Which Church

It has been my privilege to serve Star of Bethlehem Lutheran Church for the past fifteen years.  Our little church is part of a larger church body called the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).  All Christians around the world are part of the Holy Christian Church.  (You’ll notice, the Holy Christian Church doesn’t have a presence on the world wide web yet…)

That may have seemed like a large jump to go from my little church body to the Holy Christian Church, but that’s the best that we can do.  You see, God knows who is in his church.  All those, and only those, who believe that Jesus has died for their sins is a member of the Holy Christian church.

One of the frustrations that I have is seeing God’s church splintered into little factions, that appear, sometimes, to be warring denominations.  What is better are the churches that are non-denominational, but still may be part of a larger fellowship of churches.  Finally, if it walks like a Baptist and talks like a Baptist, it’s a Baptist 😉  I have dear friends who will most likely never be a part of my church body, yet I know from their confession of faith that they will be in heaven one day because Jesus died for them and has taken away their sins.

A common question I am asked is… why?  Why can’t Christians just get along?!  It isn’t so much getting along, as it is, what is really important.  Luther gave this comment on going along to get along.

With regard to the Sacrament or some other error, some imprudent spirits who are deceived by the devil assert, “People should not contest so fiercely and get bent out of shape over one article of faith and tear apart Christian love over it. Nor should they hand each other over to the devil over it. Instead, even if someone errs in a minor point, if he otherwise agrees in the others, it should not be a big deal to yield somewhat and let the matter go and still maintain brotherly and Christian unity or fellowship just as well.”

No, my dear man, I want no part in a peace and unity that people get by losing God’s word, for in so doing eternal life and everything else would already be lost. Here yielding or conceding anything to oblige yourself or any person is not permitted. Instead, everything must yield to the Word, be it friend or foe. For God has given his word not for the sake of an external or earthly unity and peace, but for the sake of eternal life. The Word and its doctrine must establish Christian unity or fellowship. Where doctrine is one and the same, there Christian unity will follow as a matter of course. If it is not the same, then no unity will ever remain. Therefore don’t even speak to me of any love or friendship where people want to break up the Word or the faith. For it says that the Word, not love, brings eternal life, God’s grace, and all heavenly treasures.

Want to hear more about picking a church in 2017?  Watch this week’s sermon taken from John 8.

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