Sunday, July 31, 2011


This is a long quote, but a good one from the Lutheran Confessions that explains the Lutheran view on election:

Our election to eternal life is founded not on our godliness or virtue, but on Christ's merit alone and His Father's gracious will. He cannot deny Himself [2Timothey 2:13], because He is unchangeable in will and essence [Hebrews 6:17-18]. Therefore, when His children depart from obedience and stumble, He has called them to repentance again through the Word, and the Holy Spirit wants by the Word to be effective in them for conversion. When they turn to Him [Jeremiah 31:18-19] again in true repentance by a right faith, He will always show His old paternal heart to all who tremble at His Word and from their heart turn again to Him, as it is written:

If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? you have played the whore with many lovers; [yet return again to Me,] declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 3:1)

Furthermore, the declaration in John 6:44 is right and true, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." However, the Father will not do this without means, but has ordained His Word and Sacraments for this purpose as ordinary means and instruments. It is not the will of the Father or of the Son that a person should not hear or should despise the preaching of His Word and wait for the drawing of the Father without the Word and Sacraments. For the Father draws indeed by the power of His Holy Spirit. However, He works according to His usual way. He works by the hearing of His holy divine Word, as with a net [Matthew 13:47-48], by which the elect are plucked from the devil's jaws. Every poor sinner should therefore attend to the Word, hear it attentively, and not doubt the Father's drawing. For the Holy Spirit will be with His Word in His power, and will work by it. That is the Father's drawing.

~Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord XI 75-77

I am so glad that God works through ordained means, and not just some undefined, floating-around-in-the-sky type of way. I am glad that salvation is not dependent on a person's morality, the strength of his faith, or any decision that he makes. It is a gift given through the Word of God. That is the comfort of election.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Favorite Quote

"There is no need to attempt to reach God on the basis of our moral strivings, the emotional intensity of our spiritual experiences, or the power of our rational thinking. In the forgiveness of sins we receive life and salvation as a gift through faith in Christ's promise. Freed from the curse of the Law, we are liberated for a life of good works. The world becomes the arena for vocation-our calling to live by faith under the cross and in loving service to the neighbor in his or her need."

John T. Pless, Handling the Word of Truth

Summer update

It's been a busy few weeks at the Palmer home. Elise went to a Lutheran retreat, called Higher Things, and the other kids were in swimming lessons. I have been avoiding the computer somewhat and trying to finish up some projects before we start full-time school mid-August. Stan is in Hebrew, which ends the first week in August; his vicarage begins the following day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Historical "Church Mission Statement"

Yesterday a man showed up in our driveway who was interested in seeing the church. He told us that his father was the pastor here before WWII, and that his older siblings were born in the parsonage. There is a lot of history here, and I find it fascinating. Here is another bit of history that I find very relevant to the discussions about "Church Mission Statements". The church has recently printed this in its bulletin, regarding handbills that were posted to advertise the church services during the Depression years:

English Services-First, Third, and Fifth Sundays

German Services-Second and Fourth Sundays

English Bible Classes-Sunday 9:00

This seems quaint and far away from us today-but one part of the handbill is as relevant to us today as it was when it was published, probably about 1930. It says:

The Lutheran Church

*Recognizes the preaching of the Word as its only business

*It proclaims to man, without fear or favor, the whole counsel of God

*It avoids sensationalism and practices plain Gospel preaching

*Its service does not aim to entertain but to lift up the heart to God

*It leads you to know your sins and your Savior from sin, Jesus Christ

The parts that really got my attention were the statements about avoiding sensationalism and entertainment, since that is such big part of many American churches today. There really isn't anything new under the sun, and the church's mission will never change, no matter how much "new-fangled" technology is available. Technology is a gift from God, but the church must not let the technology lead it away from the ministry of Word and Sacrament.