Eternal Risk
Thursday of Pentecost 4
11 July 2019
Christianity is the religion of peace that will never be at peace nor be left in peace. The best way for our enemy to disturb Christians is by worming his way into the hearts and lives of church leaders. They can overturn the work of Christ by laboring among God's people sowing the seeds of dissension, discord, and disagreement. Of course, the obvious way that that can be done is through church leaders falling into shameful moral vices, such as adultery, homosexuality, greed, and others. But our enemy is not ultimately successful if he has merely overcome the piety of the church's leaders, because the faithful, although scandalized by such moral failures, recognize that the church on earth includes both wheat and weeds. The wheat and the weeds are not separated until the harvest day (Mt 13:24-30). However, our Lord commands that we distinguish true from false teaching, by being aware that there are false teachers who are overthrowing the teaching of Christ, his life, death, and resurrection for the sins of the world.
The greatest scandal then, is the one hidden under piety. The appearance of righteousness is often used to cloak the effort to undermine the naked truth of the divine Word. Therefore, we cannot determine what to believe on the basis of external piety or the appearance of holiness. It is hard to distinguish between the wheat and the weeds before the harvest. Jesus pleads with us to beware of the false teachers, because they are deadly foes (Mt 7:15), who seek to rip limb from limb the tender lambs of the flock. Here is the greatest danger to the peace of the church: the danger of false teaching. This is becoming more important than ever in the American context where fewer traditional barriers to false teaching are remaining to rein in the raging lunacies set forth by so-called church leaders. Many Christians have not been well enough instructed to know the difference between the catechetical recitation of sappy everything-goes tolerationism and the proclamation of the precious grace God purchased by the blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. For all the fear of suffering indoctrination at the hands of Christians, precious little indoctrinating is going on in the church, at least of the scriptural truth of God's Word.
Such false teaching shifts our confidence from God's speech to human opinions. And mere human opinion will never stand at the judgment of all flesh, despite such opinions being wrapped up in pious cant. It will be consumed along with the weeds. Like abortion is a form of societal suicide, so church leaders intent on ripping the truth from the womb of the church, will cause simple believers to be left on the abortionists' work table to gasp out a terrible death, taken from the womb of their mother in shattered parts. Like abortion, false doctrine is neither safe nor rare. It causes eternal death but is treated as a triumph of the human spirit by its advocates. But at what cost? Why risk your eternal life on mere human opinion, when God has spoken to us by His Son in these last days (Heb 1:2)?

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Cyprian of Carthage
"I indeed desire and I equally endeavor and exhort, that if it be possible, none of the brothers should perish, and that our rejoicing mother [the church] may enclose in her bosom the one body of a people in agreement. Sometimes wholesome counsel cannot recall to the way of salvation certain leaders of schisms and originators of dissensions, who abide in blind and obstinate madness. If you find yourself taken in simplicity, or induced by error, or deceived by some craftiness of misleading cunning, you should free yourselves from the nets of deceit, release your wandering steps from errors, and acknowledge the straight way of the heavenly road. The word of the witnessing apostle is: 'Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us' (2Th 3:6). And again he says, 'Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience' (Eph 5:6). We must withdraw, no, rather we must flee, from those who fall away, lest, associating with those who walk wickedly, and who go on in ways of error and of sin, we ourselves also, wandering away from the path of the true road, should be found in similar guilt. God is one, Christ is one, and His Church is one, and the faith is one, and the people is joined into a substantial unity of body by the cement of concord. Unity cannot be severed; nor can one body be separated by a division of its structure, nor torn into pieces, with its entrails wrenched asunder by gashes. Whatever has proceeded from the womb cannot live and breathe in its detached condition, but loses the substance of health."

Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church, 23
Matthew 7:15-29

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (ESV)
Lord God, heavenly Father, You have spoken by Your Son in these last days. Send Your Holy Spirit as the bond of unity between You and Your Son, that we might be united with You through the truth of His inspired Word. Help us to discern human opinion from Your scriptural truth, that we might hold fast to Your Word alone for our salvation. Amen.
For those attending the convention of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, that they would be built up in the holy faith and be joyfully Lutheran
For those facing the trial of tropical rainfall in the days to come, that they might be kept safe in the midst of challenging whether
For Vicar Martin Hill, who will be installed at Memorial Lutheran Church this Sunday, that the Lord of the church would lead him into the green pastures and still waters of His Word
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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