9 Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” Jeremiah 1:9-10 (NLT2)
To offer a sinner the gift of salvation based upon the work of Christ, while at the same time allowing him to retain the idea that the gift carries with it no moral implications, is to do him untold injury where it hurts him worst.
Evangelical churches just as even at the time of the holy apostles horrible errors arose in the same way among those who wanted to be called Christians and boasted of their adherence to the teaching of Christ. Thus, some wanted to become righteous and be saved through the works of the law (Acts 15[:1–29*]); some denied the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15[:12*]); some did not believe that Christ was the true, eternal God [1 John 2:22–23*]. The holy apostles had to confront such teachers sharply in their sermons and writings, although at that time, such highly significant errors and serious controversy would involve a great deal of offense, both to unbelievers and to those weak in the faith.
After the fall he must have said, ‘O God, what has happened to me? I’ve become so blind and deaf. Where have I been?’ I have no doubt that this is what happened. It was a dreadful fall.
Friends of mine have worked with a county rescue unit. Every once in a while they do a rescue that makes the news. The rescue is often daring, using a helicopter to render aid to some hiker or climber that if they didn’t do this work, would have died, alone and broken.
The thing is, to talk about the rescue, you have to know what happened to patient,
For if you are going to be rescued, you need to know the danger you face, and the fact that you can’t get out of the crisis on your own.
All of my readings this morning touched on such crisis moments. From Luther’s perception of Adam’s grief and guilty ridden sorrow, to those being led astray and teaching false or incomplete doctrine. ozer mentions one of those ways of teaching – that somehow omits the idea that repentance includes change. (For my Lutheran readers, those who focus on Article IV of the Augsburg COnfession and ignore Article VI)
The task that God gives Jeremiah, and every prophet, priest and pastor since. Some people and people groups we need to help realize they are rescued, for they still struggle as if they were lost. Others we have to show how lost and in danger they are. The latter often requires a humbling and painful experience, as reality is regained.
This isn’t easy, often, caught up in sin, or devastated by brokeneness, there is something similar to shock, and denial of their predicament is dominant. To minister to them in love, we have to help them be aware of where they are at, and the consequence of inaction.
Yet this is our blessed role, and at the end of the day, seeing them head for home, forgiven, cleansed and relieved is one of the greatest blessings a minister can experience. God has saved another child,
So for their sake, and to please the Father, preach about people’s real need for Jesus, and His presence and love and ministry to them.
Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 525.
A. W. Tozer, Tozer for the Christian Leader (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015).
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 426–427.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.“ Matthew 17:19-21 (NKJV)
Again you say, “The temporal power is not forcing men to believe; it is simply seeing to it externally that no one deceives the people by false doctrine;85 how could heretics otherwise be restrained?” Answer: This the bishops should do; it is a function entrusted to them86 and not to the princes. Heresy can never be restrained by force. One will have to tackle the problem in some other way, for heresy must be opposed and dealt with otherwise than with the sword. Here God’s word must do the fighting. If it does not succeed, certainly the temporal power will not succeed either, even if it were to drench the world in blood. Heresy is a spiritual matter which you cannot hack to pieces with iron, consume with fire, or drown in water. God’s word alone avails here, as Paul says in II Corinthians 10[:4–5], “Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty in God to destroy every argument and proud obstacle that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and to take every thought captive in the service of Christ.”[1)
Over the last few days, I’ve given a bit of thought to how to deal with those who promote heresy or heterodoxy, and to those who attempt to deal with it. It is a bit of a focus in the higher echelons of my denomination presently. Or at least some are making the case that it is, and they are struggling to determine how to deal with it, or not deal with it.
Yet in the parish, we have to deal with both heresy and heterodoxy. It may be someone who has strayed into it. It may be someone who deliberately comes into the church, or posts something on FB. So how do we approach those who would lead people away from the mercy of Christ?
The question, no matter the situation, whether large and prevailing, like Arius, or the lady who watches Joel Oseteen, is whether we can confront is love, and call the person to repentance. This is why force cannot be used, or power and “authority”. That is not the pastoral approach, nor is tt that of Matthew 18, where it is not the individual or the elders that deal with the sinner, but the community of God.
Why does this work this way? Simple, because as faith and prayer, leaving it in the hands of God.
You see, when you fight heresy by your own strength, by your own will, what you are doing is falling into heresy, for you have created a idol out of your position. Worse than heresy is this… for it is blasphemy.
You see, when dealing with history, one must be pastoral, one must care for souls. Doing so is critical, to have the people of God be the correcting source, the church is the one who has the witness. Not just any one man has the ability to defeat heresy or heterodoxy. You see, dealing with it through force, through authority doesn’t evangelize, either the heterodox or heretical, or those who are watching the confrontation. You see, they need to hear the clear gospel as well, those who would challenge it. By using authority, by using force to bluntly crush heresy and heterodoxy, you fail in that regard, you don’t show the people the true gospel, the light that will always shatter the darkness, that will reveal clearly Christ.
That’s what is important, not seeing them crucified, but seeing them crucified with Christ.
This is ministry, it isn’t easy to bear this cross, and not everyone is able to….. but this is how He did it, embracing, reconciling transforming….
That is what those who follow Him pray to see… not to win a battle, but as we see Christ victorius over sin and satan and death.
May we pray for all souls.. even as we desire to see all reconciled.
(Side note – seeing the church work together in this – also allows for the humility that corrects us when we go astray…)
85 On Luthers approval in another connection of the position here rejected, see Kawerau (ed.), Kötlin’s Martin Luther, I, 584.
86 Cf. Titus 1:9ff.
 Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 45, p. 114). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.