June 2010 Bishop and Christian

Summer is upon us, and we take vacations from all sorts of things: school, work, regular routines and schedules, etc. Our bodies, created by God, require rest and relaxation—which is the primary reason God instituted the Sabbath in the Old Testament. We normally need a day off from work (which also means making sure that, if we have them, those who work for us receive a day off each week), and occasionally we need more time to visit family and friends. These things are all good, and we should give thanks to God for these blessings, which all come from Him.

At the same time we sometimes, even without thinking it through, take a vacation from those things that we need to live. Which would be a strange thing to do. Normally, we do not take vacations from food, or water, or sleep. Nor do we take vacations from relatively less necessary things such as love and care for our families, or being good stewards of what God has given us, or doing the things required of us by the government. Imagine taking a vacation from drinking water. Imagine taking a vacation from serving your wife, or telling your husband that you love him. Imagine taking a vacation from obeying traffic signals. And yet, we often take vacations from things that are no less necessary—in fact, far more necessary. Things like hearing the Word of God; receiving Christ’s Body and Blood in the Supper; raising our children in the fear and instruction of the Lord; studying the Bible and praying. These are far greater gifts of God than even bodily gifts, because they, unlike food or government, are eternal. They give us eternal life and forgiveness of sins, and keep us safe from the devil, the temptations of the world, and our own sinful flesh, because they are Jesus’ own ways of coming to us. It can only be a callous, faithless heart, or a mind captive to the devil or the flesh, that would despise these gifts by taking a vacation from them.

Wherever you find yourselves this summer, seek out a congregation with which we are in fellowship (The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod [LCMS] or the American Association of Lutheran Churches [AALC]) and rejoice that God never takes a vacation from giving you all of the fruits of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension for you in the forms of Word and Sacrament!

Pr. Winterstein


Quote for the Month

“It is quite amazing, but we have, right in the middle of Christianity, the view that agreement in all articles of Christian doctrine is not possible. It is openly asserted among those seeking union that an agreement and unification on the basis of doctrine is impossible. With respect to doctrine, one may only insist on agreement in a few chief articles. In the rest we must be satisfied with a so-called organic unity, a unity in church governance, in the order of worship, etc….But all striving after union with those with whom there is no unity in the faith and who, on the contrary, will to bring about uniformity in external matters, is based on the idea that a unification in doctrine is impossible.

We assert the contrary. Indeed, if the matter of agreement dealt with dark human opinions or with philosophical problems that are difficult to comprehend, then unification would be impossible. But we have to do here with agreement in the articles of the Holy Scriptures regarding doctrine revealed by God Himself. And how is this doctrine revealed? It is not dark and unable to be understood. It requires no great human art to understand the revealed truth. Here, only the simple faith in the Word of God is necessary. He who believes the Word of the Scriptures has the truth… [God’s Word] requires only the acceptance of what has been revealed, the confessing of what has been spoken, and simple faith. And the Holy Scriptures are clear and plain for all Christians, not merely for the pastors….and so all Christians should test, according to this Word of the Scriptures, all doctrine presented to them. God’s object with the Scriptures is not to present riddles to men but to reveal salvation to all people. He who would deny unity in the faith must also deny that the Holy Scriptures are clear. As certain as the entire Christian faith is clearly revealed in the Scriptures, so certain is unity in the faith possible.” (Frances Pieper, “On Unity in the Faith,” transl. Matthew C. Harrison, At Home in the House of My Fathers [Lutheran Legacy, 2009], 582)

*St. Augustine (354-430 AD), Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, said, “For you I am a bishop [overseer]; with you I am a Christian.”


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