Pastor William Weedon, Director of Worship for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and chaplain of the International Center, discusses Lutheran Piety with Pr. Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc.
1. Listening to God's Word (mp3, 55:54, 51.2 MB, 2018-Jan-11)
2. The Daily Prayers (mp3, 56:18, 51.5 MB, 2018-Jan-22)
3. Frequent and Faithful Reception of the Lord's Supper (mp3, 56:54, 52.1 MB, 2018-Jan-23)
4. Confession and Absolution (mp3, 1:01:09, 56.0 MB, 2018-Jan-30)
5. Sacrificial Giving (mp3, 57:18, 52.5 MB, 2018-Feb-02)
6. Confessing Christ (mp3, 57:51, 53.0 MB, 2018-Feb-05)
7. Good Works (mp3, 59:08, 54.1 MB, 2018-Feb-09)
8. Remembering Death and Judgment Day (mp3, 1:05:36, 60.1 MB, 2018-Feb-12)
“Pastor, that’s your book! That’s the book you promised to teach and practice among us as our pastor. Why haven’t you read it lately?”
…(your pastor) should be studying (the Confessions) because…he loves his people.
Pastor Todd Wilken’s Reformation Presentation
Presentation by Pastor Todd Wilken (1 h 4 m 14 s). Pr. Wilken hosts Issues, Etc.: Christ-centered cross-focused talk radio program.
"Why should it (the Lutheran Confessions) be your pastor's companion — in his daily toolkit?
Two (or three) good reasons:
(1.) If he really wants to be Lutheran, your Lutheran pastor, then those Confessions are the things that make him Lutheran.
He's not Lutheran because he graduated from a Lutheran seminary. He's not Lutheran because he was raised Lutheran in a family of Lutherans or came from a family of Lutheran pastors. He's not Lutheran because has a call to a Lutheran congregation that has Lutheran in its name. None of those things make your pastor Lutheran.
The only thing(s) that make your pastor Lutheran (is) are the Lutheran Confessions.
It's not even the Bible. The Bible makes a person a Christian but Christians believe all kinds of things are in the Bible that aren't there. And Christians err in how they read and interpret the Bible.
But what makes your pastor Lutheran in his theology and in his practice is that book. It is not on par with the Bible. But it is the clearest, most dependable, reliable expression of what the Scriptures say on the subject it addresses as has ever existed.
So, if your pastor wants to be Lutheran, then that book has to be a part of his life. Not just a part, but a big part of his life. Your pastor should be given time, not as much as he asks for, but give him enough time, to study the Lutheran Confessions on a weekly basis, just as he studies the Scriptures; those two should go hand-in-hand.
(2.) But there's another reason and that's because your pastor promised that the Lutheran Confessions would guide both his teaching and his practice when he came to your church. Whether he was ordained there (with) the laying on of hands that ratifies the pastor's place called by that congregation or whether he came from someplace else ... and was installed here, the promise was the same.
He made a promise, well, let's just read it. He's asked first whether or not he believes and confesses the creeds (all those parts that I mentioned), the three ecumenical creeds. And then he's asked, "Do you confess the unaltered Augsburg Confession? Do you confess the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord as these are contained in the Book of Concord? Do you confess them to be in agreement with the one Scriptural faith?"
And if he's serving now as your pastor there, he said, "Yes." Otherwise, if he said, "No," you'd have to start the whole process all over again and find another pastor.
And then he made one more promise to you and to God: "Do you promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions and that all your preaching and teaching and your administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with the Holy Scriptures and with these Confessions?" That's the promise your pastor made.
So, you ought to find on his desk open, or at least well dog-earred if he likes to close it up at night, both Holy Scripture and the Book of Concord. Now, if you happen to walk into your pastor's office and you can't find it there or in his library, you might ask him where it is. And he might say, "Well, it's in my car." That's a good answer.
Or, if it's up there and it's smashed in there with all the other reference books and it is real obvious from the dust that's accumulated along the top of the bindings of those books that he has not pulled that thing down since he put it up 25 years ago, that's a serious problem!
You need to speak gently and carefully to your pastor and say, "Pastor, that's your book! That's the book you promised to teach and practice among us as our pastor. Why haven't you read it lately?"
I have grown completely convinced that whatever ills we suffer here in our little Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in doctrine or practice have one cause. And that one cause is our pastors and, therefore, then also our people, are either ignorant of or outright ignoring what it is Lutherans believe, teach and confess in the Book of Concord. I think it accounts for every single problem. ... I'm talking about the real problems that beset the church: problems of theology and practice. And that means they've got one cure, doesn't it?
It means that if our pastors were to open, read, study and take to heart what it is they promised to conform all their teaching and practice to, well, not all our problems would go away. We're still sinners. But, our pastors would be more Lutheran. Our congregations would be more Lutheran. And our confession to the world would be much more clear. And it would also, I think, be far more confident. There's a certain measure of confidence that a pastor gets knowing that what he confesses and teaches on Sunday morning is not only being confessed by his fellow pastors, his brothers, all around the church and their congregations, but also has been confessed by faithful pastors all the way back to the apostles. That gives you courage. It stiffens a pastor's spine. It makes him confident and it makes him also hopeful.
(3.) It's really a question, as this promise pastors make at their ordination or installation, of caring for the souls entrusted to them. Maybe that's a third reason why that ought to be one of the most used books in your pastor's library. Because he ought to love you, as your shepherd, you his sheep, so much that he does this. If he doesn't study the Confessions because he wants to, if he doesn't study the Confessions because he thinks he needs to, he should be studying them because, at least he says, he loves his people.
4801 E. 6th St
Christ Lutheran Church is a member of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
9:30 am Divine Service with Lord's Supper (The Lord's Supper is celebrated every Lord's Day and Festival Service)
10:45 am Sunday School and Bible Classes (except August)
Advent and Lenten services: Wednesday, 7:00 pm
Note: Services on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are held at 9:30 am. Services on Epiphany Day (January 6) and Ascension Day (40 days after Easter) are held at 7:00 pm.
Recorded sermons can be heard here.
UPDATE: The Voters Assembly, at its meeting of December 10, 2017, adopted its 2018 budget, and voted to continue as a member of the Issues, Etc. 300, for the 8th year.
The Voters Assembly at its regular meeting of January 9, 2011, adopted its 2011 budget. As part of its Missions budget is a line item for Issues, Etc. (via Lutheran Public Radio) and has become a member of the Issues, Etc. 300.
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Issues, Etc. Journal, Summer 2017
More than a decade ago I wrote “A Listeners Guide to the Pulpit.” At the time, my goal was simple: I wanted to help the average Christian sitting in the pew to tell the difference between good preaching and bad preaching. I dealt with the most egregious forms of bad preaching I could think of, and I thought I had covered it all. I hadn’t. Since then I have become aware of other kinds of bad preaching, some of which I had engaged in myself. To ﬁll in the gaps and confess to my own bad preaching, I offer this update of the original essay.
Most of the preachers were dynamic, engaging, interesting and even entertaining...
Most of their sermons were terrible.
How hard could it be? You go to church. The preacher preaches. You sit and listen. Easy, right?
But how do you tell the difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon? What makes good preaching good, and bad preaching bad?
For several years Issues, Etc. has been doing on–air sermon reviews. We’ve reviewed the sermons of Joel Osteen, D. James Kennedy, T.D. Jakes, Robert Schuller, Joyce Meyer, and many less well–known preachers. We’ve reviewed the sermons of Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and others. Most of these preachers were speaking to packed auditoriums and to worldwide television audiences. Most of the preachers were dynamic, engaging, interesting, and even entertaining. Most of the preachers are considered the best of the best preachers in the world.
Most of their sermons were terrible.
I don’t make this judgment based on my own subjective tastes or my own personal standard. I make this judgment based on the objective difference between good preaching and bad preaching.
Is there an objective standard for good preaching? Yes. It is a standard every Christian should know and use every time they hear a sermon. Every Christian needs to know the difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon.
God’s Two Teachings
St. Paul writes to the young preacher Timothy, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). Paul says that God’s Word of truth must be handled with care. To rightly divide God’s Word is the preacher’s ﬁrst and most important task. Nineteenth–century theologian, C.F.W. Walther describes what Paul means in his famous treatise, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel:
The doctrinal contents of the entire Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testament, are made up of two doctrines differing fundamentally from each other; viz.[namely], the Law and the Gospel … Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all the articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguished from each other the Law and the Gospel. (C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, pp. 6 http://www.lutherantheology.com/uploads/works/walther/LG/lecture-01.html, 30 http://www.lutherantheology.com/uploads/works/walther/LG/lecture-04.html.)
Walther was simply following the leader of the sixteenth-century reformer Martin Luther. Luther explained this critical distinction between God’s Law and God’s Gospel and the danger of ignoring it:
It is therefore a matter of utmost necessity that these two kinds of God’s Word be well and properly distinguished. Where this is not done, neither the Law nor the Gospel can be understood, and the consciences of men must perish with blindness and error. The Law has its goal fixed beyond which it cannot go or accomplish anything, namely, until the point is reached where Christ comes in. It must terrify the impenitent with threats of the wrath and displeasure of God. Likewise the Gospel has its peculiar function and task, viz. [namely], to proclaim forgiveness of sin to sorrowing souls. These two may not be commingled, nor the one substituted for the other, without a falsification of doctrine. For while the Law and the Gospel are indeed equally God’s Word, they are not the same doctrine. (Martin Luther, “Sermon on the Distinction Between the Law and the Gospel,” Luther’s Works, St. L. Ed. IX, p. 799.)
Through His Law, God shows us His will. Through His Law, God tells us what He requires and what He forbids. Through His Law, God demands perfect obedience in thought, word and deed. Through His Law, God shows us that we have not done what He requires and have done what He forbids. Through His Law, God says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind... You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39). Through His Law, God calls anything short of perfect obedience sin.
Through His Gospel, God tells us what He has done in Jesus Christ to save those who have broken His Law. Through His Gospel, God shows us that Jesus has done everything He required of us by His Law. Through His Gospel, God shows us that Jesus has been punished under the Law in our place. Through His Gospel, God answers the perfect demands of His Law with the perfect, sinless death and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospel says, “What the Law could not do in that it was weak through the ﬂesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful ﬂesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the ﬂesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulﬁlled in us” (Rom. 8:3–4).Through His Gospel, God answers the requirements of His Law with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for us. Through His Gospel, God makes no demands whatsoever. There is only the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
What does this have to do with difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon? Everything. The essential difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon is whether or not the preacher rightly divides and applies God's Law and God’s Gospel. A good sermon must show sinners their sin and show sinners their Savior. Again Luther writes:
This difference between the Law and the Gospel is the height of knowledge in Christendom. Every person and all persons who assume or glory in the name of Christian should know and be able to state this difference. If this ability is lacking, one cannot tell a Christian from a heathen or a Jew; of such supreme importance is this differentiation. This is why St. Paul so strongly insists on a clean–cut and proper differentiating of these two doctrines. (Martin Luther, Sermon on Galatians, 1532.)
So these two, Law and Gospel, must always go together in every sermon. They must be carefully divided in every sermon. God's Law must show us our sin, and God's Gospel must silence the Law’s accusations against us with the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus for us.
This is not to say that a good sermon will ONLY do this. Good preaching, according to Paul, does many things: It rebukes, reproves, admonishes, corrects, comforts, encourages, trains and teaches (Rom. 15:14; 1 Cor. 10:11; Col. 1:28; 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:4; 3:16; Titus 1:9). But whatever else good preaching does, it must above all rightly condemn us on account of our sin and declare us innocent on account of Jesus.
That was a Good Sermon?