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 begin study of C.F.W. Walther, founding father of our Missouri Synod. This month as we celebrate All Saints’ Day and Thanksgiving we are reminded to give our Lord thanks for our faithful confessors of the faith, for our fathers in the faith. Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith [Heb 13:7 (ESV)].
44.1 [part 1]—Dr. Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther
A hundred years after death closed M. Muehlenberg’s eyes (1787), a man died through whom the Lord blessed, yes, in fact, superabundantly blessed especially the Lutheran Church—C.F.W. Walther (+07 May 1887 in St. Louis).
Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther came from a long line of preachers. He was born in Langenchursdorf in Saxony, Germany on 25 October 1811. His father was Pastor Gottlob Heinrich Wilhelm; his mother’s name was Johanna Wilhelmine, nee Zschenderlein, from Zwickau. Ferdinand was the eighth of twelve children, and the fourth son. The children were brought up in a home that was strict but not harsh. Although their father himself was steeped in rationalism, he still taught his children that the Bible is God’s Word. The small treasury of verses and hymns that the boy acquired would later spring into life in him. As a secondary student in Schneeberg, in the midst of teachers who were staunch rationalists, he had to admit that a life of faith not evident. “I was 18 years old when I left the gymnasium [secondary school] and I had never even heard one verse of God’s Word from a believer’s mouth. I never had a Bible, or even a catechism; all I had was a miserable manual of heathen morals.” When he finished the gymnasium, he wanted to be a musician. He also had an excellent gift for music. All his life he was a skilled organist who rejoiced whenever he could play on a good instrument. His father, though, was opposed to this career: “If you want to be a musician, you see to it that you make your way; but if you want to study theology, I will give you a Taler each week.”
It was not this promise, however, that convinced him to study theology. Instead, it was the great impression that the biography of J. Fr. Oberlin (by G.H. Schubert) made on him. His brother Hermann, who had studied theology for two years in Leipzig, brought this book along on break. In Oberlin, Walther saw how blessed a pastor’s sphere of influence can be. “I absorbed an unshakeable trust in God from that precious little book.”
In October 1829 Walther moved to the University of Leipzig. His excellent grades at the gymnasium brought him “a cord of wood” for his support; otherwise he was dependent on the “weekly Taler.” He still did not have his own Bible; he would gladly have bought one but he lacked money. “One day he only had a few pennies. If he spent these for a Bible, he did not know what he would live on the next day. Finally he said to himself: I, in fact, will spend the money for God’s Word. He’ll help me and will leave me stuck in my distress. He purchased the Bible. The next day a farmer from Langenchursdorf approached the student Walther. He told him that before his departure to Leipzig he asked at the parsonage whether Walther’s father might have something to deliver to his son. At first the father said he knew of nothing; but then he thought about it and brought him a letter that he wanted to deliver. The farmer left. Walther opened the letter and in it found a Taler.” Such an extra gift of his father never happened again after that. On 09 December 1829 Walther wrote in his diary: “Today I read in the Bible, specifically in Acts, in order to familiarize myself with it because I still know very little about the Apostles—I can barely recite their twelve names; and secondly in order to build an unshakeable faith by their examples of works and sayings.” From these words one can draw a conclusion about the religious instruction in the gymnasium.
The professors of theology at the university at that time did not confess Christ, the Son of God and Savior of sinners. With the exception of F.W. Lindner Sr. and Aug. Hahn, they were professed rationalists or believers in reason. At that time that, theology students actually placed a Bible in a coffin and carried it around in a procession while singing: “Now let us bury the body.”
So far Professor Krauss
SOMETHING TO PONDER THIS THANKSGIVING: …the abundance for simple living is replaced by the scarcity for complex living… [Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, pg.15]
REMEMBER THE TIME CHANGE FOR 04 NOVEMBER: The tradition of using Roman numerals on timepieces was established by the early clocks on church towers. During the Crusades, the Church drew the line from the infiltration of heathen Islamic learning by banning the adoption of Arabic numerals on its clocks. To this day, most 'classic' clocks and watches have Roman numerals. [Source: Watch Around Nr. 008 Autumn 2009-Winter 2010]
FOR ALL SAINTS’ DAY—01 NOVEMBER—THE HOLINESS OF THE SAINTS: “Their holiness was always and only the righteousness of the Saint, the Holy One, the Lord Jesus, whose perfect obedience to His Father even to the cross God credited to them by faith. They are holy because the blood of Calvary forgave their sins. They are holy because the Holy Spirit joined them to the Savior in living faith, and so His love shone through their lives” (William Weedon, Celebrating the Saints, p. 8).
THOUGHTS FROM LUTHER FOR ALL SAINTS’ DAY
Consider the ancient generations and see: who trusted in the Lord and was put to shame? Or who persevered in the fear of the Lord and was forsaken? Or who called upon Him and was overlooked? For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; He forgives sin and saves in time of affliction. [Ecclesiasticus 2. 10-11]
The examples of the saints’ weaknesses are more important and bring more comfort than the examples of the great, splendid strength and other virtues that the saints had. I cannot be bettered by the fact that David killed Goliath, bears and lions because I cannot follow him in such courageous deeds because they surpass all my powers and thoughts. For by such great deeds the saints are extolled on account of the power and strength that they had as brave heroes. But when the example of the weakness, the sin, the terrors and the trials the saints endured are held before us like when I read the laments, sighing, terrors and anxiety that David had, that encourages and gives me a great comfort. Because I see that they are not destroyed and undone in their anxiety and terror but take heart and are comforted with the promises. Thus I conclude that I, too, should not despair.
THE DIVINE SERVICE: “In the Divine Service, there is more, so much more, than meets the eye. The writer to the Hebrews puts it this way: But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Heb. 12.22-24). It’s all there now, yet we can see none of it. Our reason and senses are not attuned to it. We cannot feel it, taste it, smell it. It must be revealed by the Word to faith, and faith must believe it. By our own devices, we can know nothing more than bread is bread and wine is wine; the Word must reveal the hidden things, the mystery that bread is body and wine is blood. The hidden mystery of the Church must be revealed to faith, that wherever even as few as two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, there the Lord of the Church is in their midst, and with Him the angels, the archangels and all the company of heaven, and even that little gathering of two or three is the fullness of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. This is the nature of the now and not yet of the end times. What is not yet already is now, but it is not yet seen. The foretaste is the feast, and the feast is the foretaste. It’s not a matter of degree or quantity, a little bit now and a lot more later, but a matter of hiddenness. Now the feast is hidden beneath a humble morsel. A bit of bread, a sip of wine. But it is not yet seen for what it is—the marriage supper of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end. In the Divine Service heaven and earth come together, eternity breaks into time, the infinite dwells in the finite, God and Man are reconciled and our notions of time get wonkier than Einstein’s theory of relativity. What is now and what is not yet are caught up in the eternal moment of the One who is ever I AM as the “One who was and is and is to come.” We are creatures of time but God is eternal, before the beginning and after the end. For Him, all time is simply “now.” “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6.2). “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4.21)
–Rev. William Cwirla, The Just Shall Live By Faith—Make this Plain in Service, p. 10
The End of the Church Year has the theme of spiritual warfare.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11 (ESV)
At the end of his epistle, the Apostle Paul gives one more warning to the congregation at Ephesus: Do not think that the life as a disciple is a leisurely stroll. There will be attacks on the faith which make themselves known by various temptations. “Get rid of a few of the uncomfortable points of the Biblical doctrine!” “Do the outward things of your Christian life—even if it is only an outward shell.” There is always lurking in the background the temptation to consider the earthly blessings of God in everyday life greater than the forgiveness of sins. There is a power that wants to draw you back into the life of joys and sorrows instead of seeking that which is in heaven. The list of temptations can easily be added to.
Which power must we be strengthened against? In the daily battle against temptation, the impression can arise that that we have to fight against the evil people around us. The fallen world seems to shoot fiery arrows. But no! The visible are only the middle men of the invisible enemy—the devil. We do not fight against flesh and blood but against the evil spirits under heaven [verse 12].
Jesus won the fight against this powerful opponent when He rose from the dead. Place yourself under His protection. How we can claim Jesus’ victory, the Apostle Paul declares taking the armor of a Roman soldier. “Put on the armor of God.” The helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit can repel the attacks of the enemy.
Lord, my God, give me the armor which is strong enough to protect me against the dangerous arrows of temptation. Amen. By Pr. Jonas Schroeter in God Is For Us, 27 April 2018
DISTRUST OF POLITICIANS AND POLITICAL CORRUPTION IS NOTHING NEW. In 1894 the great Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy noted: --In Russia and Turkey as in America and France, however often the government change its officials, the majority of them are self-seeking and corrupt, of so low a moral standard that they do not even come up the elementary requirements of common honesty expected by the government. [Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You, pg. 198]
ELECTION DAY 2018 IS COMING when we are called upon to decide on a candidate for a particular office. On this day may we remember our city, state and nation in prayer. Lord, keep our city, state and nation under Your care. Bless our leaders that we may be a people at peace and a blessing to other nations. Grant that we may choose trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and serve You faithfully in our generation. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.
DEVOTION FOR THANKSGIVING
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
Who can thank God as He deserves. Everything that we come across in this life reminds us of God’s love for us because everything on this earth has been created for us. But the main reason for thanks is Jesus Christ. God gave His Son for us into death and hell so that we can receive the gift of eternal life. How could our hearts not be full of thankfulness?
Let us recognize our heart and know that we are often not thankful for what God gives us. To the contrary, we are discontent and impatient –often even in trivial matters. Isn’t it also the same for you as with many Christians? Already on account of the sin of ingratitude alone, I would have earned eternal suffering in hell. Therefore we must recognize our sin of ingratitude and ask God for forgiveness and improvement. The blessings of God are so numerous that our life must consist only of praise and thanks. God be praised! He forgives us even this sin and He makes us capable of true thankfulness—not as a burdensome duty but rather in order to help us with it.
Thanking God makes us content people and so it is good to begin every prayer with thanks to God. It is unbelievable what a powerful means praising God can be when we meet troubles in life. As soon as we begin to thank God, the blessings of God are placed before us anew—all of His goodness that we can see in the creation, all of His love that we come to know in the Gospel of our rescue through Christ. That gives us joy and peace.
Lord, I thank You for all good things which You have given to me until now—but mostly for saving me. Amen.
[Pr. Michael Soucek in God Is For Us, 28 November 2017]
FROM OUR MISSOURI SYNOD
When you think “Lutheran,” do you think joy? When you tell your neighbors and friends that you are a Lutheran, do they say that Lutherans are joyful people? When you go to worship on Sunday morning, do you go in joy, listen in joy, sing in joy and leave with joy?
“Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16). That is the whole verse — easy to memorize. Rejoice. Always. Because God loves you. Because Jesus died and rose for you. Because the Spirit has called you by the Gospel into this saving faith. Because God is faithful to His promises, and He will surely do it (1 Thess. 5:24).
“Joy:fully Lutheran” is the theme for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod through the 2019 Synodical Convention. Joyfully Lutheran, we live in response to God’s love for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We live joyfully, because God’s love is freely given to sinners through faith for Christ’s sake. We live joyfully, because we do not work to earn God’s love and forgiveness but receive it by faith alone in what Christ has done for us.
Joyfully, we receive God’s Word and Sacraments as His means through which He gives to His children His love and mercy in Christ. We live joyfully, because though we cannot believe by our own reason or strength, the Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith in Christ Jesus. We live joyfully, because the Father invites us to pray to Him as children talk to their dear father. We live joyfully, because Jesus has done it all for us.
Our joy is not generic joy. We are not just happy people. We are joyfully Lutheran. We live our lives trusting in the mercy and love of God. Our Savior suffered for us, and we know that our lives also will be filled with trials and suffering, yet we live in joy.
Joy does not mean that we ignore the realities of our lives. Faith in Christ does not remove us from the trials and temptations that befall people in this life. Faith in Christ does not mean that we cannot suffer or sin. Faith in Christ points us to the hope we have in the midst of the difficulties of this life. And Christ is our joy.
The cross is the most prominent symbol of Christianity. We proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. With our Lord, we know that suffering and pain is inherent in our lives as we dwell in this sinful world. With our Lord, we do not expect sinners to embrace the Kingdom, but trust that it is through suffering and death that the Kingdom comes among us. With the Lord, we bear our own crosses and rejoice in the will of the loving Father, even when it seems hidden from our view.
The Christ on the cross is the Christ who conquered death and the grave. We rejoice, because our sins have been removed from us. We rejoice that death no longer has the final word over our lives. We rejoice that our Savior is coming again. We rejoice in the promises of life with Him forever. We rejoice that He is with us in His Word, Sacraments and Church.
I, a poor miserable sinner, am Joyfully Lutheran. Because of Jesus. God’s love in Christ is the reason for joy. Grace, faith, forgiveness, suffering, learning, repenting, washing, eating, drinking, fellowship, mercy, life together — all joys in Christ.
Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. In Christ Jesus. Amen.
FROM OUR MISSOURI SYNOD’S STEWARDSHIP DEPARTMENT:
Sometimes people don’t like it when pastors talk about stewardship. For some, it hits too close to home. It is easier to talk about bad people in Washington, in history, or overseas than it is to think about what our daily life in Christ is supposed to look like – how we are supposed to love our neighbor.
The fact that we don’t like hearing about stewardship certainly means we ought to face it. Here are a few simple and practical realities.
God calls us to first-fruits, sacrificial giving. This means we should give off the top. We should set a percentage of our income as a deliberate gift for the work of the Church and give that first. We write the check to the Lord’s work in the Church before we pay the mortgage or pay for our medicine or pay for anything else.
We don’t pay for all the stuff we need, and think we need, and then give from what is left over. That is the first-fruits idea. It is hard because we think we need all sorts of other things first. But that is the point of “sacrificial.”
Next, how could the starting point for Christian generosity and sacrifice really be anything less than a tithe – 10 percent? The ceremonial law of the Old Testament was never arbitrary. In the Old Testament, the Levites received this tithe so they could be full-time ministers.
Does the New Testament have a ministry that is larger or smaller? It is far larger: “Make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).
And we are still to have a full-time ministry: “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should make their living from the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14).
So, if 10 percent was needed in the Old Testament, and we have a bigger mission need in the New Testament, how can we expect the Lord’s work to be done on less than a tithe?
First-fruits, sacrificial, generous giving – that’s the way. We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that we’ve out-given God’s goodness or that we’ve given plenty.
We might be tempted to think so but consider – no one in the Church has given plenty because no one has given all. No one has died for his sins. Only the sinless Son of God did that.
Or, as St. Paul said, bringing the Good News of Jesus into the discussion of our giving to support the Lord’s work in the Church:
“I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:8-9).
As you can see, what the Bible commands about our stewardship can sting. It’s law, and the law shows our sins. It calls us to repentance.
The law is meant to expose and accuse for the sake of showing us Christ and His fulfillment of the law. If first-fruits, sacrificial giving has you squirming, that’s the point.
In Mark’s account of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus took the disciples’ five loaves and two fish and blessed them. It was nothing among so many, but, of course, it was plenty. Jesus makes something from nothing.
Mark doesn’t say that all the disciples gave Jesus all the bread they had. It is quite possible some of them held something back. But even if they did, that didn’t stop Jesus from blessing them. Jesus makes something out of nothing.
He, who fed His people in the desert with Manna every morning, doesn’t need their bread. But they need to give it. And what they give, however little it might be, however grudgingly they do so, He blesses it.
He not only blesses those whom He feeds with it, but He blesses them, the givers – not just in that they wind up with (a basket full for each loaf) but that they learned to trust and rejoice in Him.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. The Lord gives abundantly or asks us to fast. We do not know what will happen. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
He does all things well and works all things together for good. The disciples don’t give their bread to Jesus because it is a good investment. They give it because He is good, they love Him, and they trust Him. Let us go and do likewise.
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Grateful for . . .
God’s Word informs us that ‘from dust we were created, and to dust we will return.’ This life’s vanity can be quite bleak. The Old Testament figure, Job, was faced with tough circumstances during his vexed life. We too face hollow days, absent of joy.
However, we are not ever without hope. With Job we can declare that, we “know that my/our Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after our/my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in our/my flesh we/I shall see God.” Job 19: 25-26
Not-with-standing temporal death, the wonder of human creation is blessed with the breath of life and the full life that our Creator and Redeemer God offers to all mankind.
Without a doubt, there is much in earthly life to be grateful for. St. Paul asks the Corinthian Christians, “What do you have that wasn't given to you?” 1 Corinthians 4:7. This question helps us to focus on life’s essential reality. Indeed, all of life and life’s resources are a gift from the Giver and Redeemer of creation.
The gift of baptismal faith helps people see through a grateful lens. Many think they are the masters of their own destiny. Their hopes and despairs are products of organic sources with no eternal consequences. Not so, people with faith’s gift. Being created and redeemed for eternal purposes gives confidence that transcends the tangible bounds of intellectual, physical or emotional limitations. Faith opens the heart of gratitude, so people see a full life.
In Christ, we have every reason to be grateful! Given blessings to enjoy during the earthly pilgrimage, plus a sense of confidence that the journey never ends captures death as a nap of peace. Hope illuminates internal joy that present circumstances can’t restrain. We have much to give thanks for!
When we are given an opportunity to put our gratitude on display as a testimony for others, most behave as if God is completely forgotten. Let that not be the testament of your life or will. Make your last will and testament an exclamation for the eternal and temporal gifts that you have been given by God. Direct your thanksgiving to support His purposes and exalt the Creator’s praise now and in the future. For more information, contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427.
“The Coming King” Advent Devotions
This year’s Advent Devotions are entitled: “The Coming King” by Dr. Kari Vo and shows how God worked through various people when He brought His Son into the world. From everyday men tending sheep to others at the local king's court, each played a part. We see Mary and Joseph, legions of angels, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon, the shepherds, wise men from the east, and even King Herod all appearing in the Gospel narrative. It's a story for every man, and it's an everyman story. Such a varied ensemble makes it perfect for the modern fondness for diversity-and a great resource for sharing with others. These devotions can be read online, heard as a podcast, or downloaded and personalized at www.lhm.org/advent.
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On KFUO.org the week of 04 November: we wish our listeners a blessed All Saints' Day (observed)! We recognize Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Arnold, MO, as our Church of the Week, near the end of our study of Job on Thy Strong Word (weekdays at 11:00 a.m. CT), and finish exploring the stories in Hebrews 11 on Sharper Iron (weekdays at 8:00 a.m. CT). Hear these programs on demand at kfuo.org or wherever you get your podcasts.
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