Fear of God. A Key to Growth? — Part 2

Bible readingLast Monday, we focused on the first temptation the devil uses to make Americans indifferent to the fear and love of God. This week, we focus on two other temptations the devil uses to make people indifferent to fearing and loving God.

Dr. Dale Meyer writes,

The second temptation is the word ‘church.’ What pops into your mind when I say the word ‘church’? Maybe you think of the building. Maybe you think of a church service. … Maybe you think of a congregation called ‘Trinity Lutheran Church’ with its school, its properties, its employees, its bylaws and constitution, its groups and members. When we hear the word ‘church’ we tend to think of a Christian institution. Guess what? There was no institutional Christian church in the decades after Jesus died, rose and ascended, not in the way we think of it. …

[In Luther’s explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed] … There’s nothing there about the church being buildings and budgets, institutional things. The church in it essence is people who publicly confess and follow the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. …

The third temptation of the devil concerns this book, the Bible. Guess what? Most people in the early church couldn’t read or write. It’s estimated that only 10 percent of the people in the Roman Empire were literate.  … The Holy Spirit got Jesus into hearts when church people spoke about Jesus, about who Jesus is, what Jesus did, what he does, how he fulfills the prophecies and the wonderful promises he makes to his followers. …

What does this mean? Martin Luther said, ‘God be praised, a seven-year-old child knows what the church is: holy believers and ‘the little sheep who hear the voice of their shepherd.’ Again, Luther says in the Small Catechism, ‘We should fear and love God that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.’ And so the devil tempts us to confine Jesus to the past and to suppose that the church is just another institution. We easily fall to those temptations when we forget that the word is the viva vox evangelii, the ‘living and active’ word of the gospel. Therefore, we pray, ‘Almighty God, grant to your church your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that your word may not be bound (and put on a shelf) but have free course and be preached  to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people.’

Source: Concordia Journal, Fall 2015, page 287-288.

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