Oct 30, 2017

Word of the Week: Means of Grace

In our Reformation Word of the Week today, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes us into the phrase "Means of Grace." This phrase is not found in Scripture but is descriptive of a truth that is taught in Scripture. God has chosen to impart His grace to sinful mankind through means or particular "tools." The tools that God has chosen to use to bring us to Himself and give us His grace are the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. God uses three particular tools to accomplish this work: His Word which is truth (John 17:17), and through which faith is imparted (Romans 10:17). The Sacrament of Baptism which washes our sins away (Acts 22:!6) and offers forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38-30). And the Sacrment of the Lord's Supper which Jesus instituted and through which He still today imparts forgiveness (Matthew 26:28). God has chosen to use these means to give us His grace, and so these should be of the most importance in our lives, knowing that God is working through them for us. Thanks be to God for these gifts and means of bestowing His grace!


Oct 23, 2017

Word of the Week - Antichrist

In our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through the word "Antichrist." The way that the Antichrist is usually thought of in Christianity today is as a political figure who is going to rise up and unite the world into a one world government near the end of the world. He’s thought of as more of a political figure than a religious one, though he will, in the end, try to turn the world against Christ and Christianity – so the thought goes. But does that fit with what Scripture says about the identity of the Antichrist? One of the things that came out of the Reformation was the proper, Biblical identity of the Antichrist. As Martin Luther grew in his appreciation of the gospel, he also grew in his recognition that the Papacy is the Antichrist. This identity comes from the Bible itself, most specifically from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 which will be the basis for our study. We pray that this study will be informative and beneficial!


Oct 9, 2017

Word of the Week - Justification

As we continue our series of Reformation words for the Word of the Week in October, Pastor Mark Tiefel defines the Biblical word Justification. He discussed justification in its objective and subjective sense. Christ's death is an objective truth through which all sinners have been declared not guilty before God (Romans 3:23-24, 28; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:18-19) but the benefits of this declaration are received by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 2:16) We are all sinful. But through God's work for sinners in Christ and through faith, we have been justified (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:16-17). Thanks be to God! Listen, learn, study and proclaim God's Word of Truth as faithful heirs of the Reformation!


Oct 2, 2017

Word of the Week - Three Solas

For our Word's of the Week this October, we will be focusing on words related to the Reformation. This week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through a study of the three "Solas" of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), and Sola Fide (Faith Alone).

Sola Scriptura is really the foundation for the other two as we would know nothing of Grace Alone or Faith Alone without the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” John 20:31 summarizes the primary purpose of the Scriptures: “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” 

Sola Gratia is the Scriptural teaching that God chose us for salvation because of His undeserved love for us. 2 Timothy 1:9 speaks of God "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." 

Sola Fide is the Scriptural teaching that God saves us through faith in Jesus Christ, not through our own good works. Romans 4:5 says, "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness." 

A good summary passage for these "Solas" is Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

May God help us to cling to these important Scriptural truths.


Sep 25, 2017

Word of the Week - Pastor

In our Word of the Week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through a study of the word pastor. There are a number of words that are commonly used to refer to the pastor of a church, including Reverend and Minister. The term pastor is derived from the Latin word meaning shepherd. Shepherd is the term Paul uses in Acts 20:28 where he says, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." We find many of the qualification for pastors listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 2 Timothy 2:24-25, and Titus 1:5-9. Maybe the best summary of the work of the pastor is found in 2 Timothy 4:2 - "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." Your pastor's main responsibility is to bring the Word of God to you, and this is something he is happy to do whether it's through sermons, Bible studies, visits over the phone, or in private home devotions. Let your pastor know how he can serve you. And also pray for your pastor. Pray that he would be faithful to God's Word and that the Lord would give him a love for souls that motivates his work among God's people. 


Sep 19, 2017

Word of the Week - Respect

In our Word of the Week, Pastor Mark Tiefel looks at the word “respect.” The Bible has much to say about respect, especially as it pertains to the respect that children are to have for parents and grandparents. Ephesians 6:1-3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Having respect for the elderly benefits not just the elderly, but us as well. When the family falls apart, so does respect, and the Bible has much to say about the effects of disrespect. Isaiah 3:5 says, “The people will be oppressed, Every one by another and every one by his neighbor; The child will be insolent toward the elder, And the base toward the honorable.” Respect is important because it mirrors our respect for God. A lack of respect for elders probably means that there is also a lack of respect for God. We pray that this study will help you see the benefits and blessings of a proper respect for elders.


Sep 12, 2017

Word of the Week - Tragedy

In our Word of the Week, Pastor Mark Tiefel examines the word "tragedy." When we think of the terrorist attacks that occurred sixteen years ago on September 11, 2001, many of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when those events occurred. The images from that day are burned into our minds. That is the effect tragedy has on our lives. Many in our country are currently dealing with tragedies due to hurricanes and wildfires, and people around the world are suffering due to earthquakes and other natural disasters. At these times, some people have trouble reconciling how God can be a loving God and yet allow these tragedies to occur. As we consider this word, we will see that while God does allow these tragedies to come into the lives of His people, He is indeed a loving God. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, and because of this, the tragedies that come into our lives can actually be used as tools. James 1:2-3 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." When we face the tragedies of life, Jesus invites us in Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And so, we wait and trust in Him confidently by faith in the face of tragedy.


Sep 4, 2017

Word of the Week: LABOR

In our Word of the Week on this Labor Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes a look at the Biblical perspective on work or labor.  Many people in our world today view labor as a burden or a negative.  But God reveals something very different.  God has given work as a blessing to mankind.  Even in the perfect world God gave Adam work to do in naming the animals and tending the garden.  After sin entered the world that labor would become more difficult, but it still can bring satisfaction, and be a blessing to our neighbor.  Throughout Scripture, God emphasizes the importance and blessing of labor.  But labor also has its limitations.  While work is a gift from God, we are not able achive our own salvation before God through our own labor.  What we were not able to do, Jesus has done for us.  Through His labor (His perfice life and sacrificial death) our debt of sin before God has been paid in full.  We are invited to come to Jesus for needed spiritual rest, knowing He has done it all.  There, at the cross of Jesus we can find rest for our souls.  On this Labor Day we thank God for the blessing of work in this life, but even more, we celebrate the work of Christ for us! 


Aug 28, 2017

Word of the Week - Confirmation

In our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through the word “confirmation.” The focus of this study is on the purpose of confirmation instruction.

The word itself means, “to establish the truth, accuracy, validity, or genuineness of something. To acknowledge with definite assurance. To make firm or more firm; add strength to; settle or establish firmly.” The King James Version uses the word to describe what Paul did at the conclusion of his first missionary journey in Acts 14:22, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Most other English translations translate the word "confirming" as "strengthening" and that really gives us a good definition of the most basic purpose of confirmation – to confirm or strengthen faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior.

To that end, it only makes sense that this would involve a period of instruction in God’s Word. If we are going to be confirmed or strengthened in the faith, that is only going to happen through God’s Word. We know that from such familiar passages as Romans 1:16 where Paul tells us that the gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” And Romans 10:17, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Confirmation, then, is really the work of the Holy Spirit, working through the Word.

Though not commanded in Scripture, we can see the benefits of having this time of formalized instruction in God’s Word for our youth. In the Lutheran Church, Luther’s Small Catechism is used as the basis for this instruction. Among the goals of this instruction is to help young Christians distinguish between the Law and the Gospel and to prepare them to receive communion for the first time. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Through confirmation instruction, our youth are prepared to examine themselves and properly receive this sacrament.

We should not think of confirmation as a graduation from learning God’s Word. Christian education is a lifelong endeavor.

We pray that the Lord will bless those beginning their confirmation classes so that they will indeed become more confirmed and strengthened in their faith.


Aug 21, 2017

Word of the Week - Education

The beginning of the school year is upon us once again, and so in our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Sam Rodebaugh leads us through a discussion of the word "education."

The word itself is not actually found in the Bible, but this certainly does not mean that education is not spoken of - far from it. We see the emphasis the Bible puts on educating children from a young age in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."

A wonderful example of Christian Education is seen in the person of Timothy, who was raised in the faith from his youth by his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:14-15). 

Christian Education does not end in early childhood. We see the example of Jesus learning in the temple in Luke 2 at the age of twelve. Even the prophets themselves committed themselves to lifelong Christian Education. 1 Peter 1:10-11 says, "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories." Through these examples, we too are encouraged to dedicate ourselves to lifelong instruction in the Christian faith as we allow God to guide our ways and direct our paths.


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