Afflicted by God

Thursday of Pentecost 22

13 November 2014

The Psalmist says something remarkable: "O Lord, in faithfulness you have afflicted me" (Ps 119:75). How does that work? How is it faithful on God's part to afflict those whom He loves? How are we able to understand our affliction as a sign of God's faithfulness? Only by faith. If we judge according to the feeling in our hearts we must conclude that God is only wrathful toward us. Whenever any trial befalls we sense that this trial has come upon us as a result of our own weakness and spiritual poverty. Faith alone overcomes this feeling. By faith here we cannot mean simply a feeling of greater intensity than that which we already feel in our hearts. Faith is not a feeling that is merely competing with our intense sense of unworthiness. That will not work out very well in the midst of trial and suffering.

Only faith is able to see beyond feeling and sense. Faith apprehends the promises of God which are ours in Christ. Since Christ Himself is the content of faith it is an entirely different order of things than sense and feeling. He is what enables us to face the affliction we feel, while confessing that God Himself sends it to us. This is a miraculous faith, namely, to be sure that affliction comes from God, but that it does not reveal His true heart toward us. A faith that comes from God confesses that He only intends the best toward us, despite the fullness of our suffering. This can only be learned in the crucible of trial as we exercise our faith to believe what we do not and cannot see and do not and cannot feel, but know because Holy Scripture tells us that God is no longer angry with us poor sinners. Christ has born the full weight of our sin and taken it away. No feeling could ever rob us of that work of Christ.

We should believe against what we feel about God's wrath. For our Lord reveals Himself most as gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love just when we are most liable to feel God's wrath. When there is darkness and clouds, the light of Christ shines through most clearly. When the shadow of death surrounds us the cross of Christ is most comforting. When we don't see, we see. When we don't hear, we hear. We have hope against hope. This is what it means to confess that our faithful God afflicts us.

Martin Luther

"Let us learn that amid great and horrible terrors, when the conscience feels nothing but sin and judges God to be wrathful and Christ is hostile, we must not consult the feeling of our own heart. No, then we must consult the Word of God, which says that God is not wrathful, but that He has regard for the afflicted, who are contrite in spirit and tremble at His Word (Is 66:2), and that Christ does not turn away from those who labor and are heavy-laden (Mt 11:28) but revives them. Therefore this passage teaches clearly that the law and works do not bring righteousness and consolation, but that this is produced by the Spirit through faith in Christ, which arouses hope, endures and conquers evil, amid anxieties and tribulations. Few people know how weak and feeble faith and hope are in cross and struggle. Then faith and hope appear to be "a dimly burning wick" (Is 42:3), which a strong wind is about to blow out. But those who believe in hope against hope (Rm 4:18) amid these conflicts and fears; that is, those who fight against the feeling of sin and of the wrath of God by faith in the promise of Christ, afterward experience that this insignificant spark of faith (as it seems to reason, because it is hardly aware of it) will become like elemental fire, which fills all heaven and swallows up all terrors and sins.

"Truly pious people have nothing more dear and more precious in the whole world than this doctrine; for those who hold to this know what the whole world does not know, namely, that sin and death, as well as other calamities and evils, both physical and spiritual, fall to the good of the elect. They also know that God is most near when He seems to be farthest away, and that He is most merciful and most the Savior when He seems most to be wrathful and to afflict and condemn. They know that they have eternal righteousness for which they look in hope as an utterly certain possession, laid up in heaven. When they most feel the terrors of sin and death, when they seem to be the most destitute, they are the lords of everything, according to the words 'as having nothing, yet possessing everything' (2Co 6:10). This is what Scripture calls to receive comfort through hope. But this art is not learned without frequent and great trials."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.5

Psalm 119:71-83

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies. May my heart be blameless in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame! My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, "When will you comfort me?" For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. (ESV)

Pastor Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, makes a presentation at Crucified, the 2014 Higher Things Conference, Concordia University - Wisconsin:

Session 1 - Suffering:

Session 2 - Justification:

2014 ISSUES, ETC. 24

How to Respond to Myths about Lutherans


1. Pr. Jonathan Fisk - The Lutheran Confessions Don't Apply Today (mp3, 1:12:58, 29.4MB)


2. Pr. Steven Parks - Lutherans Believe in Consubstantiation (mp3, 1:46:43, 42.9MB)


3. Pr. Paul McCain - Luther Didn't Go Far Enough in Reforming the Church (mp3, 1:53:06, 45.5MB)


4. Pr. Will Weedon - Lutheran Worship Is Adiaphora (mp3, 2:18:28, 55.6MB)


5. Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto - Martin Luther Was Antisemitic (mp3, 55:41, 22.5MB)


6. Dr. Lane Burgland - Lutherans Overemphasize Pauline Theology (mp3, 1:43:20, 41.6MB)


7. Dr. Martin Noland - Luther Intended to Start a New Church (mp3, 1:09:37, 28.1MB)


8. Dr. Martin Noland - Lutherans Are Liberal (mp3, 41:51,16.9MB)


9. Craig Parton - Evangelical Style, Lutheran Substance (mp3, 1:04:41, 26.1MB)


10. Pr. Jeremy Rhode - Lutherans Teach Everyone is a Minister (mp3, 1:00:30, 24.4MB)


11. Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller - Lutherans Don't Have an End Times Teaching (mp3, 1:38:47 — 39.7MB)


12. Pr. Tom Baker - Lutherans Believe in Once Baptized, Always Saved (mp3, 56:35, 22.8MB)


13. Pr. Matt Harrison - Lutherans Don't Care About Missions (mp3, 1:13:57, 29.8MB)


14. Dr. John Kleinig - Lutherans Don't Teach About the Holy Spirit (mp3, 1:45:09, 42.3MB)


15. Pr. Chris Rosebrough - Luther Invented the Teaching of Law & Gospel (mp3, 1:49:21 — 44.0MB)


16. Pr. Peter Bender - Lutherans Don't Believe in Good Works (mp3, 1:51:50, 45.0MB)

2010 Issues Etc 24

2011 Issues Etc 24

2012 Issues Etc 24

2013 Issues Etc 24

2015 Issues Etc 24

Pastor Jonathan Fisk teaches Biblically "Simul Justus et Peccator"

Part 1 - Introduction: 

Part 2 - Adam:

Part 3 - Noah:

Part 4 - Abraham:

Part 5 - Isaac and Jacob:

Part 6 - Joseph:

Part 7 - Moses:

Part 8 - Israel in the Desert:

Part 9 - God in a Box:

Part 10 - Numbers and Deuteronomy:

Part 11 - Judges:

Part 12 - Samson, part 1:

Part 13 - Samson, part 2:

Part 14 - Ruth:

Part 15 - Samuel:

Part 16 - Saul - Part 1:

Part 17 - Saul - Part 2:

Part 18 - Intro to David:

Part 19 - David and Goliath:

Part 20 - David - Con'd:

Part 21 - David's Sons:

Pastor Brian Kachelmeier, Redeemer Lutheran, Los Alamos, New Mexico, discusses Isaiah 45 with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 38:12, 15.5 MB, 2014-Oct-16) 


Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, Concordia University Irvine Calif, spoke at Faith Lutheran Church, Capistrano Beach, Calif.:

Pastor Christopher Esget, Immanuel Lutheran, Alexandria, Va., discusses Chanting in Worship with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 29:22, 11.9 MB, 2014-Jul-31)


[Esget:] Chanting is a form of reading [on a tone or pitch], a form of carrying the text [of Scripture], so that it can be declaimed to the people. Chanting of the Words of Institution [of the Lord's Supper] is distinctly Lutheran, and it's not Roman Catholic. It was done for the purpose of people being able to hear the Words of Institution in a way that they couldn't before that. (3:11 - 3:30)

[Esget:] The thing about chanting is that it forces you to stay within a certain set of parameters and it forces you to slow down. And I'm sure that you've been in places where the pastor gets to the Words of Institution and either because he's not thinking about it or he's worried about when people are getting out of church on time and he starts in [quickly]: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to the disciples and said ..." and this becomes almost like an auctioneer was there. And it is as though we have to check this box and get it out of the way. This kind of practice actually says, "You know, those Words really are not all that important." And the chanting of them says, "These Words are profoundly important and everybody needs to hear them, and we need to sit down or kneel, stop and think about what our Lord Jesus is giving to us here, and that's what chanting does for us. (9:08 - 9:55)

[Esget:] We understand that we need to do this [chanting/liturgy/worship] with something like a wedding: we'll gather everybody, and here's where you're going to stand, and here's how the processional's going to go. Well, that's the same thing with all these aspects of worship, the chanting and everything else that we're going to do. When a pastor hasn't prepared, when he's rushing in there at the last minute, when his pages aren't marked, when he doesn't know what's going to happen, what that's really communicating to the people is: This isn't all that important. What's important is the other stuff that I do, my personality, what I'm going to add to it. But, this stuff [chanting/liturgy/worship], I'm not going to take all that seriously. (20:10 - 20:40)

Dr. John Kleinig, Australian Lutheran Seminary, discusses The Pastoral Purpose of the Historic Liturgy with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 53:12, 21.5 MB, 2014-Jul-29)


Dr. Robin Leaver, Westminster Choir College, discusses The Origins of Reformation Music with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 57:50, 23.3 MB, 2014-Jul-30)


Pastor Larry Peters, Grace Lutheran, Clarksville, Tenn. discusses The Liturgy as Pastoral Care with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 28:21, 11.5 MB, 2014-Jul-31)


Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller, Hope Lutheran, Aurora, Colo. and co-host of Table Talk Radio, discusses Preaching in the Conscience with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 28:54, 11.8 MB, 2014-Jul-30)


Dr. Richard Stuckwisch, Emmaus Lutheran, South Bend, Ind., discusses a Sacramentally-Shaped Life with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 29:01, 11.8 MB, 2014-Jul-31)

Pastor Brian Kachelmeier of Redeemer Lutheran, Los Alamos, NM, discusses Christ in the Old Testament: Isaiah 44 with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 40:40, 16.5 MB, 2014-July 17)


Pastor David Fleming of Our Savior Lutheran, Grand Rapids, Mich., discusses the Scriptural Content of the Historic Liturgy with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 57:50, 23.3 MB, 2014-Jul-16)



Pr. Jordan McKinley, St. Paul Lutheran, Bennett and Stanwood, Iowa, discusses Fathers Teaching Their Children the Catechism with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 26:42, 10.9 MB, 2014-Jul-04)


Dr. Ed Grimenstein, Associate Executive Director of Office of International Mission for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, discusses Christian Preaching with Pastor Todd Wilken.


1st Part: Preaching Christ (mp3, 57:14, 23.1 MB, 2014-Jun-13)


2nd Part: Martin Luther on Preaching (mp3, 57:20, 23.1 MB, 2014-Jul-04)


3rd Part: Law and Gospel (mp3, 57:49, 23.3 MB, 2014-Jul-07)


4th Part: Modern Preaching (mp3, 57:45, 23.3 MB, 2014-Sep-26)


5th Part: A Positive Way Forward (mp3, 57:19, 23.1 MB, 2014-Oct-01)



Pr. Brian Kachelmeier discusses Christ in Isaiah 8 & 28 and 1 Peter 2 with Pr Todd Wilken (mp3, 31:31, 12.8 MB, 2014-May-15)