Stolen Gospel
Tuesday of Pentecost 23
30 October 2018
I have heard it said by church leaders, "the organizational things are our problem. We've got the doctrine straight, now we just have to organize ourselves to spread it." This ignores how fragile and weak the gospel is over and against the law. Organization is law. The devil would love for the churches to spend all of their time on getting organized. I heard a pastor once say (and not for the first time), "if we could just get ourselves organized and figure out what our 'vision' is, then great things would happen in our church." Nonsense! While the church was figuring out its vision, the congregation proceeded to die. Being busy organizing kept the congregation from being busy about the things that actually build the church; preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments. It is like a well-organized hospital that doesn't dispense medicine; efficient, but useless. Great things happen where God's gospel is ever the center of our church's life.
 
Will we always see those great things? No. They are often hidden under the cross and the shadow of its suffering. But the church lives not by 'our vision.' It lives by the gospel. May God help us when we figure we've got the doctrine all straight, that it can be presumed. For in that day the devil will have stolen it from us. Lord, have mercy!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Therefore, we are nothing, even with all our great gifts, unless God is present. When He deserts us and leaves us to our own resources, our wisdom and knowledge are nothing. Unless He sustains us continually, the highest learning and even theology are useless. For in the hour of temptation it can suddenly happen that by a trick of the devil all the comforting texts disappear from our sight and only the threatening ones appear to overwhelm us. Therefore, let us learn that if God withdraws His hand, we can easily fall and be overthrown. Therefore let no one boast or glory in his own righteousness, wisdom, and other gifts; but let him humble himself and pray with the apostles (Lk 17:5): 'Lord, increase our faith!'
 
"I am making such a point of all this to keep anyone from supposing that the doctrine of faith is an easy matter. It is indeed easy to talk about, but it is hard to grasp; and it is easily obscured and lost. Therefore, let us with all diligence and humility devote ourselves to the study of Sacred Scripture and to serious prayer, lest we lose the truth of the gospel."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 2.13
Luke 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
 
"Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord, increase my faith that I might believe that Your holy gospel does all in the church. Keep me from being deceived by a siren song of organization and vision that is not obedient to the pure doctrine of the gospel in all its articles. Amen.
 
For Pr. Charles St-Onge, that the Lord of the harvest would continue to bless his labor in teaching the gospel on the foreign mission field
 
For the Fall Festival of Memorial Lutheran School, that it would a success and a time for families to come together for enjoyment of the creation
 
For police and other offices of the law, that God would uphold them in their callings so that wrongdoers might be apprehended and punished and so that our community might have a quiet and peaceable life
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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