Page 1

d a r e

t o

b e

l u t h e r a n

Higher Things

the

issue S U M M E R

• Holy Jesus, Holy You! • True Blood • Two Voiceless Prophets • Fish Don’t Want to be Caught 2 0 1 2 _

www

.higherthings.org / sUMMer / 2012

1


You have a Voice. You can be theirs. Now’s the time to speak. LCMS Life Conference ─ Jan. 25-26 Don’t let another 40 years pass with another 4 million babies aborted. Join us for the LCMS Life Conference, January 25-26, 2013, in the Washington, D.C., area. Learn how to use your voice with a special youth track designed just for you!

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 2

You, your friends, your youth group — get ready to take your stand on this momentous 40-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade. CUW students at 2012 March for Life

Register: www.lcmslifeconference.org #lcmslifeconf www.facebook.com/lcmslife


Contents t a b l e o F

Volume 12/Number 2 • Summer 2012

Special Features 4

6

Holy Jesus, Holy You

by rev. Mark buetow Will the real “sanctification” please stand up? Rev. Buetow pinpoints exactly what this theological mouthful-of-a-word is in the Christian life and directs the conversation where it needs to go: toward Christ!

On Being “Simul” New Software on Old Hardware

by rev. William M. Cwirla So what does a cool Latin phrase have in common with 21st century computer technology? If anyone can tie them together, Rev. Cwirla can. And in doing so, he brings clarity to our understanding of the battle between Old Adam and New Man.

8

True Blood

by rev. Jeffery W. Grams It seems like every movie season features a new twist on the old vampire story. Well, it turns out that our fascination with the undead might actually be linked to the greatest redemptive story ever. Rev. Grams skillfully connects the dots throughout his article.

10 Lutherans on Facebook

by Jon Kohlmeier Whether you spend hours a day on Facebook or have sworn off ever signing up for an account, you will find something to appreciate in Mr. Kohlmeier’s explanation about service to our neighbor via Facebook. The principles he elaborates on apply to any social interaction we might have.

12 The Emperor’s New Clothes Part One of a Two-Part Series

by barbara S. helmkamp, Ph.d. Although Neo-Darwinism can lend itself to some highly technical lingo, Dr. Helmkamp carefully walks us through the fatal flaws of that theory in this first of a two-part series and shines the light of the Gospel on the discussion as well.

16 Church is Boring

by rev. anthony Voltattorni You caught yourself yawning at church last Sunday. Did you look around and make sure nobody noticed? Were you bored? It might surprise many people in today’s culture to know that the purpose of church isn’t to entertain us. Rev. Voltattorni focuses on what it is about church that is truly music to our ears.

18 Two Voiceless Prophets

by rev. tim lorenz The David and Bathsheba story: adultery, murder, major sinful deeds. There are, however, two players in this Biblical account that you might not have given much thought to before. Rev. Lorenz insightfully shows us how important their roles truly are.

24 Knowing Jesus

by Magdalena teske Do you really know Jesus? How do you know? Miss Teske shares a personal account about that very challenge someone once made to her and how it firmed up what she can confidently say about knowing Our Lord.

Regular Features

Christ on Campus Special 4-Page Section: 20 Connected to Christ at College by Sarah dooms If college is on the horizon for you, it is a wise step to read something from someone who has walked that path already. Miss Dooms eloquently offers great counsel and wisdom for those who are nearing that big step in their lives.

21 Fish Don’t Want to Be Caught

by rev. Philip Young Starting a college ministry in five easy steps! Not! And there’s a reason this is unrealistic. Every campus is different but one thing generally remains the same: Students are not naturally clamoring to be a part of a Christ-focused group. Rev. Young’s own experience provides encouragement to those who are fishers of men on campus.

22 A Fond Farewell from Pastor Marcus Zill 23 Higher Things Farewells to Rev. Marcus Zill and Rev. David Kind 26 Poetry Page 28 Catechism Our Father

by rev. William Cwirla Our Lord desires that we come to Him as children come to their father…with expectancy, eagerness and trust. Rev. Cwirla reminds us of all the comfort we have to gain as he unpacks these first simple but profound words of the Lord’s Prayer.

30 Bible Study Holy Jesus, Holy You

Here is a sample of one of our student Bible studies that links up with Rev. Buetow’s article on P. 4.

HigherThings

®

Volume 12/Number 2/Summer 2012 Bible Studies for these articles can be found at: higherthings.org/ magazine/biblestudies.html Editor

Katie Micilcavage Art Director

Steve BlaKey Editorial Associates

Rev. gReg alMS Rev. Paul BeiSel Rev. BaRt Day Copy Editors

lu FiScheR Dana toMa Bible Study Authors

Rev. MaRK Buetow Rev. John DRoSenDahl Rev. Paul BeiSel Subscriptions Manager

elizaBeth caRlSon IT Staff

Stan leMon Jon KohlMeieR Conference Coordinator

SanDRa oStaPowich ___________

Board of Directors President

Rev. williaM cwiRla Treasurer

chRiS loeMKeR Secretary

Rev. Joel FRitSche Rev. Jonathan FiSK Rev. BRent KuhlMan Sue PellegRini Matt PhilliPS chRiS RoSeBRough ___________

Executive Staff Conferences and Deputy Executive

Rev. geoRge BoRghaRDt Business Executive

connie BRaMMeieR Media Services Executive

Rev. MaRK Buetow Christ on Campus Interim Executive

Rev. ian Pacey

Higher Things® Magazine ISSN 1539-8455 is published quarterly by Higher Things, Inc., PO Box 156, Sheridan, WY 82801. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the executive editor of Higher Things Magazine. Copyright 2012. Higher Things® and Christ on Campus® are registered trademarks of Higher Things Inc.; All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States. Postage paid at St. Louis, Missouri. For subscription information and questions, call 1-888-448-2359 or e-mail subscriptions@higherthings. org. (This phone number is only used for subscription queries.) For letters to the editor, write letters@higher things.org. Writers may submit manuscripts to: submissions@higherthings.org. Please check higherthings.org/ magazine/writers.html for writers’ guidelines and theme lists.

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 3


SANC

IFICATION

Holy Jesus, Holy You! By Rev. Mark Buetow

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NKJV) H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 4

D

o you do drugs? Sleep around? Look at porn? Steal stuff? Gossip about others? Treat your parents like dirt? Blow off church? How can you be a Christian and do those things? Or maybe those aren’t your sins. You know people like that but it’s not you. Ah, so it’s pride then? Proud of how well behaved you are? Wonder why those other people can’t make the good choices you do?


So, either you’re in the first group—the hardcore sinners who just live like animals, with no common sense and even a little effort to stop doing stupid things, or else you’re in the second group—the selfrighteous folks who look pretty good outwardly but whose hearts are full of pride and a self-satisfaction about how few sins they think they actually commit. Big theological word alert! SANCTIFICATION. The work of being SANCTIFIED. To SANCTIFY. What’s it mean? The Latin word “sanctus” means “holy.” Okay, we’ll try that. HOLY-FICATION. The work of being HOLY. To HOLY-FY something. Still not getting it? “Holy” means “set apart.” When something is holy, it is set apart by God to be special. Are you special? Or do you just blend in with the worldly crowd that could not care less about what it does or how it looks to God or others? Or do you think you’re holy and special because you live a better life than others? Do you see something wrong yet in this article you’re reading? Here’s what’s wrong: We’re talking about everyone but Jesus! You can’t have sanctification or be sanctified without and apart from Jesus. So watch out! When some people talk about sanctification, they want to make it about you. Usually sanctification is described as “how you live as a Christian” but that’s not it at all! Sanctification is about how Christ lives in you. A church member once accused his pastor and said, “Pastor you never seem to talk to us about good works and how we should be living a good life.” (Incidentally this guy thought he was doing a much better job than some in the congregation.) The pastor replied, “But we don’t do good works. Jesus does them in and through us. ‘For it is not I who live but Christ who lives in me.’ Galatians 2:20.” “But pastor,” he cried, “then you make it sound like Jesus is responsible for your sins, too!”“Exactly!” The pastor smiled, “Now you understand the Gospel and what it is that Jesus has actually done for you!” The point of that little exchange is this: When we talk about the “Christian life” we can’t ever mean anything else by that than Jesus: Jesus who became man. Jesus who took our sins. Jesus who bore our sins to the cross of Calvary to face our punishment. Jesus who suffered, bled and died for our sins. Jesus who descended into hell, who rose from the dead, and left all your sins buried in His tomb forever and ascended to the right hand of the Father and sent the Holy Spirit through His Word. Jesus who washed you at the font, who absolves you week after week and who feeds you with His pure and perfect body and blood and so actually lives in you. The Jesus whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and, yes, our sanctification. Jesus is your “Christian life.”

Okay, well, so what does that look like? Well, first of all, it means you stop doing things to impress the Lord. So many Christians try to live a certain way because they think that it makes God happy. They are the ones who so easily judge others who don’t live such good lives as they do. Because of Jesus, God is already happy with you! Never doubt that! He smiles upon you every minute of your life, forgets your sins and counts whatever else you do as holy and precious. No need to impress God. Repent of ever thinking you can win God over by how you act! But don’t fall off the wagon on the other side! Just living however you want and doing whatever makes you feel good doesn’t help your neighbor. The problem with drugs or porn or anger or gossip or any of that other stuff is that it doesn’t do anyone else any good. In fact, it harms others. It’s selfishness. Repent of thinking only of yourself and treating others like dirt to get what you want! And the key to this daily repentance is found in your Baptism. Remember the Catechism? “The Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires and daily the new man should arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” In other words, as we face temptation, and fall into sin, and struggle with trying to avoid sin, the “Christian life” is lived in Jesus, just as Jesus lives in you. It looks like this: You go and receive forgiveness for your sins over and over. Daily you make the sign of the holy cross and remember your Baptism into Christ. You hear your pastor tell you your sins are forgiven. You hear Christ’s Word and preaching about what He’s done for you. You feast upon His Body and Blood which forgive your sins and by which Jesus lives in you. If you’ve done some nasty sins, Jesus died for those. If you think you’re okay because you haven’t pulled some of those nasties, Jesus died for that, too. And that’s the point of talking about sanctification. Christ is holy and He makes you holy. His holiness covers your sins and makes you look good to the Father. And He lives in you and through you, glorifying the Father and serving your neighbor, which means that you glorify God and serve your neighbor. You can’t not do those things because Jesus lives in you. Holy Jesus, Holy you. That’s what sanctification and the “Christian life” are all about.

Holy Rev. Mark Buetow is pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in DuQuoin, Illinois and serves as Media Services Executive for Higher Things. He can be reached at buetowmt@gmail.com.

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 5


On Being “Si New Software on Old By Rev. William M. Cwirla

H

ave you ever tried running new software on an old computer? I have. I have a seven year-old laptop—my trusty old road warrior. I’ve replaced the keyboard, the hard disk, and the logic board, three batteries and a few other spare parts from E-Bay. It’s not my primary computer, which is a desktop, but I try to make the old laptop as compatible as possible. However, I find that the new versions of software just don’t run well on old hardware.

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 6

That’s a picture of the Christian life. Luther called it being “simul iustus et peccator,” which is Latin for “simultaneously a righteous saint and a damned sinner.” We sometimes speak of our “old Adam” or “sinful nature” and our “new man” in Christ. Old You and New You. Old You is the sinner born of Adam, hopelessly infected with the virus called Sin. New You is the saint born of God, pure and holy. The Scriptures call Old You the “outer man” or the “flesh” and New You the “inner man” or the “spirit.” The key to understanding the Christian life as it is lived by faith is that New You is hidden “in, with and under” Old You—a Christ-mind operating an Adam-body. In Baptism, the Spirit has given you a new operating system, new software, New You. You have the mind and the will of Christ. You delight in the Law of God and you desire to do what is pleasing to God. The trouble is that New You is running on Old You’s hardware. As a result, there are the inevitable crashes and glitches. This is how the apostle Paul describes it:“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members” (Romans 7:21-23). In other words, New Paul, his “inmost self,” really wants to do God’s will and delights in God’s law. But the hardware for Old Paul, his “members,” refuses to cooperate. Old Paul has a terrible virus called Sin that causes him to crash every time

he tries to do the will of God. Whenever he wants to do good, evil always lies close at hand. He can’t seem to get anything right. Everything he does is infected with sin, even his good works. And what is Paul’s analysis of the situation? “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) Martin Luther communicated an amazingly profound insight in a series of statements he drafted for a debate at Heidelberg, Germany in 1518. This was very early in the Reformation—only a year after Luther had nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg. In his Heidelberg Theses, Luther said that everything man does, even when God is working through man, is sin. That’s because the inner man, the new person in Christ, must always work through the outer man, the old person in Adam. In other words, New You must always use Old You’s hardware. That explains a lot of things. It explains why our works can’t save us. They are always sinful, even when they are good! It explains why faith alone justifies us before God. Only Christ’s works are without sin. It explains why we always seem to mess up, especially in spiritual things, why we can’t seem to stick with prayer or God’s Word, why we’re not glad when they say,“Let’s go to the house of the Lord.” It’s because New You always has to work through Old You. The righteous saint must always work through the sinner. No wonder the apostle Paul cries out,“Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)


imul” Hardware

It also explains why we can’t seem to fix ourselves. The Christian life is not about retraining old hardware to run new software. Old You is not fixable; it’s destined to die. Instead, Old You must be forced to go along with the program, at least for the moment. That’s where the Law comes in. The Law curbs, mirrors and instructs Old You to death. It curbs Old You’s behaviors, mirrors sin, and instructs with punishments and rewards, much the way you train an old dog new tricks. And you know how well that works. Old You’s hardware is simply not suited for holiness. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven.” Until you come into new hardware in the resurrection, New You’s software is going to have to make the best of trying to control Old You’s hardware. Does that mean we simply sin to our heart’s content and ask for forgiveness? No! It means that we say “no” to Old Adam, and we bring him under discipline. Even though our new man in Christ needs no Law, our New You uses the Law to threaten, bribe, coerce our old hardware to get with the holiness program. That’s why we set alarms on Sunday for church. The New Adam is glad when they say, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord,” but the Old Adam says, “I’d rather roll over and go to sleep.” For now you live “simul” by grace through faith for Jesus’ sake as a New You in Christ stuck in an Adam’s Old You hardware. That may not be a pretty sight to those keeping score, but in Christ you are already justified, sanctified, and glorified (1 Corinthians 6:11). You’re just waiting to be rescued from this “body of death” to rise with new hardware to run that Christ-like software. Rev. William M. Cwirla is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, California, and the President of Higher Things. He can be reached at wcwirla@gmail.com.

SS UU MM MM EE RR 22 00 11 22 ___ 77


H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 8

TrueBlood By Rev. Jeffery W. Grams


“Take, drink; this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins.”

W

eek after week, this phrase is heard in Lutheran churches all around the world. The words have remained essentially the same for hundreds of years. They serve as a reminder of what we are truly receiving from the Lord Jesus Christ every time we celebrate His Supper. Popular culture has a way of messing with the meaning of words, and in 21st century America our obsession with vampires, in movies and on television, can certainly cause confusion. Nevertheless, fiction has a way of imitating life, and sometimes we can find reminders of the truth in the strangest of places. Did you ever notice that the mythology of vampires bears a strange similarity to the truth of God’s Word? Let us use this popular myth to take a look at God’s Word and recall the good news of our salvation. It all begins with the blood. All vampire myths have one thing in common—a vampire must drink blood to survive. Without blood, especially human blood, a vampire will starve and become weak. The drinking of human blood is understood to be the source of true “strength” for the “living dead.” What does God’s Word say about blood? The life is in the blood… When Cain murdered Abel, it was his blood that cried out! And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10 ESV) From the beginning, the biblical understanding was that the life of a creature was in its blood: “ Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:3-4 ESV) If you search for the word “blood” in the ESV version of the bible, you will find it over 400 times! Why is blood used so often? Just as our life is in our blood, it is by the shedding of blood that we receive the forgiveness of sins.

In the New Testament we have come to understand that all of the blood shed in the Old Testament was pointing us forward to our Lord Jesus Christ, who as the Lamb of God would shed his blood for our salvation. (See Hebrews 9:11-28 to read more about our redemption through the blood of Christ!) Which brings us to the next interesting myth about vampires: If you drink their blood you will become immortal and live forever. What is fascinating to me is that these myths have some similarities to the truth of God’s Word. After all, what does our Lord Jesus Christ say in John’s Gospel? Jesus said to them,“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56 ESV) Clearly this sermon of Jesus is not recommending some form of vampirism or cannibalism! He is pointing us toward His own work of salvation. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one who would shed His blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He is the one who would give us His flesh to eat and blood to drink in the Lord’s Supper so that we would receive everlasting life. Isn’t that far more comforting and amazing than any myth about blood-sucking undead? Which raises the question: What do so many people find appealing in the myths about vampires? Some people

imagine that becoming a vampire would mean living forever and being forever beautiful. They imagine that as a vampire they would be strong and powerful and fearless. In reality, even the fantastic promises of this myth pale by comparison to the true joy offered by the Lord Jesus Christ in the True Blood of His Holy Supper. Eternal life will never be found in the blood of some undead monster—but is instead truly received in the Blood of our Savior. Eternal youth will not be received through a bite on the neck—but the new life we have received as we were born again in the waters of Holy Baptism will never end! Digging your way out of a shallow grave can hardly seem an appealing future—but we know that on the day of the Resurrection of all flesh we will all rise again in new and glorious bodies that are forever free from the touch of sin and death. The glorious future that is given to us by the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is far more amazing than any vampire story found in movies or television. For in the end, by the grace of God, this is the vision of our glory: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:14-17 ESV Rev. Jeffery W. Grams is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and can be reached at RevJGrams@live.com

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 9


lutherans on By Jon Kohlmeier

here are more than 800 million active users on Facebook. People from all over the world, of many different religions and world views, log into the same website to communicate with others every single day. In many ways, that makes it even harder to dare to be Lutheran than it is in our daily physical lives.

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 10

Many people use Facebook and other social media as a way to keep in touch with friends, family, people with the same interests and favorite celebrities. Others use it for self-promotion or as a place to express their opinions. Still others use social media as a virtual scrapbook of things going on in their lives or things that they find interesting. Amidst those more than 800 million Facebook users, how are we supposed to dare to be Lutheran on Facebook? We do it the same way as we dare to be Lutheran in real life—through the Small Catechism as a baptized child of God! We are baptized children of God at home, at school, at church, and wherever else we may be.

The internet and social media in particular add yet another forum where love of God and neighbor are often found in short supply. In addition, it is very easy for Facebook to become an idol. We can spend hours and hours on the website, all the while shirking our vocations as children, students, and baptized children of God. We completely disregard the 8th commandment. We gossip about what our Facebook friends are posting, we don’t defend our neighbor, we rarely speak well of them and we definitely don’t explain everything in the kindest way. We covet our neighbors’ lives. We wish we were as happy as they appear to be.“Just read their profiles, after all!” We covet their possessions and the people in their


lives. We don’t receive everything as gift from God and we fall into anxiety and unbelief. Everyone else’s lives seem so much better than our own. Repent! Stop hating your neighbor. Stop living as if Christ did not die and rise for you. Even though it might magnify our constant failure to keep God’s Law, Facebook is a First Article gift of God. It truly is a great communication tool. It has made the world so much smaller. Distance means very little when, with the click of a mouse, you can keep up with those who are geographically far away. It is a great resource for planning events, sharing pictures and videos and keeping up on what your favorite celebrities or organizations are up to. It provides another platform to discuss things that are important to you. Sports fans connect with sports fans and Lutherans connect with Lutherans from all over the world! There are great Facebook pages (http://facebook.com/ higherthings) that post resources that confess the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for you. As we scroll through our News Feed, we are reminded to pray for those in our lives, in the midst of good times and bad. Even though we are more connected to those who are far away from us than we have ever been before, sometimes we feel alone sitting at our computers. The church’s prayers are often written in first person plural. When we pray those words,“Our Father..,” we are joined with the whole church—in a much more real way than 1s and 0s across the internet. We are with the whole church in Christ. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are

praying it both for ourselves and for the whole church. When others pray they are praying for themselves and for you! Although Facebook is virtual, we still live as those who are baptized. Our sinful Old Adam is daily drowned by repentance and a new man is risen to live in righteousness. We have been set free from sin—not so that we can run right back to that from which we have been set free. Rather, we are free to keep the Law of God and live forever. In Christ—in our baptism—we do keep the law, both on Facebook and in all other aspects of our lives. While Facebook is a great virtual reality, it should not replace those things that are real. You can discuss a lot of theology on Facebook but that is still not where Christ has promised to be. It does not replace receiving His gifts in church each week. Christ comes to you, not virtually, but truly in His Body in the Lord’s Supper. His Word is delivered into your ears. His Body and Blood are placed into your mouth. You are freely given forgiveness of your sins and eternal life in a very real and physical way. Facebook is a great gift, but with a couple keystrokes it could be gone. Your hope, truth, trust, and life are much more certain and sure than that. They are found in Christ, into whose death and resurrection you have been baptized! Jon Kohlmeier is IT Assistant for Higher Things which includes managing our Facebook page. You can add him on Facebook at facebook.com/jonkohlmeier.

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 11


The Emperor’s New Clothes Part One of a Two-Part Series By Barbara S. Helmkamp, Ph.D.

there once was a very foolish and vain emperor H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 12

who wanted a new suit of clothes. His royal weavers promised him the most beautiful suit ever made; but these garments would have the peculiar property of being visible only to those in the know. So, when the emperor was presented with his new clothes and could not see them, he pretended he could. Likewise, all his courtiers and subjects pretended the same, extolling the emperor’s magnificence in them, as he paraded around in his underwear. Some were, like the emperor himself, foolish and vain, pretending to see the clothes because they feared their own incompetence. Others were pragmatists, supporting conventional “wisdom” in order to please the powers that be. It took a child to boldly confess the obvious:“But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

The grand myth of evolution, encompassing the Big Bang and NeoDarwinism, is much like the Emperor’s new clothes. Both of these evolutionary hypotheses are utterly bankrupt and don’t fit the evidence,1 yet they continue to be paraded around—in museums and classrooms, textbooks and documentaries, Sci-Fi novels and movies—as glorious wonders of


modern scientific thinking. Despite the failure of scientific naturalism to account for the universe,2 many Christians are still reluctant to defend the Biblical account of a six-day creation. Foolishness and practical thinking aside, perhaps many of us have begun to doubt the relevance of Creation (in the First Article) to Redemption (in the Second Article). We wonder, “Does it matter how and when God created the universe, as long as we know John 3:16?”

evolution vs. the Gospel It most certainly does matter. Christ is the second Adam (Romans 5:14) whose obedience to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8) frees us from sin and its consequence: death. Scripture teaches, “For as by a man [Adam] came death, by a man [Christ] has come also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21 ESV). Darwinism’s “survival of the fittest” teaches the very opposite: that man came about by death— eonsworth of it. Throughout church history since Darwin, including the history of Lutheranism in America, removing John 3:16, or any Gospel text, from the context of the whole Bible has rapidly led to disbelief (apostasy) for church bodies, if not individuals. Inconsistent theology is a house divided against itself (Mark 3:25). Thus, the Genesis account of creation (as perfect, deathless) and man’s fall (which brought death) is inseparable from Christ and the cross, that is, from the Gospel.

evolution vs. the law The concept of a six-day creation is also inseparable from the Law, being spoken by God as part of the Ten Commandments: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh” (Exodus 20:11). Accepting God at His word has always been problematic for mankind, ever since Satan posed his infamous question, “Did God actually say…” (Genesis 3:1). Certainly this condition afflicts our “scientific, anything goes” society, which rejects both miracles and morality.

Six days…really? Without a doubt, “six days” is a stumbling block for many. Of course, it is troublesome only if one has bought into the “millions and billions of years” for natural history. Evolution’s credibility (if it has any) rests on there being an unfathomable stretch of time to make the impossible seem possible. In any case, “deep time” has a deep hold on us, even as Christians. In particular, reconciling a “recent” creation (about 6000 years ago3) with billions of lightyears of space4 is for many something that cannot be resolved easily. In truth, there is no need to blush intellectually at the idea of a “recent” creation. The elementary formula “distance = (rate) x (time)” is not the final story,5 not by a long shot! Einstein’s theory of general relativity (which, unlike the Big Bang, is scientifically robust) tells us that the flow of time is not constant (unlike the speed of light) but depends on the observer’s location and the distribution and motion of matter. This means that the closer you are to a massive object, the slower your clock ticks. It is a demonstrable fact that clocks in Death Valley run slower than clocks on Mount Everest. Similar clock effects occur as a result of acceleration, by Einstein’s equivalence principle, so accelerating clocks run faster than nonaccelerating ones.6

now that’s quite a stretch! Now consider Day 4 when God made the stars (Genesis 1:16). If space itself, carrying all its newly made galaxies with it, were abruptly “stretched” (accelerated) outward from a central location near the Milky Way, an earth-based clock could, theoretically, register that only a few hours passed while a clock at the far reaches of the cosmos registered billions of years. In such a scenario, the apparent age of the universe, based on its size and the constant speed of light, is merely an indicator of how it was formed.7 The size of the universe is no more of an age-indicator than was Adam’s fullgrown stature on Day 6 (Genesis

1:26-27). Adam and Eve probably looked twenty-something, as they first viewed the same night sky we do, but they were really less than a day old, and the sky was really less than three days old. The reality is that things are not always what they seem, because of the fog of sin. But we can see correctly, like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” if we trust God’s Word. While the world saw Christ hanging as a criminal on a cross, we confess Him as the true Lamb of God (John 1:29) and creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16). The world sees that we sin (1 John 1:8); in Christ we are perfect (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is vital to keep in mind as you study these issues, because nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Dr. Barbara S. Helmkamp has a Ph.D. in physics from Louisiana State University. She is currently teaching physics and chemistry at Credo Academy, a homeschool co-op in Denver and overseeing her daughters’ high school education. Barbara, her husband Bob and daughters are members of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Elizabeth, Colorado. 1 2

3

4

5

6

7

See www.cosmologystatement.org and www. dissentfromdarwin.org. “The Emperor’s New Clothes, Part II” will address the assumptions and failures of the Big Bang cosmology. Creation was 5772 years ago according to the Hebrew calendar and 6016 years ago according to Archbishop Ussher; some argue for a few more centuries (but certainly no more than a millennium) assuming the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 omit some generations. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year. Since the speed of light is 3.0 108 meters/ second, one light year is approximately (3.0 108 met/sec)(3600 sec/hr)(24 hr/day)(365 day/ yr)(1.0 yr) = 9.5 1015 meters. Crudely speaking, the 10-20 billion year apparent age of the universe is its size divided by the speed of light. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is like a continuously operating relativity experiment where the clocks in orbit are routinely corrected for relativistic effects so that they match clocks on earth. See Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time (Green Forest, AK: Master Books, 1994); John Hartnett, Starlight, Time and the New Physics (Australia: Creation Book Publishers, 2007).

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 13


Upcoming Higher Things Retreats Want to continue the HT experience at home the rest of the year? Host a Higher Things Retreat! We will help you to plan, promote, and pull off a oneday or weekend retreat in your area. These smaller events, often held right at your church (kind of like an extended lock-in), are a great way to get to know and spend time with other Lutherans near you in worship, catechesis, and fun.

Here are the retreats already scheduled for this Fall!!

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 14

If youÕ d like to host a Higher Things Retreat at your church, contact us at retreats@higherthings.org. For more information about these retreats and any others being planned, visit www.higherthings.org/retreats and follow Higher Things on Facebook and Twitter.


Now Available for Nook, Kindle, and Other E-readers!

HIGHER THINGS

Reflections higher things is pleased to provide free daily devotions, called “Reflections,” for youth and their families. These Reflections are centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are based upon each day’s texts from the weekly readings in the one-year lectionary and from Luther’s Small Catechism. You can download and print a seasonal Reflections booklet, subscribe to the daily Reflections and receive them in your e-mail box or connect to an RSS Feed and Podcast by visiting: www.higherthings.org/reflections.html

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 __ _ 15


“Church is By Rev. Anthony R. Voltattorni

I

Boring!”

would argue that those words make up the single greatest excuse why Christians are increasingly absent from church.

“It’s not interesting.” “It doesn’t keep my attention.” “The service isn’t my ‘style’ or ‘preference.’” “The sermons are hard to listen to.” etc. In the end, it basically boils down to: “Church is boring… so I don’t go.”

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 16

in the blood of Christ, that we might not be afraid at the Resurrection, that we might not be condemned but embraced in the righteousness of the Son of God. However, this way of thinking about church as either “entertaining” or “boring,” ultimately distracts us from the reason why we attend the Divine Service. Let me put it this way: Is the focus of your attendance the way you feel when the hymns are sung, how inspirational you find the sermon stories, or the level of energy you sense when you leave? These emphases are highly dependent upon where the service falls on the boring-o-meter. Rather, is the reason for your attendance simply, plainly, the forgiveness of your sins, spoken to you from the mouth of your Pastor, washed over you in the waters of Baptism, given to you in the body and blood of Christ, even if it’s boring? Ultimately, the reason why church is boring is not because there aren’t enough illustrations in the sermon, neither is it because the pastor is too old, nor because there isn’t a praise band, a coffee shop, a state of the art AV system, or liturgical dancers. If the Divine Service is boring, it’s because we’re sinful human beings. We don’t need to be entertained—we need forgiveness. I’m not saying that church will never get any more exciting for you, but if you really want to not be bored in church, if you really want to fix that problem, fix your sin. Go ahead, try. Ah…but this you cannot do. That is exactly the reason why the focus in the Divine Service is not on you or how entertained or bored you may feel, but on the immeasurable value of the forgiveness of your sins given to you there in words, water, body, and blood. The Divine Service may be exciting, it may be boring, but what matters is that we need it, and Jesus delivers!

Yawn

But that statement presupposes the belief that church is NOT supposed to be boring. Who said that? Who’s been going around telling everyone that church is not supposed to be boring, because so many seem to believe it. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that church should be boring. It’s not as if the goal is to see just how boring a pastor can make the Divine Service! No, achieving a heightened level of boringness is not the aim here. Neither, however, is it to ensure that you are not bored. If this were the goal, then I can imagine a hundred other venues that I would find more entertaining, more comfortable, more exciting, and more attentiongrabbing than the Divine Service. Yet, if we truly believe that God is present with us in the Divine Service, that Christ’s body and blood are actually there on the altar, that we’re actually standing before the Almighty, then why on earth should we seek to be comfortable and entertained? I, for one, know how great and grievous the sins are which stain my hands, eyes, and mind. I can recall them at the drop of a hat, and I’m guessing you can, too. Then, of course, there are all of those sins that don’t come to mind or that we are unaware of but they are sins, nonetheless. Therefore, standing before God, the Almighty Judge, should make us shudder a bit. Moreover, this is what you see throughout Scripture. When God or an angel of God appears, there is often fear involved (e.g., Exodus 3:6; 1 Chronicles 21;30; Matthew 28:5; Luke 1:13, 30; 2:10; Revelation 1:17). It’s not a “comfortable” or “entertaining” experience. Truly we can look to the cross and see that our judgment has already taken place. It’s accounted for

Rev. Anthony R. Voltattorni is the Pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Standish, Michigan. He can be reached at pastorvoltattorni@gmail.com.


n

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 17


Two Voiceless Prophets By Rev. Tim Lorenz

King David sits on left and gives Uriah the letter for Joab. On right Rabbah is besieged and Uriah is slain.

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 18

D

o you remember the story of David and Bathsheba? David and Bathsheba sinned by committing adultery. The punishment for doing so was death—the man and the woman who were caught in adultery were to be stoned. In their sin, Bathsheba became pregnant by David, and they were about to be caught. Everyone would know what they had done—unless it was covered over. And so, in order to spare their lives, the king sent the righteous man, Uriah, to his death— the innocent husband being slaughtered so that his adulterous bride would live. The sin was covered over. Bathsheba would not die. No one would know about this sin—no one, that is, except God.


God then sent His prophet, Nathan, to confront David, and David confessed his sin, saying,“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Having confessed his sin, David received forgiveness, but at what cost? “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But… the son born to you will die.’” (2 Samuel 12:13-14). There is no mistaking what the prophet Nathan was saying. Because of David’s sin, his son will die. Because of Bathsheba’s sin, her righteous husband died. Sin leads to death. Scripture firmly teaches that specific sins do not lead to specific punishment (Think Job or the blind man in John 9). How then do we fully explain the death of David’s son? How then do we explain the death of Bathsheba’s husband? David repented, his son dies for a sin he did not commit, and we say that this is not a punishment? There is something else going on in this text, and it comes to light when we sing the Lenten hymn, “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted.” The following are a few verses from the hymn: 1. Stricken, smitten and afflicted See Him dying on the tree! ‘Tis the Christ by man rejected; Yes my soul, ‘tis He, ‘tis He! ‘Tis the long expected Prophet, David’s Son, yet David’s Lord; Proofs I see sufficient of it; ‘Tis the true and faithful word 3. Ye who think of sin but lightly Nor suppose the evil great Here may view its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate. Mark the sacrifice appointed, See who bears the awful load; ‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s anointed, Son of Man and Son of God. Look and see who Jesus is in this text— David’s son and David’s Lord! This sobering hymn reminds us of this: Because of sin, the Son of David died. “You are not going to die. But… the son born to you will die.” These are the words spoken by Nathan to David, but they are not a judgment against David—they are a judgment a against David’s Son—Jesus.

Nathan reproves David, who raises his hands to God in sorrow. Because of David’s sin, Jesus would die. The words God speaks through Nathan the prophet are not words of judgment, but they are beautiful words of Gospel. David lives while his Son, God’s Son, dies for that sin. The son born to David did indeed die, but his death served a prophetic purpose. Though He did not speak a single word in his short life, by his death, he pointed David forward to the Son who would be punished for his sins and the sins of all: Jesus. David lives. Jesus died. In the same way, Bathsheba’s righteous husband died as a prophet. In order that Bathsheba would live, in order that his wife’s adultery would be covered over, the king of Israel put Uriah to death. Uriah’s innocent death covered the sin of his adulterous wife completely, and so Uriah died as a prophet—his life the silent testimony pointing forward to Jesus, who would die, so that His sinful bride would live. When bad things happen to you, beware of thinking that they are a judgment resulting from a specific sin. Without a specific Word from God that says,“This is your punishment,” it is dangerous to think God is punishing you for a particular thing you have or have not done. God’s punishment and wrath were poured out upon Jesus so that you would not die, but that you would live. When bad things happen, you are reminded to repent of your sin, but these bad things also point you to the death of Jesus on the cross, and are a reminder of God’s love for you in Christ Jesus. You are forgiven, now and forevermore, just as the two voiceless prophets preach. Amen. Rev. Tim Lorenz joyfully serves the saints of Bethlehem Lutheran Church at Greenleaf, Kansas. He has been married to his wife, Kristin, for 6 years and is the father of 2 children. He can be reached at pastorlorenz@gmail.com

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 19


(PA) @ University of South Dakota @ University of Tennessee @ University of Tulsa (OK) @ University of Pittsburgh and Other Pittsburgh Area Colleges @ University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee @ University of Wisconsin—Superior @ University of Wyoming @ Valparaiso University (IN) @ Vanderbilt University (TN) @ Wright State University (OH)

@ Air Force Academy (CO) @ Ball State University (IN) @ Boise State University (ID) @ Brock University (Ontario) @ California Polytechnic State University @ Carthage College (WI) @ Central Michigan University @ Chico State University (CA) @ Colorado State University @ Cornell College (IA)

Christ On Campus

Connected to Christ at College By Sarah Dooms

Y

ou’re on your way to college. It’s a time to experiment, try new things—to use a cliché, “find yourself.” Right? Maybe yes, but how does all of that fit into the life of a Christian? New lifestyles with differing values and beliefs will surround you. Do you doubt what you have always believed to be true? Do you rebel? Try something out before you’re confined by grown-up life? After all, you are out from under your parents’ thumb. God gives us freedom, but what does that mean? St. Paul tells us that “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23) or constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” You may feel overwhelmed by the choices you face. I know I felt that way.

HH II GG HH EE RR TT HH II NN GG SS __ __

I can most easily compare college life to living in a bubble. You think you’re out in the real world, but it’s simply a different one. Just as that colorful sheen exists on the outside of a bubble, that same shine can distort your life while at school. I will never dispute that living at college teaches you many valuable things. Inside and outside of the classroom, life is full of fun and different experiences. However, I have encountered many ups and downs. Without the solid support system of the family and friends who love me, and the receiving of God’s gifts at church each week, a stable and happy existence has turned out to more difficult than I had expected. Developing a new church home is essential. The faithful routine of attending church to hear God’s Word and promises is completely necessary. We are sinful creatures and college life often glorifies that. Hearing the Law and Gospel convicts us of our sin and grants us Christ’s forgiveness. While I admit, it’s difficult to wake up early on a Sunday morning, you will never regret doing so. I also encourage communication with those who are important to you and have your best interests at heart. I am by no means saying you must call

your mother or father every day, but the advice from a loved one who shares your faith and beliefs is irreplaceable. Whether it takes the form of a short phone call, a quick e-mail, or even a chat via Facebook, that connection with someone who has supported you your whole life will help keep you true to yourself amidst a collection of new friends and temptations. And don’t forget your campus pastor as a gift to help keep you grounded in God’s Word. Finally, never feel bad about taking your time in making an important decision. It’s a terrible feeling to think want something in the moment only to regret it later. There’s nothing wrong with being spontaneous or even impulsive at times, but in matters that involve your morals you should take extra precautions. The unhappy fact that many around you are participating in inappropriate behavior with their newfound freedom should not depress you or shake your awareness that it’s wrong. Do not indulge because you feel you’re alone. Trust God’s plan for you. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). College is often seen as a time to make mistakes and you will surely

make them, but thankfully we have forgiveness in Christ. Through His sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead we have the promise of everlasting salvation. Remain steadfast in your worship life, the study of His Word and the partaking of His Body and Blood. Accept guidance from the loved ones He has given you. He will sustain you. Sarah Dooms is a sophomore volleyball player at Valparaiso University and is studying Communication and Public Relations. Sunday mornings you can find her listening to Pastor Foy’s sermons at Prince of Peace Lutheran. Her e-mail address is sarah.dooms@valpo.edu

2020

Duluth @ University of Minnesota—Morris @ University of Minnesota—Twin Cities @ University of North Carolina—Greensboro @ University of North Dakota @ University of Northern Colorado @ University of Northern Iowa @ University of Oklahoma @ University of Pittsburgh


) @ Dickinson State University (ND) @ George Mason University @ Grand Valley State University and Calvin College (MI) @ Harvard University and Other Boston Area Colleges @ Indiana University @ Indiana State University @ Lake Superior State University (MI) @ Mississippi State University

By Rev. Philip Young

I

t happens quite frequently when people find out that I do college ministry. They comment with words similar to this: “That’s awesome! What a tremendous opportunity!” I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. But then comes the question, “How large is your group?” I tell them: “Three so far.” (We’ve been up to five and down to two.) The response? An uncomfortable “Oh.” For some reason, many people think that college ministry should be easy. They have in their minds our Lord’s words to Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), and they believe that the college campus is the ideal setting to fish for men. It actually is, but that doesn’t mean that the fish jump into the boat any more than they do in any other setting in the world. I’ve watched fellow pastors analyze LCMS campus ministry opportunities by looking at the size of the school. For example, the thinking is that since there are over 5,000 students at a particular school, surely we should be able to get our share of converts and have at least 50 (1 percent) in a college group. It doesn’t always work that way. In fact, not even all the LCMS students come to Lutheran student groups or attend church. Regarding Christ’s words about fishing for men, a wise pastor once taught me that fish don’t want to be caught. Peter and Andrew were fishermen, and they knew this truth. That’s why they cast a net. The fish that they sought on a daily basis were happy to swim away, but the net brought them in.

Now what is it about colleges, especially public and private secular institutions, that would make students want to be caught by the Holy Spirit and renounce their Old Adam? I could make the case that colleges are the hardest places to fish with their deep, dark depths of evolutionary theory, atheism, sexual perversion, false religions and communism. But too much of that talk could make you think that fishing for Christ is dependent on the fishermen. So often the “so-called” campus ministry experts say that you have to entice and lure students with free food and dynamic music and sports programs and exotic spring break destinations. Fish are smart! I’ve had the worm stripped clean from my hook tons of times. I’m happy to give out free pizza (as long as there is slice of pepperoni left for me), but pizza will not be the means for bringing in the catch for Christ. The net that God gives his Church is the Means of Grace—the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament. Recall what Jesus told his disciples after the resurrection: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and

of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:1920a). Our Lutheran Confessions say, “To obtain such faith [justifying, saving faith] God instituted the office of preaching, giving the gospel and the sacraments. Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when he wills, in those who hear the gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (Augsburg Confession V 1-3). Therefore, sound teaching of the Holy Scriptures and the Divine Service are to remain foremost in pastoral campus ministry efforts. From one semester to the next, I don’t know what kind of catch God will bring in. From the Word, though, I do know the character of fish, whether in schools or out. There is nothing that the Holy Spirit will use to gather them other than His appointed means. To all our campus ministry pastors, sponsor congregations, and students: Rejoice when even one is unwillingly caught in God’s net and hauled aboard! Rev. Philip Young is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and he serves as the pastoral advisor to the Lutheran Student Fellowship group at Vanderbilt University.

SS UU MM MM EE RR 22 00 11 22 __ 2121

@ North Carolina State University @ NW Oklahoma State University @ Pittsburg State University (KS) @ Rhode Island College and other RI Colleges @ Sam Houston State University (TX) @ San Francisco State University (CA) @ Slippery Rock State University (PA) @ South Dakota State University @ Stanford University (CA) @

Fish Don’t Want to be Caught

Texas State University (TX) @ University of Arizona @ University of California—Berkeley @ University of Colorado @ University of Connecticut—Avery Point and other CT Colleges @ University of Illinois @ University of Iowa @ University of Louisville @ University of Minnesota


(PA) @ University of South Dakota @ University of Tennessee @ University of Tulsa (OK) @ University of Pittsburgh and Other Pittsburgh Area Colleges @ University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee @ University of Wisconsin—Superior @ University of Wyoming @ Valparaiso University (IN) @ Vanderbilt University (TN) @ Wright State University (OH)

@ Air Force Academy (CO) @ Ball State University (IN) @ Boise State University (ID) @ Brock University (Ontario) @ California Polytechnic State University @ Carthage College (WI) @ Central Michigan University @ Chico State University (CA) @ Colorado State University @ Cornell College (IA)

Christ On Campus

A Fond Farewell from Pastor Marcus Zill

I

HH II GG HH EE RR TT HH II NN GG SS __ __

want to say thank you to all of you for your support throughout my years with Higher Things and especially during my time as the Christ on Campus Executive.

I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to have served Higher Things as the Christ on Campus Executive, and I am equally thankful for the opportunity to work with Rev. Bart Day and a fantastic team of campus ministry colleagues to put on UNWRAPPED, which we pray will be a tremendous conference for college students through the LCMS’ Office of National Mission. Please don’t misunderstand. It is not an easy thing for me to ponder the reality of no longer working for the organization that I helped found and dearly love. I encourage you to join me in continuing to support Higher Things wherever, and however, possible. I cannot begin to express my love and gratitude for all those who have, and continue, to work within this organization for the sake of the Gospel and young people, and who do so routinely above and beyond whatever else is their primary work and vocation. If you would like to thank me for my service to Higher Things, there is no better thing that

you can do than to simply take a young person to a conference! I am especially thankful to God to Higher Things for its support of campus ministry over these years, especially when the Synod had not been directly providing it. While I served the organization in many capacities over the years, I am especially humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to serve in a leadership role for the sake of campus ministry. It is my first love as a pastor. It always will be. Always. Please know that I remain as energized and committed to campus ministry now as I ever have been, and I would not be moving on from this post if I didn’t fully believe it was important for furthering campus ministry in the LCMS. We are at an important crossroads in our beloved Synod as it relates to campus ministry, and I believe it is time for those of us who give our blood, sweat, and tears to campus ministry (even where may have differences) to come together, work in tandem, and pull in the same direction wherever possible. I pray that UNWRAPPED serves as a healthy beginning for just that! While I can not speak for the Higher Things board of directors, I would imagine at some point in the near future that they will announce an interim executive to carry on the work of Christ on Campus while they sort things out. Please know that Higher Things is committed to supporting campus ministry and maintaining Christ on Campus. Finally, I beg all of you, to continue to support campus ministry wherever and however you can. Please continue to pray for all of our campus ministries,

but especially ULC in Minneapolis at this difficult and challenging time. May God yet lead about a reversal of this tragic situation not only for the sake of His precious saints at the University of Minnesota today, but also for the sake of the Gospel and its proclamation there in the future! And to my colleagues in campus ministry: Christ on Campus would be nothing were it not for you and the work you do with college students in your midst. Whether you serve a full time campus ministry or simply as a contact congregation, your support has been immeasurable. Preach the Word, love those young people entrusted to your care, give them Jesus and nothing else, defend the faith in the academic square, and share the Gospel with everyone who has ears to hear! You work tirelessly for the sake of the cause, often raising your own funds just to continue to even do so. You are warriors. All of you. I am honored to continue to serve college students among you, and alongside you, and I look forward to the many wonderful things that lay in store for campus ministry among us on the horizon. May God continue to bless the efforts of Higher Things and Christ on Campus, may He richly bless all the work being done for the sake of the Gospel on the campuses of our nation and beyond, and may He bless and guide all the efforts being undertaken throughout the Synod to increase support of campus ministry in the future! Rev. Marcus Zill is now assisting the LCMS in their campus ministry efforts directly through conferences like UNWRAPPED. He is also the campus pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church & Campus Center in Laramie, Wyoming.

2222

Duluth @ University of Minnesota—Morris @ University of Minnesota—Twin Cities @ University of North Carolina—Greensboro @ University of North Dakota @ University of Northern Colorado @ University of Northern Iowa @ University of Oklahoma @ University of Pittsburgh


) @ Dickinson State University (ND) @ George Mason University @ Grand Valley State University and Calvin College (MI) @ Harvard University and Other Boston Area Colleges @ Indiana University @ Indiana State University @ Lake Superior State University (MI) @ Mississippi State University

@ The campus ministry arm of Higher Things @ Pastors and laity interested in confessional Lutheran campus ministry @ A growing and developing network of 113 campus ministry chapters @ A great source for campus ministry resources @ Discussion forums for college students and campus ministry workers @ College retreats & service opportunities

National LCMS Campus Ministry Conference: There will not be a 2012 summer Christ on Campus Conference in order to support attendance at the National LCMS Campus Ministry Conference to be held at St. Louis University, 3-5 January 2013.

Learn More About Our Chapters and Spring Retreats: http:// higherthings.org/campus

Contact: Rev. Ian Pacey, Christ on Campus Interim Executive revpacey@higherthings.org

Rev. Marcus T. Zill

, our Christ on Campus executive and a founding member of Higher Things, has indicated to our Board of Directors that he would like to devote his time and energy toward steering the upcoming UNWRAPPED-2013 National LCMS Campus Ministry Conference in January (http:// unwrapped2013.org). This conference is an integral part of the ongoing efforts of the Synod to increase support of campus ministry through the newly formed Office of National Mission. We believe this to be a positive step in campus ministry and are delighted that our friend Marcus will play a significant role in planning this important conference. On behalf of Higher Things’ Board of Directors and its staff, I thank Marcus for his twelve years of zeal and leadership in bringing Higher Things to the place where it is today and also for his vision for Christ on Campus. We thank God for his labors among us and wish him our Lord’s richest and abundant blessing in his work with our Synod.

Rev. David Kind has stepped down from his position on the Board of Directors of Higher Things and as its Vice-President. The ongoing controversy involving his congregation, University Lutheran Chapel-Minneapolis, requires his undivided attention and energy at this time. David has served Higher Things in a number of capacities as director, Vice-President, conference speaker and chaplain, bringing a deep knowledge of doctrine and practice, a love for the liturgy, a zeal for campus and youth ministry, not to mention remarkable standards of grooming. We will miss both him and his hair very much. I thank David for his time and the use of his considerable talents that have contributed much toward Higher Things growth and influence. We wish him well and pray our Lord’s richest blessing upon him and his congregation. Rev. William M. Cwirla, President Higher Things

SS UU MM MM EE RR 22 00 11 22 __ 23 23

@ North Carolina State University @ NW Oklahoma State University @ Pittsburg State University (KS) @ Rhode Island College and other RI Colleges @ Sam Houston State University (TX) @ San Francisco State University (CA) @ Slippery Rock State University (PA) @ South Dakota State University @ Stanford University (CA) @

Christ On Campus Is:

Texas State University (TX) @ University of Arizona @ University of California—Berkeley @ University of Colorado @ University of Connecticut—Avery Point and other CT Colleges @ University of Illinois @ University of Iowa @ University of Louisville @ University of Minnesota


Jesus

Knowing

By Magdalena Teske

Until I started college, I went with my family

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 24

to the Arkansas State Fair every year, if the weather allowed. One time, when I was about 13 or 14, my sister and I had gone on the Tilt-A-Whirl with my father and were rushing across the fair to meet the rest of my family. Amidst all the noise and voices of vendors, excited children and people on scary rides, one man who was advertising his church from behind a booth called after us,“What have you done for Jesus this week?�


My father, being a good Lutheran, turned around and said, “What’s more important is what Jesus did for me.” The man, probably surprised to have someone respond to him at all, said, “That’s true, Sir, but what have you done for Jesus this week?” What followed was a brief, but interesting exchange in which the other man repeated his question and my father repeated his answer. When my father finally mentioned that he was a pastor, the other man seemed satisfied that my father was, in fact, a Christian. His next question was, “What about your daughters? Do they know Jesus?” My father said that we did, and the man gave us free “Smile, Jesus Loves You” pencils and we left, glad to hold to a faith in which we understand that Jesus loves us and has saved us because of His grace, not because of our works. At the time, I found it surprising that the man from the “What Have You Done for Jesus?” church needed to ask if my sister and I “knew” Jesus. I was baptized as an infant into the Lutheran faith, and the idea of not “knowing” Jesus, when my family was a Christian family, was unthinkable to me. Since then, there have been many times when I have encountered the unbiblical view that faith must come to a person at some specific point of decision, and that they cannot already have it, especially by infant baptism. I specifically remember one incident in which I suddenly realized fairly late in a discussion that, while the people I was talking with agreed with many of the points I was making, we meant different things when we used the word “saved.” When I said saved, I meant saved, and when they said “saved”, they meant “having had a specific conversion experience at a precise point in one’s life.” For this reason, I believe I should deny being a “born-again Christian.” When people talk about being born again, they usually mean that they had some sudden spiritual awakening and decided that they were a Christian. They may believe that in order to be a Christian, people must have a personal experience in their lives in which they officially became a Christian and God shows His presence in their lives. Oh, wait. That sounds familiar. That actually has happened to me. But I don’t call it a “conversion experience.” I call it “Baptism.” So I guess I am a bornagain Christian after all. (Of course, in adults, the Spirit works through His Word to bring a person to faith and the baptismal font, but this, too, is still only God’s work.) I find that there is a common objection to the second birth that I and many other saved Christians have had. You see, I was baptized when I was one month old. How could I have faith when I was one month old? How could I know Jesus when I was a baby? No, I didn’t perfectly understand God and the Bible when I was baptized as an infant. Even now, I don’t understand absolutely everything about God and the Bible, because I am a sinner as well as a saint. But that doesn’t matter, because I am saved by grace through faith, which was given to me by grace. Faith is a gift. My salvation does not come through my own knowledge and understanding, and my salvation is not lost through a lack of knowledge and understanding. It is good to know a lot about theology, but that doesn’t mean that a baby or young child who has not had time to accumulate that knowledge doesn’t have real faith. So I am a born-again Christian, and I do know Jesus. That is not because I sought out Jesus Christ. It is not because I went to the store and bought myself some Christianity. I know Him because He came to me and introduced Himself and told me that He was my savior, and He did this so long ago that I can’t remember a time when I didn’t “know” Jesus. Magdalena Teske is a senior at Birmingham-Southern College and attends Hope Lutheran Church in Birmingham, Alabama. She can be reached at magdalenateske@yahoo.com.

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 25


Wind The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

Matthew The Pearl of13:45-46 Great Price

Matthew 13:45-46 gain, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

A

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

28

A merchant-man in search of pearls found one pearl of great price, And only all his worldly wealth in payment would suffice To place that pearl into his hand and make that pearl his own: So did the Lord of all give all to bring His fair Bride home. The Church is called the Bride of Christ for He would not consent To let poor sinners live in shame and hopelessly lament; Instead He washed them in the flood that flowed from His pierced side, Transforming wretched sinners to His white-robed, radiant Bride.

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 26

This Groom has laid a wedding feast within His banquet hall To welcome home forgiven saints, beloved one and all; May we so trust His promises in this world’s final strife That through His gates of pearl we pass to everlasting life.

Reprinted from To You It Has Been Given: The Parables of Jesus in Picture and Verse, © 2011 Kathryn Ann Hill. About the Author: Kathryn Hill is a copy editor and church secretary who has published two books of poems. Her recent collection of parable poems is available from lulu.com. You can email her at hillkathrynann@gmail.com

Gentle breeze or stormy wind, you swirl and blow as God commands. Branches sway and dust spins ‘round, and tumbleweeds roll through the lands. Every gust has height and weight, so fashioned by God’s mighty hands. From his storehouse he brings in a perfect breeze to shape the sands. Awesome is the power of God when even winds obey His plans. MaryAnn Sundby Littleton, Colorado

Reference Texts: Job 28:25 When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, Psalm 135:7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Mark 4:41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


Now you can recommend where Thrivent Financial gives back with Thrivent ChoiceÂŽ.

Thrivent Choice! If you are a member of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, you have an easy way to help support what matters most to you. Through Thrivent Choice (SM), a charitable grant program, you can help choose where Thrivent Financial distributes some of its charitable funds each year. Eligible benefit members are designated Choice Dollars. By directing Choice Dollars, they can request funding for thousands of Lutheran organizations nationwide, including Higher Things! Potential designated Choice Dollars amounts that can be directed range from $25 to $500 for each eligible member. If you are eligible to direct Choice Dollars, you can direct them right now. Learn more and designate your dollars at: http://thrivent.com/thriventchoice.

Spill it! Higher Things Magazine

knows there are some of you out there who either have wonderful topic ideas or great articles in the making. We would love to hear from you! We would especially like to extend an invitation to our teen readers who would like to share a piece of prose or poetry. Feel free to visit our website at www.higherthings.org/ magazine/writers.html for writing guidelines. If you are interested in submitting some of your material or if you have any questions, please e-mail us at submissions@higherthings.org. S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 27


Catechism

When You Pray, Say

I

t’s a tender invitation to pray as a member of the family. Jesus invites you to address His Father as your Father and to say “Our Father,” and to come as a dear, little child coming to his or her dear Father in heaven.

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 28

The pious Jews of Jesus’ day would not have been so familiar and forthright in their prayers. They rarely, if ever, addressed God as Father. Instead, they would say, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God and God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the great, mighty, and most revered One, the most high God, the Master of all things....” But “Our Father?” Not a chance! One reason for their reluctance was that God rarely referred to Himself as “Father” in the Old Testament.“Father” had overtones of “Father Baal” and the whole idolatry of Baalism. They didn’t want to go anywhere near that sort of thing. Another reason was that it seemed just a bit too familiar, which today would be like coming up to the President of the United States and addressing him by his first name. Still the psalmist could pray,“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him (Psalm 103:13). The prophet Isaiah could say,“Yet, O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand.” (Isaiah 64:8). And Jesus, with the same tenderness and compassion, teaches His disciples,“When you pray, say ‘Our Father.’” Prayer is tender, familiar speech. It’s like a little child coming to his or her dear father and saying, “Daddy, let’s talk about stuff.” The apostle Paul reminds us that we have received the Spirit of adoption in our Baptism, and it’s by that Spirit that we cry “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). That’s why

we pray the Our Father in the rite of Holy Baptism with the pastor’s hand laid on the head of the person being baptized. In Baptism you are made a member of God’s family. You may now say “Our Father” along with us and with our big brother Jesus. Don’t forget the “our”! Jesus didn’t say “My Father” but “Our Father.” Even when we pray by ourselves in secret, we never pray alone. We pray for and with all baptized believers everywhere. And Jesus prays along with us as our elder Brother. I heard a great image of prayer from my pastor on vicarage who was a wise man of prayer. He pictured prayer like a long distance phone call (though it actually isn’t “long distance” since God is always very near to us). The Father is in His comfortable easy chair watching the game (you may pick whatever team you wish), and the phone rings in the next room. Jesus picks up the phone and answers it. He brings the phone to the Father and says,“You have to take this call. It’s one of the family.” The words “Our Father” invite us to bother our Father in heaven with our prayers, as children coming to their dear Father in heaven. This gives us confidence and even boldness. Jesus once compared the life of prayer to a pesky widow who kept coming to a dishonest judge who didn’t want to be bothered with her (Luke 18:1-8). Or to a man who had the audacity to bang on his neighbor’s door at midnight to borrow some bread for out of town guests (Luke 11:5-10). How much more is our loving Father in heaven willing to hear the prayers of His children?

Prayer is an exercise of faith. You can’t pray without faith. Jesus dares us to be big and bold with our prayers and to come the way children come trustingly to a father who loves and cares for us and to talk about anything, trusting that He listens to us and will act on our prayers in the best interests of our salvation. Sadly, for some people the image of a “Father in heaven” is not a comforting or inviting picture. They have been neglected, harmed or mistreated by their fathers on earth. Some have been hurt deeply. It’s understandable when someone says, “I can’t pray to a Father in heaven because I can’t trust my father on earth.” Our fathers on earth are sinners; some are terribly broken by sin and the sins of fathers have trickled down for three and four generations— alcoholism, abuse, adultery—to name but three of the ways. Here we must view our Father in heaven, not through our experience with our fathers, but through the cross of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One who reconciled the world to His Father, who became our sin, who trumps every evil in this world with the good of His suffering, death, and resurrection. And it is this same Jesus, who shed His blood to make you a member of God’s family, in whom you were baptized and born as a child of God, who says to you, “No matter what your father on earth was like, dear child of God, you have nothing to fear of your Father in heaven. I am always with you, praying with you, praying for you. When you pray, be bold and confident and say, ‘Our Father.’” Rev. William M. Cwirla is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, California, and President of Higher Things. He can be reached at wcwirla@gmail.com.

The Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt Van Rijn, Ca. 1668-69. Leningrad, The Hermitage.

Rev. William M. Cwirla


“Our Father”

S U M M E R 2 0 1 2 _ 29


Holy Jesus, Holy You! A Higher Things Bible Study • Summer 2012

Introduction: The “Christian Life” is more than simply about how we live and how much we do or don’t sin as Christians. Sanctification, our being made holy, isn’t something we do on our own by trying hard to avoid sins. Sanctification is Christ living in us and through us.

1

What do you think of when you hear the words “sanctification” or “Christian life?” Who is responsible for our salvation? Who is responsible for our sanctification/Christian life?

2

Some people think that “being holy” is based on how much we sin or don’t sin. What does St. Paul say about our sanctification in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31? How is this different from most people’s views on what sanctification is?

3

When we’ve sinned, we recognize that as God’s children we shouldn’t live like that or do those things. What is the answer for someone whose conscience is troubled by what they’ve done? See Isaiah 53:5-6, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13.

4 H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 30

What does someone need to hear who is not troubled by their sins but whose sin is found especially in their self-righteous judgment of others? See John 15:4-8.

5

Despair and self-righteousness are two results of trying to live a holy life apart from Christ. What about those who think they can just sin because they’ll be forgiven anyway? For the answer, read romans 6:1-4.

6

What is the error in each of the above three attitudes toward the Christian life (despair, self-righteousness, and libertinism [doing whatever you want])?

7

Many people who claim to be Christians think that their holiness and Christian life come from keeping the law and the commandments. But these just show us that we’re sinners. How does St. Paul address this in Galatians 2:20-21?

8

Read the Catechism’s Fourth Question on Baptism: What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the old adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. What do we learn is the center of our life as Christians?

9

Since Christ is the center of our Christian life, what should we do when our sins trouble us and we seem to be failing in our sanctification?

10

How might we address the arguments of friends who insist the Christian life is our responsibility and our duty?

11

Sing or pray lSb #693 to close the Bible Study.

To access the Leader’s Gude for this study, as well as Bible studies for articles in this and previous issues as a part of an HTOnline subscription, point your browser to: http://higherthings.org/magazine/biblestudies.html.


Subscribe to: Single or Gift Subscriptions Yes! I want to subscribe to HIGHER THINGS MAGAZINE. � � � �

Please renew my current subscription � Visa � MasterCard � Discover CCI # _______ (3 digit code on back of card) $18 one year* Individual Subscription Card #___________________________________________ Exp. Date _______ Gift Subscription. Name on Card_____________________________________________________ � Giver � Recipient Signature______________________________________________________ � Check Enclosed *Canadian orders add 20%. Overseas orders add 50%.

Billing Address: (please print or type clearly) Name _________________________________________________________________________________ Address_______________________________________________________________________________ City _________________________________________________State _____ Zip ____________________ E-mail _________________________________________________ Phone _________________________ Shipping Address: (if different from Billing Address) Name _________________________________________________________________________________ Address________________________________________________________________________________ City _________________________________________________State _____ Zip _____________________ E-mail _________________________________________________ Phone __________________________ � Male � Female Birth Date__________ Mail to: Higher Things, Inc., PO Box 156, Sheridan, WY 82801.

Group Subscriptions

Yes! I want to subscribe my group to HIGHER THINGS MAGAZINE. Congregations/groups/individuals that order six or more subscriptions are eligible for additional savings. To subscribe, please fill out the following form and attach the list of names and addresses of those to receive Higher Things. Please note that group subscriptions may be mailed either to one location (e.g. the church), or to individual names and addresses. Number of Subscribers ______________________ � Please renew my group’s current subscription � $15.00 per subscriber for one year* Subscribe, renew, and pay online at www.higherthings.org

Now Available! Higher Things Online Edition

Amount Enclosed __________________________ � Check Enclosed *Canadian orders add 20%. Overseas orders add 50%. Sorry, credit cards are not accepted for group subscriptions.

Billing Address: (please print or type clearly) Name of Congregation or Group____________________________________________________________ Phone __________________________________ E-mail _________________________________________ Contact Person __________________________________________________________________________ Address________________________________________________________________________________ City _________________________________________________State _____ Zip _____________________ Shipping Address: (please print or type clearly) or � same as above Name of Congregation or Group____________________________________________________________ S S Phone __________________________________ E-mail _________________________________________ U U F Contact Person __________________________________________________________________________ MAM MM Address________________________________________________________________________________ EL E RL R City _________________________________________________State _____ Zip ____________________ 22 2 � Please ship all magazines to the address checked above or 00 0 � Please ship magazines to individual addresses (list enclosed) 11 1 02 2 Mail to: Higher Things, Inc., PO Box 156, Sheridan, WY 82801. ____ For more information e-mail Subscriptions@higherthings.org or call 1-888-448-2359.

3131 31


Non-Profit Org. U.S. POSTAGE PAID Arlington, TX Permit # 1437

PO Box 156, Sheridan, WY 82801

FROM

Jesus answered and said to [Nicodemus], “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)

Higher Things Summer Conferences 2013 Join us as we explore the richness of the Gospel in Christ’s words at the 2013 higher things summer conferences.

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 32

@ Dates and locations to be announced. @ Please stay tuned for updates! @ Registration will begin November 1, 2012.

See you next summer!


CHURCH IS BORING A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide 1. Read Matthew 28:19-20. When, during the worship service, are these words spoken? What is the purpose of “invoking” God by name? What does Jesus promise to those so gathered in His name? These words “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” are the invocation. The Divine Service begins in God’s name, calling upon Him to keep His promise to really be with us in church, just as He was when you were first baptized in this same name! Jesus promised to be with us always, to the very end of the age. So if two or more are gathered together by the Holy Ghost in God’s name, Christ is actually there! How can a worship service where the Savior is really present with us ever be considered boring? 2. When is this name of God put to use a second time? See Matthew 18:18 and John 20:22-23. What special task does God give to His church on earth, here? Which “office” in the church is given these keys of forgiveness? Who is it that is actually doing this amazing, complete forgiveness of all your sins? God’s name is utilized once again to absolve you of your sins. Jesus bestows this task to the church on earth to forgive the sins of those who repent, but to stick sins to those who stubbornly refuse to repent. Those who are called Ministers of Christ are given this responsibility to deal with us by Christ’s divine command, as they either exclude manifest sinners from participation in the congregation, or absolve those who repent of their sins. But the Pastor is the “voice box” of Christ, forgiving not with his own words, but with the words of Jesus Himself. Jesus is the One Who is actually there, absolving you! 3. Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. What “word” is your Pastor given to proclaim to you in church? What is he specifically charged to preach to you? Are these just words about things Jesus once did long ago, or are they something much more? Your Pastor is called by God to proclaim the word of the cross to you. He is given to preach “Christ crucified.” Notice, it doesn’t say he preaches “about” Jesus. He preaches Jesus! This is why St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Ghost, describes this proclamation as the Power of God and the Wisdom of God. For in the preaching of the Gospel, Jesus comes from the powerful right hand of God into your ear, and


He is the very Wisdom of God for your heart and mind! 4. Read 1 Corinthians 11:24-27. When Jesus institutes the Lord‘s Supper, what does He say about the bread? …about the cup? Are Jesus’ actual body and blood really present in Holy Communion? Are the body and blood present even for those who don’t believe as they ought? How serious is the Sacrament of the Altar, if Jesus is bodily present with us? Christ says “This is My Body” and “This Cup is the New Testament in My Blood.” This clearly indicates that Jesus is really present with His actual body, and true blood--the very same ones that were given and shed for your forgiveness on the cross of Calvary. This is not something we cause to be there by our faith, for Jesus‘ body and blood are even present for those unbelievers or false believers who eat and drink unworthily; for they are guilty of sinning against Jesus’ own body and blood. This is very serious business indeed! 5. Read Numbers 6:22-27. What is this concluding portion of the Divine Service called? What is God actually doing for His people as He blesses them in this manner? This is the “benediction” or “good words” which are spoken upon the congregation by the pastor as God‘s blessing to them. But what God is actually doing here is rather amazing! The LORD (in all caps means “Yahweh” which is God‘s name, and means “I AM”) is actually placing His name upon the people, to claim them as His own. Much like you get your Dad’s last name, or a wife takes her husband’s last name, so you receive God’s Name to indicate that you belong in His family. This is God’s answer to the invocation at the beginning of worship which calls on God’s Name. God answers and actually bestows His name to you in the Benediction! 6. Read Exodus 3:4-6 and Matthew 28:9-10. How did believers in Bible times react to the very presence of God in their midst? So what ought your attitude be toward your God Who is present with you in His divine service on Sunday? There was both respect and even fear when God manifested Himself before men on earth. They “worshipped” Him, which means they humbled themselves in their unworthiness before the presence of their all-worthy God and Lord. Since the Triune God is really there, present with us in church, we ought likewise, to be reverent in our worship, in awe that God is really there with us! 7. See Luke 10:38-42. Who was present at Mary and Martha’s home? Which sister was focused on Christ’s presence there, and what blessings He could offer? Which sister was distracted by her own worries and concerns about what *she* was doing? What important lesson can we learn about the focus of the Divine Service on Sunday morning? Mary focused on the “one thing needful,” namely, the blessed words of the Lord Jesus. Her sister Martha, on the other hand, was missing out on what God was doing for her, instead, focusing upon what she thought she should do for the Lord. We do well to remember that Lutheran worship is indeed a Divine Service, in which our divine God is quite busy, in word and action, blessing us in His word proclaimed, and in His sacraments administered and received for our forgiveness, life and salvation!


8. Close with the following prayer. Merciful and everlasting God the Father, Who did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us that He might bear our sins on the cross, grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in our Savior that we may receive remission of sins and redemption from everlasting death; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

www.higherthings.org


CHURCH IS BORING A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. Read Matthew 28:19-20. When, during the worship service, are these words spoken? What is the purpose of “invoking” God by name? What does Jesus promise to those so gathered in His name?

2. When is this name of God put to use a second time? See Matthew 18:18 and John 20:22-23. What special task does God give to His church on earth, here? Which “office” in the church is given these keys of forgiveness? Who is it that is actually doing this amazing, complete forgiveness of all your sins?

3. Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. What “word” is your Pastor given to proclaim to you in church? What is he specifically charged to preach to you? Are these just words about things Jesus once did long ago, or are they something much more?

4. Read 1 Corinthians 11:24-27. When Jesus institutes the Lord‘s Supper, what does He say about the bread? …about the cup? Are Jesus’ actual body and blood really present in Holy Communion? Are the body and blood present even for those who don’t believe as they ought? How serious is the Sacrament of the Altar, if Jesus is bodily present with us?


5. Read Numbers 6:22-27. What is this concluding portion of the Divine Service called? What is God actually doing for His people as He blesses them in this manner?

6. Read Exodus 3:4-6 and Matthew 28:9-10. How did believers in Bible times react to the very presence of God in their midst? So what ought your attitude be toward your God Who is present with you in His divine service on Sunday?

7. See Luke 10:38-42. Who was present at Mary and Martha’s home? Which sister was focused on Christ’s presence there, and what blessings He could offer? Which sister was distracted by her own worries and concerns about what *she* was doing? What important lesson can we learn about the focus of the Divine Service on Sunday morning?

8. Close with the following prayer. Merciful and everlasting God the Father, Who did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us that He might bear our sins on the cross, grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in our Savior that we may receive remission of sins and redemption from everlasting death; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

www.higherthings.org


CONNECTED TO CHRIST AT COLLEGE A HIGHER THINGS MAGAZINE BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide Introduction: In her article, Sarah Dooms addresses challenges that going away to college can bring, and offers suggestions on navigating some of those challenges as a Lutheran Christian. To get started, the leader may wish to discuss some of the challenges, temptations, and fears that those headed to college may be facing. What comfort does Jeremiah 29:11 offer to those preparing for college? Jeremiah’s words remind us that our lives have a direction as they are guided by the Lord. Whenever we feel like we are wandering aimlessly, we can turn to the Lord, our heavenly Father, in prayer and ask him as dear children ask their dear father, for help. 1. One of the temptations of Christian college students is to think that because they are free through the blood of Christ, that means that they can do anything they want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. How do Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 10:23 address this? Sin is not permissible, nor is it beneficial. Nothing that is contrary to God’s will is permissible. But there are some things which are not contrary to God’s will that still are not that beneficial to us. As college students, there are friends to choose, there are classes to take, there are many situations which, in and of themselves, are not sinful. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for you, or good for your spiritual life. We do well to avoid situations or choosing friends that will make it difficult, if not impossible, to avoid sin. 2. What is the difference between being free from sin and free to sin? For clarification, read Romans 6:1-13. In Christ, through baptism, we have died to sin. We have been freed from the condemnation and punishment our sins deserve. This does not mean, however, that we are free to sin. Freedom from sin means that we are now free to live godly lives “here in time and there in eternity.” Paul reminds us of this when he says, “Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? By no means!” 3. According to the author, why is it so essential to establish a church home in your new environment as a college student? Review the 3rd Commandment and its explanation. Also, read John 15:1-5.


Though our surroundings change when we go to college, our basic needs do not. We still need to eat. We still need to be nourished. The same is true for our souls. We are still sinners, still in need of the mirror of God’s Law and the healing medicine of His Gospel. If anything, because of the increased temptation to “go our own way” we need to remain anchored in Christ and His Word. That is why the Lord commands us to “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” That is also why the Lord tells us to abide in Him, like branches in a vine. Without Him we can do nothing. 4. Humans are relational beings. The article illustrates this when it emphasizes the need to be connected to other people. We are also easily turned in on ourselves because of our sinful nature. While there is certainly a time for solitude, how can staying connected to our family members and our fellow believers help us overcome some of the challenges of college life? Answers will vary. Because of our tendency to turn inward on ourselves, especially when we are feeling down or depressed, it is very important to surround ourselves with trustworthy friends, and to keep in contact with our family. 5. In holy Baptism we have been rescued from slavery to sin and made children of God. Martin Luther encourages Christians to remind themselves of this fact, especially when we are confronted with the guilt of our sins. How does our baptismal identity also help us when we are tempted to abandon our moral principles? See, for example, Ephesians 5:1-21 (If there is time, read all the verses.). In Baptism, we have been set free from sin. That means we are no longer slaves and servants of the devil. We are now children of God. A slave must obey his master. Since we are no longer servants of the devil, we need not obey his commands any more. It is helpful to think of ourselves as now “slaves to righteousness.” We have a new and gracious master, Jesus Christ. We have a heavenly Father, and we are children of God. St. Paul reminds us of this in his Epistle to the Ephesians, and gives helpful instruction on avoiding the pitfalls of life in the world. 6. In the last paragraph of the article, the author says that, in addition to being steadfast in your worship life, to “accept guidance from the loved ones He has given you.” Why is it sometimes hard to listen to the advice of others? After reading the following verses from Proverbs, discuss the people God has placed in your life who might be good sources of wisdom. Proverbs 12:15; 13:10; 19:20. Also, Ecclesiastes 4:13. Again, answers will vary. The reason it is so hard to listen to others sometimes is that we are sinners. We think we have all the answers. We cannot submit to others, or think that they have something wiser or better to offer us. We should repent of our pride and self-congratulatory attitude, and recognize that we do not always know what is best. A survey of the writings of Solomon shows how foolish it is to cast the advice of others away, and how wise one is who listens. There are many that could be mentioned as good sources of wisdom: parents, pastors, older brothers or sisters, respected professors, etc.


CONNECTED TO CHRIST AT COLLEGE A HIGHER THINGS MAGAZINE BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. One of the temptations of Christian college students is to think that because they are free through the blood of Christ, that means that they can do anything they want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. How do Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 10:23 address this?

2. What is the difference between being free from sin and free to sin? For clarification, read Romans 6:1-13.

3. According to the author, why is it so essential to establish a church home in your new environment as a college student? Review the 3rd Commandment and its explanation. Also, read John 15:1-5.

4. Humans are relational beings. The article illustrates this when it emphasizes the need to be connected to other people. We are also easily turned in on ourselves because of our sinful nature. While there is certainly a time for solitude, how can staying connected to our family members


and our fellow believers help us overcome some of the challenges of college life?

5. In holy Baptism we have been rescued from slavery to sin and made children of God. Martin Luther encourages Christians to remind themselves of this fact, especially when we are confronted with the guilt of our sins. How does our baptismal identity also help us when we are tempted to abandon our moral principles? See, for example, Ephesians 5:1-21 (If there is time, read all the verses.).

6. In the last paragraph of the article, the author says that, in addition to being steadfast in your worship life, to “accept guidance from the loved ones He has given you.� Why is it sometimes hard to listen to the advice of others? After reading the following verses from Proverbs, discuss the people God has placed in your life who might be good sources of wisdom. Proverbs 12:15; 13:10; 19:20. Also, Ecclesiastes 4:13.

www.higherthings.org


THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide 1. Dr. Helmkamp affirms the 6 day creation. Read Genesis 1:1-31. How is each day of creation described here? Are these normal, 24-hour days? How would Christians answer the false claim that each of these days is “like a 1000 years” as in 2 Peter 3:8? Each of the 6 days of creation is described as having an “evening” and a “morning.” This clearly indicates these are the normal, 24-hour days we experience today. To our God, Who is not bound by the constraints of time as we are, each day may be no different to Him than 1000 years. But they remain regular, 24-hour days, and God created everything in the universe in 6 of these normal days. This is not too astounding to us. If anything, we might wonder what took the Almighty Lord so long! 2. Dr. Helmkamp argues for an “old-looking” creation. See Genesis 1:26-27 & 2:6-7, 21-23. Did God create Adam and Eve as infants? How old did they appear? Yet how old were they? How mature did the plants and animals of paradise appear? Is it any problem for God to create a very ancient-looking universe? Adam and Eve were created, not as babies, but as a full-grown adult man and woman, respectively. Yet they were only 1 day old at the time! The Garden of Eden likewise had full-grown plants and animals it in. In fact, the Lord created the entire universe which had the appearance of having been there for years and years. But it is no problem for the God Who created time to make a universe that appeared quite aged. 3. Dr. Helmkamp discusses the origin of “death.” Read Romans 5:12-21. Did mankind evolve from other species after many generations of death? How did death first come into the world? What was the result of death entering creation? Why was an “anti-type” of Adam needed in this world? Mankind did not come about from genetic mutations after millions of generations of death. Man came first, and death came afterwards. Through Adam’s fall in the Garden, sin and death entered the world. They spread to all Adam’s descendents, so that death reigned over all us sinners. But in Christ Jesus, the anti-type of this first Adam, the gift by grace abounded to many as Christ’s Own righteous obedience, by which you are now justified! This results in life bestowed to all men from the cross, which you have received by the word of Jesus’ love proclaimed to you, and the forgiveness of His sacraments. 4. Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. How is the problem of your inherited death dealt with? Who took your death upon Himself, in your place? What did He do to abolish your enemy--death? Once death was done away with, what did He do for your justification and life?


The inherited sinfulness from Adam has caused us to become what he became--sinners. You sin in thought, word and deed, and deserve the wages of that sin--death! But Jesus took your death upon Himself at the Cross. However, death did not defeat the Christ. On the contrary, by your Savior’s death, He has destroyed death forevermore. It is abolished for you! To put an exclamation point on this victory, Jesus raised Himself to life again for your justification, the “first fruits” of all who are raised in Him. 5. Dr. Helmkamp warns us against a divided theology. Read Mark 3:22-30. Is it consistent to believe some parts of the bible, like the Gospel message, but to reject other parts, like creation? What becomes of the Gospel message if it becomes interwoven with the false premises of evolution? Christendom is a kingdom, and a kingdom divided cannot stand. So to be consistent, one who believes the Gospel of Jesus must also hold to the teaching of creation. If not, then one would no longer believe that death comes from Adam’s sin, or that Jesus needed to be the “Second Adam” to fix the problem of sin and death, once and for all at the cross. If one believes death is a good thing, part of the process by which man has evolved, one would no longer need a Savior from death. 6. Read John 1:1-3, 14-15, 26-29. Who is the “Word” by which God the Father created the universe? What else does this “Word” do within the creation He made? For what purpose does He come down from heaven into this created world? How is it important, therefore, to believe in both creation and the Gospel? Jesus is the very Word of creation which boomed, “Let there be light!” Nothing was created apart from Jesus. Yet Jesus chose to come down into creation to “tabernacle” among us, God in the flesh! Jesus did this so that He could become the sacrificial “Lamb of God” for the purpose of taking away the sins of the world into His Own body on the tree of the cross. So, one cannot have “Savior Jesus” without also having “Creator Jesus.” 7. This entire creation/evolution debate seems overwhelming at times. See Luke 1:37 and Matthew 19:26. How do you cope with trying to understand all the arguments that are used on both sides of this debate? On what can you rely when you find that you cannot completely fathom how God could create this complex universe so quickly? In all honesty, there are times when your mind simply swims with all the “facts” and “premises” in this debate. But don‘t let it bother you too much. You have a God for whom nothing is impossible. Jesus Himself says that with God, all things are possible! So you may simply trust in your all-knowing, allpowerful Lord, not only for the miracle of His creation of all things, but also for the miracle of sending His only-begotten Son Jesus into this world to save you! 8. Close with the following prayer. O God, our Maker and Redeemer, Who wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature, grant that we may ever be alive in Him Who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. Dr. Helmkamp affirms the 6 day creation. Read Genesis 1:1-31. How is each day of creation described here? Are these normal, 24-hour days? How would Christians answer the false claim that each of these days is “like a 1000 years” as in 2 Peter 3:8?

2. Dr. Helmkamp argues for an “old-looking” creation. See Genesis 1:26-27 & 2:6-7, 21-23. Did God create Adam and Eve as infants? How old did they appear? Yet how old were they? How mature did the plants and animals of paradise appear? Is it any problem for God to create a very ancient-looking universe?

3. Dr. Helmkamp discusses the origin of “death.” Read Romans 5:12-21. Did mankind evolve from other species after many generations of death? How did death first come into the world? What was the result of death entering creation? Why was an “anti-type” of Adam needed in this world?

4. Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. How is the problem of your inherited death dealt with? Who took your death upon Himself, in your place? What did He do to abolish your enemy--death? Once death was done away with, what did He do for your justification and life?


5. Dr. Helmkamp warns us against a divided theology. Read Mark 3:22-30. Is it consistent to believe some parts of the bible, like the Gospel message, but to reject other parts, like creation? What becomes of the Gospel message if it becomes interwoven with the false premises of evolution?

6. Read John 1:1-3, 14-15, 26-29. Who is the “Word” by which God the Father created the universe? What else does this “Word” do within the creation He made? For what purpose does He come down from heaven into this created world? How is it important, therefore, to believe in both creation and the Gospel?

7. This entire creation/evolution debate seems overwhelming at times. See Luke 1:37 and Matthew 19:26. How do you cope with trying to understand all the arguments that are used on both sides of this debate? On what can you rely when you find that you cannot completely fathom how God could create this complex universe so quickly?

8. Close with the following prayer. O God, our Maker and Redeemer, Who wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature, grant that we may ever be alive in Him Who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

www.higherthings.org


LUTHERANS ON FACEBOOK HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide 1. Is Facebook a good or a bad thing? Read 1 Corinthians 8:1:7-13. Was eating food that had been offered first to idols necessarily sinful? Who could eat such food without any problems? Who couldn‘t? So how should we approach Facebook in a similar manner? Like eating food offered to idols, Facebook is in the category of “adiaphora” which are those things neither commanded nor forbidden by God. Such things may be helpful for some, and hurtful for others. So, knowing that many temptations may abound in such a social medium as Facebook, Christians need to proceed with the utmost caution, so as not to offend others, nor become offensive to others! 2. How can Facebook become an idol? See Exodus 20:3-4. What does it mean to have a god? How does a social medium like Facebook become so time-consuming and such a priority that it becomes almost god-like in your life? Whenever someone places Facebook interactions before God, he breaks the first commandment. For a god is that which you fear, love and trust above all things. If, instead of morning and evening prayers or devotions, you just have to check your Facebook status updates or messages, you are making Facebook a god. Repent, that the LORD return you to Himself as your Savior from such sins! 3. Read Exodus 20:7. Is Facebook a place where God’s name is used in not-so-holy ways? How can one guard against wrong use of God‘s name there, and instead make good use of it? God‘s name is taken in vain often on Facebook. First, you can avoid all forms of breaking this commandment yourself, not even responding with “Gosh” or “Jeez” or “O my God.” When someone does abbreviate the latter with “OMG,” you can respond by saying that you may not agree that “Obama Must Go,” but that you would hope they would find a different response to posts there. You can also rejoice in your own salvation, offering prayers, praise, and thanksgivings to your Lord Jesus on Facebook at the appropriate times. 4. Read Exodus 20:12. How are those authorities God places over us to be respected, even on Facebook? What temptations are there to dishonor those whom the Lord places above us in that medium? Your friends may include parents, teachers, your boss, upperclassmen, and even those in government


positions. Due to their positions above you, or their experience which far surpasses your own, they deserve respect from you, no less than God does. But FB-boldness may tempt you to be braver than you ought to be, and you may type something less than honorable. Repent, that God return you to a right relationship with Him through forgiveness, and with others whom you have disrespected. 5. Read Exodus 20:14. Is it possible to commit adultery in a place like Facebook? How can flirting on FB get a person into trouble? Are there some less-than-chaste-and-decent sorts of things flying around in the cyber-space of Facebook? How can you avoid these tempting sins?

Adultery is not only possible on Facebook, but it happens all the time. Reconnecting with a former girlfriend/boyfriend can make things awkward, to say the least! And what may start as some harmless flirting can easily escalate into something very tempting indeed. So repent of those times you‘ve gone a “bit too far“ and gotten carried away on Facebook, so that God may return you to the chaste and decent life of a baptized child of His, washed clean from every unclean thought and deed. 6. Read Exodus 20:16. How easy is it to break this commandment on Facebook? How many reputations are “out there” on FB? What has God given you to do for the good names of your Facebook friends? What happens all too often when you type too quickly, without thinking? This is perhaps the most broken commandment on Facebook! Each and every friend you have on FB has a reputation deserving of protecting. God has given you only to “build up” the good names of your Facebook friends. You should defend them when others attack on FB, and you should be careful only to speak well of them. Kindness, gentle words, and careful concern for the feelings of your Facebook friends should be priority #1 for you. But you know what happens. As you type hastily, you insert your foot in your mouth, and hit “enter” before you should. You can’t untype what you have written. So repent of your less-than-nice words on FB, apologize to those you’ve offended (or failed to defend), and seek forgiveness from Jesus Who has paid the price for your careless typing at the cross. 7. So, is “better commandment keeping” the answer to Facebook temptations? Compare 1 Corinthians 6:12 with Ephesians 4:14-15. Is our answer in following the Law better? What ought our focus to be on Facebook, and everywhere? How does this focus help us to be better Christian communicators? Our striving to keep the commandments better on Facebook will fail, again and again! So our answer must lie elsewhere than “in the Law.” St. Paul, in Romans asks, “Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Jesus’ forgiving love toward us, in word & sacrament is the answer. Only then, having been loved by Christ’s mercy, will we be able to speak, and also “type” the truth, in love, even on Facebook! 8. Close with the following prayer. Merciful God, Whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all of us who have gone astray from Your ways, and bring us again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


LUTHERANS ON FACEBOOK HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. Is Facebook a good or a bad thing? Read 1 Corinthians 8:1:7-13. Was eating food that had been offered first to idols necessarily sinful? Who could eat such food without any problems? Who couldn‘t? So how should we approach Facebook in a similar manner?

2. How can Facebook become an idol? See Exodus 20:3-4. What does it mean to have a god? How does a social medium like Facebook become so time-consuming and such a priority that it becomes almost god-like in your life?

3. Read Exodus 20:7. Is Facebook a place where God’s name is used in not-so-holy ways? How can one guard against wrong use of God‘s name there, and instead make good use of it?

4. Read Exodus 20:12. How are those authorities God places over us to be respected, even on Facebook? What temptations are there to dishonor those whom the Lord places above us in that medium?


5. Read Exodus 20:14. Is it possible to commit adultery in a place like Facebook? How can flirting on FB get a person into trouble? Are there some less-than-chaste-and-decent sorts of things flying around in the cyber-space of Facebook? How can you avoid these tempting sins?

6. Read Exodus 20:16. How easy is it to break this commandment on Facebook? How many reputations are “out there” on FB? What has God given you to do for the good names of your Facebook friends? What happens all too often when you type too quickly, without thinking?

7. So, is “better commandment keeping” the answer to Facebook temptations? Compare 1 Corinthians 6:12 with Ephesians 4:14-15. Is our answer in following the Law better? What ought our focus to be on Facebook, and everywhere? How does this focus help us to be better Christian communicators?

8. Close with the following prayer. Merciful God, Whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all of us who have gone astray from Your ways, and bring us again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

www.higherthings.org


OUR FATHER A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide Summary: This Bible Study teaches the Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer, in particular, the joy we have in calling upon God as our Father. 1. Think of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. What is one of the first things we learn and confess about God? We learn that God is our Father. That means that, even above “almighty” or any other attribute of God, we know Him as the One who gives us life and provides and cares for us. 2. Read Matthew 6:7-9. Why does Jesus tell His disciples to pray in this way? What is such prayer the antidote against? Why do we pray if our heavenly Father already knows what we need? The Lord’s Prayer is taught by Jesus as the answer to the “vain repetitions” of pagan religions. Prayer is not to be an aimless wandering or repetitive babbling. It is speaking directly to our Father in heaven with the purpose of asking Him for something. But we don’t pray because our Father doesn’t know what we need. Rather, we ask Him so that we learn that He is the One who provides all things. Put another way: Rather than pray to get God to do what we want, when we pray, we learn to believe the promises our heavenly Father makes to care for and provide for us. 3. Next read Luke 11:1-2. What do Jesus’ disciples ask Him to teach them? Does prayer come naturally? How might we view God apart from learning that He is our heavenly Father? Jesus’ disciples want Him to teach them to pray. Prayer does not come naturally. If we have any natural conception of God it’s that He will punish us when we do wrong. If the way the world seems to work is any indication, if there is a God, He is capricious, that is, sometimes He does good things and other times just lets bad things happen. Learning to pray as Jesus taught us teaches us a right faith and trust in God as our Father who is not out to get us or harm us but to care for us and give us what we need. 4. Why do you think that Jesus teaches us to say “our” instead of “my?”


Jesus teaches us that life is not simply about us as individuals. The Lord’s Prayers teaches us that the church is bigger than one person. It curbs our selfishness and reminds us that when we pray, we are praying as the body of Christ, not only for ourselves but for others as well.

5. Read Luke 11:11-13. What comparison does Jesus make? How can people believe that God is their Father if their earthly fathers have abandoned or hurt them? This is an objection your students might raise, that it is not possible to see God as “Father” when a person has an earthly father who has hurt or abandoned them. The example Jesus uses reflects the fact that most earthly fathers provide for their children out of duty or obligation. Still, there are certainly situations where the fact of God as Father might not seem that great to a child who doesn’t really have a father. As Pastor Cwirla points out in the article, to believe that God is our Father in such an instance comes through faith by way of the cross, not from our earthly experience. 6. Read John 13:6-9; 20:17. How is it that God is our Father? How do we learn about Him as Father? It is because of Jesus that we call God our Father. Since Jesus is the Son of the Father, our being in Christ means that His Father is our Father. In Christ, we see the Father, not that Jesus is the Father (He is the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity) but because in Jesus we see what the Father is all about: saving sinners and caring for us. We cannot know God as Father apart from His Son coming and saving us from our sins. So, to pray “Our Father” presumes to “ask in Jesus’ name” when we pray. 7. Review the explanation of the Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer from the Small Catechism. In what way are we encouraged to pray? Our Father who art in heaven. What does this mean? With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father. The example is that of a child asking something from her father. Key words here are “boldness” and “confidence,” that is, we don’t pray the wishy-washy prayers of “Dear, God, if you’re not too busy, and you can spare a minute” but rather boldly ask our Lord for what we need because He is, after all, our Father in heaven! 8. Close by praying the Lord’s Prayer or singing LSB 766.


OUR FATHER A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. Think of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. What is one of the first things we learn and confess about God?

2. Read Matthew 6:7-9. Why does Jesus tell His disciples to pray in this way? What is such prayer the antidote against? Why do we pray if our heavenly Father already knows what we need?

3. Next read Luke 11:1-2. What do Jesus’ disciples ask Him to teach them? Does prayer come naturally? How might we view God apart from learning that He is our heavenly Father?

4. Why do you think that Jesus teaches us to say “our” instead of “my?”


5. Read Luke 11:11-13. What comparison does Jesus make? How can people believe that God is their Father if their earthly fathers have abandoned or hurt them?

6. Read John 13:6-9; 20:17. How is it that God is our Father? How do we learn about Him as Father?

7. Review the explanation of the Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer from the Small Catechism. In what way are we encouraged to pray? Our Father who art in heaven. What does this mean? With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.

8. Close by praying the Lord’s Prayer or singing LSB 766.

www.higherthings.org


KNOWING JESUS A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide Summary: The Bible study aims to help students talk rightly about how we come to know Christ. Rather than our approaching Him or making some decision by which we come to know Him, it is Christ who knows us and our “knowing” Him is nothing else than our being in Him by His Word and gifts. 1. How would you answer the question, “What have you done for Jesus this week?” Why would someone ask that question? Answers will vary but hopefully students will answer as Magdalena’s father, that is, asking the better question of what did Jesus do for us?” People who ask that question think the Christian life is focused on what we do rather than on what God has done for us. In fact, a good question we can always ask is, “What did we do for our neighbor?” since the Lord requires nothing of us. But He has saved us so that we might love and serve others. 2. How would you answer the question, “Do you know Jesus?” Where did you come to know Christ? To “know Jesus” is often a sort of non-denominational or Baptist shorthand for “Have you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” Lutherans don’t talk this way because the Bible doesn’t talk this way. To know Christ is really to be known by Christ. 3. Read Jeremiah 1:5 and John 1:48. What do these verses tell us about who is first to know whom with regards to us and Christ? How does this help us answer the question above about knowing Jesus? What matters is that God has known us, even before we even knew or were aware of Him. Many churches make the mistake of thinking that we have a “relationship” with Jesus only when we come to some conscious recognition and choice of Jesus. These verses remind us that God knows


us even before we have any conscious knowledge of Him. It’s a reminder that He comes to us, not the other way around. 4. Many churches teach that to know Jesus, you have to “accept” Him or “choose” Him. What do John 1:12-13 and John 15:16 about this? These verses make abundantly clear that we are not Christians by choice (“the will of man”) or any such thing. It is the Lord who calls us and makes us His own in the waters of Holy Baptism. We cannot do anything to come to God. He comes to us and chooses us to be His people. 5. Read John 3:1-8. What does it mean to be “born again?” What do most people mean when they say they are “born again?” What does Jesus mean by it? To be “born again” (a better translation is “born from above”) means to be baptized. Water and the Spirit. For most who call themselves Christians, “born again” refers to some recognizable experience in which they “gave their life to Christ” and became a new and changed person. But to truly be born again from above is to be given new birth in Holy Baptism. Remind the students that just as they cannot choose to be born from their earthly parents, they can’t choose to be born “again.” Being born is something that happens to you, not something you decide upon and make happen. 6. What does Ephesians 2:1 say about how we can save ourselves? The Bible teaches that sin makes us spiritually dead. Dead people can’t come back to life. They can’t do anything. They’re dead. St. Paul reminds the Ephesians that they were dead in their sins but God made them alive. Over and over in the Scriptures we see that it is God who knows us first, takes the initiative to come to us, and does what it takes to make us His own. To be saved and know God is a gift. It is not something we choose or decide for ourselves. 7. Review the Catechism’s explanation of the Third Article. Discuss what this article teaches us about how we come to faith and know God. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy, Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise up me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.


The words “I cannot by my own reason or strength” set us apart from most others who call themselves Christians and who give themselves the credit for becoming Christians. Emphasize that if it is our choice, we can easily make a wrong choice. Or, what if we lose our minds, as in old age? Do we still choose then? Rather, the Scriptural teaching is that our salvation is God’s work accomplished through His Word. He comes to us, saves us, chooses us, knows us and gives us life. Discuss with the students how they might confess this truth in discussions with those who believe differently. 8. Close by singing or praying LSB #573

www.higherthings.org


KNOWING JESUS A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. How would you answer the question, “What have you done for Jesus this week?” Why would someone ask that question?

2. How would you answer the question, “Do you know Jesus?” Where did you come to know Christ?

3. Read Jeremiah 1:5 and John 1:48. What do these verses tell us about who is first to know whom with regards to us and Christ? How does this help us answer the question above about knowing Jesus?

4. Many churches teach that to know Jesus, you have to “accept” Him or “choose” Him. What do John 1:12-13 and John 15:16 about this?


5. Read John 3:1-8. What does it mean to be “born again?” What do most people mean when they say they are “born again?” What does Jesus mean by it?

6. What does Ephesians 2:1 say about how we can save ourselves?

7. Review the Catechism’s explanation of the Third Article. Discuss what this article teaches us about how we come to faith and know God. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy, Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise up me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

8. Close by singing or praying LSB #573

www.higherthings.org


TWO VOICELESS PROPHETS A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide 1. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-9. What sins has King David committed? How does God use Nathan to convict the king of his sins? What has David “despised” in committing such grievous sins? David has broken the last commandment by coveting his neighbor’s wife, broken the 6th by committing adultery with Bathsheba, broken the 5th by seeing to Uriah‘s death, and the 8th by trying to cover it all up. God inspires Nathan to use a parable to show David his sin. Nathan’s “You are the man” makes it clear. But it is not just people whom David has wronged, for the king has despised the word of God’s commandments. 2. What was David’s response to Nathan convicting the King of his sin? See Psalm 51:1-4. How does David claim to have only sinned against God? Upon what does David base his appeal for God to forgive him? King David is brought to repentance by the God’s words through Nathan. Not only is he sorry for his sin, but the king also trusts that God may forgive him. Each of David’s sins are against God Himself, because he has violated God’s Law in each case. Yet the king leans not on himself at all, but on God’s own compassion and loving-kindness. Only God can wash David and cleanse him from his sinfulness. 3. Read 2 Samuel 12:15-23. Why does God say that David and Bathsheba’s child must die? Why was it significant that the boy dies on the seventh day? What is the hope that the king clearly has for his now-departed son? The baby boy doesn’t die as a punishment for a specific sin, but so that Yahweh’s enemies don‘t blaspheme the LORD, claiming He is “unjust“ or some other falsehood. This son of David is unnamed, because He has not yet joined God‘s people in the sacrament of circumcision on the 8th day. Yet despite not receiving God’s grace in circumcision, David is encouraged that he will one day go to be where his unnamed son has gone, presumably heaven. 4. Compare Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 22:41-46. Who is the LORD who speaks in the first verse of Psalm 110? To what Lord is He speaking? How can this person be David’s “son” and David’s “Lord”,


at the same time? The LORD (all caps in many translations) is Yahweh, which means “I AM.” In this instance it is God the Father speaking to the One seated at the right hand of the heavenly throne, who is David’s Lord. Yet other scriptures teach clearly that the Messiah would be a “Seed” from David’s line, a “son” of David. Only Jesus can fulfill both of these descriptions, being David’s “son” according to His human nature, yet being David’s “Lord” according to His divine nature. 5. Read Ephesians 5:25-30. How does Uriah, by his death, serve as a “type” of Christ? How much is a husband to love his wife? How much did Christ love His beloved Bride--the Church? What was He willing to do for her?

Uriah is a faithful husband, and he ends up giving up his life, while his wife Bathsheba, who sinned with David, gets to live. A Christian husband is to love his wife as much as Christ the Bridegroom loved the Church. Jesus loved the Church so much that was willing to give up Himself for His beloved Bride. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our salvation, dying on the cross to make us His beloved Bride. 6. Read Genesis 22:1-14. What does young Isaac ask about? What is his father Abraham’s response? Did God provide a lamb in this story? When would God see Himself the Lamb in Isaac’s place? On what mount in Moriah would this eventually take place? Isaac sees no lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham responds that “God will see Himself--the Lamb” (literally from the Hebrew). But atop the mount, no lamb was found, only a ram caught in the thicket. Much later God would provide that promised “Seed” of Abraham, that “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” On the mount outside of Jerusalem called “Calvary,” Jesus would be God Himself, sacrificed in Isaac’s place, and in your place as well! 7. See Romans 8:31-32. How does King David’s son who died, serve as a “type” of Christ? Did King David fear a punishment of death for his own sins? Who dies instead? Who is David’s later “Son” who would also die in David’s place? What does this sacrificial death accomplish for us all? David is spared the obvious punishment he deserves for his sins. Yet the king’s son dies instead of David. This serves as a poignant reminder that another “Son of David,” Christ Jesus, would be born as the Savior of the world, to die for David as God’s compassion & loving-kindness toward him. Jesus dies not just for King David, but for you on the cross, for your forgiveness, life and salvation from His body given and His blood shed for you there! 8. Close with the following prayer. Merciful and gracious God the Father, Who did not spare Your only-begotten Son but delivered Him up for us all that He might bear our sins on the cross, grant to Your church, the Bride of Christ, to be ever-protected by Your help and goodness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. www.higherthings.org


TWO VOICELESS PROPHETS A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-9. What sins has King David committed? How does God use Nathan to convict the king of his sins? What has David “despised” in committing such grievous sins?

2. What was David’s response to Nathan convicting the King of his sin? See Psalm 51:1-4. How does David claim to have only sinned against God? Upon what does David base his appeal for God to forgive him?

3. Read 2 Samuel 12:15-23. Why does God say that David and Bathsheba’s child must die? Why was it significant that the boy dies on the seventh day? What is the hope that the king clearly has for his now-departed son?

4. Compare Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 22:41-46. Who is the LORD who speaks in the first verse of Psalm 110? To what Lord is He speaking? How can this person be David’s “son” and David’s “Lord”, at the same time?


5. Read Ephesians 5:25-30. How does Uriah, by his death, serve as a “type” of Christ? How much is a husband to love his wife? How much did Christ love His beloved Bride--the Church? What was He willing to do for her?

6. Read Genesis 22:1-14. What does young Isaac ask about? What is his father Abraham’s response? Did God provide a lamb in this story? When would God see Himself the Lamb in Isaac’s place? On what mount in Moriah would this eventually take place?

7. See Romans 8:31-32. How does King David’s son who died, serve as a “type” of Christ? Did King David fear a punishment of death for his own sins? Who dies instead? Who is David’s later “Son” who would also die in David’s place? What does this sacrificial death accomplish for us all?

8. Close with the following prayer. Merciful and gracious God the Father, Who did not spare Your only-begotten Son but delivered Him up for us all that He might bear our sins on the cross, grant to Your church, the Bride of Christ, to be ever-protected by Your help and goodness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

www.higherthings.org


HOLY JESUS, HOLY YOU A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide Summary: The “Christian Life” is more than simply about how we live and how much we do or don’t sin as Christians. Sanctification, our being made holy, isn’t something we do on our own by trying hard to avoid sins. Sanctification is Christ living in us and through us. 1. What do you think of when you hear the words “sanctification” or “Christian life?” Who is responsible for our salvation? Who is responsible for our sanctification/Christian life? Answers will vary. Remind students that the word “sanctification” means “making holy” and that “holy” means set apart. There is often a distinction made between “salvation” and “Christian living” such that “salvation” is something Jesus does while “sanctification” is something that we must do, or at least try to do. The Scriptures make it clear that we have no “holy life” apart from Jesus who lives in and through us. 2. Some people think that “being holy” is based on how much we sin or don’t sin. What does St. Paul say about our sanctification in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31? How is this different from most people’s views on what sanctification is? If we followed the world’s way, we would measure our holiness by how awesomely “together” we had our lives and by an impressive show of self-control in which can compare ourselves to others and see how little we sin when compared to them. In truth, sometimes those who look least like what people think Christians look like are the ones who cling to Christ in His mercy and forgiveness. Just as Jesus dying on the cross doesn’t look glorious or impressive, neither does our Christian life as it is nothing more than Jesus living in us. Paul states that Christ has become our sanctification. Any talk of holy living or a Christian life apart from Jesus is wrong, misleading, and of no comfort to those who still sin. 3. When we’ve sinned, we recognize that as God’s children we shouldn’t live like that or do those things. What is the answer for someone whose conscience is troubled by what they’ve done? See Isaiah 53:5-6, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13.


When our sins trouble us, we need to hear that they are not our sins but Christ’s. They were laid upon Him. He has taken them. They are His. It’s not just that Jesus is blamed for our sins, but that He owns them as if they were His own, so that when the Father looks at sinners, He can only see His Son. Just as when He looks at us, He can only see His Son, perfect and holy. 4. What does someone need to hear who is not troubled by their sins but whose sin is found especially in their self-righteous judgment of others? See John 15:4-8. It is easy to think we are doing all right and don’t really need Jesus. His own words tell us that apart from Him we can do nothing. So we don’t want to end up on the opposite side of those who are troubled by their sins and think we don’t need to be troubled by our sins and thereby don’t need Jesus. 5. Despair and self-righteousness are two results of trying to live a holy life apart from Christ. What about those who think they can just sin because they’ll be forgiven anyway? For the answer, read Romans 6:1-4. The question is answered with a resounding “no!” Paul reminds the Romans and us that being baptized into Christ, our life is a new life, set free from sin. The sins have been laid upon Christ and we no longer walk in those sins. 6. What is the error in each of the above three attitudes toward the Christian life (despair, selfrighteousness, and libertinism [doing whatever you want])? All three of those problems have their source in trying to life a holy life or be sanctified apart from Christ. Either we despair because WE aren’t doing a good job, or we are self-righteous because we think WE are doing a good job, or we figure we can do what WE want without fleeing from sin. These are all failures of the Christian life which are addressed by Christ who lives in and through us. 7. Many people who claim to be Christians think that their holiness and Christian life come from keeping the law and the commandments. But these just show us that we’re sinners. How does St. Paul address this in Galatians 2:20-21? These verses aren’t just about salvation but our life now, after we have been made God’s children. With respect to the Law, we are dead, having been buried with Christ. Therefore we cannot live from the commandments, no matter how hard we try. And we dare not measure our “Christian life” and “sanctification” by how well we keep the commandments. Rather, does Christ live in us or not? And we know He does by His means of grace: Baptism, Absolution, the Gospel and the Supper.


8. Read the Catechism’s Fourth Question on Baptism: What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. What do we learn is the center of our life as Christians? Our Baptism defines who we are in Christ. Every day, by contrition (being sorry) and repentance, we drown that Old Adam and kill him off. Every day the New Man in Christ comes forth. When we are in Christ, our sins are forgiven and all that we do is good in God’s sight for Jesus’ sake. 9. Since Christ is the center of our Christian life, what should we do when our sins trouble us and we seem to be failing in our sanctification? If Jesus Himself is our holy life, then our struggles in that life must be met with more Jesus. So we live in our Baptism, hear the Absolution, hear the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, and receive Christ’s body and blood in His Supper. Theses gifts bring not only the forgiveness of sins, but the promise that Christ does indeed live in us so that we may always be certain we are the Lord’s even when our sins trouble us. 10. How might we address the arguments of friends who insist the Christian life is our responsibility and our duty? Point them to Christ. Point them to their Savior. Point them to the means by which Christ comes to us. Refuse to let anyone tell you that you must measure your life as a Christian by how well you are doing. Your Christian life is how well Christ has already done all things for you and now lives in and through you. 11. Sing or pray LSB #693 to close the Bible Study.

www.higherthings.org


HOLY JESUS, HOLY YOU A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Introduction: The “Christian Life” is more than simply about how we live and how much we do or don’t sin as Christians. Sanctification, our being made holy, isn’t something we do on our own by trying hard to avoid sins. Sanctification is Christ living in us and through us. 1. What do you think of when you hear the words “sanctification” or “Christian life?” Who is responsible for our salvation? Who is responsible for our sanctification/Christian life? 2. Some people think that “being holy” is based on how much we sin or don’t sin. What does St. Paul say about our sanctification in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31? How is this different from most people’s views on what sanctification is? 3. When we’ve sinned, we recognize that as God’s children we shouldn’t live like that or do those things. What is the answer for someone whose conscience is troubled by what they’ve done? See Isaiah 53:5-6, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13. 4. What does someone need to hear who is not troubled by their sins but whose sin is found especially in their self-righteous judgment of others? See John 15:4-8. 5. Despair and self-righteousness are two results of trying to live a holy life apart from Christ. What about those who think they can just sin because they’ll be forgiven anyway? For the answer, read Romans 6:1-4. 6. What is the error in each of the above three attitudes toward the Christian life (despair, selfrighteousness, and libertinism [doing whatever you want])? 7. Many people who claim to be Christians think that their holiness and Christian life come from keeping the law and the commandments. But these just show us that we’re sinners. How does St. Paul address this in Galatians 2:20-21? 8. Read the Catechism’s Fourth Question on Baptism: What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be


drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. What do we learn is the center of our life as Christians? 9. Since Christ is the center of our Christian life, what should we do when our sins trouble us and we seem to be failing in our sanctification? 10. How might we address the arguments of friends who insist the Christian life is our responsibility and our duty? 11. Sing or pray LSB #693 to close the Bible Study.

www.higherthings.org


ON BEING “SIMUL” A HIGHER THINGS MAGAZINE BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide 1. What does the author mean by the Latin phrase “simul iustus et peccator”? The Latin phrase means that a Christian is at the same time a justified/forgiven saint and a damned sinner. 2. Read Romans 7:14-25. What is the apostle’s chief complaint in this section of Scripture? What is his explanation for it? Does St. Paul make excuses for his sins? In the end, from where does he draw his comfort? His chief complaint is that the things he knows are right to do, he can’t do them, and the things he knows are wrong, he continues to do them. His explanation is that it is not he that is doing them, but sin that is living in him. The article uses the metaphor of New Software trying to run on Old Hardware. He doesn’t make excuses for his sin, but is unhappy with himself. He takes comfort in the Lord Jesus Christ, who will rescue him from the body of death. 3. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, what part of the Christian does St. Paul say is wasting away? Which part is being renewed? Why is this a comfort to the Christian who struggles with sin? Paul says that his “outer” self or nature is wasting away, and his “inner” self is being renewed day by day. Any Christian who has struggled with sin wonders if there will be an end to it all. And this tells us that we are gradually shedding this old skin, and will finally cast it off completely in death. 4. In Luther’s Small Catechism, the part on Baptism, Martin Luther asks “What does such baptizing with water indicate?” According to the Catechism answer, what is to go on daily in the Christian until death? Baptism with water shows us that our Old Self must daily be crucified and drowned with all


evil lusts and desires, and that a new man should daily come forth and arise to live before him in righteousness and purity forever. Daily repentance is what is needed for the Christian. Death and resurrection—begun in baptism, continued throughout life, and completed in the day of resurrection. 5. Why, according to the article, is it helpful to distinguish between the “Old you” and the “new you”? Some Christians may think that because they sin they are no longer Christians. They might worry that because they are not completely perfect, they are not loved by God, or that they do not truly believe. This distinction helps because it reminds us that we will still have the remnants of sin in us until we die—not that we should just give sin free reign, but that as long as we continue to cling in faith to Christ and his forgiveness, we will be delivered. 6. How does the metaphor of a “virus” help us understand the sin that continues to cause “glitches and crashes” in our Christian life? A virus affects everything in a computer, and so does sin affect everything in the Christian. Even when we try to do good, the virus of sin produces in us evil thoughts and desires, and out of weakness we often act on those sinful thoughts and desires. Baptism covers our sins with Christ’s holy blood, but it doesn’t completely remove them. 7. Much of modern Christianity is all about “fixing” the sinner, making him better, making him less of a sinner. The article reminds us that the sinner is too far gone to be “fixed.” What must finally happen to the sinner in order for the “new software” to run properly? The sinner, the Old Man, must finally die. The Old Man cannot be fixed, reformed, rehabilitated or anything. It must follow the way of Christ—death, then resurrection. 8. What does it mean that even the good works of Christians are still sinful? How can this be? Luther understood something that many today do not: Because the new man must work through the old man, even the good things that come out of us are going to be tainted with sin. Perhaps it comes out like this: We decide we want to help someone out, and then as we are doing it, or afterward, we hope for some kind of pat on the back, some kind of recognition. “Evil lies close at hand.” 9. What would you say to a person who said, “Well, I’m a sinner, and I’m always going to be one until I die, so I might as well not fight it”? This person obviously thinks that it is okay to give our sinful nature free reign in our lives. Point such a person to Paul’s words in Romans, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? By no means!” No where does Scripture give the Christian permission to let his old


nature rule. 10. Using the wisdom of this article, how might you answer someone who said, “What can I do? I just can’t seem to put a stop to my sinful impulses and desires. What is wrong with me? I’m a Christian, so I should be without these struggles, right?” This person obviously is afflicted in his or her conscience. It’s the scenario of Romans 7 all over again. “What’s wrong with me?” A Christian can answer: what is wrong is that you have a virus of sin that still is producing in you evil thoughts, desires, words, and deeds. It is not you, but sin living in you. There is a part of you, the new self, that truly delights in God’s law, that wants to do what is pleasing to him. But your old skin does not always allow you to do it as you know you ought. This is why Christ has come, and why he continues to say to you: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Christ will one day rescue you from this body of death. 11. Why does the Christian look forward to the resurrection of the body? What does Scripture promise concerning the body of sin? (See 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and Philippians 3:20-21) On the day of resurrection, Christ will raise all the dead, and he will give unto “me and all believers in Christ eternal life.” Paul reminds us that the perishable body will put on the imperishable. When we rise from the dead, our bodies will be “like his glorious body.” No longer will they be infected by sin.

www.higherthings.org


ON BEING “SIMUL” A HIGHER THINGS MAGAZINE BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. What does the author mean by the Latin phrase “simul iustus et peccator”?

2. Read Romans 7:14-25. What is the apostle’s chief complaint in this section of Scripture? What is his explanation for it? Does St. Paul make excuses for his sins? In the end, from where does he draw his comfort?

3. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, what part of the Christian does St. Paul say is wasting away? Which part is being renewed? Why is this a comfort to the Christian who struggles with sin?

4. In Luther’s Small Catechism, the part on Baptism, Martin Luther asks “What does such baptizing with water indicate?” According to the Catechism answer, what is to go on daily in the Christian until death?

5. Why, according to the article, is it helpful to distinguish between the “Old you” and the “new you”?


6. How does the metaphor of a “virus” help us understand the sin that continues to cause “glitches and crashes” in our Christian life?

7. Much of modern Christianity is all about “fixing” the sinner, making him better, making him less of a sinner. The article reminds us that the sinner is too far gone to be “fixed.” What must finally happen to the sinner in order for the “new software” to run properly?

8. What does it mean that even the good works of Christians are still sinful? How can this be?

9. What would you say to a person who said, “Well, I’m a sinner, and I’m always going to be one until I die, so I might as well not fight it”?

10. Using the wisdom of this article, how might you answer someone who said, “What can I do? I just can’t seem to put a stop to my sinful impulses and desires. What is wrong with me? I’m a Christian, so I should be without these struggles, right?”

11. Why does the Christian look forward to the resurrection of the body? What does Scripture promise concerning the body of sin? (See 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and Philippians 3:20-21)


TRUE BLOOD A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012 Leader’s Guide Summary: This Bible Study will help students to confess that the blood of Jesus is real and actually does something for us, namely, deliver the forgiveness of sins. Pastor Gram’s article demonstrates how even myths like vampires contain within them a grain of truth that reflects the truth of salvation in Christ. 1. Why do you think vampires are such a popular theme today? Answers will vary but vampires in stories share common properties: they live beyond death by the consumption of blood. Often they have extraordinary strength and powers. Yet, since vampires represent a corruption of the truth, they are usually seen as evil and diabolical. You might discuss how vampires are often recently portrayed in a somewhat less satanic light though this just represents a longing for their qualities to be true for people today. 2. What is the source of life for a vampire? What is the source of our Christian life? See 1 John 1:7. What contrast is there with what we know about vampires? Vampires live by consuming blood from living human beings. The blood of Jesus is the source of our forgiveness and life. Point out that St. John reminds us that as Christians we walk in the light, something a vampire is loathe to do, for sunlight harms them. Thus you can see how vampire mythology incorporates a Christian idea but twists and corrupts it. 3. Read Genesis 9:1-6. What does the Lord give to mankind as food after the Flood? What prohibition is attached? What punishment is given for taking the life of another person and why? It seems that man did not eat animals until they are given to him as food after the Flood. However, the Lord commands that their blood not be eaten since that represents its life. In other words, when the blood is poured out (drained), it shows that the animal has given its life for the sustenance of man. The shedding of the blood was the sign of sacrifice, that is, an animal giving its life to preserve man’s life. The eating of the blood is forbidden as a testimony to this truth.


Since life is in the blood, the taking of blood by one person is forbidden and prescribed as punishment when it happens, thus life for life in a murder. 4. Read Leviticus 16:4-16. What happens with the sacrifices for sin? What is done with the blood, the animal’s life? The blood of the sacrificial animals is sprinkled on the mercy seat (the cover of the Ark of the Covenant.) By this blood, the Lord counted the sins of the Israelites paid for. The life of the animal was given in exchange for their lives. The Book of Leviticus is full of commands about sacrifices which pointed ahead to Christ, who would shed His blood for the life of the world. 5. What does Jesus say about His flesh and blood in John 6:52-58? Doesn’t this contradict what the Word taught about consuming the blood of animals (or people!)? Jesus says to eat and drink His flesh and blood. While Jesus is not specifically talking about the Lord’s Supper (it has not yet been instituted) it is clear from His Words that the Lord’s Supper will be an explanation of this (though to “eat” and “drink” also means to receive Jesus by faith). Here we see that the reason that the life of the animal (its blood) must not be consumed is because this is reserved in a special way for the Son of God. Point out to the students that Jesus is suggesting neither cannibalism nor vampirism. The Sacrament of the Altar is a “sacramental” eating and drinking, meaning we truly receive what Jesus gives us but not in a crass way that people like to mock. 6. Read Hebrews 9:11-14. What is the difference between Christ’s blood and the blood of the animal sacrifices? The animal sacrifices had to be repeated over and over. They were simply signs that pointed ahead to the one, true sacrifice of God’s Son. The blood of Jesus, on the other hand, because it is the blood of the Son of God, once-for-all takes away the sins of the world and grants us access to the Holy Place of God. It is important to note that with Jesus there really is the actual shedding of blood which takes away our sins (as when they pierced His side and water and blood came out). 7. What are the two opposite errors with respect to the blood? Point out to the students that on the one hand there are many churches that love to talk about the blood of Jesus but don’t believe His blood is truly given in the Sacrament of the Altar or actually sprinkled upon us in Holy Baptism. Thus they deny the power of Christ’s blood and Word and it’s just talk. On the other hand, there are those who think that drinking blood for real is something desirable, even spiritual. This is really satanic for it gives blood a power that God has not given it. 8. How should we respond to the stories of vampires?


Recognize that the elements of vampiric mythology are taken from a warped view of the true Gospel. While we can certainly enjoy stories and myths, our true hope and joy should be in the real blood of Jesus and the forgiveness and salvation it brings us. 9. Close by singing or praying LSB 619.

www.higherthings.org


TRUE BLOOD A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY SUMMER 2012

1. Why do you think vampires are such a popular theme today?

2. What is the source of life for a vampire? What is the source of our Christian life? See 1 John 1:7. What contrast is there with what we know about vampires?

3. Read Genesis 9:1-6. What does the Lord give to mankind as food after the Flood? What prohibition is attached? What punishment is given for taking the life of another person and why?

4. Read Leviticus 16:4-16. What happens with the sacrifices for sin? What is done with the blood, the animal’s life?


5. What does Jesus say about His flesh and blood in John 6:52-58? Doesn’t this contradict what the Word taught about consuming the blood of animals (or people!)?

6. Read Hebrews 9:11-14. What is the difference between Christ’s blood and the blood of the animal sacrifices?

7. What are the two opposite errors with respect to the blood?

8. How should we respond to the stories of vampires?

9. Close by singing or praying LSB 619.

www.higherthings.org

Profile for Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran!

2012 Summer - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)  

2012 Summer - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)