Truth Shadowed
Monday of Pentecost 4
8 July 2019
The truth will triumph, but not in the way we expect. Its triumph is always hidden under suffering. That's why the truth claims to stand on its own. It is not buttressed by anything else. Either a statement is true by its own lights, or it's not. You cannot prove the truth true by its utility, success, or glory. Nothing else can be greater than it, so as to testify to it. This is why the truth is never merely obvious, never succeeds by brute strength, and cannot be defended by coercion. The truth then never comes without a cost. The cross and the truth are locked in an inseparable embrace. The truth brings the cross and the cross shadows and protects the truth. The truth is always blood-spattered. External, ecclesial guarantees of the truth simply don't exist.
That is why the church must be in the Word. For only God can guarantee the truth and has by the incarnation of His Son, the living Word. The church will always live in the truth under the shadow of the suffering of that Son. The truth brings division not because there is anything deficient about the truth, but because there is something deficient about humans (go figure!). The battle that ensues over the truth when it is attacked remains close to the cross and under its shadow, for we fight against principalities and powers and for the sake of the Crucified. It will always cause division because the enemy of the truth will never give up or relent, until Christ's triumph is fully revealed at the consummation of the age, and only then. This conflict is the compliment wickedness pays to the truth. This is why those who live in the truth must be prepared to suffer for it.
Christ dies for the truth to vouchsafe the salvation that comes with it and is it. This is the greatest act of truth and the truth in act. Yet, see its weakness and apparent inability to defend itself. Even the battle and the division that occurs for the truth's sake is self-confirming. The Word of God warns us that there will always be factions among us (1Co 11:19), for the purpose of showing that the cross always causes conflict (Mt 10:34). Therefore we should not be disheartened when pushed into a corner by the enemies of the truth. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Mt 5:12). It was always so.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Cyprian of Carthage
"Heresies not only have frequently been invented, but also continue to be, while the perverted mind has no peace, while a discordant faithlessness does not maintain unity. But the Lord permits and suffers these things to be, while one's freedom of judgment remains, so that while the discrimination of truth is testing our hearts and our minds, the sound faith of those that are approved may shine forth with manifest light. The Holy Spirit forewarns and says by the apostle, 'For there must be factions (Gk: heresies) among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized' (1Co 11:19). Thus the faithful are approved, thus the treacherous are detected; thus even here, before the day of judgment, the souls of the righteous and of the unrighteous are already divided, and the chaff is separated from the wheat.
"These are they who of their own accord, without any divine arrangement, set themselves to preside among the daring strangers assembled, who appoint themselves prelates without any law of ordination, who assume to themselves the name of bishop, although no one gives them the episcopate; whom the Holy Spirit points out in the Psalms as sitting in the seat of pestilence (Ps 1:1), plagues, and spots of the faith, deceiving with serpent's tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues; whose speech creeps like a cancer, whose discourse forms a deadly poison in the heart and breast of everyone.
"Against people of this kind the Lord cries; from these He restrains and recalls His erring people, saying, 'Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD' (Jer 23:16)."

Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church, 10-11
Jeremiah 23:16-22

Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, 'It shall be well with you'; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 'No disaster shall come upon you.'" For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly. "I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds. (ESV)
O God, protect the tempted, the distressed, and the erring, and gently guide them. By Your great goodness bring them into the way of peace and truth. Graciously regard all who are in trouble, danger, temptation, or bondage to sin, and those to whom death draws near. In Your mercy draw them to Yourself; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For the family of Joanne Bobbie, who passed away, that they would find God's comfort
For all police officers, that they would be kept safe in the conduct of their duties
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that he would be prepared to suffer for the truth through the power of the cross of Christ
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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