change and take on a new per-spective.No longer do they Þnd themselves living only forthemselves.Rather,they recognize they are part ofthe mostdramatic,exciting and wonderful life possibleÑlife with Godand life in service to Him for the sake ofothers.St.Paul puts it so beautifully when he writes in Galatians2:20,ÒI have been cruciÞed with Christ;and it is no longer Iwho live,but Christ lives in me;and the life which I now live inthe ßesh,I live by faith in the Son ofGod,who loved me,andgave Himselfup for me.ÓHow do Christian stewards use their material blessings?The money that we have and all the things that we ownÑall ofthem are GodÕs possessions.Everything in this life thatwe have is a sacred trust from our heavenly Father (Hag.2:8;Lev.25:23;Ps.50:10ff).Everything belongs to God.He allowsus to use His creation and intends it for our good.The Apostle Paul puts matters quite clearly when hewrites,ÒWe brought nothing into this world,and it is certainthat we can carry nothing outÓ(1 Tim.6:7).Because this istrue,we need to realize that those things we have are not oursto use in any way we choose.When we talk about Christian stewardship then,we aretalking about a Òbig pictureÓview ofhow we manage and useall that our good and gracious God has given to us,and thatcertainly includes money.Some have more,some have less,butall have the privilege,duty and responsibility to give sacriÞ-cially for the work ofthe Kingdom.Clearly then,it is our joyfulprivilege and sacred duty to support the work ofthe churchthrough our Þnancial offerings.We give too ofour time andour talents in the work ofthe church,giving as we havereceived and sharing as we have been blessed.We do this in order that the message ofChrist and thetruth ofHis Word is spread abroad,through our own personalefforts,and through the efforts ofour congregation and ourdistrict,and our Synod,as together we join hands to reach outboldly with the GospelÑtelling the good news ofJesus.ConclusionWhen we catch the vision ofChristian stewardship thatßows from a Christ-centered and Gospel-centered under-standing ofGodÕs Word,we are able to put issues ofour wealthand possessions in proper perspective.They are not ÒendsÓbutÒmeans.ÓThey are the means by which our Lord provides forour needs and the means by which He permits us to joinhands with fellow believers in supporting generously the workofthe church in reaching out with the message offorgiveness,life and salvation in Christ.How much can we give? How much are we to give? We donot live under law,but under grace.Each ofus needs prayer-fully to determine what is most appropriate for their own situ-ation.Many Christians have found giving a Þxed percent oftheir income to be the best way to be regular in their giving.Because ofwhat Christ has done,we are called to lives ofChristian stewardshipÑlives that reßect the glory ofGod.Christian stewards are privileged by God to live their lives ingrateful praise and thanksgiving to God,reßecting this mar-velous truth from GodÕs almighty Spirit-Þlled Word:ÒFor you know the grace ofour Lord Jesus Christ,thatthough He was rich,yet for your sake He became poor,that youthrough His poverty might become richÓ(2 Cor.8:9).Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Christian Stewardship?Fellowship in the LordÕs Supper is the basis for the prac-tice ofÒcloseÓor Òclosed communion.Ó(The phrasesÒclose communionÓand Òclosed communionÓrefer toone and the same practice).This pamphlet will help you appre-ciate,understand and explain to others the practice ofclosecommunion.What does God teach in His Word?ÒJesus took bread,gave thanks and broke it,and gave it tohis disciples,saying,ÔTake and eat;this is my body.ÕThen hetook the cup,gave thanks and offered it to them,saying,ÔDrinkfrom it,all ofyou.This is my blood ofthe covenant,which ispoured out for many for the forgiveness ofsins.ÕÓ(cf.Matt.26:26Ð28;Mark 14:22Ð25;Luke 22:14Ð20;1 Cor.11:17Ð29).ÒThey devoted themselves to the apostlesÕteaching and to the fellowship,to the breaking ofbread and to prayerÓ(Acts 2:42).ÒWhenever you eat this bread and drink this cup,you pro-claim the LordÕs death until he comes.Therefore,whoever eatsthe bread or drinks the cup ofthe Lord in an unworthy man-ner will be guilty ofsinning against the body and blood oftheLord.A man ought to examine himselfbefore he eats ofthebread and drinks ofthe cup.For anyone who eats and drinkswithout recognizing the body ofthe Lord eats and drinks judg-ment on himselfÓ(1 Cor.11:26Ð29).What does the Lutheran church believe about the LordÕs Supper?The Lutheran church believes,teaches and confesses thatthe LordÕs Supper is the true body and blood ofour Lord JesusChrist,under the bread and wine,given to us Christians to eatand to drink.We hold that the bread and the wine in theSupper are the true body and blood ofChrist and that these aregiven and received into the mouths ofall who commune.Those who believe the promise:ÒGiven and shed for you forthe forgiveness ofsins,Óreceive forgiveness ofsins,life and sal-vation.This promise,along with the bodily eating and drink-ing,is the main thing in the Sacrament.The Lutheran church rejects and condemns incorrectunderstandings ofthe LordÕs Supper,such as the view that thesacriÞce ofthe Mass delivers man from his sins,or that thesubstance ofthe consecrated bread and wine is actuallychanged into the body and blood ofChrist.We also reject andcondemn the view that in the LordÕs Supper the true body andblood ofChrist is not received by the mouth ofthe communi-cants,under the bread and wine,but is received only spirituallyin the heart by faith,or that the bread and wine are only sym-bols ofthe far-distant body and blood ofour Lord.How is the LordÕs Supper an expression ofchurch fellowship?While the LordÕs Supper is always a personal matter,it isnever a private matter.That is an important truth that is oftenoverlooked.Those who commune at the same altar are therebydeclaring publically that they are united in the doctrine oftheApostles (Acts 2:42).Therefore,fellowship in the Supper ischurch fellowship.This is what is taught by Holy Scripture in 1 Cor.10 and 11.Here is how one ofour churchÕs teachersexplained this truth.ÒAs there is but one bread,one loaf,from which we eat,sowe who are eating ofthis loafare one body.The eating ofoneand the same loafofbread uniÞes us to one body.Our partici-pation in the LordÕs Supper is a public profession on our partthat we are not only in fellowship with Christ,but that we alsoare in fellowship with those with whom we commune at theLordÕs Table.We all eat the same bread,the body ofChrist.Through that act we indicate that we belong together.All ofusChristians who in the LordÕs Supper eat the body ofChrist anddrink His blood present ourselves as one spiritual family.Whatwe eat and drink together,ChristÕs body and blood,ties ustogether more closely than the bonds ofblood.We declare our-selves to be brothers and sisters in Christ.Upon this Bible pas-sage do we base the saying,ÔAltar Fellowship is ChurchFellowship.ÕÒThis passage in Corinthians strikes a crushing blow atunionism.To admit those who believe differently to ourCommunion,and so to our church fellowship,is a contradic-tion in itself.For those who approach the same altar togetherprofess to be oneÑone in all points ofChristian doctrine andpracticeÑwhile in reality they disagree.It would be shamefulhypocrisy on our part ifwe would have those who actuallyprofess a different faith than we do join us at the LordÕsAltarÓ(Stoeckhardt,1 Corinthians,p.60Ð61).What About . . . Fellowship in the LordÕs SupperAnother teacher ofour church had this to say about whythe LordÕs Supper is an expression ofchurch fellowship:ÒThe Holy Supper is one ofthe marks,one ofthe ban-ners ofthe church,one ofthe seals ofthe churchÕs doc-trine and faith (Rom.4:11;see 1 Cor.10:21;Ex.12:48).Inwhichever church one receives the Holy Supper,one isconfessing that church and its doctrine.There cannot bea more inward,brotherly fellowship than that into whichone enters with those in whose fellowship he receivesthe holy Supper....Even one who confesses the RealPresence cannot ordinarily,except in the case ofdeath,be admitted ifhe is and wants to remain,not a memberofour orthodox church,but rather a Roman Catholic,Reformed,so-called Evangelical or Unionist,Methodist,Baptist,in short,a member ofan erring fellowship.Forthe Sacrament,as it is a seal offaith,is also the banner ofthe fellowship in which it is administeredÓ(Walther,Pastoral Theology,p.110Ð111,149).What is the Lutheran churchÕs motive for practicingclose communion?Our SynodÕs Commission on Theology and ChurchRelations offers the following helpful explanation ofwhy wepractice close communion:ÒClose communion seeks to prevent a profession ofcon-fessional unity in faith where there is,in fact,disunity and dis-agreement.It would be neither faithful to the Scripturalrequirements for admission to Holy Communion (1 Cor.11:27ff;cf.10:16Ð17) nor helpful to fallen humanity iftheChristian Church welcomes to its altars those who deny orquestion clear Scriptural teachings.ÒThe reasons for the practice ofclose Communion areoften misunderstood by Christians who have been accus-tomed to an Ôopen CommunionÕpolicy.In a tract titled,WhyClose Communion?the rationale for the practice ofclose com-munion is explained in this way:ÔSo it is not that a Lutheran congregation wants to bar fel-low-saints from the blessings ofthe Eucharist when they prac-tice Close Communion.It is not that they want to beseparatistic,or set themselves up as judges ofother men.Thepractice ofClose Communion is prompted by love and is bornofthe heartfelt conviction,on the basis ofScripture alone,thatwe must follow ChristÕs command.This means refusing theLordÕs Supper to those whose beliefis not known to us.It is notshowing love to allow a person to do something harmful,eventhough he may think it is for his own good.It also means ifthey are members ofa Christian body which departs from thefull truth ofthe Scripture in some ofits doctrines,that we must not minimize the evil ofthis false teaching by openingour fellowship to any and all Christians who err in the faithÕ[Deffner,Why Close Communion?,p.14].ÒIn keeping with the principle that the celebration andreception ofthe LordÕs Supper is a confession ofthe unity offaith,while at the same time recognizing that there will beinstances when sensitive pastoral care needs to be exercised,the Synod has established an ofÞcial practice requiring,Ôthatpastors and congregations ofThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod,except in situations ofemergency and in spe-cial cases ofpastoral care,commune individuals ofonly thosesynods that are now in fellowship with us.By following thispractice whereby only those individuals who are members ofthe Synod or ofa church body with which the Synod is in altarand pulpit fellowship are ordinarily communed,pastors andcongregations preserve the integrity oftheir witness to theGospel ofChrist as it is revealed in the Scriptures and con-fessed in the Lutheran confessional writings.ÕÓÒThe OfÞce ofthe Keys is less than faithfully exercisedwhen admission to the Sacrament is granted to all who cometo the altar regardless oftheir faith and congregational and/ordenominational afÞliation.The practice ofopen Communionrenders it difÞcult,ifnot impossible,for church discipline to beexercised in a way that honors the ministrations being carriedout by those to whom the responsibility ofspiritual care for amember ofGodÕs ßock has been entrustedÓ(Heb.13:17;cf.John 20:22Ð23;Acts 20:27Ð28;1 Cor.4:1Ð2.Theology andPractice ofthe LordÕs Supper,pp.21Ð23).ConclusionOn the basis ofGodÕs Holy Word,our Lutheran church con-tinues to practice the ancient,Biblical and confessional practiceofclose communion as an opportunity to give joyful witness toour unity in the true faith.We practice close communion withthe beliefthat this is what the Lord would have us do as we faith-fully administer His body and blood in His holy Sacrament.Close communion is not a practice unique to TheLutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod.It is also practiced by themajority ofChristians in the world who are members oftheRoman Catholic and Orthodox communions.Hopefully,this briefexplanation will help you,or someoneelse,understand that our love for our Lord and His Sacrament,and our love for the individual,is the reason why we practiceclose communion.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Fellowship in the LordÕs Supper?August 1997 will be long remembered as an importanttime in the history ofthe Lutheran church here inAmerica.The Evangelical Lutheran Church inAmerica[ELCA] made a number ofvery signiÞcant decisions duringthat month.It declared full communion with three Reformedchurches:the United Church ofChrist,the Reformed Church ofAmerica,and the Presbyterian ChurchÑUSA.It based thisdecision on its opinion that there is no longer essential dis-agreement between the ELCA and these Reformed churches.Furthermore,the ELCA decided that the long-standing differ-ences between Lutheranism and the Roman Catholic Churchover the question ofhow we are saved have been resolved.These decisions have caused considerable confusionwithin the ELCA as well as within our own church,TheLutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod [LCMS].It has causedmany people to wonder what the differences are between theELCA and the LCMS,even though our two churches both usethe name ÒLutheran.ÓThe LCMS has a tremendous opportunity to make it veryclear,both to our own members,as well as to the world at large,what it means to remain committed to the full truth oftheHoly Scriptures and the historic confessions ofthe Lutheranchurch.This pamphlet is intended to offer a briefoverview ofthe key differences between the ELCA and the LCMS.Hopefully,it will help you understand these differences so thatyou will be able to discuss them with others.Our Difference Over the BibleThe LCMS and the ELCA disagree about the nature andauthority ofthe Bible.While both ofour churches profess alle-giance to the Reformation principle that Scripture alone is thesupreme authority for the churchÕs doctrine and life,our twochurch bodies have signiÞcant differences when it comes toputting this principle into practice.The LCMS believes that the Bible is actually the Word ofGod,and therefore,is totally truthful,reliable and free from anyerror.We believe that the Scriptures are the Þnal standard bywhich we must judge everything that we believe,teach andconfess.The ELCA,on the other hand,avoids making statementsthat confess the full truthfulness ofthe Bible.It holds thatScripture is not necessarily always accurate or trustworthy inall its details and parts.The ELCA tolerates and encouragesmethods ofinterpreting the Scripture that presuppose that the Bible contains error and is unclear about various doctrinal matters.Our difference over the Bible explains other more visibledifferences.For example,our churches disagree about the ordi-nation ofwomen to the pastoral ofÞce,the issue ofhomosexu-ality and the question ofabortion.The LCMS does not ordainwomen to the pastoral ofÞce,while the ELCA does,in spite ofthe fact that Holy Scripture clearly teaches otherwise.The LCMS unequivocally teaches that homosexual behav-ior is intrinsically sinful because it is contrary to GodÕs Word.In love,we want to help the person caught up in the homosex-ual life to repent ofhis sin and receive GodÕs forgiveness.TheELCA has been unable to take a clear Biblical stand againsthomosexual behavior.It also tolerates groups within its midstthat openly advocate the homosexual lifestyle both for clergyand laity.The LCMS has repeatedly condemned willful abortion ascontrary to GodÕs clear commandment not to murder.TheELCA has not been able to speak out clearly against abortion,and,sadly,even pays for willful abortion procedures for mem-bers in its health insurance plan.While there are other examples,these three serve to makethe point that our differences over the authority and reliabilityofGodÕs Word lie at the heart ofthe other differences betweenthe ELCA and the LCMS.Our differences over the authority ofthe Lutheran ConfessionsOur two churches also disagree about the authority ofthehistoric Lutheran confessional statements contained in theBook ofConcord.The LCMS binds itselfto the entire doctrinalcontent ofthe 16th-century Lutheran confessional writings.We agree with the confessions ofour church not merely insofaras they agree with the Bible (a position which would allowindividual members to reject certain doctrines),but becausethese confessional statements are in complete harmony withGodÕs inspired and inerrant Word.We therefore accept withoutreservation all the confessions ofthe Evangelical LutheranChurch as a true and unadulterated statement and expositionofthe Word ofGod,normative also for the church today.What About . . . The Difference Between the ELCA and the LCMSThe ELCA,on the other hand,does not require that itschurch workers and congregations pledge unqualiÞed accep-tance ofthe full doctrinal content ofthe Book ofConcord.TheELCA views the Lutheran Confessions as historical expres-sions ofthe faith held to be true at the time that they were writ-ten,but not necessarily as normative standards for teachingand practice today.Our differences over what is necessary for church fellowshipGiven its approach to the Holy Scriptures and the LutheranConfessions,it comes as no surprise that the ELCA would con-sider it possible to enter into fellowship with churches thatteach things that are clearly contrary to the Word ofGod andthe Lutheran Confessions.These sorts offellowship arrange-ments are a reßection ofthe attitude that absolute truth isunable to be known,confessed and asserted.This attitude iscontrary to the confessional principle ofthe Lutheran churchthat is characterized in the Book ofConcord with two veryimportant phrases:ÒWe believe,teach,and confessÓand ÒWereject and condemn.ÓThese phrases reßect the LutheranchurchÕs Þrm beliefthat GodÕs Word is clear,that it does asserttruth that is binding for all times and all peoples,and that weare able with joy to confess and proclaim this truth.The LCMS believes that the Bible requires full agreementin doctrine before it is possible to join in altar and pulpit fellowship with other churches (Rom.16:17).On the otherhand,the ELCA believes that disagreement in important doc-trinal truths does not prohibit altar and pulpit fellowship withother churches.A good example ofthis attitude is found in the documentsthe ELCA used to establish church fellowship with the threeReformed churches.In these documents,it is admitted thatÒimportant theological differences ...remain between our twochurches in such questions as the understanding ofthe LordÕsSupper and Christology.ÓThese differences are viewed Ònot as disagreements that need to be overcome,but as diverse witnesses to the one Gospel that we confess in common.ÓWhat this means is that the ELCA is willing to tolerate theReformed churchÕs denial that Jesus Christ is really present inthe consecrated bread and wine ofthe LordÕs Supper.TheReformed believe Jesus is present only ÒspirituallyÓbut notreally present in a miraculous manner in the bread and wine.Lutheranism has never accepted the Reformed ChurchÕs denialofour LordÕs real presence in Holy Communion.The ELCAnow claims that the errors ofthe Reformed church regardingthe LordÕs Supper and the doctrine ofthe person and work ofChrist are acceptable options.This has never before been theposition ofthe Lutheran church,and reveals a decided move-ment away from historic Lutheranism on the part ofthe ELCA.The ELCAÕs attitude toward doctrine obscures the vitalrelationship that exists between the saving Gospel ofour LordJesus Christ and all other teachings ofScripture that are cen-tered and rooted in that GospelÑteachings our Lord Himselfhas given to us to believe and to share with others (Matt.28:20).The ELCA position regarding church fellowship com-promises ScriptureÕs clear mandate to confess and proclaimÒthe whole counsel ofGodÓ(Acts 20:27)Ñin all its Gospel-centered truth and purity.SynodÕs opportunity for faithful clarityAll Lutherans have a wonderful opportunity to wrestlewith the question ofwhat it means to be a confessionalLutheran church in this day and age.What does it mean to saythat we embrace the Holy Scripture as the inerrant andinspired Word ofGod? What teachings will therefore berejected? What truths will be raised high as positions that cannever be compromised or bargained away for the sake ofexternal church unity? What does it mean to say we agreeunconditionally with the Lutheran Confessions as pure expo-sitions ofthe Word ofGod? Given this unqualiÞed subscriptionto the Lutheran Confessions,what issues are non-negotiableand can never be surrendered or given up by Lutherans whowish to remain genuinely confessional Lutherans? Whatmakes for true church union? Is Òagreeing-to-disagreeÓanappropriate attitude for Lutherans when it comes to establish-ing church fellowship?The differences between our two churches are a source ofgreat sadness for the LCMS.We take no pleasure in talkingabout these differences.We wish that our two churches couldshare a common confession ofwhat it means to be Lutheran.Itis important that the members ofLCMS congregations have aclear picture ofwhy our two churches are not in fellowship.Knowing the basic differences between our two churches willhelp us talk with our ELCA friends and family members in aloving and kindly manner.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about The Difference Between the ELCA and the LCMS?Greetings to you in the name ofour Lord Jesus Christ.Many denominations ordain women to the pastoralofÞce,even some Lutheran churches.It is importantthat Missouri Synod Lutherans be able to give a kindlyresponse and explanation to those who may question our position on this issue.We have an opportunity to speak thetruth in love.What does God say about women serving in the pastoral ofÞce?The Lord teaches us through His Word that women are notgiven the responsibility ofserving the church as pastors.Weread the following statements:ÒAs in all the churches ofthe saints,the women shouldkeep silence in the churches.For they are not permitted tospeak,but should be subordinate,as even the law says ÉwhatI am writing to you is a command ofthe LordÓ(1 Cor.14:33Ð34,37).ÒLet a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.Ipermit no woman to teach or to have authority over men;sheis to keep silentÓ(1 Tim.2:11Ð12).ÒThe saying is sure:Ifanyone aspires to the ofÞce ofover-seer,he desires a noble task.Now an overseer must be abovereproach,the husband ofone wifeÉÓ(1 Tim.3:1Ð2).ÒThis is why I left you in Crete Éthat you might appointelders in every town as I directed you,ifany man is blameless,the husband ofone wifeÉÓ(Titus 1:5Ð6).God has given His church many gifts.Among them is thegift ofthe ofÞce ofthe public,pastoral ministry.We receivewhat God gives,in the way He has given it,and in the form He has given it.We do not tell God that His gift is not goodenough for us,or that we donÕt like the form in which He hasgiven the gift.We receive GodÕs gifts as He gives them,withthanks and praise.We rejoice in the opportunities God hasgiven us,as His redeemed people,to serve Him in the church,and in our daily lives.The church which wishes to remain faithful to the Word ofGod cannot permit the ordination ofwomen to the pastoralofÞce.The Bible says that we are all one in Christ.DonÕt thesewords imply that women may serve as pastors?There are those churches which believe that St.PaulÕswords in Gal.3:28 mandate the service ofwomen as pastors:ÒThere is neither Jew nor Greek,there is neither slave nor free,there is neither male nor female;for you are all one in ChristJesus.ÓBut this verse does not teach that there is no distinctionbetween these various groups;rather,it teaches the equality ofsalvation that all Christians have in Christ Jesus our Lord.Paulwants us to know that all individuals are equally sinful andequally saved by the work ofGod through Jesus Christ.Gal.3:28 does not contradict or overturn St.PaulÕs com-ments elsewhere.This passage does not speak to the issue ofthe ordination ofwomen;instead it is speaking ofthe equalityofour salvation in Christ,for which we praise the Triune God,but it certainly does not mean that all may serve as pastors.Ifmen and women have equal rights,why canÕt womenbe pastors?The issue ofthe ordination ofwomen is not a matter ofÒhuman rightsÓor Òchurch traditionsÓor various human opinions and customs.Nor is it a matter ofÒdiscriminationagainst women.ÓVarious social reformers in our culture would have usbelieve that men and women are totally interchangeable andthat their God-given differences simply have no bearing on lifein this world.Not only does this run contrary to the clear testi-mony ofnature,it also contradicts the Bible.The Bible teachesus a different view ofGodÕs creation.The Scriptures teach us that both men and women werecreated in the image ofGod,but are two distinct and specialcreations ofGod.We praise God for His wisdom in creatinghuman beings as both man and woman.We believe that God has gifted men and women with dif-ferent responsibilities and duties.For example,men are giftedby God to be husbands and fathers;women are gifted by Godto be wives and mothers.So also in the church,God has giftedmen and women with different,though complementary,opportunities and responsibilities for service.What are the roles ofmen and women in the church?Together,men and women serve their Lord and SaviorJesus Christ.Men have the divine obligation to be the spiritualWhat About . . . The Ordination of Womento the Pastoral OfÞceleaders ofthe church.Women are called to be ofassistance tomen in this capacity.An attitude ofservice guides what we doin the church,not a demand for ÒrightsÓor an attitude ofÒlording it overÓone another.We have one Lord and oneMaster,Jesus Christ.We serve Him in the ways He desires.God has given the responsibility to serve as pastors only tocertain qualiÞed men.The church calls these men to serve asrepresentatives ofJesus Christ,the Son ofGod,in the pastoralofÞce.Women are not called to serve in this way because Godhas not given this responsibility to women.Why didnÕt Jesus call a woman to serve as an apostle? Why,through the Apostle Paul,does He prohibit women from serv-ing as pastors in the church? We must leave the answers tothese questions to God.We remain with what has been given tous by God in His Word.God has not given the church theoption ofcalling and ordaining women to the pastoral ofÞce.We honor and respect GodÕs will in these matters and praiseHim for the many gifts He has given us all,including the mar-velous opportunities He provides to both men and women toserve Him.Why then do some churches ordain women as pastors?Here again,as with so many issues,the reason for differ-ences we have with other church bodies is based on their dif-fering attitude toward the Scriptures.Our Synod afÞrms the truth that the Holy Scriptures areGodÕs perfect and errorless revelation to us.We receive whatGod has given to us in His Word.We are not free to overlookthat Word,ignore it,explain it away,or otherwise disregardwhat the Lord has revealed through the Apostle Paul.Churches that ordain women have chosen to regard St.PaulÕs writings as his own personal opinions.This is a difÞcultposition to maintain in light ofthe fact that St.Paul goes out ofhis way,on more than one occasion,to repeat his position onthis matter,and explicitly declares that this is not merely hispersonal opinion,but a command ofthe Lord.How can faithful Lutherans respond to the ordinationofwomen?First,we never should become defensive or antagonisticabout this issue.Instead,we need simply to speak the truth inlove,witnessing to our beliefs and recognizing this as yetanother opportunity to say,ÒThis we believe,teach,confessand practice.ÓSecond,we need to be loving and gentle with people whobelong to church bodies that ordain women.In manyinstances,they are simply unaware ofwhy this has been done.They have been given incorrect information and have no clearfoundation in Scripture to understand why the ordination ofwomen is contrary to the Word ofGod.We need to explainthese issues in love,with gentleness and compassion.Third,it is important for us to explain how women mayserve their Lord in the church in a fulÞlling manner.There aremany ways for women to serve as full-time church workers in The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod,including serviceas teachers,directors ofChristian education,directors ofChristian outreach,deaconesses and parish nurses.Laywomen have many opportunities for service through vari-ous church societies,guilds and leagues,along with the servicethey provide as volunteer teachers.They have additionalopportunities to serve in their local congregations as membersofvarious boards and committees.We thank God for the manyblessings and gifts that come to the church through the serviceofwomen.We need to emphasize the opportunities that God has pro-vided to all ofus,both men and women,to serve Him in Hiskingdom.How unfortunate it would be ifwe permitted our-selves to become ensnared in self-centered demands forÒrights,Óand thus take our eyes offofour LordÕs call to service.Demanding from God what He has not given is contrary towhat it means to be a child ofGod.When our focus is on loveand service to one another,we realize that there is more thanenough for all ofus to do.We serve each other in love,conforming our service to theWord ofGod.Nobody in the church is called to be the ÒmasterÓover anyone else.Pastors are ChristÕs servants who care for thepeople ofGod with ChristÕs Word and Sacraments.Thus,through these gifts,our Lord graciously gives Himselfto us forour salvation,in humble sacriÞcial service,according to HisFatherÕs will.We are privileged to be able to follow ChristÕsexample with thankfulness in our hearts for His many gifts,most importantly the gifts offorgiveness,life and salvation.May God bless our service to Him,for the sake ofthe Gospel ofChrist our Lord.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about the Ordination of Women to the Pastoral OfÞce?Greetings to you in the name ofour Lord Jesus Christ.This pamphlet is intended to help Christians answersome questions about homosexuality.The church recognizes this as both a signiÞcant challenge and,moreimportantly,as an opportunity to speak the truth in love,reach-ing out with the Gospel ofour Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.What does God say about homosexuality in His Word,the Bible?The Lord teaches us through His Word that homosexualityis a sinful distortion ofHis desire that one man and onewoman live together in marriage as husband and wife.Godcategorically prohibits homosexuality.Our church,TheLutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod,has declared that homo-sexual behavior is Òintrinsically sinful.ÓWhy does our churchtake this position?We read in GodÕs Word the following statements abouthomosexuality:ÒYou shall not lie with a male as with a woman;it is anabomination.É Do not deÞle yourselves by any ofthesethingsÓ(Lev.18:22,24).ÒIfa man lies with a male as with a woman,both ofthemhave committed an abominationÉÓ(Lev.20:13).ÒFor this reason God gave them up to dishonorable pas-sions.Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,and the men likewise gave up natural relations with womenand were consumed with passion for one another,men com-mitting shameless acts with men and receiving in their ownpersons the due penalty for their errorÓ(Rom.1:26Ð27).ÒDo not be deceived;neither the immoral,nor idolators,nor adulterers,nor sexual perverts Éshall inherit the king-dom ofGodÓ(1 Cor.6:9Ð10).ÒÉThe law is not laid down for the just but for the lawlessand disobedient,for the ungodly and sinners,Éimmoral persons,sodomitesÉ and whatever else is contrary to sounddoctrineÓ(1 Tim.1:9Ð10).Through His Word,God teaches us very clearly that homo-sexuality is a sin.A person who persists in homosexual behavior stands under the condemnation ofGodÕs Word.Thisis true for anyone who persists in sin without repentance.While this may be an unpopular message,it is the truth taughtto us by God in His Word.What is the churchÕs message to persons who are homosexual?The churchÕs message to homosexual persons is the samemessage it proclaims to all people:Repent and believe theGospel!All human beings are born with a sinful nature thatresults in sinful thoughts,words and actions.Homosexuality isbut one ofmany sinful situations human beings encounter inthis life.From the moment we are born,all human beingsstand under GodÕs perfect judgement.All ofus,by nature,arelost and condemned sinners.We all need GodÕs mercy in Christfor our salvation.The churchÕs most important message to homosexuals isthe promise offorgiveness and eternal life through the personand the work ofJesus Christ.God sent His Son into this worldto live a perfect life on our behalf,and to die a perfect death asthe payment for all ofour sins.A statement regarding homosexuality from the LutheranChurch in Australia summarizes the churchÕs response tohomosexuality in a very helpful way:ÒThe Church,whilerejecting on the one hand the movement which claims toler-ance ofhomosexual behavior in the name offreedom oftheindividual and ofmoral progress,must also resist the popularreaction ofpersecution and ostracism.ÒThe Church must exhibit understanding and sympathyfor the homosexual,show love and pastoral concern,beingready to give help and encouragement in whatever way possi-ble.It must proclaim to homosexuals,as it does to all men,thejudgment ofGod against sin,above all the forgiveness ofsin forChristÕs sake,and the possibility ofnew life through the powerofthe Holy Spirit.ÉÓAnother Lutheran pastor has written about homosexual-ity:ÒGod is presenting to the Church a great challenge andopportunity.We can proclaim the Word ofGod in a clear andfresh manner.We can offer new hope to sinners whom Godloves.We can apply the Means ofGrace to another area ofhuman need,so that sins can be forgiven and the SpiritÕs poweremployed to create new life in Christ.ÓWhat can Christians do for the families ofhomosexuals?It is tempting to ignore the problems and challenges associ-ated with homosexuality.As GodÕs people,we are able to takeactions that demonstrate love and concern for homosexualsWhat About . . . Homosexualityand for their families.While clearly afÞrming the sinfulness ofhomosexuality,we will also want clearly to afÞrm GodÕs promise offorgivenessin Christ Jesus.Often families ofhomosexuals are embarrassedand ashamed.IfChristian friends and relatives treat them inways that increase this shame,it is little wonder that they willattempt to rationalize or otherwise explain away a sonÕs ordaughterÕs sinful lifestyle.Christians should reach out in compassion to these fami-lies,expressing their love and concern,offering the encourage-ment that is ours in our Lord Jesus Christ.To the person caught up in the homosexual life,Christianfriends and family members should continue lovingly to sharetheir convictions with this person,reaching out with the for-giving love ofChrist and the hope that is found only in Him.Various organizations work with homosexuals who desire toturn away from the homosexual lifestyle.A Lutheran groupworking in this area is ÒKeys Ministry.ÓTheir address and tele-phone number are at the end ofthis pamphlet.How should Christians respond to the Ògay rightsÓmovement?There has been a growing increase in the inßuence oftheÒgay rightsÓmovement,even within some Protestant churches.The Ògay rightsÓmovement wants our culture to accept homo-sexuality as an alternative natural lifestyle in which humanbeings may express their sexuality.We have reached the pointwhere even the idea ofÒgay marriagesÓis considered an accept-able possibility.The church must resist these attitudes with the truth ofGodÕs Word.Our church encourages our members to exercise theirduty as Christian citizens to be aware and informed aboutthese issues.The Christian citizen must be knowledgeableabout the positions taken by politicians in regard to homosex-uality,and other issues,so that responsible participation in thepolitical process can take place.The church is committed not to the political process,but to the preaching ofthe Gospel.This is the churchÕs mission.Thechurch does encourage its members to be responsible and active citizens in our country.Thus Christian citizens will work to enact laws that reßect Biblical truth in regard tohomosexuality.Why have some churches changed their position onhomosexuality?We have noticed changes particularly in many Protestantchurches in our country when it comes to the issue ofhomo-sexuality.Even the national media has noticed these changes,printing long stories on national church studies on the topicsofhomosexuality.Because the news media does not alwaysdistinguish carefully between Lutheran churches in the coun-try,even our own members have sometimes wondered aboutthe position ofour Synod on these matters.What accounts for these changes in some churches? First,homosexual groups within these churches often engage inÒlobbyingÓefforts and gain considerable inßuence.Second and more important,attitudes toward homosexuality havechanged as a result ofchanging attitudes toward the authorityand reliability ofthe Holy Scriptures.An academic philosophy about the Bible,called Òhighercriticism,Óputs man in the position ofdetermining what istrue and what is not in the Bible.With this attitude,we canunderstand why some churches have attempted to explainaway the BibleÕs teaching about homosexuality.How can Christians respond to attempts to make homo-sexuality appear as merely an alternative lifestyle?All one has to do is turn on the television set and watch afew popular situation comedies to realize that there is an enor-mous effort underway to create an image ofhomosexuality asmerely an alternative lifestyle.Homosexuality is portrayed as aperfectly normal and natural expression ofhuman sexuality.Persons who view homosexuality as abnormal are portrayedin popular culture today as being ÒhomophobicÓor otherwiseon the fringe ofour society.It is therefore all the more impor-tant that Christians not hesitate to speak lovingly,yet clearly,about this issue.Parents need to take the time to discuss thisissue with their children when they reach an age where theycan understand these things.What Lutheran resources are available to help ministerto homosexuals and their families?Keys Ministry is a Lutheran group dedicated to helpingindividuals and their families who are struggling with homo-sexuality.You may call Keys Ministry at (507) 352Ð4110.Youmay write to Keys at Box 97,Wykoff,MN 55990.A study called ÒA Christian Perspective on HomosexualityÓmay be purchased by calling Concordia Publishing House at800Ð325Ð3040 and requesting stock number 20Ð2586.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about Homosexuality?What About Abortion?Abortion is one ofthe most signiÞcant moral issues ofourday.Emotions run very deep when it comes to this issue.It istempting to consider this issue from the perspective ofour cul-tureÕs standards.Christians want to be informed about abor-tion based on the Word ofGod.What does GodÕs Word say about abortion?GodÕs Fifth Commandment is clear,ÒYou shall not murder.ÓThis means,in the words ofthe Small Catechism,that Òweshould fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm ourneighbor in his body,but help and support him in every phys-ical need.ÓGod forbids us to take the life ofanother person,andthis most certainly includes abortion.GodÕs Word also says,ÒBefore I formed you in the womb Iknew you,before you were born I set you apartÓ(Jer.1:5).Psalm 139:16 says,ÒYour eyes saw my unformed body.All thedays ordained for me were written in Your book before one ofthem came to be.ÓOur churchÕs explanation ofthe Small Catechism puts thematter well when it says,ÒThe living but unborn are persons inthe sight ofGod from the time ofconception.Since abortiontakes a human life,it is not a moral option except to prevent thedeath ofanother person,the mother.ÓThe sin ofwillfullyaborting a child,except in those very rare situations where itmay be necessary to save the life ofthe mother,is a sinful act,totally contrary to the will ofGod.Ifabortion is legal in the United States,how can thechurch oppose it?Just because something happens to be legal does not makeit moral,ethical or right.Abortion is perhaps one ofthe mostdramatic examples ofa situation where something is legal,butis very much a sin against God.Since 1973,abortions havebeen legal in the United States.Abortion remains a sin againstGod,whether or not it is legal in our society;therefore,we mustÒobey God rather than menÓ(Acts 5:29).The church needs toinform its members that abortion is sinful and then encouragethem,as Christian citizens,to use available legal means tochange the law.Christians do not resort to illegal activities tochange our nationÕs laws.Why is the church involving itselfin a personal decision?A personal decision is not necessarily a private decision.The church,and the churchÕs ministers,have God-givenresponsibilities to warn,exhort and rebuke from the Word ofGod with all authority (2 Tim.4:2).The church is very con-cerned when Christians make decisions that are contrary tothe Word ofGod and thus place themselves outside the will ofGod.Living in a state ofunrepentant sin is a very serious situ-ation.Thus,the church must warn its members against thetemptation ofabortion.The church also must minister tothose who have had abortions.Furthermore,the church needsto speak out against the sin ofabortion,since it is widely pre-sented in our culture as perfectly acceptable.Has the Christian church always been opposed to abortion?Abortion was a common practice in the ancient Romanempire.The very fact that the Son ofGod was conceived in thewomb ofMary was a powerful reason for Christians to hold ahigh view ofall human life.The unborn Christ was not merelya blob ofcells,but was in fact the very Son ofGod,who hadassumed a human nature in order to save and redeem humanbeings from their sin.Early Christian writers make it clear thatabortion was abhorrent to the Þrst Christians.The earlyChristians understood their views on marriage,women andfamily to be unique.One church father said it quite plainly,ÒThe hair-splitting difference between formed and unformedmakes no difference to us.Whoever deliberately commitsabortion is subject to the penalty for homicide.ÓFrom its earli-est days,the Christian church has been opposed to abortion,regarding it as infanticide and homicide.Why do some churches take a weak position on abortion?Abortion is an emotional issue and one that is very upset-ting to many people.It is easier for a church to take a weakposition and not speak out clearly against abortion.However,a church body that wishes to be and remain faithful to the HolyScriptures cannot remain silent but must clearly indicate thatwillful abortions are sinful.Many mainline,liberal denomina-tions,which tolerate doubt and indifference in their churchesabout many teachings ofthe Bible,also tolerate and evendefend abortion.It is often confusing to Missouri SynodWhat About . . . AbortionLutherans when they hear that some other Lutheran churcheshave not taken a strong stand against abortion.It is importantfor us to make clear that our church does not share the positionofthose church bodies that do not speak clearly against the sinofabortion.IsnÕt abortion acceptable in the case ofrape or incest?While the emotional arguments for abortion in these situ-ations might seem compelling,the fact ofthe matter is that it iswrong to take the life ofone innocent victim (the unbornchild),and further burden the life ofthe other victim ofthesehorrible situations,the mother.It is indeed a strange logic thatwould have us kill an innocent unborn baby for the crime ofhis father.What can we do for people considering abortion?It is a sin for parents to counsel their children to have abortions.This is not an option for Christian parents.Anunplanned pregnancy comes as a shock to all involved andabortion may be seen as a Òquick and quietÓway to move pastthe problem,but it is not.It merely compounds an already sin-ful situation with another sinful choice.A woman who is considering an abortion has the option tokeep her child or to give it up for adoption.Adoption is a noblechoice,for it allows a child who otherwise may not be wellcared for to receive the love and attention he needs in a familythat is able to care for him.Our pastors are aware ofthe variousagencies that deal with adoptions.How can the church minister to those who have had an abortion?A woman who has had an abortion may feel at Þrst thatshe is free ofher Òproblem.ÓHer partner,either a boyfriend or ahusband,may also feel that he is Òoffthe hook.ÓIt may be soonafter,or perhaps not until years later,that they realize what theyhave actually done:destroyed the life oftheir unborn child.Perhaps this realization comes as they hear GodÕs Word cor-rectly explained on this point.The Law ofGod reveals their sinto them and they feel guilt and great sorrow,and they begin towonder what can be done about it or ifthere is any hope at all.The woman who has had an abortion needs to hear thatfor this sin too the blood ofJesus Christ was shed,and thatthere is in Him now full and free forgiveness.This assuranceneeds to be given over and over;namely,that in Christ Jesus,there is forgivenessÑcomplete and total forgiveness.This ishow the church best ministers to those who continue to feel theburden ofthe sin ofabortion,by again and again pointingthem to the cross oftheir Lord Jesus Christ and assuring themofthe full and free forgiveness He won for them there,for allsins,for each and every one.It is important then that people who have repented oftheirsin continue to remain close to their Lord through regular andfaithful church attendance where they will continue to hear theGospel proclaimed and where they will receive the LordÕsSupper regularly.Private confession and absolution with theirpastor is another powerful means by which God gives Hisgrace,pardon and peace to a person feeling guilty over the sinofabortion.The grace and love ofGod is stronger than anyhuman weakness and the blood ofJesus Christ cleanses usfrom all sin (1 John 1:7).This is truly good news and the goodnews that can and must be shared with those feeling guilty.What resources are available?There are many worthwhile resources available.Ourchurch has a commission on the sanctity oflife that has produced a number ofhelpful materials.That They May Have Life is a useful summary ofhowChristians reßect and think about life issues.Real andAbundant Lifeis a broad theological overview ofGodÕs gift oflife and the eternal life He offers to us in Christ our Lord.Bothofthese documents are available from Concordia PublishingHouse by calling 800-325-3040.There is a video aimed directly at young people that helpsthem think about life issues.It is a movie titled,Life:ItÕs A ClassProject.You may obtain a copy ofthis video by calling LutheranVisuals at 800-527-3211.Lutherans For Life is an organization that also providesnumerous resources to help Christians understand better awide range oflife issues.They may be contacted at their Website:http://www.lutheransforlife.org.You may write them at LUTHERANS FOR LIFE,1229South ÒGÓAvenue,Building B / Suite 100,Nevada,IA 50201-2778 or call,toll-free,888-364-LIFE.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about Abortion?Increasingly,men and women choose to live as husbandand wife without being married.This pamphlet willanswer some questions asked about living together.What is marriage?We learn from the Word ofGod that marriage is the life-long,exclusive union ofone man and one woman,as husbandand wife.Marriage is a part ofGodÕs creation.Thus,we read inGodÕs Word,the Bible:ÒFor this reason a man will leave hisfather and mother and be united to his wife,and they willbecome one ßeshÓ(Gen.2:24;cf.Matt.19:5Ð6;Eph.5:31).Elsewhere we read,ÒSince there is so much immorality,each man should have his own wife,and each woman her ownhusbandÓ(1 Cor.7:2).And,ÒMarriage should be honored byall,and the marriage bed kept pure,for God will judge theadulterer and all the sexually immoralÓ(Heb.13:4).Marriageis such a precious blessing that God inspired the Apostle Paulto describe marriage as a picture ofChristÕs relationship withHis bride,the church (Eph.5:22Ð33).Why is it wrong for a couple to live together without marriage?Simply stated,a couple that lives together as man and wifewithout being married is sinning.GodÕs Word is clear:ÒYoumust no longer live as the Gentiles do,in the futility oftheirthinking.They are darkened in their understanding and sepa-rated from the life ofGod because ofthe ignorance that is inthem due to the hardening oftheir hearts....Having lost allsensitivity,they have given themselves over to sensuality so asto indulge in every kind ofimpurity,with a continual lust formoreÓ(Eph.4:17-19).Our Lord Jesus Christ once helped awoman living with a man who was not her husband to recog-nize that what she was doing was wrong (John 4:16Ð18).Lutheran Christians believe that the sixth commandment,ÒYou shall not commit adultery,Ómeans,ÒWe should fear andlove God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in whatwe say and do;and husband and wife love and honor eachotherÓ(LutherÕs Small Catechism [CPH:1986],p.10).All ofthis is another way ofstating the obvious:Men andwomen are not to live together as husband and wife,unlessthey actually are husband and wife.This is as true for 80-year-olds as it is for 18-year-olds.Why does the church care about what two consentingadults do?The church cares because God cares.The LordÕs Word isvery clear in its condemnation ofsexual activity outside ofmarriage.Consider these passages:ÒDo not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral noridolaters nor adulterers...will inherit the kingdom ofGodÓ(1 Cor.6:9-10).ÒAmong you there must not be even a hint ofsexualimmorality,or ofany kind ofimpurity,or ofgreed,becausethese are improper for GodÕs holy peopleÓ(Eph.5:3).ÒThe acts ofthe sinful nature are obvious:sexualimmorality,impurity and debauchery....I warn you,as I didbefore,that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdomofGodÓ(Gal.5:19Ð21).Why is living together such a serious problem?Because GodÕs Word clearly shows that it is sinful for couplesto live together without marriage,people who persist in behav-ior that God rejects and condemns as sin are choosing a coursethat may lead to eternal punishment.GodÕs Word is clear:ÒIfwedeliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowl-edge ofthe truth,no sacriÞce for sins is leftÓ(Heb.10:26).And again,we read:ÒIt is GodÕs will that you should besanctiÞed:that you should avoid sexual immorality;that eachofyou should learn to control his own body in a way that is holyand honorable,not in passionate lust like the heathen,who donot know God....The Lord will punish men for all such sins,as we have already told you and warned you.For God did notcall us to be impure,but to live a holy lifeÓ(1 Thess.4:3-7).IsnÕt the church being ÔjudgmentalÕ?The church is declaring the truth ofGodÕs Word.On behalfofChrist and His people,pastors have the responsibility tospeak clearly to couples living together and to proclaim theWord ofGod to them,both Law and Gospel.It is never easy fora pastor,or a congregation,to deal with couples who are livingtogether without marriage.It is important for both pastors andcongregations to deal with these situations pastorally andfaithfully,in a caring manner.Couples,and their parents,aretempted to say,ÒSo what? Everyone else is doing it;and besides,we live in changing times.ÓIn proclaiming the truth ofGodÕsWhat About . . . Living Together Without MarriageWord about these situations,the church is being faithful,notjudgmental.ShouldnÕt a couple Þnd out ifthey are compatible?Secular research has demonstrated that living togetherwithout marriage results in a relationship that it less stable and less fulÞlling than marriage.Furthermore,couples wholive together have a much higher risk ofdivorce when theyÞnally do marry.Living together is a bad idea,even from apurely human perspective.One study notes,ÒThose who cohabitate before marriagehave substantially higher divorce rates than those who do not;the recorded differentials range from 50 percent to 100 percenthigherÓ(ÒThe Relationship Between Cohabitation andDivorceÓ[1992],Demography,29:357Ð374).Studies conductedat Yale and Columbia Universities found that Òthe dissolutionrate for women who cohabit premaritally with their futurespouse is,on average,nearly 80 percent higher than the rates ofthose who do notÓ(ÒCommitment and the Modern Union,ÓAmerican Sociological Review,[1988],53:127Ð138).How does the church deal with these situations?The church,and the churchÕs pastors,will inform couplesliving together without marriage that what they are doing issinful.These conversations will take place in a loving manner;but in faithfulness to the Word ofGod,such conversationsneed to take place.These situations cannot be ignored or over-looked.It may be necessary to place unmarried couples livingtogether under church discipline in order to help them realizethe seriousness ofthe situation.This response may offend people.They may becomeangry at the church,or the churchÕs pastor.Sometimes anentire family is upset when a situation they have ignored isÞnally dealt with.The Word ofGod has a way ofcuttingthrough all issues and exposing our sinfulness.That is thework ofthe Law ofGod,which shows us our sin.Offending people is certainly not the churchÕs goal,nor is itthe churchÕs desire only to have people recognize their sin.Thechurch wants people to see their sin,so that they may see theirSavior.The proclamation ofthe Gospel is the churchÕs highestpriority.The church proclaims the Law ofGod so that peopleare able to hear and believe the good news that ÒThe blood ofJesus,his Son,puriÞes us from all sinÓ(1 John 1:7).Thechurch wants people to hear and believe the Gospel,for onlythe Gospel has the power to change lives and behavior for the better.How can a couple living together resolve the situation?A couple living together without marriage needs to takeconcrete steps to end the situation.They may choose to sepa-rate,with no plans for marriage.They may choose to separateuntil they are marriedÑhopefully soon.It is important that they make a commitment to marriagecounseling before their wedding,and perhaps also after theirwedding.Some couples may choose to be married by an ofÞ-cer ofthe court.This is a completely valid marriage in the viewofthe church.Couples choosing this option are encouraged tohave their marriage publicly recognized by the church as well.No matter what the decision,they will want to seek theirpastorÕs counsel.What is the ultimate solution to this problem?There are many solutions we can identify.Christian fami-lies need to understand what is right and wrong.Early on,parents need to speak with their children about GodÕs expecta-tions in regard to marriage.Pastors and congregations will want to work patiently andlovingly with couples caught up in this sin.ConcernedChristian congregations need to pray that the Holy Spirit willwork in the hearts and lives ofthose involved in this lifestyle inorder to break down their resistance to GodÕs Word.Christiancongregations must not ignore the problem,but must deal withit faithfully.Congregations need to speak about this matter.Couples that recognize their sin need to hear GodÕs com-forting word ofpromise:ÒIfwe confess our sins,he is faithfuland just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from allunrighteousnessÓ(1 John 1:9).Ifthey choose to be married,they should do so with joyful conÞdence in GodÕs forgivenessand His blessing on their marriage.Scripture taken from the The Holy Bible:New International Version.© 1973,1978,1984,by the International Bible Society.Used by permission ofZondervan Bible Publishers.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about Living Together Without Marriage?Evolution:fact or theory? Many people assume it is sim-ply a fact.Christians who by faith accept the truth ofGodÕs Word about Creation,as it is recorded for us inGenesis and elsewhere in the Scriptures,sometimes wonderhow they can help others consider the possibility that there is a Creator.The purpose ofthis pamphlet is to provide a start-ing point from which to evaluate the claims made by advocatesofEvolution.What is the point ofEvolution?In 1859,Charles Darwin,in his book,On The Origin ofSpecies,proposed a theory that the various species ofanimalsresulted from a process ofÒnatural selection,Ówith the ÒfavoredracesÓbeing preserved in the Òstruggle for life.ÓIs this merely ascientiÞc theory,or is there more? ÒDarwin was fully aware that his idea was a frontal assaulton the very notion ofan intelligent Designer behind the world.In fact,he might very well have formulated it precisely for thatpurpose.The idea ofa spiritual realm apart from matter seemsto have been anathema to him as a young man already.Theprimary inspiration for his theory ofnatural selection did notcome from observation ofnature.Perhaps not incidentally,hiswritings also reveal glimpses ofspeciÞc antipathy to the Godofthe Bible,especially concerning His right to judge unbeliev-ers in eternity.Ó(Wieland).What challenge to Darwin is found in the details oflife?Evolutionary theory proposes that life forms start out at avery simple level and then,by natural selection,eventuallybecome more and more complex as changes occur.However,biochemical and molecular biological research continues togather convincing evidence that the living cell is totally uselessunless,and until,it reaches its Þnal form,and then,havingreached that form,any change at all actually destroys,notenhances,its function.DarwinÕs greatest challenge comes from the question ofhow the individual cell developed.Scientists studying this issue have described the living cell asÒirreducibly complex.ÓMore and more scientists are reaching the conclusion that living organisms,even the most Òsimple,Óshow clear evi-dence ofa creator because oftheir incredible complexity ateven the most fundamental levels.The scientiÞc literature isstrangely silent when it comes to the question ofhow thesemolecular structures,the basis oflife,developed.How could all this have evolved? Has science accepted Intelligent Design?Proponents ofIntelligent Design have made great headwayin recent years.Their Þndings have added muscle to the long-held Creationist arguments on the Second Law ofThermodynamics,which,simply put,says that the way ofallthings,both living and non-living,is to go from a state oforder to various states ofincreasing disorder,not the other way around.Other arguments being put forward are based on dubiousdating-methods used by evolutionists,and on the fossilrecordÑthe latter still showing no conclusive transitionalstages in types or kinds (one would think every fossil wouldshow a transitional stage).Together,these evidences,alongwith many others,form a convincing case for the idea ofCreation and Intelligent Design.What stands in the way ofIntelligent Design?Evolutionists appear unwilling to address the Þndings ofbiochemistry and other related Þelds.They are quick to saythey are defending science,yet when confronted by anIntelligent Design paradigm that explains the data better thantheir own (such as on the human eye,a birdÕs wing or theprocesses ofblood-clotting),they offer no scientiÞc defense atall.Instead,they lash out,ridiculing the Intelligent Design par-adigm as nothing more than Òreligious.ÓWhat is happening in the scientiÞc community?Those who prefer the Creation and Intelligent Designexplanation for life cannot be conveniently stereotyped asbackward,ignorant,ßat-earth fanatics.To the contrary,believ-ers in special Creation and Intelligent Design are discerning,rational peopleÑtens ofmillions ofthemÑwho,uponweighing the evidence,have dismissed evolutionary theory asuntenable.And these millions are being joined by growingnumbers ofbiologists,geologists,paleontologists,physicists,medical doctors,mathematicians and other professionals inthe pure and applied sciences.A molecular biologist explains that evolutionary theoryWhat About . . . Creation and Evolutionhas an inßuence Òfar removed from biologyÓand is one oftheÒmost spectacular examples in history ofhow a highly specu-lative idea for which there is no really hard scientiÞc evidencecan come to fashion the thinking ofa whole society and dom-inate the outlook ofan ageÓ(Denton,p.358).As one biochemist puts it,ÒTo a person who does not feelobligated to restrict his search to unintelligent causes,thestraightforward conclusion is that many biochemical systemswere designed.They were designed not by the law ofnature,not by chance and necessity;rather,they were planned.Theirdesigner knew what the systems would look like when they were completed,then took steps to bring the systemsabout.Life on earth at its most fundamental level,in its mostcritical components,is the product ofintelligent activityÓ(Behe,p.193).Is there room for Intelligent Design?As much compelling evidence as there is for a young earthand a worldwide hydraulic cataclysm (the Noahic Flood,which explains much about our planetÕs geology and paleon-tology),Intelligent Design,on its own merits,can be arguedeffectively without a single reference to the Scriptures.Thisnatural knowledge ofa Creator is not the same as advancing a set ofspeciÞc theological and doctrinal beliefs about that Creator.Ifevolutionists persist in saying that creation cannot bedivorced from religion,then they themselves must be preparedto admit that their orthodoxyÑthat life in all its beauty,orga-nization and complexity arose from random mutations andother Darwinian speculationsÑis just as dogmatic,just asmuch a religion,really,as what they scorn.IfCreation is theis-tic,calling for an intelligent,purposeful Author ofLife,thennaturalistic Evolution is atheistic,denying the existence ofthatAuthor and any supernatural acts wrought by His hand.For generations,Evolution,with all its weaknesses andunexplained gaps,has reigned unchallenged in Americanpublic life in our zoos,science centers,museums and massmedia,and yes,perhaps most clearly in our schools.The theory ofEvolution is simply handed down as fact.Only now,Þnally,is Evolution being contested on its own terms:objective science.On the blackboards ofAmericaÕs public-school scienceclassrooms,and in the pages and on the screens ofthe media,the time has come for the words ÒEvolution,ÓÒnaturalismÓandÒneo-DarwinismÓto make room for ÒIntelligent Design.ÓAnything less,based on the evidence,would be intellectuallydishonest.Can we ÒbaptizeÓevolutionary theory?It would be a mistake on our part to think that simply bypresenting the evidence for Intelligent Design,a person willbecome a Christian.Believing that God is our loving heavenlyFather who created the heavens and the earth is an article offaith.Believing that there is an intelligent designer is a far cryfrom believing that we are sinful human beings in need ofaSavior and then trusting in the Son ofGod,Jesus Christ,who isour Savior from sin,death and the power ofSatan.Such a liv-ing hope is a gift ofGod,given by the Holy Spirit.It is not amatter ofscientiÞc study or analysis.Faith is as miraculous anevent in our life as is GodÕs work ofCreation in the world.Infact,it is no accident that those who are in Christ are calledÒnew creationsÓ(2 Cor.5:17).The Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri Synod believes,teachesand confesses that Adam and Eve were real historic individu-als and that the Genesis account ofCreation is true and factual,not merely a ÒmythÓor a ÒstoryÓmade up to explain the originofall things.We would also be making a very serious error simply toaccept the theories ofscience without question.Many aspectsofevolutionary theory are directly contradictory to GodÕsWord.Evolution cannot be ÒbaptizedÓto make it compatiblewith the Christian faith.Those who attempt inevitably windup watering down the teachings ofthe Bible.Christians haveno need to fear the Þndings ofscience,nor do they have anyreason to give ÒscienceÓmore credence than they give the WordofGod.As scientists continue to study and explore the wonders ofGodÕs creation we join the ancient Psalmist in saying,ÒI praiseyou because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your worksare wonderful,I know that full wellÓ(Psalm 139:14).For Further Study:Michael Behe,DarwinÕs Black Box:The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution(New York:The Free Press,1996).William Dembski,Intelligent Design:The Bridge Between Science andTheology(DownerÕs Grove,Ill.:InterVarsity Press,1999).Michael Denton,Evolution:A Theory in Crisis(Chevy Chase,Md.:Adler &Adler,1985).Carl Wieland,ÒDarwinÕs Real Message,Have You Missed It?ÓCreation Ex Nihilo(14(4):16-19,Sept.-Nov.1992).Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Creation and Evolution?Perhaps you have answered a knock at your door andfound two people wanting to talk to you about various socialconcerns,or at least they say they do.From there they hand youmaterial printed by the ÒWatchtower.ÓAs you speak to them,you Þnd out that they are JehovahÕs Witnesses.The purpose ofthis pamphlet is to help you understand who the JehovahÕsWitnesses are and what they stand for.Who are the JehovahÕs Witnesses?The JehovahÕs Witnesses are persons who are members ofthe organization known as the Watchtower Bible and TractSociety,headquartered in Brooklyn,N.Y.It is very importantfor Christians to understand that the Watchtower Society isun-Christian.In fact,it is decidedly anti-Christian.TheJehovahÕs Witnesses are deÞnitely not merely a differentChristian denomination.How did the JehovahÕs Witnesses begin and grow?The founding father ofthe JehovahÕs Witnesses wasCharles Taize Russell (1852Ð1916).Russell came to the con-clusion that Christianity was not the correct way to understandthe Bible.He made contact with groups (known as Adventists)who emphasized the immediate return ofChrist.Russellbegan a series ofBible studies and started to gather followers.Russell agreed with the AdventistsÕpredictions that Christwould return during 1873Ð1874.When that did not happen,Russell predicted more times for JesusÕreturnÑall ofwhichproved to be false,ofcourse.Eventually,in 1884,Russell ofÞcially incorporated theÒZionÕs Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.ÓTwelve years later,the word ÒZionÓwas dropped.In 1908,Russell moved his orga-nization to Brooklyn,N.Y.Toward the end ofhis life,Russelllost considerable respect among his followers because ofanumber ofslander cases he lost in court.After RussellÕs death in 1916,leadership ofthe WatchtowerSociety passed to Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford.Rutherford was largely responsible for the rapid growth oftheWatchtower Society.He spread the JehovahÕs WitnessesÕmes-sage via phonograph machines,which he used to play hisrecorded sermons.These sermons were more often than notharsh attacks against denominational Christianity,particu-larly the Roman Catholic Church,with vivid descriptions ofthe judgment to come against anyone who did not embraceJehovahÕs WitnessesÕviews.After 1944,the Watchtower Society no longer used mediabut instead emphasized personal visits,marked by aggressivetechniques to gain entry into homes in order to share theirmessage.This has been the approach ofthe WatchtowerSociety since that time.Rutherford increased his control overthe Watchtower Society and devised what he termed theÒtheo-cratically controlledÓorganization ofthe JehovahÕs Witnessesmovement.In 1931,the name ÒJehovahÕs WitnessesÓwas ofÞ-cially adopted to distinguish the followers ofRutherford fromthose who had left to form their own organizations.When Rutherford died in 1942,Nathan Knorr took over(1905Ð1977).Knorr worked tirelessly to create a better imageofthe JehovahÕs Witnesses in the public mind.Knorr spear-headed a massive printing effort,which continues to this day.The two magazines widely distributed in multiple languagesthat the JehovahÕs Witnesses are most known for are Awake!andThe Watchtower.Under KnorrÕs leadership,the JehovahÕs Witnesses pro-duced their own Bible translation,The New World Translation.From 129,000 members in 1942,the JehovahÕs Witnesses grewto 410,000 members in the United States alone by 1971.Theynumber nearly 900,000 members in the United States alone,with about 3.5 million members in 200 different countries.What is the key emphasis ofWatchtower teaching?The JehovahÕs WitnessesÕmovementÕs primary concern isthe end-time (eschatological) renewal ofhuman society.Theybelieve that Jesus Christ will return to establish a new king-dom,which they call a Òtheocracy,Óin which Jehovah God willbring total tranquility to the earth.They believe this utopia willcome only after the Battle ofArmageddon,in which the pre-sent world order will be destroyed.The JehovahÕs Witnessesview all earthly institutions,organizations and governments asevil.They believe that only the Watchtower Society is capableofspeaking truthfully about God in the world today.What do the JehovahÕs Witnesses believe about Jesus?The JehovahÕs Witnesses movement is surprisingly similarto the ancient heresy known as Arianism.The Christianchurch rejected this false teaching about Jesus.The JehovahÕsWhat About . . . The JehovahÕs WitnessesWitnesses believe that Jesus is ÒaÓgod,but not the eternal Son ofGod,the second person ofthe Holy Trinity.They believe therewas a time when He actually was created by Jehovah God.Theydo not believe Jesus is true God,as does historic Christianity.They do not believe the Holy Spirit is God,but only an imper-sonal force.Thus,they do not believe in the Holy Trinity.The JehovahÕs WitnessesÕBible,The New World Translation,goes out ofits way to mistranslate various verses ofthe GreekNew Testament.An example ofthis type ofmistranslation isfound in John 1:1.The Greek text says,ÒIn the beginning wasthe Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.ÓThe New World Translationtranslates the Greek this way:ÒInthe beginning was the Word and the Word was with God andthe Word was a god.ÓYou can see how through such deceptivetranslating,the JehovahÕs Witnesses attempt to mislead people.How do JehovahÕs Witnesses believe that people are saved?Based on misinterpretations ofpassages from the Book ofRevelation,the Watchtower Society believes that Jehovah Godextends salvation to two different groups ofpeople.First,thereare the 144,000 who shall inhabit heaven.The rest ofthosesaved will inhabit earth in the new kingdom that Christ willestablish when he returns after the Battle ofArmageddon.Theybelieve that the only persons who will be numbered among the144,000 are those who have adequately met speciÞc require-ments and have lived well enough in imitation ofChrist.For JehovahÕs Witnesses,salvation is not an accomplishedfact by Jesus Christ,given as a free gift,but only something thatis earned by doing good works.Chiefofthese works is aggres-sive personal visitation ofnon-members.This explains in largepart why the JehovahÕs Witnesses are so zealous for personalvisitation.What are some other distinct JehovahÕs WitnessesÕbeliefs and practices?Many people hear about JehovahÕs Witnesses when theylearn that a JehovahÕs Witness has refused a blood transfusion.The Watchtower Society forbids members from receiving bloodtransfusions because they believe this is a form ofÒeating blood,Ówhich was forbidden to the Old Testament people ofGod.JehovahÕs Witnesses also believe it is wrong to serve in themilitary,to vote,to salute the national ßag,or to express anysort ofcitizenship in this world,since they believe the worldwill be destroyed and replaced by ChristÕs kingdom.JehovahÕs Witnesses do not observe Christmas,GoodFriday,Easter or family birthdays,believing these celebrationsto be pagan festivities.Most JehovahÕs Witnesses also avoiddancing,movie-going and watching television.The average JehovahÕs Witness makes personal visits onpeople in their homes for an average often hours per month.There are some 900,000 JehovahÕs Witnesses in this countrymaking calls like this.Those Witnesses who are ÒpioneersÓdevote 100 hours a month to this work ofcalling on homes.Since their record ofcalls is the only record kept oftheir mem-bership,this work is vital for them.How can Christians reach out to JehovahÕs Witnesses?We need to recognize that JehovahÕs Witnesses arebesieged by the Watchtower Society with literature that trainsthem in how to share their false theology and to contradictBiblical truth.They immediately have many Christians at adisadvantage,since they are well prepared and ready to speakto you,while their visit takes you by surprise.Entering into an extended and detailed discussion withJehovahÕs Witnesses is best done by those Christians who havecarefully prepared to do so.It is possible,however,for allChristians to give a clear and simple witness to their faithwhen speaking with a JehovahÕs Witness.It is important not topermit them to sidetrack you when you speak to them.While every conversation is deÞnitely going to be unique,here are some things that need to be said to JehovahÕsWitnesses:ÒI trust in Jesus,not in an organization (John 3:16).I know I have eternal life (1 John 5:13) and that I will be savedby Jesus forever.I am not saved by what I do.I do good worksout oflove for God (Ephesians 2:8Ð10).I will pray that you toocome to know the peace and joy I have been given in ChristJesus my Lord (Romans 5:1).ÓYou may also be able to plant a seed ofdoubt in the mind ofa JehovahÕs Witness about the Watchtower Society.Invite themto your church and invite them to speak to your pastor.Urgethem to read the Bible,and not to rely on their WatchtowerSociety materials.Challenge them to lay these materials asidefor one week or one month and read only the Bible.After you have shared the Word with them,pray for them,asking God the Holy Spirit to work faith in their hearts,so thatlike Thomas,they may look to Jesus and say,ÒMy Lord and myGodÓ(John 20:28).For further study:An excellent short book on the JehovahÕsWitnesses is How to Respond:The JehovahÕs Witnesses.It isavailable from Concordia Publishing House.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About the JehovahÕs Witnesses?What is Islam and who are the Muslims?The word ÒIslamÓcomes from an Arabic word,salama,thathas a double meaning:Òto surrenderÓand Òto be at peace.ÓAÒMuslimÓis a person who surrenders his entire life to the willofAllah.A sincere,devout Muslim is a person ofdeep religious con-viction and faith,not unlike a devout Christian.Negativestereotypes ofMuslims in the Western world are partially dueto the fact that our culture has become so secular that peoplehave a hard time understanding anyone who holds to religiousbeliefs strongly.As of1995,there are approximately one billion Muslims in the world.There are about Þve million Muslims in theUnited States.How did Islam begin?Muhammad,an Arabian trader,became familiar withChristianity and Judaism as a result ofhis work as a camel dri-ver.Muhammad was deeply troubled by the status ofreligionand morality among his people.In the year 610 a.d.,heclaimed that the angel Gabriel revealed to him the name oftheone and only true god,ÒAllah.ÓAt that point,MuhammadÕscareer as the founder ofIslam began.Islam spread rapidlythrough MuhammadÕs military conquests.What do Muslims believe?Above everything else,a Muslim believes that:ÒThere is noGod but Allah,and Muhammad is his prophet.ÓThis motto,called the Shahadah,is used in every aspect ofMuslim life.Thesacred book ofIslam is the Koran(often spelled QurÕan),whichis believed to be the record ofAllahÕs revelations toMuhammad.Muslims believe in AllahÕs angels,in AllahÕs booksand in AllahÕs messengers and prophets (Jesus is consideredone ofAllahÕs prophets).Most Muslims also believe that Allahpredestines people to go either to heaven or hell.Muslimsbelieve in a paradise after death for those who are worthy,thatis,those who have adequately fulÞlled AllahÕs requirementsand are chosen by Allah.They believe that Muslims may spendsome time in hell,but will eventually end up in paradise.Muslims believe all who do not worship Allah,following theÞve ÒpillarsÓofIslam,will be cast into hell when they die.What are the Þve most important practices ofIslam?Everyone who claims to be a Muslim is expected to followthe ÒFive Pillars ofIslamÓand therefore to:1.Daily recite the Shahadah.2.Pray Þve times every day facing MeccaÑat morning,noon,mid-afternoon,after sunset and before going to sleep.3.Give alms.The Muslim is expected to give 2.5 percent ofhis income annually and to give other alms directly to thepoor and for other needs.4.Fast during the holy month ofRamadan.5.Make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during oneÕs life.Are there differences among Muslims?Each national group ofMuslims has a distinct culture andtraditions.While the Þve pillars ofIslam are common through-out Islam,there are three major groups ofMuslims.Ninetypercent ofthe worldÕs Muslims are either Sunni orShiaMuslims,who believe that Allah is eternal and that theKoran,is also eternal.They believe that AllahÕs most importantcharacteristic is omnipotence.They believe that because manhas a free will,Allah rewards and punishes according to manÕs behavior.The other group ofMuslims are ShiÕiteMuslims.While byfar a minority group within Islam,ShiÕiteMuslims have cap-tured much media attention because most major terroristorganizations that claim to be Muslim are associated with theShiÕitebranch ofIslam.For instance,ShiÕiteMuslims predomi-nate in the country ofIran.ShiÕiteMuslims trace their origin tothe death ofMuhammadÕs son,Ali.They have added to thecreed ofIslam,ÒThere is no God but Allah,and Muhammad ishis prophet,Óthe phrase,ÒAnd Ali (the Þrst Imam) is AllahÕsconÞdant.ÓThey also have added a sixth pillar to Islam,namely,ÒJihadÓor Òholy war.ÓThis concept is understood to refer notjust to literal warfare,but also to the effort to spread the Koran,and hence Islam,throughout the world.Are there any similarities between Christianity and Islam?Like Christians,Muslims have a profound sense ofthepresence ofthe Deity in their lives.They believe that Allah istotally in control and believe it is their duty is to submit com-pletely to his will.Like Christians,Muslims try to live accordingWhat About . . . Islamto clear moral codes ofright and wrong,and want the same fortheir children and for their societies.Muslims are interested insupporting traditional morality in regard to issues such asmarriage,sexuality,abortion,homosexuality and the breakdown in the family.In these ways,there are similaritiesbetween Christians and Muslims.Do Christians and Muslims believe in the same God?Christians know and believe in the Holy Trinity,that is,oneGod who has revealed Himselfas being three equal,yet dis-tinct,persons:the Father,the Son and the Holy Spirit.Islamrejects the Trinity and insists on beliefin ÒAllah.ÓMuslimsbelieve that the doctrine ofthe Trinity is blasphemous idolatry.Therefore,it is important to understand that when Muslimsuse the word ÒGod,Óin English,they are referring to Allah,thesubject ofthe Koran,and are most certainly not referring to theHoly Trinity,when they use the word ÒGod.ÓOne must be a bitcautious in making this point,simply because among Arabicspeaking Christians,ÒAllahÓis the word used for ÒGodÓinArabic translations ofthe Bible.The point to be made is thatChristians and Muslims may use similar words,but donÕtmean the same thing when they speak ofÒGod.ÓWhat do Muslims believe about Jesus?Muslims have great respect for Jesus,believing Him to bethe prophet who announced the coming ofAllahÕs greatestprophet,Muhammad.Muslims even believe that Jesus wassinless,born ofa virgin and did many miracles,but onlybecause he was one ofAllahÕs prophets.Christians believe,teach and confess that Jesus was notjust a prophet,but actually the Son ofGod,true God and trueMan,sent by the Father to be the worldÕs Redeemer.Muslimsdo not believe that Jesus died and rose again from the dead towin our salvation.Muslims generally respect Christians asÒPeople ofthe BookÓand do not view them with the same dis-pleasure that they view persons who are atheists or agnostics.How do Islam and Christianity differ over salvation?Above all other differences,this is the most important.Christians believe that salvation is a gift oflove from GodÑagift earned for us by our Savior,Jesus Christ,who willinglycame into this world ofsin and death,living perfectly in ourplace,fulÞlling all ofGodÕs demands,giving up His life as a sac-riÞce for the sins ofthe whole world,and then Þnally risingfrom the dead as the complete victor over sin,death and Satan.Forgiveness ofsins is a gift from God and cannot be earned.Christians know God to be their loving heavenly Father,a con-cept that is nearly unknown among most Muslims,who do notspeak ofa personal relationship with Allah,even though theyare very much aware ofhis constant presence and his controlover their lives.Muslims believe that they can be saved ifthey follow theÞve pillars ofIslam well enough,and thus earn the favor andblessing ofAllah.But they can never be certain or conÞdent oftheir eternal salvation.Christians who have converted fromIslam describe how liberating it was for them to come to knowand believe in the true God oflove and kindness,who givesthem forgiveness,life and salvation as a gift because ofwhatHis Son,Jesus Christ,did for them.How can Christians reach out to Muslims?Discussions about religion with Muslims should not beone-sided.Christians must be willing to listen respectfully andlearn about the faith ofIslam.Christians should pray that Godwill touch the heart oftheir Muslim friends and neighbors andmake them open to the Gospel.In many cases,the best oppor-tunity for outreach comes when Muslims move into our com-munities and neighborhoods.Rather than trying to engageMuslims in heated debate (which generally is unsuccessful),Christians can reach out through meaningful friendships andrelationships with Muslims,demonstrating what Christianlove,compassion and forgiveness is all about.As is usually thecase,a ChristianÕs lifestyle can go a long way toward helpingMuslims at least to consider the possibility ofthe Christianfaith.On the other hand,ifMuslims witness behaviors that areunloving and reßect a prejudice against them this can turnthem away from Christianity.When opportunities for discussion about religion arise,Christians need to stick to the most important issues.God is aGod oflove and mercy,who gives us forgiveness freely,as a gift,because ofJesus,who is the Son ofGod,not merely a humanprophet.Encourage Muslims to read the New Testament forthemselves.Most Muslims know Jesus only from what little issaid about Him in the Koran.What resources are available to help us reach out to Muslims?A short presentation on Islam is How to Respond to TheMuslims,by Ernest Hahn.A longer treatment ofIslam is avail-able in the respectful and sensitive presentation ofthe Muslimworld view by Roland Miller in his book Muslim Friends,TheirFaith and Feelings:An Introduction to Islam.Both books areavailable from Concordia Publishing House.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat About Islam?The Rise ofMormonismIfanyone doubts that the Mormonism is a growing con-cern,just consider these facts.The Mormon church has grownfrom 2 million members in 1963 to 9.7 million members todaywith ÒstakesÓ(as they call their districts) in 160 different coun-tries.In the United States alone there are approximately 5 mil-lion people who claim to be Mormons,Latter Day Saints (LDS)!As we express our deep concerns about the anti-Christiannature ofMormonism,it is important that we recognize thatmany Mormons are Þne people,with high moral values anddeep devotion to their family.The sincerity ofthe Mormonpeople is beyond question.But,they are sincerely wrongÑvery wrongÑabout the true God and His Son,Jesus Christ.Mormonism is an anti-Christian cult that uses many ofthe same terms as Christianity,but gives them entirely differ-ent meanings.Mormonism bases its religion on the Book ofMormonand the ÒinspiredÓrevelations ofits leaders,ratherthan on the Holy Bible,which aloneis the Word ofGod.The Beginnings ofMormonismJoseph Smith Jr.,the founder ofMormonism,claimed thatan angel had visited him and led him to discover plates ofgoldupon which was engraved,in what he called Òa reformedEgyptian language,Óthe Book ofMormon.Smith gathered allhis various documents together in 1833 into what Mormonstoday refer to as the Doctrine and Covenants(abbreviatedD.C.).This is the source oftheir religion.Unlike the Holy Scripture,there is not a single shred ofveriÞable,archeological evidence to support the Book ofMormonÕsfantastical claims ofancient civilizations and epicbattles here in the Western Hemisphere.Even the claim ofaÒreformed EgyptianÓlanguage has been proven time andagain to be a myth.After SmithÕs death in 1844,the largest group ofhis follow-ers accepted the leadership ofBrigham Young and migrated toSalt Lake City,Utah,the present-day headquarters ofthe LDS.MormonismÕs Key BeliefsÒRestorationismÓis the most important principle for theMormon Church.It is their beliefthat the true church diedwith the Þrst generation ofapostles and was restored withJoseph Smith.The Mormons are experts at using terms familiar to Christians,but giving them different meanings.LetÕs take a moment now to examine a few key teachings ofMormonism.The Holy TrinityAn ofÞcial statement from the Mormon Church claims:ÒAparamount doctrine ...is a beliefin God the Father;His Son,Jesus Christ;and the Holy Ghost.The three make up theGodhead.They are one in purpose but separate in being.Ó(LDSInternet site).This sounds very similar to Christianity,but astudy ofwhat Mormons mean when they use words like Ògod-headÓis very revealing.Mormonism rejects the Holy Trinity.The key to theMormon doctrine ofthe Trinity is found in the words,Òone inpurpose but separate in being.ÓJoseph Smith wrote,ÒTheFather has a body ofßesh and bones as tangible as manÕs;theSon also;but the Holy Ghost has not a body ofßesh and bones,but is a personage ofspiritÓ(D.C.,130:22).Mormonism explicitly denies the God revealed in the HolyScripture and the God confessed by all true Christians throughthe ages.Matt.28:19 reveals that the Triune God consists ofthree persons:the Father,the Son and the Holy Spirit.TheTriune God is three persons,equal in their divinity,yet oneGod.They are not separate,but ofthe same divine essence.The Person and Work ofJesus ChristMany Mormons today hold that God the Father had sexualrelations with Mary to produce a body ofßesh for Jesus to livein.But some say that Brigham Young was ÒinspiredÓwhen hewrote that the Father ofJesus Òwas the Þrst ofthe human fam-ily,Adam....Jesus,our elder brother,was begotten in the ßeshby the same character that was in the Garden ofEden,and whois our Father in heavenÓ(Journal ofDiscourses,Vol.I,pp.51,51).Obviously,since Mormons do not believe in the Son ofGod as He is revealed to us in the Bible,they also reject what Hehas done for us,namely,paid for all sins with His death on thecross.It is therefore no coincidence that you rarely,ifever,see aMormon painting ofthe death ofChrist.The cruciÞx is partic-ularly offensive to Mormons.Why? Because they believe thatthe blood ofJesus Christ did not atone for all ofour sins.SalvationWhat About . . . MormonismHoly Scripture teaches clearly that we are saved by gracealone,through faith alone,apart from works (Rom.3:28;Eph.2:8-11).In contrast to Christianity,Mormonism teaches thatsalvation is not a free gift ofGod,but something to be earned.A person may earn this salvation by believing in God,byreceiving baptism by immersion,and then by fulÞllingrequired works.Mormonism expressly rejects the doctrine ofjustiÞcation by faith alone.One oftheir Òapostles,ÓJamesTalmage wrote,ÒThe sectarian dogma ofjustiÞcation by faithalone has exercised an inßuence for evil since the early days ofChristianityÓ(Articles ofFaith,1909,p.120).How does a Mormon believe a person is saved? A Mormontheologian puts it this way:ÒWithout the Book ofMormonandother latter-day revelation,Christians are left without a fullunderstanding of...Jesus Christ.This same Jesus Christ,Godofthe Old Testament and Redeemer ofall,has once again ben-eÞted humankind by restoring the same teachings,principles,ordinances,and organization that he Þrst brought to the world two thousand years agoÓ(Rex Lee,What MormonsBelieve,p.24-25).Mormonism teaches its followers that they must do cer-tain things to gain heaven.Since they reject the true Son ofGod,Jesus Christ,they can never have the assurance that theyare saved by the love ofGod,revealed in the life,death and resurrection ofJesus Christ.The Mormon church ofÞciallystates:ÒThe Purpose ofLifeÓis the following:ÒAll have thepotential ofeternal life,conditional upon individual worthiness and obedience to the SaviorÕs ordinances andteachings.ÓHow tragic!How Can We Reach Out to Mormons?We need to approach this challenge with the attitude that itis God alone who converts a person to faith in His Son,JesusChrist.We are merely GodÕs instruments and our calling is tospeak the truth in love(Eph.4:14).We know from GodÕs Wordthat we are to be prepared to Ògive an answerÓto everyone whoasks about the hope we have in Christ (1 Pet.3:15).Based on the observations ofthose who have spent manyyears living and working among Mormons,here are somepractical suggestions for witnessing to Mormons.It is impor-tant not to get into arguments with Mormons.As we defendour faith,we must always do so lovingly and with compassion,never merely for the sake ofscoring debating points.When we witness to Mormons,we need to be careful thatwe base our understandings ofMormonism on reliablesources.An excellent resource is available from ConcordiaPublishing House.I highly recommend the helpful booklet,How to Respond to...The Latter-day Saints,by Pastor Edgar P.Kaiser.You may obtain a copy from CPH by calling 800-325-3040.The best thing we can do is to share with Mormons GodÕslove and grace in Jesus Christ.We need to emphasize the pow-erful comfort we have knowing that God loved us so much thatHe sent His only begotten Son to provide,totally and com-pletely,for our salvation.We do not have to look to our ownefforts for our salvation.The Mormon Gospel is only a new law.The true Gospel is the good news ofGodÕs work in Jesus Christ,which atones for all sin.The bottom line in witnessing toMormons is to be aware ofthe fact that our job is to witness toour faith in Jesus Christ.The Holy Spirit is the one who con-verts a Mormon through GodÕs Word.Finally,pray that theLord would bless your words as you present the hope that iswithin you.Pray too for the Mormon with whom you arespeaking,asking that the Lord would break through the fog oferror that clouds his mind so that he may come to know whoGod really is and what His Son,our Savior,Jesus Christ,is reallyall about.Ñ Dr.A.L.BarryPresidentThe Lutheran ChurchÑMissouri SynodWhat about Mormonism?