Pastor's August 2021 Letter
Righteousness That Exceeds
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Jesus taught His disciples— Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish them rather to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, neither one letter nor one stroke will pass away from the Law, until all happens. Therefore whoever loosens one of the least of these Commandments and in this way teaches men, he will be called least in the reign of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he will be called great in the reign of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees, you shall surely not enter the reign of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20).
The scribes and the Pharisees seemed to have an impeccable righteousness. They patterned their whole way of life around the study of God’s Word and the following of God’s Commandments. They were outwardly moral, good, and meticulous in their obedience to the Law. Yet even their impeccable outward righteousness fell short of the high and holy standard of God’s Law. God judges not merely a person’s outward morality and conduct but the whole person, especially the heart, soul, and mind. No sinful human being can fulfill God’s perfect standard of righteousness, and all stand condemned by the Law, worthy of eternal punishment and death. But Christ Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets once for all, for you; He is righteous, good, beautiful, and true as God is. He redeemed you and all from the just condemnation of the Law by becoming a curse so that you might be declared righteous by faith.
Your righteousness does exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees, for Christ Jesus is your righteousness before God, who is promised to you in the Gospel and whom you have received by faith. Your righteousness is not a mere outward show of morality and good conduct before man, but your righteousness is also inward—heart, soul, and mind fearing, loving, and trusting Christ Jesus your Redeemer and Righteousness. Now in Christ, according to the new man empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, you are free to follow and fulfill the Law of love; free to not always sin.
Yet you do so in great weakness, for you are not yet sinless— perfect, whole, and complete as Christ Jesus has always been and is. Sin still clings to your mortal flesh and is corrupting you. Sin remains ever opposed to God’s Word and Commandments. Sin ever remains completely curved in upon self—wicked, evil, and perverted. Thus sin must daily be resisted and repented of by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through remembrance of your Baptism, the old man, the old Adam, must be daily drowned and die, must be crucified with Christ by daily contrition and repentance. Through remembrance of your Baptism, a new man in Christ must emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity as His very own child. Sin shall continue to be your great problem and enemy along with the fallen world and the devil until you draw your last breath and rest with Christ secure, but sin no longer defines who you are or what you do, rather Christ crucified and risen defines you.
Pastor's July 2021 Letter
Holding Fast to God’s Word
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The month of June sadly demonstrated how far American society has fallen from the Word of God and all that is good, beautiful, and true. The powers that be in our culture declared June to be “Pride Month”, an all out celebration of godlessness, perversion, and the lusts of the sinful flesh. Such godlessness in the world should not be a surprise to those who faithfully cling to the Word of God—for we were called out from the world to belong to Christ; we are enlightened by the Word of God. The Word of God instructs us plainly that the rejection of God’s Word results in death, damnation, and every evil. Lucifer, whom God created as an arch angel, turned away from the Word who created him and turned in upon himself in pride and selfishness. He refused to give God thanks and praise and instead worshiped, glorified, and boasted in himself; he was full of pride and he fell. Likewise the evil one slandered God’s Word and enticed the woman with lies so that she and her husband with her turned away from God’s Word and turned in upon themselves in pride and selfishness. Such godless pride has led to the fall of all creation, with the result that all human beings, except the new Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, are sinful from conception onward—godless, perverted, and full of the lusts of the flesh. Because of pride, humanity is now enslaved to the tyranny of the devil, the darkness of the world, and the insatiable desires of sin.
St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11– Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. God’s Word teaches the truth—formerly we all took pride in our own sinful and evil thoughts, lusts, words, and activities. However, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit delivered us from such devilry, darkness, and doom through Holy Baptism and has given us new life in Christ by the Holy Spirit, the life of faith.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:16-26). Let us confess our poverty of spirit to the Lord, seeking the forgiveness of our sins (that is release from the guilt, the enslaving power of sin, death, and damnation) according to the promise of the Gospel. Let us not boast and take pride in ourselves or our sinfulness, but let us boast in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord who has freed us from such godlessness, perversion, and sinful lusts—freeing us to hold fast to God’s Word and to delight in all that is good, beautiful, and true.
Pastor's June 2021 Letter
The Most Important Words
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Our Lord Jesus Christ on the night He was betrayed, after He instituted the New Testament in His blood, yet just before His passion, said to the Apostles: "If someone loves Me then he will guard My Word, and My Father will love him and We will come to him and We will make a dwelling with him. The one who does not love Me does not guard My Words; and the Word which you hear is not Mine rather the Father who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while remaining with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all the things which I said to you (John 14:23-26). Jesus loved the Apostles to the end. He entrusted them with His Word. He told them that He must depart to the Father through the cross because He loved the Father and always did His good will; because He likewise loved the world and willed to redeem the world. He instructed them to love one another as He had first loved them. He told them the truth—that the one who loves Him, guards, keeps, and treasures His Word, His teaching. Furthermore Jesus promised the Apostles that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would make dwelling with them and that the Spirit would teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that Jesus said. Every Word happened just as Jesus said to the Apostles because Jesus is the Truth, Word of God in the flesh. Jesus’ Words matter most of all, for they are Spirit and Life.
Words matter. The Word of God matters most of all. The Apostles demonstrated their love for Jesus by guarding His Word. They boldly preached Christ, calling all people to repentance. Every word, every teaching they received from the Lord Jesus they passed on to others. Likewise, the baptized demonstrated their love for Jesus by holding fast to the Word of Christ taught by the Apostles as Acts 2 tells—And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. The little flock of Christ full of the Holy Spirit held God’s Word and preaching sacred and gladly heard and learned it. They called on God’s name in prayer, praise, and giving thanks. They used their words to confess Christ to one another—being kind to one another, tender hearted, and forgiving one another.
Now listen closely. The Holy Spirit never leads and encourages the little flock of Christ to say or do anything that is opposed to the Word of God, to the teaching of Jesus. The Holy Spirit only ever leads and encourages the church to guard, keep, treasure, and hold fast the Word of Jesus. Make no mistake. It is the spirit of the age, the evil one, who, posing as an angel of light, slanders God’s Word and twists the Truth by masking evil words with honey. The spirit of the age is behind every godless word and action that has crept into the church—deceiving pastors and people alike to abandon the Gospel of Christ and to embrace the gospel of tolerance, acceptance, and celebration of all that is unnatural and unholy. Transgenderism, feminism, hedonism, sexual immorality, and death are not the sort of things that the church—both pastors and people— will tolerate, accept, and celebrate as good if the church loves the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus said—"If someone loves Me then he will guard My Word.”