Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. This month we continue our look at the life and work of a Roman Catholic priest named Martin Boos who preached the Gospel like another priest named Martin—Martin Luther: we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.
Our look at Boos’ life this month focuses on real life examples from his ministry that show the power of the Gospel to change lives and to give true peace and comfort to conscience, even in the midst of Satan’s attacks on the faith. Notice also in these accounts how Satan tries to lead us into a false faith—a faith in our own righteousness; also notice in “A” the role of vocation.
MARTIN BOOS—A PREACHER OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT AVAILS BEFORE GOD 42.5 [part 2]
1. Several stories from Boos’ work in Austria, especially in Gallneukirchen
The farmer’s wife from the valley would have long ago stood before the pastor’s door many times to pour out her heart to him, but a certain fear would always hound her as she ascended the stairs. She finally summoned the courage, went to him and, with tears, thanked him for all his sermons. The pastor, who knew that her conscience was still ill at ease, looked her right in the face and said, “Woman, you gladly heard my sermons of faith in Christ and today give thanks for them. But I’m afraid that you still do not rightly believe what I preach.”
She said, ‘Oh, I believe everything what you preach.”
“I doubt it,” he said. “Look at your unease, your anxiety over your sins that you carry around in your heart. I see that unbelief still is stuck within you and that you still cannot completely believe that God also will forgive you your sins for Christ’s sake and send the Holy Spirit into your heart.”
She then began to cry and said, “Yes, I truly lack it! I was once a great sinner; it is impossible for God to forgive me everything!”
The pastor said, “Dear woman! I am a greater sinner than you. But if it was possible for God to forgive me, the sinful woman at Jesus’ feet, the woman at Jacob’s well [John 4], Peter and Paul, the malefactor, etc. it is also possible for Him to forgive you. See how, even now, you are insulting God with your unbelief! Shame on you for sinning in front of me, your pastor, right here in my room!”
Her crying got even worse. Her tears kept her from answering. She became alarmed and no longer dared to say that she was too great a sinner and that it was impossible for God to forgive her. Then the pastor showed her from many Scripture passages that through faith in Jesus God does pardon the greatest sinners; that a person attains and inherits righteousness not by works but through faith; that here there is no difference between a farmer’s wife and a pastor and a murderer. Romans 3. 22, 26.
“Therefore be so good, dear woman!” he continued, “and receive a truly great gift for the many gifts that you give to the poor and to my chaplains who eat with you at noontime when they have an extra serving.” “Behold, I say to you: God the heavenly Father loves you so much that He did not give you a mere barrel full of money, or even merely heaven and earth as a gift; but something even greater—His only-begotten Son with all His righteousness and holiness. He also right away forgives you all your sins; and there’s nothing you can do but believe, nothing you can do but open the sack, the hands, the heart, the mouth and the ears and receive the greatest gift. Do you believe that?
In the midst of a stream of tears she answered with a loud voice, “I can do nothing else. I must believe.”
“You are blessed,” the pastor spoke, “because there is nothing else you can do.” Go in peace, your sins are forgiven you. Your ‘I must believe’ has helped you.”
She said, “Yes, but I still can’t go now. I am as happy as if I were in heaven. If you would permit me, I would like to stay here even longer. All my life I have never felt this.” And she stayed at house until evening and left with the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding.
But three days later she returned despondent, cried and said, “O, I have lost my peace. I am done for; there’s no way I can be saved.” “Why not?” Boos asked. “Because,” she said, “I am a peasant woman, an innkeeper, the wife of a drunken husband and I am the mother of many children. I have too many trials, distractions and concerns that it does not matter.”
The pastor laughed and said, “Now I am certain that your faith three days ago was correct and true because it is under such great attack. Just live it. Don’t let your courage falter. Jesus could have never commanded the Gospel to be preached to every creature unless people of every station of life could believe in Him and live in Him and be saved. He would have clearly said: ‘Except the brew masters, except the innkeepers, except the wives who have a drunken husband, many children and guests. Do not preach to them—they are unable to believe; they do not have time to be saved.’ But Jesus did not say this. Thus, back at it once again—start anew, resist anew and call out anew: Away, Satan!”
She responded, “Now I have to start over. I had already thought that it was impossible for me.” And she went home once again with the joy she had before. She often expressed the wish that she might be able to leave her husband, her children and inn and go in peace with this faith into solitude or into a convent.
But the pastor said, “No! Remain where you are, where God has called you. In the midst of the world, the apostles and first Christians preserved their faith, their love and inner peace—and they were people like you and me.” So she went her way each time, again fresh and joyful and continually believed. Since she herself had been blessed in the faith, she sought to be a blessing to others. And she was actually successful among her servants and daughters, her sisters and some neighbors. In 1814 her husband died; then she could have placed herself into a convent. But no! She said, “I have already lived blessed in my faith for five years at the inn. My children are still small; I am raising them to be Christians and God will be my husband and the father of my children.”
Afterwards, she was not as well liked as before. She had many enemies, but she did not know why. No Abel without Cain. To be a Christian and to be hated without cause, belong together. Forward anew!
Magdalena was a widow full of good works, but she was always restless and anxious. On the Feast of the Birth of Mary (08 September) 1810, it pleased God to open her eyes. It was as if the entire time of Matins was for her alone. “He meant it for me,” she said to herself and deeply weighed down in her seat in shame and amazement.
After Matins, she was still full of anxiety and bewilderment and came to the pastor. Her heart and tongue had been loosened that day. Every fold and corner of the heart was opened; a stream of tears flowed. The pastor comforted her with faith in Christ and His Gospel. He said, “Just believe that Christ died also for your sins and paid for them and that He wants to give it to you with everything that He is and has. Open your mouth and heart and receive it as a heavenly gift. Do not let this great morsel be too big for you for God gives more than a person can grasp.” That day she understood everything and believed everything and behold, it helped her. From that day on her rest, joy and peace were inexpressible. She diligently read the New Testament, bought 14 copies and distributed them to her relatives with the most fervent prayer that the Kingdom of God would enter their hearts just as it had hers.
The later lies and slanders, commissions and inquisitions did not cause her to stumble in the faith. “It is even written,” she said, “that by many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God and continue on in it.” With visible joy she drank the cup when it came to her.
There was an unmarried woman who, from childhood on, lived piously having separated herself from the world. Her joy was praying, reading, hearing, confessing and communing; she never took part in the joys of the world and yet she was always anxious, sad, depressed, because in her eyes she was exceedingly sinful. Her main temptations were the inner attack of impure thoughts. These things of Satan attacked and plagued her day and night; she could not drive them away for anything; they constantly burned in her like a wildfire although outwardly she did not give the slightest occasion for them since she did not even look at any man, always cast her eyes downward or completely closed them, and never had anything to do with friendships or love-affairs. She was the most secluded, pious, chaste young woman. She was never seen laughing or heard speaking an unnecessary word. She even got a crooked neck from hanging her head.
The pastor said to her one day, “In my mind, your crooked neck and your constant deep sadness is the result of your unbelief.” “I don’t think it is,” was her reply.
“But I still think it is,” he said. “Tell me honestly: You really think that you must pray, confess, fast and commune yourself into righteousness; but I tell you that you will never accomplish it. Instead, you must be justified and saved through faith in Jesus Christ. As Adam in the Old Testament passed on to you Original Sin and every woe and punishment adhering to this sin, so also has the Second Adam, Christ, passed on to you all His righteousness and merit as an inheritance. If you want to share in this His righteousness that alone avails before God, you must believe that what I say to you is true; you must boldly grab and receive it, and never place your reliance on yourself and your polluted holiness, but only on Him alone. When you can believe this, you will have rest and peace in your soul; your crooked neck will become straight, your closed eyes will open, your mouth will finally smile, etc.”
After this conversation, for the first time, she looked upon the pastor in a friendly way; and for the first time began to smile and look cheerful.
The pastor responded, “Now that is another face, a face that believes. So then you do believe what I am telling you?”
She responded, “You know that already for four and a half years now I have trusted you more than on anyone else. I believe everything that you tell me: that I wanted to pray myself righteous but never accomplished it. But how happy I am when you tell me that from Christ I inherit righteousness—righteousness that avails before God—and that I only receive it through faith. Now I have been helped; now I will gladly laugh. I had never understood it so rightly.”
And from this hour on, this saddest soul was the happiest; the subsequent storm of slander did not trouble her in the least. She was and remained firm in her faith—a faith that many tested and was tested by many anxieties and sufferings.
Every evening Boos summoned together the people in his household and read to them of faith, of new life with Christ in God and of the joy of faith in love when it is ignited in the heart from above and is enlivened by the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
In this was Boos spoke in his and in every house where he had opportunity to call on. The people often flowed with tears and confessed that Christ is all in all and that man is nothing. He then, with them, sank upon his knees in the dust at the pierced feet of the crucified Reconciler and gave himself and these contrite and awakened souls into the arms of the God of mercy. They were then happy and so full of thanks that Boos had to point them away from himself and to Christ.
So far Professor Krauss
Good Afternoon Ladies,
It is hard to believe another month has gone by, soon it will be fall. I want to thank all of you for the help during Shirley's luncheon.
Our next meeting is August 14th at Jean's house and I'm sure we will have a great luncheon and see her beautiful flowers. Upcoming events to keep in mind and on your calendar are: the picnic August 28th and Ladies Day Out October 10th, place to be determined.
God Bless and have a great month.
You may not like being Lutheran, but the other choices are intolerable!
GUEST COLUMN FROM ONE OF OUR MEMBERS
I went to a non-denominational church yesterday with some friends just to see what it was like…. We even hit it on a communion Sunday. No one had to get up--they just passed it around like the offering plate. At least the bread wasn't wonder bread. It looked like Matzah bread. It was hard to tell who the actual pastor was. There was no liturgy, no piano or organ (there was a hymn leader who led everyone in the hymns, or "songs" as they called them), one guy got up and read a passage from his smart phone and gave his interpretation of it (this was right before communion). The order was as follows: song, prayer, song, prayer, offering, song, prayer, communion, song, sermon, prayer, song, song. I had such a difficult time following the sermon. I honestly couldn't tell you what it was about. Listening, maybe? The pastor used a few passages to illustrate a point. He used the "I think... (this means)" phrase in there occasionally.
I'm really glad Lutheran pastors go through years of training before going up there to preach. Apparently at this church, if you are a member, anyone can ask to preach a sermon or pick the hymns, so there's really no rhyme or reason for anything, and there's not even any liturgy to have as a safety net.
It was an interesting experience. No law and gospel. Not really even gospel. Just a "do good because Jesus did/said to." One lady seemed to be hiding under her hoodie, head bowed in shame. Or she was really cold, I don't know. Two other women were wearing black veils. They could have used some good law and gospel message.
The place didn't even look like a church, but more like a church basement. The outside was even worse. There was a sign that said "Christians Meet Here" with a light up arrow pointing to the building.
LCMS STEWARDSHIP ARTICLE: August 2016
“Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)! This is St. Paul’s exclamation upon hearing the Corinthian church’s response to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his request for support for the Church in Jerusalem. The Christians in Corinth heard and received God’s mercy in Christ, and they responded to St. Paul’s call to support Christians in Jerusalem with a collection. The Corinthian’s joy filled Jerusalem’s need.
This is the reality of stewardship. Because of God’s generosity in the giving of His Son to die on the cross for us, we are to be generous with all that we receive from Him. What do we receive? Everything. All that we are and all that we have is the Lord’s. He is the creator and the giver. We are His creatures and those who receive what He gives.
It sounds easy. And it is. But then again it isn’t. Stewardship is easy because it God’s work. Through what God gives, we give to others. Through what God gives, we support the work of the church for the life of the world. He gives; we receive. And like our generous Father in Heaven, we, as His children, use what He gives to us to love and serve others.
But stewardship is also difficult. That is because it goes against our natural inclination to think that what I have is mine to do what I want with. This is our sinful nature. It is our selfishness and our greed. How can we who have been given everything—life, food, clothing, house, home, forgiveness, divine sonship, an eternal inheritance—be so stingy with what we give to the church, the place where we hear about and receive all that God gives us and does for us? We are all guilty of this kind of thinking. And the only godly response is to repent and trust in the Gospel.
For if God has given you His own Son, will He not give you all things? Yes. He will. This is His sure and certain promise. God provides for His people. He provides everything we need for this body and life and for the life that is to come.
The church is a mercy place. It’s a place where God’s mercy in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, is given and received. For we who believe in Christ, it means forgiveness, life, and salvation in the face of sin, death, and the power of the devil. Here in the church we inhale God’s mercy in Word and Sacrament, and exhale this same mercy in love and service to our neighbor. And that is an enduring, joyful thing to do. Our joy fills our neighbor’s need because His joy filled ours (Heb. 12:2). Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!
COUNFOUNDING AN UNBELIEVER
The following is a quote from the book Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archmandrite Tikhon [Shevkunov]. It was the 2011 Russian Book of the Year winner.
Once in 1986 the [Communist] Party bosses of the [Russian] province of Pskov brought some big shot from the Ministry of Transportation to the monastery.
He was actually a surprisingly calm and decent fellow. For example, he didn’t ask idiotic questions about where the monks’ wives live. And he wasn’t interested in asking us how it was that Yuri Gagarin had flown into space and hadn’t seen God there. But in the end, after spending two hours with Father Nathaniel, this bureaucrat, being impressed by his new acquaintance, could not help himself:
“Listen, I’m amazed talking to you! I don’t think I’ve ever met such an interesting and unusual man in my entire life! But forgive me—how can you with your intelligence possibly believe in…! I mean, after all, science keeps opening newer and newer horizons for humanity! And all without God! The fact is there is no need for him. This year Halley’s Comet will be approaching us. And the scientists have totally been able to calculate its orbit and its speed and its trajectory. And for this, forgive me, absolutely no concept of God is needed!”
“Halley’s Comet, you say?” Father Nathaniel rubbed his beard. “You mean to say that if it’s possible to calculate the orbit of a comet, that makes God unnecessary? Hmm! Just imagine this then: put me by a railroad and give me a piece of paper and a pencil. Within a week of observation I will be able to tell you exactly when and in what direction the trains will be running. But does that mean that there are no conductors, no dispatchers, no station workers, and no minister of transportation even? Of course not!”
IS THE CHURCH ANTI-SCIENCE? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!
Perhaps you have heard of the Kepler Space Telescope. The Kepler Space Telescope was launched in 2009 to find planets similar in size to Earth and which may be able to support life. Over a four-year period, Kepler monitored 150,000 stars in the northern and southern hemispheres for any change in brightness that could come from a passing planet. It is named after astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), a Lutheran. Kepler had studied three years to become a Lutheran pastor. He then turned to astronomy after being assigned to teach mathematics in Graz, Austria, in 1594.
His mathematical calculations contradicted the theories of Aristotle which said planets orbited in perfect circles. Kepler hypothesized and substantiated that planets orbit elliptically. This is his first law. He also found that planets do not move at a uniform speed; this is his second law. Later he discovered that the squares of the time it takes for any two planets to revolve around the sun are “as the cubes of their mean distances from the sun.” [Pretty heavy stuff!] This is his third law, or harmonic law. These three laws are often called the first “natural laws” in science. He was also the first to define weight as the mutual attraction between two bodies, an insight that Isaac Newton, another Christian, used to come up with the law of gravity; and Kepler was the first to explain that tides were caused by the moon.
Kepler’s achievements came in the midst of much suffering. His Lutheran faith cost him his position in Graz. Another time he was fined for burying his second child according to Lutheran burial rites. He was plagued with digestive problems, gall bladder ailments, skin rashes, piles, and sores on his feet that healed badly due to his hemophilia. Childhood smallpox left him with defective eyesight and crippled hands. His first wife and several children died. His pay was erratic at best and he was often forced to move. Moments before he died, an attending Lutheran pastor asked him where he placed his faith. Calmly, he replied, “Solely and alone in the work of our redeemer Jesus Christ.” Those were the final words of the man who earlier in life had written that he only tried “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” He was still in that mindset when, four months before he died, he penned his own epitaph:
I used to measure the heavens,
Now I must measure the earth.
Though sky-bound was my spirit,
My earthly body rests here.
[Source: Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World, Zondervan, 2004, pg. 227-230]
A prayer by Johannes Kepler: “I thank You, my Creator and Lord, that You have given me these joys in Your creation, this ecstasy over the works of your hands. I have made known the glory of Your works to men as far as my finite spirit was able to comprehend Your infinity. If I have said anything wholly unworthy of You, or have aspired after my own glory, graciously forgive me. Amen.” [Quoted in: The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism, CPH, 2004, pg. 196]
DO WE CARE WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT LUTHERANISM?
In his encyclical, Militantis Ecclesiae, of 01 August 1897, Pope Leo XII described Protestantism as the “Lutheran rebellion, whose evil virus goes wandering about in almost all nations.”
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Generosity Adds Value to Life
The dictionary defines generosity as “the quality of being kind and generous . . . that often overwhelms friends and neighbors.” It’s no wonder why Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Whenever someone contributes to the needs of others because they are motivated by a care and concern for that need, God’s love is clearly and powerfully conveyed with an authentic witness.
Christian songwriter Michael Card says it this way: “With Christ as your only possession, then giving becomes our delight.” For sure, there is a sense of satisfaction in giving that only the giver can know.
The dictionary also lists parallel words for ‘generosity.’ These synonyms include concepts that many hold as positive values: liberality, lavishness, free-handedness, magnanimous, unselfishness, abundance and plentifulness all describe a ‘fullness’ that our Father in Heaven wants for His children.
God established an ancient system to care for the poor, the foreigners, widows and the orphans. Mercy and justice in dealing with others, especially those on the margins of society, was an instruction with a promise of great value. Over time, acts of charity demonstrated by many cultures differentiated Christian charity, because it did not seek its own benefit. Its motivation stemmed from the needs of others.
The value from generosity is not limited to recipients, whether poor, marginalized or otherwise. Anyone who has experienced the kindness of others can affirm that the principal impact of generosity’s value is experienced by the one who shares.
Social and psychological sciences have ample evidence that happiness correlates to taking advantage of the opportunities to live outside of self. The value of generosity surrounds life with joy and meaning.
For more information, contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427.
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