Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Altered Altar Book

1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

People change things for a reason. Something strikes them that they don’t like or don’t agree with. And whatever it is must have significance, or why bother to change it? We can detect the purpose when we consider the direction of the change.  “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification” (1 Cor. 14:10). To the present point, what is wrong with the doctrines of our elders? What is so strikingly erroneous that it must be changed? It is an extremely significant and important matter to change the teachings and codified doctrine of a church, for it is in reality to alter the church itself into something it was not. Christ is presented in word and doctrine, and if the doctrine is wrong, a false Christ is being taught.
There have been some subtle yet significant changes made to the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America Altar Book concerning the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism in the last printing of 1998. These changes in wording constitute a reversal of what our church fathers believed and contended for. The historical record is plain and available for all to read. It is my hope and prayer to here illuminate some of these changes so that we may seriously consider what is happening.
It was the removal of Romans 6:3, 4 from the section on Baptism which first drew my attention. The 1938 and 1969 editions of the Altar Book state: “Let us now hear Apostle Paul’s warning to us who have received the grace of baptism: ‘Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.‘” To what purpose is this Scripture removed? The end it serves is to deny the Apostolic doctrine that we are united with Christ in Holy Baptism.
I noticed another change also.  This is in the prayer following the baptism, which in the older editions state: “O, innocent Lamb of God, Jesus Christ! Thou, Who loveth children and therefore bade them come unto Thee; Thou, Who placed Thy hand upon them and blessed them, saying: Theirs is the kingdom of God: We pray Thee, look graciously upon this child, who also needs Thy holy blessing, that, as it has been baptized in Thy holy name, with water and the Holy Ghost, it also, by the same Spirit, may prosper and grow, and be filled with all good gifts to Thy honor and glory: Thou, Who reigneth with God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.” (bold print mine).
The latest edition, 1998, states:
“O, innocent Lamb of God, Jesus Christ! Thou, Who lovest children and therefore bade them come unto Thee: Thou Who placed Thy hand upon them and blessed them, saying: Theirs is the kingdom of God: We pray Thee, look graciously upon this child, who also needs Thy holy blessing, that, as (he) (she) has been baptized in Thy holy name with water, and that (he) (she) also, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may prosper and grow, and be filled with all good gifts to Thy honor and glory: Thou, Who reignest with God the Father, and the Holy  Ghost, world without end. Amen.” (bold print mine).
Is it right and necessary to remove the operation of the Holy Ghost from baptism? Why have some found it important to do so?  Is baptism only the application of water, as the latest edition teaches? These changes have made Holy Baptism to be only a sign or symbol. This is a complete departure from Scripture, our elders, and the Lutheran Confessions, into Anabaptist theology, where the water of baptism is beheld and considered as nothing more than that which the cow drinks.  We learn in the Catechism, however, that “Baptism works forgiveness of sins, etc.,“ and by virtue of the word and promise of God the water of baptism is “a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).” This is the ancient doctrine of the Christian Church defended in the face of Anabaptist assault, which doctrine is truly troubling the ALCA, and for a clear reason. Many are being re-baptized, and many are refusing to baptize their children, even some who attend ALCA churches. And why should we be surprised if baptism is only an empty sign, an act of obedience, or a work man does toward God? I believe these changes have heavy consequences.
The Sacrament of the Altar has also been changed, apparently making the bread and wine to be but symbols. We read in Scripture concerning the administration of the bread and wine, that it says, “This is,” to show the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in and under the bread and wine (1 Cor. 11:24, Matt. 26:26-28). It says, in fact, in Matthew, when Jesus gave the bread, He said, “This is my body,” and when giving the cup, “This is my blood of the New Testament.” This is a crucial doctrine for which our church fathers have strenuously contended, and Luther said of those who denied the Real Presence that they are of a different spirit. These are not inconsequential matters, for in Holy Communion the believing sinner receives full and complete forgiveness of all sins by partaking of the blood of Christ, and receives eternal life by partaking of the body of Christ, and we are called to believe this wholeheartedly as though it were preached by the mouth of Christ Himself, which in truth it is.
It is written in the 1938 and 1969 Altar Books:
“My this, the true Body of Christ, which was delivered unto death for thee and for all they sins, strengthen and preserve thee in true faith unto everlasting life. Amen.”
“May this, the true Blood of Christ, which was shed for the remission of they sins, strengthen and preserve thee in true faith unto everlasting life. Amen.”
The above sentences are not found in the 1998 edition. The word “true” is not found, and nowhere in that edition does it even say concerning the bread and wine, “is” or “this is.” The result of this change indicates, if not a purpose, at least an end and that is to make the bread and wine but empty symbols, removing union with the Sacrifice and the working power of God from the Sacrament of the Altar. The changes have served to remove the “this is” assurance of the True body and blood of Christ. Why?
All people are born in sin and need a washing from the inherited guilt of Original Sin. We furthermore need forgiveness daily in this life, and it has pleased God to deal with sinful mankind by means of the Word and Sacraments. The old teachings show that God comes to the helpless sinner by means of the Word and Sacraments, which are the Means of Grace, to receive, forgive, wash, renew, and grant and sustain faith. Man does not ascend up to God with his faith apart from the Means of Grace to receive blessing, but God comes to us to grant and strengthen faith. God has given Christ to us in both His word and the sacraments as the object of our faith and foundation of our hope. The gospel cannot fail, neither can the promises of God in the sacraments.
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is, according to Scripture and God‘s ordination, a saving “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5, 1 Pet. 3:21) which is the New Birth.“ It is also a washing of forgiveness from sin (Acts 22:16, Acts 2:38). This is the plain Word of God to be received by faith.
The bread and wine in the Supper are indeed, according to Scripture and the ordination  of God, the true body and blood of Christ which is a living matter, and which have power to forgive sin and grant eternal life. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor.10:16). To these promises we can cling, for they are sure.
As the sacraments have been diminished as a means by which God comes to the sinner to forgive sin, much emphasis is placed upon a person making confession as the means by which the sinner “puts away” his sin. This is against Scripture, which teaches that Christ has put away our sin (2 Sam. 12:13, Heb. 9:26), and this blessing comes to us by means of the word and sacraments, and not according to our auricular confession of sins.  Our forgiveness is not based upon our doing, but upon God’s doing. Let us again consider the God-ordained means by which He Himself deals with our sin. We do not want to begin to contend with Christ as to who puts away sin. To say that man can put away his sin is to usurp the chief office of Christ.

Steven E. Anderson

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Water is Water

John 13:10
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

It is interesting to note that Jesus here used actual water in this washing. How could this washing of the feet make one completely and totally clean? This is a word against those who deny the working power of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and spiritualize everything. Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). This is the actual water of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Faith in the Midst of Trials

What shall we do then [when Satan accuses]? Shall we howl and complain, shall we become disheartened and die of sorrows? Not in the least. For in this way we gain nothing. Let us rather “raise our heads,” as Christ commands when He prophesies concerning His coming (Luke 21:28). And let us laugh at raging Satan and the world (yes, even at sin and our conscience in us).
Let us, therefore, learn to be brave in all perils, especially, however, against ourselves and our heart. For there Satan has a most firm seat and is supported especially by the past. For he knows that we are sinners, therefore he holds the succession of our sins and the sad “bond” (Col. 2:14) before our eyes and oppresses us. Yea, he seizes also upon present things and opposes us with them, for example, that we do not yet believe as firmly as we ought, do not yet love so warmly, and are also tempted with impatience. When he magnifies these things - for he is a cunning and vehement speaker - the heart is broken and terrified not only by that tumult of princes and kings, but even by  the rustle of a falling leaf.
We should, therefore, fortify our hearts and look toward the invisible things and into the depths of the Word. We should not fear and quake at what we feel within or outside of us that is sensible and visible and is perceived by the flesh. We should lay aside our senses and go where the present verse leads us, to things invisible. And when Satan reproaches you: “Behold, you are a sinner, you do not believe, you do not love as the Word requires”; you say against this: “Why do you plague me with these visible things? I perceive these things well. Nor is it necessary for you to teach me. This is necessary, that I follow the Word and direct myself to invisible things, that is, to Him who dwells in the heavens and to His Word. In His eyes all things which terrify me are a mere jest and trivial spectacles of the flesh, as they are called, which are arranged not for terror, but for laughter.”
This verse must be applied in this way, not only to these external perils which are stretched out threateningly against us by the enemies of the Word, by the Turk, the pope, the bishops, kings, princes, by all who have been provided with power, wisdom, and righteousness, but also to spiritual temptations, when the devil terrifies the conscience, accusing us within ourselves on accounted of the sins we have committed. He, then, who has rightly reflected on this verse will laugh at Satan as well as at his accusations and threats. He will say: “These things are nothing to me, which even move my God, who dwells in heaven, to laughter. You will not prevail with your accusing and gloom-spreading, nay, rather, I also shall laugh with my God, for I know that your attempts are vain. For even if I am a sinner, even if the punishment of sin is eternal death, this will not keep me from laughing. For at the right hand of God sits He who made satisfaction for sins and conquered you in His own flesh and overthrew you. You assail not me alone, but Him who vanquished you, the Son of God.”
We must firmly believe that all persecutions, even that spiritual persecution which through Satan takes place in our hearts, occurs for the sake of Christ. For to believe in the forgiveness of sins through Christ is the highest article of our faith. And it is true that whoever believes this article has the forgiveness of sins. Therefore Satan tries so greatly to tear this faith from us.
Luther’s Works, AE
Vol 12 pp. 25, 26, 27
Psalm 2:4

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Error of Confusing Justification and Sanctification.

There are generally two types of gospel preaching common among us. The first presents all men as sinners and Christ's blood as the remedy, and then asks if one is a partaker of the remedy, with the surety of it generally contained in such questions as, Have you left the ways of the world, Are you living after the flesh, Have you made confession of (put away your) sin, Are you striving against sin, etc. This preaching ignores the Justification that is by faith in Christ, and places our faith, or confidence, in Sanctification, or how well we are warring against sin. This is a great and hideous error.

The right way to preach the gospel is to present all men as sinners and Christ's blood as the remedy, and then preach forgiveness of sins by faith alone, teaching the penitent to look only to the atoning blood of Christ and believe that therein is his or her complete, absolute, and eternal Justification, or forgiveness of sins. God forgives and receives you solely for the sake of Christ and His redemptive work, with no regard to your greatest merit (which is none before God) or your greatest demerit. God beholds only the work of His Son and is completely satisfied. Then teach that on account of having received such an inestimable gift, having beheld what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God, let us as obedient children strive against sin, the world, and our own flesh. Not so that we can receive forgiveness, but because we have already received and possess it by grace alone.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Acts 18:27
And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

Believe by grace. How often do we hear the phrase, "Believe by faith." It is, unfortunately, common to hear preaching which separates Christ from Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and sets people on an endless quest for certitude of salvation based upon their faith, or their inner experience. Neither faith nor an experience can be a saving foundation, for Christ alone is the foundation of salvation for all who believe, and He is ministered unto us in the gospel, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, and the Sacrament of the Supper. Therefore we ought to say that we obtain by faith, through grace, the benefits of Christ disclosed therein, for the word and sacraments contain and offer to the sinner all the promises of God in Christ Jesus.

This does not mean that the believer does not experience Christ, His love and forgiveness, but this experience is a fruit of having received Christ in the word and sacraments wherein Christ, our Foundation, is revealed and extended. The Word is foundational, and in this we trust and believe.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Luther and Augustine on Original Sin and the sacrament of Holy Baptism

I post those few quotes from our elders to see if what is preached today sounds like the faith of our fathers. If it is a different sound, perhaps it is a different faith. But Scripture says there is one faith.

In the second place, since we know now what Baptism is, and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is instituted; that is, what it profits, gives and works. And this also we cannot discern better than from the words of Christ above quoted: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Therefore state it most simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. But to be saved. we know. is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live with Him forever.

Here you see again how highly and precious we should esteem Baptism, because in it we obtain such an unspeakable treasure, which also indicates sufficiently that it cannot be ordinary mere water. For mere water could not do such a thing, but the Word does it, and (as said above) the fact that the name of God is comprehended therein. But where the name of God is, there must be also life and salvation, that it may indeed be called a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water; for by the Word such power is imparted to Baptism that it is a laver of regeneration, as St. Paul also calls it, Titus 3, 5.

But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?
Now, they are so mad as to separate faith and that to which faith clings and is bound though it be something external. Yea, it shall and must be something external, that it may be apprehended by the senses, and understood and thereby be brought into the heart, as indeed the entire Gospel is an external, verbal preaching. In short, what God does and works in us He proposes to work through such external ordinances. Wherever, therefore, He speaks, yea, in whichever direction or by whatever means He speaks, thither faith must look, and to that it must hold. Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to the water comprehended in God's ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism.
Martin Luther, Large Catechism

But now, can that part of the human race to whom God hath promised deliverance and a place in the eternal Kingdom be restored through the merits of their own works? Of course not! For what good works could a lost soul do except as he had been rescued from his lostness? Could he do this by the determination of his free will? Of course not! For it was in the evil use of his free will that man destroyed himself and his will at the same time. For as a man who kills himself is still alive when he kills himself, but having killed himself is then no longer alive and cannot resuscitate himself after he has destroyed his own life - so also sin which arises from the action of the free will turns out to be victor over the will and the free will is destroyed. "By whom a man is overcome, to this one he then is bound as slave" This is clearly the judgment of the apostle Peter. And since it is true, I ask you what kind of liberty can one have who is bound as a slave except the liberty that loves to sin?
St. Augustine, Enchiridion

"Unto this end the Son of God was manifested." Ah, my brethren, all sinners are born of the devil, inasmuch as they are sinners. Adam was made by God: but when he consented to the devil, he was born of the devil; and all that he has begotten are as he was. With concupiscence itself we were born, and our birth comes of that  condemnation, before we add to it debts of our own. If we are born with no sin, there is no reason for hastening with our infant children to baptism for their absolution. There are two births for your understanding, by brothers, of Adam and of Christ: two men, but of them one man is man, the other man is God. Through the man that is man we are sinners: through the Man that is God we are justified. One birth has cast us down to death; the other has raised us up to live. One draws sin along with it, the other delivers from sin. For to this end came Christ as man, that he might do away with the sins of man. "To this end the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
St. Augustine, Homilies on 1 John

Think for a moment of those brothers of ours whom we call "infants": but now, in the name of Christ whom they have confessed, all their sins have been washed away by his blood. They came, old, into the Baptistery and went out new - came in aged and went out infants. Their old life was somnolent age: their new life is the infancy of regeneration. But remember that past sins have been forgiven not only to them but to us. 
St. Augustine, Homilies on 1 John

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his rewardings" - not awardings but rewardings, becasuse he rewards evil with good. "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities": that is done in  the sacrament of baptism.
St. Augustine, The Spirit and the Letter

This is the meaning of the great sacrament of baptism, which is celebrated among us. All who attain to this grace die thereby to sin - as he himself is said to have died to sin because he died in the flesh, that is, "in the likeness of sin" - and they are thereby alive by being reborn in the baptismal font, just as he rose again from the sepulcher. This is the case no matter what the age of the body. 
For whether it be a newborn infant or a decrepit old man - since no one should be barred from baptism - just so, there is no one who does not die to sin in baptism. Infants die to original sin only; adults, to all those sins which they have added, through their evil living, to the burden they brought with them at birth.
St. Augustine, Enchiridion 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Freedom A Christian

3.8 See, how rich therefore is a Christian, the one who is baptised! Even if he wants to, he cannot lose his salvation, however much he sin, unless he will not believe. For no sin can condemn him save unbelief alone. All other sins – so long as the faith in God's promise made in baptism returns or remains –all other sins, I say, are immediately blotted out through that same faith, or rather through the truth of God, because He cannot deny Himself. If only you confess Him and cling believing to Him that promises. But as for contrition, confession of sins, and satisfaction – along with all those carefully thought out exercises of men – if you turn your attention to them and neglect this truth of God, they will suddenly fail you and leave you more wretched than before. For whatever is done without faith in the truth of God, is vanity of vanities and vexation of spirit.
Martin Luther, Babylonian Captivity of the Church

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Perseverance, Lutheran Confessions

"Fourthly, The entire [the holy Catholic, Christian] Church confesses that eternal life is attained through mercy. For thus Augustine speaks, De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio, when indeed he is speaking of the works of the saints, wrought after justification: "God leads us to eternal life not by our merits, but according to his mercy." And Confessions, Book ix.: "Woe to the life of man, however much it may be worthy of praise, if it be judged with mercy removed." And Cyprian in his treatise on the Lord's Prayer: "Lest anyone should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself, should perish the more deeply, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins." But the subject is well known, and has very many and very clear testimonies in Scripture, and in the Church Fathers, who all with one mouth declare that even though we have good works, yet in these very works we need mercy."
Ap VI 201

Accordingly Daniel also prays (9:18, sq.): "For we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do it; defer not for thine own sake, O my God; for thy city and thy people are called by thy name." Thus Daniel teaches us in praying to lay hold upon mercy, i.e. to trust in God's mercy, and not to trust in our own merits before God. We also wonder what our adversaries do in prayer, if, indeed, the profane men ever ask anything of God. If they declare that they are worthy because they have love and good works, and ask for grace as a debt, they pray precisely like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who says: "I am not as other men are." He who thus prays for grace, and does not rely upon God's mercy, treats Christ with dishonor, who, since he is our high priest, intercedes for us.
210, 211

"Let us, therefore, hold fast to this which the Church confesses, viz. that we are saved by mercy."

It is a great temptation for those who have been justified by faith, to move from faith alone and include works for justification. It is even taught by some in such a way that works serve to complete faith, rather than follow as an adornment. They therefore judge their justification, or state of grace, according to their performance of whatever works they have set up as necessary, for such works are evident to them while the promise of God in the gospel is unseen and cannot be grasped or measured by works.  However, we must remember that we are forgiven and justified by grace thru faith alone in the merits of Christ. It then follows that where this justifying faith is present, good works will also be found, but since the saved and justified still sin much every day, mercy alone preserves us as God leads us by the Spirit and raises us up again when we fall. It is purely pharisaical to say that God preserves in faith by the Spirit those who are able to refrain from sinning to such a degree that God must abandon them, for they are then praying as did the Pharisee, "I thank you God that I am not as other men are." We are not forgiven by mercy and then made to retain this forgiveness according to works. Rather, we are forgiven by mercy and sustained in this forgiveness by mercy in spite of our many sins. Yet it does not follow that true faith abides with impenitence.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A False Shepherd

Two Opposing Views Of The Good Shepherd

The original Apostolic Lutheran Church "Principles of the Doctrine of Christ" rightly divided sin and grace, law and gospel. However, certain men have crept in unawares and have perverted the old doctrines of our church to such an extent that the new edition of the "Principles" present to us a different Jesus Christ.

The new 'Principles' state that man is not awakened to the knowledge of sin by the Law, but is convicted "before the holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ." Let us consider this picture of the Good Shepherd. To be convicted of sin is to know that one is a sinner and under the judgment of eternal damnation by God. According to the modern Principles, the sheep of the Lord are not comforted by the Shepherd, but when they see Him they are filled with fear and terror because of their sin and must fall groveling upon the earth not daring to even look upon Him for fear of judgment and punishment. The sheep would rather flee and hide from the holiness of this Shepherd. Such is the Christ preached by the false prophets among us.    

Scripture teaches that conviction of sin comes only by the Law, the Ten Commandments. "Nay,  I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" Rom 7:7. The sinner who trembles before a righteous God at Mt. Sinai is then led to Christ our Savior. Scripture states Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to bring grace. "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" Jn 1:17,18. He came unto us as a Brother, humble, bearing flesh and blood. When the accusers brought the adulteress to Jesus He did not convict her but said, "Neither do I condemn thee." Scripture give us a much different picture of our Good Shepherd and teaches that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who calls unto Himself all who are weak and heavy laden, all who are sick with sin, all who are lame, and all who fear the righteous judgment of God. To such ones our Good Shepherd promises healing, cleansing and forgiveness. He promises that he will not reject even the poorest and weakest sheep, but will tenderly care for it, and when one is too weak to walk He will carry it on His shoulders. He says that He will gently lead His little lambs, and all who come unto Him He will in no wise cast out. Scriptures states the sinner can freely approach this Good Shepherd because He knows our infirmities and has given His life for our sins. And most wonderfully our Good Shepherd says He gives unto His sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish because they are under the protection of the Father.

How can a church flourish when sin is not rightly comprehended and Christ is made into Moses?  The single greatest error and cause for our current deplorable condition as a fellowship is that the holy Law of God has been rejected.  When the true knowledge of our bondage to sin by natural birth is not known, neither can one come to know the wonderful life, liberty, and freedom we enjoy under the care of the true Good Shepherd. May God strengthen the remnant of true believers among us.

Steven E. Anderson