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Higher Things

In This Issue:

The Life You Now Live • The First Time I Died • Sanctification: Jesus Living In You • Great Expectations

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Contents t a b l e o F

Volume 14/Number 2 • Summer 2014

Special Features 4

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The First Time I Died

by rev. donavon riley It’s a normal ambition to attempt to map out our lives. At the tender young age of 18, Rev. Riley did just that but ended up down a path where God took him face to face with Jesus. He died that day, but it was no “Heaven Is for Real” experience—he was “buried with Christ by Baptism into death.” And it was then that his life truly began.

The Life You Now Live

by rev. George F. borghardt Drown, rinse, and repeat. This is the formula for the Christian life. It isn’t about trying to follow God’s law more faithfully. It’s about realizing that, having been baptized through Christ, you follow God’s law perfectly.

Sanctification: Jesus Living in You

by rev. Mark buetow Sanctification is frequently a Christian buzz word. For some it means how we become more holy or sin less the longer we are Christians. With clarity, Rev. Buetow illuminates the Biblical understanding of sanctification that takes us out of the driver’s seat.

10 His Name Is John

by rev. Marcus Zill What’s in a name? Well, in this case, “John” means a whole lot more than meets the eye. John the Baptist’s sole mission in life was to pave the way for Christ, which Rev. Zill explains was an incredible demonstration of God’s grace.

12 Seven Apologists Every Christian Should Know, Part 1

The Lasting Legacy of C.S. Lewis: Why Imaginative Apologetics Matter

by rev. Mark a. Pierson It’s likely that you have had a taste of C.S. Lewis, due to the popularity of the Narnia movies. But Narnia is just the tip of the iceberg. Rev. Pierson looks under the surface and persuades us that an essential part of building an understanding of Christian apologetics is to investigate all that C.S. Lewis, with his incredible insight, has to offer.

14 Jesus.For.You.

by rev. Paul Mumme Yes, it’s true. We aren’t just fans of Jesus. We are committed to Him. But what’s the Christian faith really about: how well we follow Christ or how amazingly He saves us? Rev. Mumme sets the record straight regarding a popular graphic making the rounds in social media.

24 Great Expectations

by bethany Woelmer More miscommunication comes from unspoken or unreasonable expectations. We who are baptized in Christ have truly great expectations that Christ Himself faithfully fulfills for us. And, as Bethany shares, knowing this will help us deal with the disappointment that comes when many of our expectations in this life aren’t met.

Regular Features 14 Poetry Page The Final Strife

by rev. tim lorenz See the death of a child of God through the lens of a pastoral poet.

18 Christ on Campus Your Body Is Beautiful

by annalise harrison The struggle with body image is not a new phenomenon, and most people grapple with it to some degree, but there comes a point where it becomes an idol. Annalise, through her own experience, reminds us where true beauty lies and that our confidence is in Christ.

28 Catechism Table of Duties: Workers and Bosses

by rev. William M. Cwirla You get a job, you work the grind, you make money and that’s it. Right? Well, not exactly. Rev. Cwirla reveals the beauty behind the vocations of worker and boss, and how Christ faithfully loves our neighbor through us.

30 Bible Study Sanctification: Jesus Living in You

Be sure to check out this sample of one of our student Bible studies which links up with Rev. Buetow’s article on P. 8.

HigherThings

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Volume 14/Number 2/Summer 2014 Bible Studies for these articles can be found at: higherthings.org/ magazine/biblestudies.html Editor

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Stan lemon

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 2013. 2014. 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 1-888-4826630, then press 4, 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.

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“I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

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The First Time I Died By Rev. Donavon Riley


When I was 18, I had planned out my life completely.

First, I’d enroll at the local college. Then when my girlfriend finished high school we’d move to the Twin Cities. We’d get married, finish college, land good jobs, and have a baby. We decided his name would be “Christian.” And if I could just find the right lead singer I’d gig with my band on weekends. The next year, a phone call woke me up from my daydreams. My girlfriend said, “I just want to be free to see other people right now…” After she hung up, I collapsed into bed. I didn’t get up for three weeks. My mother, friends, classmates, professors—no one could coax me out of the emptiness into which I’d fallen. I thought, when I could think, “I will lie here and wait to become nothing. I don’t want to eat. I don’t want to drink. I don’t want to talk, to cry, to live. I feel nothing. I am nothing. I will lie here and eventually die.” That was the plan. Twenty-four years later I try to remember the emotional pain that emptied me of all care for my life, but I can’t. I try to recall what I was thinking to pin all my hopes, all my happiness, on a teenaged girl. But I can’t. I try to picture what it was like to believe I wouldn’t die until I’d seen all my plans completed. I wish I could, but time makes a person’s memory soft and squishy. Some stuff you think you’ll never forget, will just disappear one day. Other stuff you think is unimportant will stick with you for 20 years, like the look on my ex-girlfriend’s face when she learned her grandma died. I try to imagine the look on her face as I sit here fingering this memorial card. I try, but the card has my attention now. The back of the card reads: “In memory of… the son of… she preceded him in death…was a lifelong farmer…survived by…and other relatives and friends.” Inside is a poem—one of those poems people who don’t attend church choose because it sounds religious. Services. Clergy officiating. There’s my name. Music. Casket Bearers. Interrment. Arrangement by…

Eighty-six years of life summarized on a 4 by 5-inch bi-fold card. So learn to count, run as fast as you can, scream at the ceiling, get tattooed, sing “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Keep My Body Down,” but if it doesn’t fit on the card, if somebody in your family doesn’t think it’s worthy of inclusion, then it’s cut out to free up space for a poem by “Author Unknown.” As if it never happened. It’s not really about how you lived and died, anyway. It’s about when you died and began to live. Despite my previous attempts at suicide, I was 28 years old the first time I finally died. The pastor and my wife were there. My mother and little brother were, too. It was quiet—not reverent silence, but muted tones. The faded yellow walls and red shag carpet dulled everything, even our voices. I remember the quiet, mostly, and the mildewy aroma that pervaded the church. Five people gathered round a baptismal font. It’s an odd thing when the pious and the godless stand round a baptismal font. My past and present relations were summoned to stand witness to a public drowning. June 3, 2008. 3:30pm. My death date. I was drowned and put to death. Buried with Christ by baptism into

death. It was very ordinary. Words were said. Water was poured. Then a smile, a confused glare, resignation, a handshake. Then we walked home, me and my wife. The two of us, justified by grace. Heirs in hope of eternal life. That night I died again, and the night after, and the night after that, and… Every night since my Baptism I have died. But every morning I awake to a new life. Every day I suffer, I sorrow, I am poured out for my wife, my children, the couple across the street, this little church: I am repented. I am put to death by the crosses God has laid on me. Yet, hidden under that death is a new man, cleansed and made righteous by God’s Spirit. Life overwhelming death in a flood of grace. Daily I am drowned. Daily I am repented. Daily I am righteoused. A new life, overflowing with the most extraordinary ordinariness. For “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). When I die the little death, if you should happen to attend the funeral, receive the little memorial card offered to you at the door. Turn it over. On the back you will read: “Donavon Riley was baptized into Christ. All the rest was chaff.” Rev. Donavon Riley was born and raised in Minnesota and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota. Rev. Riley and his wife recently celebrated the birth of their fourth child. He can be reached at elleon713@gmail.com

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The Life You Now Live By Rev. George F. Borghardt

You’ve already died. You did! Death’s already happened to you. There was no angel of death, no Grim Reaper, no Oscar-winning last breath. No, you died in the Baptismal Font. You were drowned in the water and in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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Jesus suffered for you. He was beaten in your place. He was crucified. He died. They pierced Him with a spear. The punishment which should befall you fell upon Him and, by His stripes, you are healed. You died in the flood of blood and water flowing from Jesus’ crucified side. You were crucified with Christ. You died with Him. You no longer live—at least not the way you used to live before your Baptism. You are dead to your sins.You are dead to having other gods. Dead to trusting to your works and stuff. You are dead to misusing God’s name and despising His Word. You died to disobeying your parents, hating and hurting others, fornication, porn, sleeping with those to whom you aren’t married, stealing, downloading music you don’t pay for, cheating on your taxes, lying, gossiping, slandering others, pushing others down to push yourself up, and wanting to have the things that belong to others. Oh, you were that person. You did those things. You lived in that death and you called it “life.” You don’t any more. You’ve died with Christ. You are alive to God. He rose from the dead on Easter morning. You were raised with Him in the water and the Word. He is sinless. You are sinless, in Him. He cannot sin. You cannot sin, in Him. He is holy. You are holy, in Him. He is righteous. You are righteous, in Him. He lives and you live in Him. But you don’t live like you’re alive, do you? You live in your sins, as though you were still enslaved to them. You hang around the grave where your sins were buried with Jesus. Your world is a prison with shackles of the iniquity and filth that you feel you “must” do. You want to stop. You can’t—not on your own, anyway. You know you are better than this, but you really aren’t, because if you were better then you wouldn’t be committing the same sins day after day. It’s time to die again! Repent of your sins— that is, confess them to God or your pastor or your neighbor and then beg the Lord to have mercy on you. Hold your sins under the waters of your Baptism. Drown them. And if they should float back up again, drown them again. Pop up. Drown. They resurface. Drown again. You die to sins. Jesus raises you from the dead again. Rinse and repeat. This is the Christian life. It’s dying to your sins and rising again in Jesus. Die to the way you are doing things on your own, to the sins that enslave

you, and be raised to new life—His life. Repent and believe that Jesus saves you. He must. He promised that He saves you in your Baptism. His life is then lived in your life lived for others. It’s not you doing it, but yet it is. It’s your life lived in Christ. The life you now live you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave up His life for you. In Him, you fear, love, and trust in God above all things. You cherish the Lord’s Name and His Word. You honor Mom and Dad and all the authorities around you. You don’t hurt others but rather help and support them. You lead a chaste and decent life in all you say and do. You help improve and protect your neighbors’ possessions and income. You defend your friends, you speak well of them, and put the best construction on everything they do and say. And coveting? It’s not even something that comes to your mind. When you fail, die and rise again in your Baptism. When you don’t fail, die and rise again in your baptism. For you have died to this world, to your sins, and you have been raised to new life in Christ—a life lived for the sake of others. When you do die again, you won’t actually die, because you’ve already died once in Holy Baptism. Death will be just a nap. You will wake up. Jesus will awaken you to an eternal life where He is. You will be as you are now in Holy Baptism by faith—holy, perfect, and forgiven. You will live eternally on that day because you are alive in Jesus right now. Right now, you are dead to your sins and alive to God in Christ. You have been crucified with Christ and now live in Him. The life you have now you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave up Himself for you. Rev. George F. Borghardt serves as the Senior Pastor at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in McHenry, IL. He is the president of Higher Things. His email is revborghardt @higherthings.org.

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Sanctification:

Jesus Living in 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

Have you ever witnessed

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someone’s behavior and just wanted to tell them, especially if they are a Christian, “Stop it! Stop doing that! Do the right thing! Do the Christian thing! Act like a Christian! Behave!” All of us have particular sins which we like to judge in others. All of us have particular sins others enjoy judging in us. But aren’t we saved? Aren’t we supposed to be holy? Are we sanctified? Where is our sanctification?

“Sanctification” is one of those big words we hear in the Bible and in the church. It literally means “holy-fication.” It comes from the Latin word “sanctus” which means “holy.” Sanctification is being holy. Acting holy. Living holy. But what is holy? For most people who misunderstand sanctification, holy means a certain type of behavior that is Christian as opposed to pagan. People assume that we are sanctified and lead holy lives simply by being told what is wrong and being told to avoid it and do the right thing. What’s more, many


preachers, even some Lutheran ones, assume that if they just tell people God’s Word of Law, it will enable a Christian to do what it says. “Sanctification” is one of those things we’ll get completely wrong if we think it’s about us and not about Jesus. In fact, in the words above, St. Paul says that Jesus IS our sanctification. Whatever our sanctification is, it’s Jesus. So let’s clear up some of the myths and false ideas about what it means to be a Christian and be holy, that is, sanctified. False Statement #1 “Jesus saving us is our justification. Our our living for Jesus is our sanctification.” It’s like Jesus saves us but then it’s on us to live the right way. But St. Paul declares, “ I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus doesn’t save you and then leave it up to you to “stay saved” by living a good life. Rather, it is Jesus who lives in you. When you sin and break the commandments, forgiveness means God doesn’t count that against you. It’s covered up by Jesus. When you do good for another person, that’s Christ living in you, loving others through you. Sure, it’s your hands and mouth and mind and body. But Christ living in you means you are the instrument through which Christ loves and serves others. This rescues us from despair that we haven’t “done enough” because it is Christ’s to live and to do in us. False Statement #2: “If you are a sincere and mature Christian, you will sin less and less as you grow.” Here’s Paul again: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:18-19,24-25) Does that sound like a man who is improving or getting better? Paul recognized that the more “mature” he got, the longer he lived, the more he sinned and the more he struggled against God’s will and Word. But he also knew his deliverance and peace were found in Jesus. Jesus’ forgiveness wipes out Paul’s sin, while at the same time working through Paul to make him a better person for his neighbor. You might say that the longer you are a Christian, the more sin you’ll see in yourself. And the bigger a Savior Jesus is!

False Statement #3: “God wouldn’t have given the Commandments if we couldn’t keep them.” Oh yes He would! He did! Why on earth would God tell us to do and not do what we can’t do and not do? To show us our sin. To teach us that we can’t make ourselves holy. Jesus said, “I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20). These words tell us that we are not going to inherit the kingdom of God by our works because we can’t be that righteous. But Jesus is that righteous and therefore because He lives in you, His righteousness, His standing, is yours. The obvious argument to anything we’re saying here is this old saw: “Well, if it’s just Jesus living in you and you’re forgiven, you can live however you want!” And that’s exactly right. But how do you want to live? Here we are reminded of the saying, “simul iustus et peccator” (at the same time sinner and saint). The Small Catechism nails it: 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 (Baptism, Fourth Part). So what does it all look like, this sanctification stuff? It looks like Jesus living in you. How does that happen? By Holy Baptism, Absolution, the preaching of the Holy Gospel, and the Holy Supper of Jesus’ body and blood. Which means the Christian life looks like this: You get up and go out into the world with all sorts of good works to do based on whatever your vocation and calling are. And when you mess those up, you live in the grace and forgiveness of Christ which is yours in His church, which He gives in His gifts of water, Word, and Supper. And so it goes back and forth. Round and round. Day in and day out. Christ lives in you to the world through your good works to your neighbor. He dwells in you by forgiveness and faith to cover your sins. Over and over, every day, Jesus lives in you until the day He raises you from the dead. That’s what it means to be holy. That’s what sanctification is: Jesus living in you; His Spirit working in you; Jesus being Jesus, and you along for the ride. Rev. Mark Buetow is pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in DuQuoin, Illinois and serves as the deputy and media services executive for Higher Things. He can be reached at buetowmt@gmail.com.

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His Name Is John! By Rev. Marcus Zill


Language and faith always go hand in hand. Songwriters and poets have always sought to capture the essence of the Christian faith. Having dabbled in poetry myself, I have an appreciation for those who are actually skilled at the craft. You would probably be thrilled to find out that when you were born, your dad made up a poem in honor of the occasion. But what if the point of it had more to do with your cousin who wasn’t even born yet? Well, that’s basically what happened with John the Baptist (we celebrate his Nativity on June 24). When John was born, his dad, Zacharias, composed such a piece but it turns out that most of it was about Jesus. Of course, this makes total sense, as the supreme purpose in John’s life was precisely to point people to Jesus. His ministry was with his finger! John once said of Jesus, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Ultimately, everything about John, beginning at his birth, found its meaning in relation to Jesus— including his name. In many families, it is customary to name the firstborn son after his father or grandfather and to name the other children after other relatives—at least their middle name. My first name, Marcus, was my dad’s first name. While it’s just a custom and there’s nothing wrong with disregarding it (I went by my middle name Todd growing up and was called Toddzilla by my peers in my youth!) the custom does express the hope that the qualities about one’s father or other relatives will be carried on by their descendants. In ancient times, this custom was followed much more frequently than today. It wasn’t an option. It was expected. But Luke tells us that something different happened with the naming of John. In fact, it was so different that the other relatives and friends protested. “There’s nobody in the family by that name!”“Nobody in the family has ever borne the name of John.”“Why don’t you call him Zacharias, like his father?” The fact that Zacharias and Elizabeth have a child at all was a miracle. They had every reason to name him Zacharias. But they don’t. Instead they give him a name which indicates who he is in God’s sight and what He he has come to do. And so Zacharias, who had been kept until that moment from speaking because of his lack of faith in the promise, proudly announces, “His name is John.” Words have meaning and here language and faith go together perfectly. John means, “The Lord is gracious,” and the grace of God is precisely the message that John will preach, namely through repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Zacharias was certainly a proud father. But his excitement was not only in the birth of his son, but

also in the birth of his, and his son’s, Savior. In the canticle known as the Benedictus (Luke 1:67-80), when Zacharias does get around to talking about John, it’s all in relationship to the coming Christ. He, and He alone, is the point for both father and son. And so Zacharias looks at his newborn son and, led by the Holy Spirit, proclaims: “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him.” John’s mission would be to prepare the way of the Lord by proclaiming repentance and administering Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. He would ultimately point to Christ CRUCIFIED even before Christ’s death. “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) So it is fitting that even the song surrounding John’s birth also points the world to Christ! It is always, always, about Jesus! Of course, John was eventually killed for his faithful confession of Christ. Pointing out the sins of others in order to lead them to repentance and pointing the world to Jesus ultimately landed John in prison and led to his death. His wasn’t an easy life, but through it all, “the Lord was gracious” to Him and to you as well! You, too, will experience hardships and trials in your life, not only because sin still clings to you and you live in a sin-filled world, but also because you bear the name of Christ. Pointing your friends and loved ones to Christ and Him CRUCIFIED will also be met with scorn, and ridicule, and perhaps worse. But when you face those trials and temptations, know that God’s Word still proclaims to you that the end of even these things is eternal life: “The Lord is gracious.” John’s life, from beginning to end, found its entire meaning in relation to Christ. It is the same for you. Your life has meaning—wonderful, walking, wet meaning—because you are joined to Jesus. You have been baptized into Christ, you are privileged to hear His Words, and even receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Dear ones, “The Lord is gracious.” That, and only that, is the whole point! “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come and has redeemed his people.” Rev. Marcus T. Zill just accepted a call to serve the LCMS as the full-time Director of Campus Ministry and LCMS U.

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7

Apologists Every Christian Should Know PART 1

C. S. Lewis Must-Reads

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Mere Christianity: An absolute classic. ————————— The Screwtape Letters: Belief in the devil is hardly old fashioned. ————————— The Great Divorce: The doors of hell are locked from the inside. ————————— Miracles: Confronts modern arguments against the supernatural. (Heady but worth it.) ————————— The Chronicles of Narnia (starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe): For kids and adults alike. ————————— For the most recent, helpful book on what we can learn from Lewis, see Alister McGrath, Deep Magic, Dragons, and Talking Mice: How Reading C. S. Lewis Can Change Your Life.

The Lasting Legacy of C.S. Lewis:

Why Imaginative Imagine a world in which it is always winter

but never Christmas. Imagine a place where Deep Magic from the dawn of time requires the blood of the guilty to be shed. Imagine a story where the hero is an all-powerful lifegiving Being who enters this dark wintry realm and humbly accepts the punishment of death on behalf of his enemy . . . yet because of the Deeper Magic from before the dawn of time, this selfless sacrificial act ends up redeeming the whole world while the hero himself does not remain dead but astonishingly comes back to life. Sound familiar? Welcome to Narnia...or...to the real world and the Christian faith. Though not all the details line up, at their core The Chronicles of Narnia are a sort of retelling of the Incarnation. It is C. S. Lewis’ wonderful attempt to teach us that the story of Christ is more vibrant, accessible, engaging, and meaningful than perhaps we ever realized. And this goes for unbelievers, too. Those who think they despise Jesus often love Aslan, who is just about the most obvious Christ-figure there is. And those who are outraged or bored by the Bible can sometimes be found reading (and re-reading) the narrative of Narnia well beyond childhood. Why is this? What did Lewis manage to do so well that is done poorly or not at all by many Christians—even many apologists—when presenting and defending the faith? In short, the writings of C. S. Lewis effectively engage the imagination. dragons Sneaking Past Watchful Dragons There is much to be said for a robust, tough-minded, intellectually satisfying Christianity. We want reasons to believe God exists and evidence that the biblical events really happened. Lewis agreed with this, and made many clear and rational arguments in favor of the truths of Scripture. But

this alone is not the reason for his immense popularity and success as an apologist. Indeed, even a faith founded on facts can leave a person unfulfilled. Lewis, therefore, repeatedly appealed to the human imagination as a way to help his audience grasp and absorb the meaning of the gospel message. Because it’s not enough that it’s true— it also needs to be for you. “Imagination” here does not refer to wishful thinking or mere creativity. Rather, it identifies the meaning of something even before judging it as true or false. It is in this sense that Lewis sought to “steal past those watchful dragons” of the modern mind that are so quick to dismiss claims about Jesus as outdated or unscientific before considering what they mean. Lewis thus saw it as his calling to point out the unmatched imaginative qualities of the Christian story. It is a message so profound that it is able to change the way we see ourselves and our entire world. It resonates with our suspicions that there is something more to life than what our own experiences can teach us. And if true, the Christian story, the Gospel in particular, can ultimately satisfy the desires of our hearts like no other story.


Apologetics Matter This is why a story conveys meaning in a way that the sheer cold facts of math or grammar or physics never can. As a former atheist himself, Lewis was captivated by stories of dying and rising figures in myths and fairy tales. He found them “profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp.” But of course he didn’t believe them to be true. Nonetheless, Lewis later maintained that he was better prepared to consider the Gospels precisely because they spoke of a Person whose words and deeds were simply too significant to ignore. Through his imagination, Lewis had been invited (so to speak) to meet Christ. In turn, Lewis extended that same invitation to others. Became Fact Myth became Lies can be beautiful, in a certain sense. They can strike squarely at the heart and speak to the human condition. This is what Lewis believed the great myths of the world do, for in them one can find meaning. History, on the other hand, is devoid of such beauty and meaning because the story it tells is one of suffering and sorrow, where oppression is the norm and nobody lives happily ever after. The problem, of course, is myths are false while history is true and the two shall never meet. Or so Lewis thought. It was J. R. R. Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings) who helped change Lewis’ mind. A so-called mythological view of the world is possible, Tolkien argued, that allows one to reconcile the imagination and the intellect. The pagan myths, with their dying and rising saviors who bring hope and joy are, in fact, corrupted versions of the truth. Look at the Gospels. Do they read like myth or history? Lewis, who was an expert on literature, was forced to admit they are historical accounts through and through. And yet, they also contain that

element of myth in which something so profoundly great happens that you want it to be true, and are even afraid to hope that it is in case you’re wrong. This is not merely to say that the Gospels contain miracles, but that the Person in them is compelling beyond measure because of his imaginative appeal. He speaks as no one else ever spoke; he enters this sin-darkened world in order to save it, and against all odds he bursts the gates of death and hell so that we can live forever. Tolkien called this kind of climax the “eucatastrophe” (or “good turn”) of the story, because the joy it brings can be so powerful that it almost feels like pain. After the catastrophe takes place, it seems all hope is lost. But then, there is a sharp unexpected turn that results in a happy ending; good triumphs over evil and all wrongs are made right. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the one and only case where this actually happened in history. And by that infinitely meaningful fact, Lewis came to believe the story of Christ as the “true myth” in which history and fairy tales have been fused together. The Incarnation is the eucatastrophe of the story of mankind, and the resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the Incarnation. The Gospels recount this Supreme Story. And the Christ therein satisfies both reason and imagination as the embodiment of meaning, hope, joy, and truth. To narnia Narnia . . . and beyond Beyond to Superheroes. Wizards. Jedi Knights. Millions flock to the films and buy the books. Fantasy has a way of capturing our imagination that reality does not, at least most of the time. The exception is—or at least should be—the true tale in which God became man to begin the thawing of our wintry world, to face our chief enemies of Sin and Death on the cosmic battlefield, to fight and bleed

By Rev. Mark A. Pierson

and die in our place . . . only to rise again victoriously and thus redeem our fallen race. When Superman or Harry Potter or Obi-wan do similar things, this only serves to validate Lewis’ point. Sadly, the greatest story ever told is so often not told as a great story. It is reduced to morals to live by, or is presented as a mechanical laundry list of beliefs you need to check off before you take your last breath. So Lewis created Narnia, an attempt to defend the Christian story through the meaningful telling of another. But Narnia was just one of many works in which Lewis did this. Imagine a dialogue between two demons on how best to prevent someone from becoming and staying a Christian. Imagine what would happen if the people in hell visited heaven and were allowed to stay, if they wanted. Imagine you were in paradise when the woman was tempted and had to offer a counter-temptation. It is with thought experiments, metaphors, and fantastical scenarios such as these that Lewis pulls us out of ourselves, our darkened vision, our small and tame god. This is why he did not limit himself to purely rational arguments when defending the faith, but firmly rooted his theology and apologetics in the true and meaningful story of Christ’s Incarnation. And if the ongoing devotion to his writings 50 years after his death serves as any measure of his success, we would be wise to follow his lead. Rev. Mark A. Pierson is assistant pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Long Beach, California, and has a passion for evangelism and apologetics. You can email him at markapierson@gmail.com.

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JESUS.FOR.YOU. Give me Jesus. Only Jesus! By Rev. Paul Mumme

It’s one of the latest Christian fads.

You see it on social media, church websites, and bumper stickers. You occasionally pass someone wearing it on his t-shirt. There’s even a “program” behind it. So what is this latest fad and the slogan (creed!) that accompanies it?

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I have no doubt that those who believe these words are well intentioned. Nor do I question that they have faith in someone or something. I do, however, question this slogan and the arrogance it conveys: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people—not like that spiritual infant who is still being fed with spiritual milk, not like that individual who struggles against but occasionally gives in to his sinful desires, or even not like that lowly ‘fan’ of Yours. I am a completely committed follower. A. COMPLETELY. COMMITTED. FOLLOWER. (One with swagger who punctuates important words.)” The problem with this fad is simple. There’s no Jesus in those words. No forgiveness. No mercy. No grace. Only condescension. Arrogance. Haughtiness. Superiority. Conceit. Pride. (So that’s what it is like to Punctuate. Important. Words!) Our Lord Jesus Christ faced the same type of “I’m-more-committed-thanothers” attitude in His day. He even addressed the danger and emptiness of such an attitude in a parable: [Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The


Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14) The truth be told, my sinful pride loves to shine the spotlight on myself and tout that I am a completely committed follower. My narcissistic self loves to look down on those whom I deem to be only fans, those whom I deem to be less committed, those whom I deem to be too worldly. My fallen nature loves to stand before God and show Him my commitment, my dedication, my loyalty, my devotion, my piety, my steadfastness. But that sinful pride, that narcissistic self, that fallen nature must die. And it must die daily in the contrition and repentance of baptism. For only in dying to self is one raised to new life in Jesus Christ. This is true of those who see themselves as completely committed followers and those who are seen as being only fans. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23; cf. Romans 7:14-25; 1 John 1:8). The world around you—as well as your brothers and sisters in Christ— will be better served if you approach them, not as being more committed than them (whatever that means), but as fellow sinners who live daily by God’s grace in Jesus Christ; as fellow sinners who struggle daily against the temptations of the devil, the world, and your sinful flesh; as fellow sinners who live daily in the baptismal grace that is yours in Jesus, in the Absolution and Gospel He frequently speaks into your ears, in the Supper by which He regularly gives you His true body and blood for the forgiveness of your sin. Point to His mercy for you, not your works for Him. His grace to you, not your promises to Him. His forgiveness for you, not your piety for Him. His commitment to you, not your commitment to Him. That’s why the Christian daily confesses: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). We confess this daily because, by God’s grace, we believe the words and promises of Him who “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We must decrease; He must increase. We must become nothing; He is everything. As those who have died and been raised with Jesus in Holy Baptism, we daily confess with Saint Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The Christian faith is all about Jesus. The Christian faith is all about His birth. His baptism. His life. His suffering. His death. His resurrection. His ascension. The Christian faith is all about His Church. His Word. His Sacraments. The Chrstian faith is all about His grace. His mercy. His forgiveness. The Christian faith is all about His salvation. His redemption. His atonement. This Jesus is for you! JESUS. FOR. YOU. Give me Jesus. Only Jesus! Rev. Paul Mumme is pastor of Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bolingbrook, Illinois, husband of one incredible wife, and father of four awesome boys. He can be reached at pmumme@ds-lcms.org.

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Higher Things 2015 Conferences

Te Deum

Visit tedeum2015.org or email conferences@higherthings.org for more details.

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The Final Strife The rooms are often chilled and silent, families in some, others strangely still. Few would guess beneath such veneers the battle waging strong. For in these rooms comes Death, sometimes in meekness, sometimes with pain: here quickly, there quite slow. He comes to claim his prize, to gloat with giddy pride. Yet Death comes not alone, for with him comes also Satan, the angel of light, now fallen. This is their hour: for it they thirst, and wait with glee. And there, near the bed, waiting with patience, a dark specter abides. Those who enter see him, and know his purpose well. His presence is felt, is known and seen. Sometimes he speaks, sometimes is silent; always his vigil maintains. At last, the time is at hand; the waiting is over. The serpent strikes in a blink of an eye. Breathing comes harder; the body weakens; strength is lost – but the struggle is still just beginning, for Satan now plies the most devious of charms to steal away Life itself, and bends close with sorrowful tears, “Surely heaven is yours: no better could be found. You are a good person; if you don’t make it, well then, who could?” Nearly forgotten by the side of the bed, the specter listens, then enters the fray. “Do not mistake my silence for weakness,” he silently speaks, “for this silence weaves your doom. My words have not been spoken, but my pleas have not gone unheard. Flee while you can, you “holy” angel of light! No, you fear me not, nor have you cause– but Christ sends Michael and his angelic host, strong and just and true. They felled you in days of old: they now come forth again. Show your courage! Stand fast! Slay now the strong, prey not on the weak. No? Then take your flight; run away! This hour is yours, the next is the Lord’s! Be gone, foul demon, in the name of Jesus.” The venomous angel withdraws and grows silent, and now the specter speaks aloud. Pure light spills forth unseen in the gloom, that eyes would be opened and deaf ears unstopped. His Word is simple and plain: he speaks of Christ – His loss, our gain. The Word shows the cross, the tomb, the Lamb: love unsurpassed and true. That Word enfolds the one lying still - the one cradled in Death’s cold, hard grip - and wraps her close in loving embrace. This Word is the grave clothes in which she shall rest; this Word: her hope and peace. What glorious dress, how brilliant and white! What beauty and splendid array!

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Then one more gift still does remain to be given: the fragrance of incense to adorn and crown. Tears mixed with prayer are offered aloud, holding the beloved’s still hand. “Have mercy, O Lord, and take this dear child into Your kingdom to reign.” And then the child awakes, in brilliance of light. Her struggle is finished, the warfare is o’er. Now is her peace and endless delight; here is her joy, her love: Christ, the Lord. Lord, send to us Your faithful servants, to watch and pray and speak. Guard us in temptation’s last hour, that at last it too may be said of us, “This child of God has met no harm.”

Rev. Tim Lorenz joyfully serves the saints of Bethlehem Lutheran Church at Greenleaf, Kansas. He has been married to his wife, Kristin, for 8 years and is the father of Abby and Noelle. He can be reached at pastorlorenz@gmail.com


Cross train your brain.

“The Core really made me think outside of the box and forced me to answer difficult questions, not accepting an “I don’t know” or “I don’t care” answer. It involved a lot of connection-making, which really helped me articulate my responses to difficult questions.”

Education should strengthen your brain, challenge you to ask questions, and build a strong foundation for your future. In Concordia University Irvine’s *nationally recognized Core curriculum, you will learn about God and service to the world through the cross of Christ. You will cross disciplinary boundaries by studying biology with theology, mathematics with philosophy, and history with literature. You will wrestle with questions and concepts of life that have endured across the centuries. You will cultivate sound academic habits and skills that apply across the curriculum, to your future careers, and life. Exercise your mind. Exercise your faith. Cross train your brain. *Concordia University Irvine is a member of the Association for Core Texts and Courses’ Liberal Arts Institute. This prestigious institute— composed of 12 universities that include Columbia, St. John’s, Pepperdine, and Notre Dame—promotes “the integrated and common study of world classics and texts of major cultural significance” in general education programs across North America.

www.cui.edu/core

Scan here to learn more about the Core.

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(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

Your Is

Body

Beautiful by Annalise Harrison

My stomach growled. My mouth watered at the sight of the delicious meal as I mentally calculated the calories spread across the table. I passed my hand across my stomach and reminded myself that 133 lbs. does not deserve to eat dinner. Only tan, toned, and thin was worthy of food. Grabbing my water and cucumber, I ran out of the house with two hours of exercise before me. I couldn’t consume real food. I needed to be skinny, for only then could I be beautiful, happy, and full of life. And I was willing to do much to get there. I worked hard, pushing the numbers down on the scale. Less food, more exercise, and I passed down in sizes. My god was my weight; my salvation, a waistline; my life, calories.

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

Eating disorders are seldom talked about within the church, but it is a struggle faced by Christian youth today. Those who battle against an eating disorder know how real, terrifying, and self-absorbing this lifestyle can be. It manifests itself in different ways and extremes, and though many do not have a disorder, we are all faced with this fundamental question: Where do we find life and beauty? The world is ready with an answer. The media promotes it, fashion insists upon it, and the culture confirms it. One’s value is wrapped around a waistband and weighed by a number on a scale. Only the beautiful are happy, and to be beautiful means to look good in skinny jeans, be radiant in a bikini, and, all in all, to be a sexy, slender human being. The world lifts up these things as the highest pillar of beauty—the beauty--the only way one can live to one’s fullest. But is this really where beauty and life reside?

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

Annalise Harrison is a confessional Lutheran teen living in rural Michigan. She is an alumni of Augustine College (Ottawa, Canada), a high school graduate of 2014, and a future student of Hillsdale College. A lover of dance, she is happiest in heels with friends on a dance floor. Feel free to contact her at aharrisoncollege@gmail.com.

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@ 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) @

Truth be told,our frail bodies are sick and dying. They are passing away, returning to the dust from which they came. Our efforts to find happiness come to nothing, for our bodies can and never will give us the perfection we seek. Weight becomes a millstone around the neck; waistline, an expanding chasm; calories, an empty pit. The beauty and the life they have fade. We impossibly chase after them, but they are gone like the wind. If beauty is not of these earthly vessels, then where is beauty found? It is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. He, the Son of God, humbled himself to be born in the same flesh like us. Jesus came bringing life to us, and not merely for our souls, but also for our physical and fallen bodies. He touched the sick, the dying, the fat, the anorexic, and healed their bodies. Then, taking on our ailments, His body suffered the punishment for our bodies. He was marred beyond all human recognition, nailed to a wooden cross, and deserted by all. Christ died, taking our shame and ugliness with Him into the grave. But death could not hold him! Our Lord rose bodily, conquering the grave! One day He will come again in glory, granting us life eternal. As we are baptized into Him, we share in His death and resurrection. Our dirty rags, our fat, our skinniness, our ugliness are all washed away through our baptism, crucified on the cross, buried in the tomb, and we rise anew with Christ. He then gives His very own body and blood, granting forgiveness to both our bodies and our souls. In eating and drinking His body and blood, we become one with His body and thus find beauty, life, and happiness in Him. Our beauty does not belong to our bodies, but to His. He has redeemed us, body and soul—what more is there to be done? Culture may point to sexiness as god, the world may proclaim skinniness for salvation, but we preach Christ crucified and risen. All life, all beauty, all things come from Him. And when we are in Christ, that is where true beauty is found.

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


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Vocatio

Taste of the Sem

(For high school guys and girls)

(For high school guys only)

June 27-July 2, 2015

January 17-19, 2015

Ready to register? Visit www.csl.edu or call 800-822-9545. Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


THIS is the year. This is

YOUR time to stand!

Won’t you join us?

We’re taking a stand on behalf of the 2,900 children who are aborted every day in America. And we’re counting on you to stand with us by attending the 2015 LCMS Life Conference. Where: Washington, D.C. When: Jan. 22-24, 2015

EvEry LifE MattErs! End Abortion!

I Am Pro-LIfe

lcms.org/events/lifeconference

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Great Expe By Bethany Woelmer

You find them everywhere:

sticking to the promises of personal relationships, attaching themselves to responsibilities and hopeful goals, and rendering themselves useful for satisfaction and gain. You find them in both the good and the bad in life, stemming from our mortal flesh through our needs and wants and racing through our veins to control our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

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They’re EVERYWHERE. And our sinful nature just cannot get rid of them, because it’s wired for control, pleasure, and self-gain. expectations. They are those little things that raise our hopes for the future and become the dependency that we create for people based on our needs and wants; those little things that fire our emotions and send them wild, either leading us toward a promising end or pushing us off the cliff of despair into the depths of our soul that is once again paralyzed with fear and anxiety for the future; those little things that secure our wellbeing and confidence yet also cause us to despair when they don’t come to pass. You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. Holding expectations for others is really great—to a certain extent. Expecting others to behave according to their vocation and abilities and according to what we really need is reasonable. What would we possibly do without parents to take care of us, friends to support us, teachers to instruct us, doctors to heal us, cooks to feed us, and even people we don’t know to promote a greater living within the society around us? We expect because we know that we will receive, we receive because we know that we need, and we need because we can’t accomplish everything on our own. But what if we want more than we need? What if we expect too much out of people to a point that we perpetually blame them for not meeting those expectations? What if we desire more from them without appreciating the blessings they give to us on a daily basis? What if we refuse what we need and rather expect the things we want instead? We find this everywhere around us. Different standards of pleasure rule our minds, and when instant gratification is not received, we blame others instead of focusing on the blessings we do have. And when these expectations fail to be fulfilled, our thoughts and actions gain control of us and cause


pectations us to doubt our abilities, lose hope in others, and sin against God and our neighbor. There are many times when we even expect more from God than what He has promised to us. With anxiety we expect immediate answers to our prayers without the patience that all things will work out for good to those who love Him. With despair, we blame God for the times when we were not given everything we wanted. With confidence, we lie to ourselves that the plans for our lives are unchanging, when in fact, there is so much more to learn and so much more that will change and help us grow. But here is what is truly important: The most we can ever expect from God is what He has promised to give us through His Word and Sacraments, which is more than we could ever hope for or deserve. We can go to the Divine Service, expecting that the Word is taught in its truth and purity and knowing for certain that we will receive forgiveness of sins from God Himself through the confession and absolution of our sins, the preaching of His Word, and the administration of His Body and Blood that He poured out for us on the cross. As poor miserable sinners, we can can be certain that all those times we expected too much of others and of God are wiped away by words of forgiveness. Sit down in God’s house, and you can expect to receive. It’s as simple as that. Surround yourself with the community of believers, and you can expect the light of Christ to shine through them. Read His Word, and you can expect everything you really need in life and the true joy in knowing that you belong to someone greater than you could ever expect in this world, someone who has given His life for yours and who has suffered the punishment that you deserve. That “someone” is Christ Himself who gave His life for us without expecting anything in return. So what more is there to expect when you already have everything you need? As we continue through life’s struggles and expectations, we are comforted in knowing that God is in control. We need not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own, and we can live in peace, knowing that our hope is in Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And THAT is an expectation that will never change! Bethany Woelmer is a senior at Concordia University Wisconsin and is studying parish music and theology. She loves using her creativity in music, crafts, writing, and photography, and spends every day enjoying the little things in life that bring happiness. She can be reached at piano_1130@yahoo.com.

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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

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Catechism

Table of Duties

Workers and Bosses By Rev. William M. Cwirla

T

he workplace is an extension of God’s order of the household in the temporal kingdom. The Scripture passages quoted in the Table of Duties pertain to household servants or slaves but can be applied to employees and employers. Work is part of our vocation, our calling and priesthood in which we employ the gifts of God in service of others. Like the home, the workplace is ordered. There are supervisors and those who are supervised, employers and employees. The Table of Duties directs both to the Holy Scriptures.

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The Worker To servants, workers, and employees, it says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:5-8)

Workers don’t just serve their boss and company, they serve the Lord. Like Hebrew National Hot Dogs, they “answer to a Higher Authority.” For that reason, Christians ought to be the best workers around. They are servants of the One who came as the Servant of all. They are not simply serving men or grubbing for a paycheck, but they recognize that they are priests to God in Christ’s royal priesthood and what they do is priestly work. Whether it is building a house, repairing a faucet, putting


out a fire, tending a patient, flipping a burger or waiting on tables, whatever it is you do for work is priestly work, offered as a “living sacrifice” that is holy and acceptable through the High Priestly Sacrifice of Jesus’ blood (Romans 12). I like the word “eye-service.” Most of us know how that goes. You work only when you know someone is watching and, of course, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.”“Eye-service” is doing just enough to get by; working only when it shows. But the servant of Christ strives for excellence in all things, even when no one is watching. A good test is this: Do you do the same quality work when no one notices? In my hobby of woodworking, there is a joint called the blind mitered dovetail. It’s an extremely strong joint that combines the clean but weak miter with a very strong, but hidden dovetail. A dovetail joint takes a bit of skill, patience and practice to master. Ordinarily, it’s visible to show off the skill of the woodworker. But in a blind mitered dovetail, the dovetail is completely hidden from view. The world will never see it nor admire the labor and skill that went into it. It’s known only to the craftsman and God. It’s like cleaning house for a blind person who can’t see whether or not you did a good job, or visiting an Alzheimer’s patient who won’t remember your visit. Attention to detail, pursuit of quality and excellence, and care for workmanship are the characteristics of priestly work. And you, as a baptized believing worker, are a priest to God in the service of your neighbor. The Boss To masters, bosses, and employers, the Scripture says, “Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.” (Ephesians 6:9)

Ultimately, we all work for the same Boss. The Christian recognizes this and so treats his or her subordinates with honor and dignity, without prejudice or partiality. He is concerned that they are fairly compensated for their work and well cared for. In my science career, I had the privilege of working for a man who also happened to be a devout Christian. He was an excellent supervisor—always looking out for the wellbeing of the people under his authority. He advocated for us, defended us, mentored us, made sure we had the best tools to do our job, and pushed for our promotion and advancement, even if it meant losing us in his work group. Even the unbelievers and skeptics in our group admired him for his honesty, fairness, and integrity. When I told him of my plans to go to the seminary, he was prayerfully supportive right down to my last day on the job. We are all servants of each other and of Christ. Whether as employers or employees, and regardless of the work we do, we all serve Christ hidden in the neighbor as we serve each another. “For as often as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me,” Jesus said. Jesus knew the world of work. He apparently labored as a carpenter or contractor, carrying on the business after Joseph. We have no record of how He was as a worker or a boss, but we can imagine that He did good work and treated others with respect. “He did all things well.” Most importantly, Jesus redeemed and sanctified the world of work, lifting up on the cross all the ways that we take advantage of each other and rob each other, taking up our sinful selfishness and prideful egos. Jesus, the second Adam, restored the dignity and holiness to Adam’s work and made our labor once again a priestly sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith. Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe: Be there at our labors, and give us, we pray, Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day. Lutheran Service Book #738 Rev. William M. Cwirla is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, California, and serves on the board of directors for Higher Things. He can be reached at wcwirla@gmail.com.

S U M M E R 2 0 1 4 _ 29


Sanctification:

Jesus Living in You A Higher Things Bible Study • Summer 2014 Introduction: Sanctification refers to the Holy Spirit making us holy in Christ. This Bible study will look at the way in which the right approach to understanding our holy lives as Christians is to see our sanctification as Christ living in and through us by His Word and gifts, not merely our own outward seeming improvement or attempts at behaving better.

1

Discuss the following statement: “As you mature as a Christian, you will begin to sin less and less.” Is this accurate? If we don’t sin less, are we not trying to live as Christians? Is the Christian life about how much we sin?

2

What is “sanctification?” What is “holy living?” How would you describe what a “Christian life” looks like?

T H I N G S __ 30

Read the Small Catechism, baptism, Fourth Part (lSb p.325). What does this baptismal Christian life look like?

6

If we are Christians, why do we continue to sin? How does St. Paul identify it in romans 7:13-25? How can we describe this struggle in the Christian?

3

7

4

8

What does St. Paul say about our sanctification in 1 Corinthians 1:3031? What does that say about how we brag concerning our “Christian walk?”

H I G H E R

5

One of the things which Lutherans are often accused of goes something like this: “Well if you’re just forgiven for everything you do, then you can just do whatever you want and not worry about it.” How would you respond? How does Paul answer that very objection in romans 6:1-4? What clue is Paul giving us about what the Christian life is like?

How are the works of the flesh described? What is the fruit of the Spirit? How does the Spirit do these things in us? See Galatians 5:19-26 for the answers. Read Galatians 2:19-21. What does Paul say here about our lives as Christians? How does this differ from what so many other churches teach us about our “holy living?”

9

So what should we do or how do we act or what does our life look like as Christians? What is the pattern for our lives as Christians? Where do we receive the things that make us holy? Review the answers in the Small Catechism, third article and Meaning (lSb p.323).

10

Close by singing lSb #602, “the Gifts Christ Freely Gives.”

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


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“Apologists: C.S. Lewis” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 Leader’s Guide 1. Rev. Pierson points us to the meaningful story of Christ’s incarnation. Read John 1:1-2, 14. What does John call the pre-incarnate second Person of the Trinity at the time of creation? Does He continue to remain in heaven? What does He do? Where does He go? What does He do here? By what name is He known after He becomes incarnate? Before the second Person of the Trinity comes in the flesh, John refers to Him as “The Word.” God’s only-begotten Son comes down to the earth to become flesh as a human. He goes among the people to “tabernacle” with them. He is the full presence of God on earth among us, with all of God’s glory, all of God’s grace, and all of God’s truth embodied within. When He takes on flesh to become incarnate, He is given the human name “Jesus” to indicate that He is indeed God, the Savior of the world. 2. Rev. Pierson reminds us that the story of Jesus’ incarnation only has meaning if it is “for you.” Read Luke 22:19-20. How does the incarnate Jesus come to earth today? What does Jesus say about His body in His Supper? What does Jesus say about the cup of His blood in Communion? What is the significance of Jesus saying that His Body and Blood are given and shed “for you” for the forgiveness of sins? The flesh and blood Jesus truly comes to us in these latter days in the Sacrament of the Altar. He tells us that He gives His body unto death for you in the bread. Likewise He says He pours out from the cup, His blood shed for you at Calvary. This “for you” is quite significant, so much so that Luther addresses it specifically in His Small Catechism. In it, he reminds us that those words “for you” require your heart to believe Jesus, taking Him at His word that this gift of Body and Blood from the incarnate Christ is yours for the forgiveness of your sins. 3. Rev. Pierson writes of how Jesus satisfies the desires of the heart. Read Matthew 15:18-19 and Ephesians 3:14-19. Does the human heart normally desire good things? Who changes your heart? How does Christ now dwell in your heart? What is the result of God now filling your heart? How do new desires now come from your heart? We are born with hearts that are evil, sinful and unclean. If our hand or eye were the cause of our sin, we could cut them off ourselves, but not so with the heart. God must provide a “heart transplant.” The Holy Spirit takes your sin-sick, dying heart to the cross of Jesus at your baptism. In exchange, you have a new heart created in you, now with a right Spirit—the Holy Spirit within it. This is the very heart of Jesus Who now dwells in your heart. In His love, you now understand God’s good and holy desires. The focus of your God-given faith is now toward Jesus your Savior, who died and rose for you! 4. Jesus spoke as no one else had ever spoken, as Rev. Pierson notes. Read Matthew 7:28-29. What was the reaction of the crowds after Jesus had taught them from the mountainside? What was unique about the manner of Jesus’ teaching? How was this surprising, considering that the scribes who copied the scriptures regularly didn’t teach with the same authority? How does Jesus teach you with His authority today? When Jesus taught, the people were amazed. They marveled and wondered at His words. This was, of course, because Jesus was God-in-the-flesh instructing them. He had the very highest authority of all in His teaching. The scribes knew God’s word quite well, but they failed to understand it was all about Jesus. Disconnected from God their Savior, their teaching was sorely lacking compared to Jesus’ words. When your Pastor preaches “Christ crucified” for you, by faith you receive Jesus’ own gospel message for your forgiveness and salvation.


words. When your Pastor preaches “Christ crucified” for you, by faith you receive Jesus’ own gospel message for your forgiveness and salvation. 5. Rev. Pierson talks of the “eucatastrophy.” Read Hebrews 2:14-18. How does God humbling Himself to become “flesh and blood” turn out to be a “good catastrophy?” How is Jesus being tempted by the devil a “good catastrophy?” How does God in the flesh dying on the cross turn out to be a “good catastrophy?” Jesus humbles Himself to become a man, the promised Seed of Abraham to rescue all of us seeds of Abraham. He takes upon the likeness of your sinful flesh to set you free from your slavery to sin, by becoming your sin at Calvary. In His temptations at the hands of Satan, Jesus does what we fail to accomplish; He does not fall into sin. By resisting the temptations, Jesus renders the devil powerless, and now He comes to your aid when you are tempted to lead us from it. By giving up His life unto death for you on the cross, Jesus destroys death’s hold on you, becoming merciful and faithful as the one atoning sacrifice that paid your ransom price, forever. 6. In the article, Rev. Pierson says that a story conveys meaning in a way sheer, cold facts never can. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-13. What sins had King David committed? How does the prophet Nathan confront David? How does the story about the man and his lamb effect David? What is David’s reaction? How does Nathan respond? How does God respond similarly in your life? David had lusted, committed adultery, conspired murder, and lied to cover it all up. Instead of confronting the King with the “facts,” Nathan tells David a parable type of story. When King David hears about that wretched rich man, his anger is kindled…but Nathan reveals that the story is really about rich King David. David is cut to the quick when he is confronted to know that God is wrathful against all his sins. He reacts with sincere repentance. Nathan absolves David of his sins. Whenever your heart is heavy with guilt and sorrow, you go to your pastor to hear that God forgives you. 7. Rev. Pierson compares and contrasts the story of your salvation with “myths.” Read 2 Peter 16-21. Are the scriptures based upon cleverly devised myths? How did St. Peter come to know the things he wrote down in his epistles? What do we have so that we may test whether or not a message is from God? Are we to rely upon our own interpretation of God’s word? How did the bible writers get God’s prophetic word? Myths are not the basis of God’s revealed truth. Scripture speaks rather strongly *against* myths (1 Tim.1:4, 2 Tim.4:4, Titus 1:14) as source of truth! Peter was an eyewitness of events in Jesus’ life, including the transfiguration. We have the sure, prophetic word of God shining like a lamp to expose all falsehood and reveal what is true. Scripture is never of a person’s own interpretation, so we let God be His Own Interpreter, as the Holy Spirit clarifies our confusion over one bible passage with another scripture which makes it clearer to us. That same Holy Spirit was active carrying along men of God to speak forth His word of scripture. 8. Close with the following prayer. Almighty 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 the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


“Apologists: C.S. Lewis” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 1. Rev. Pierson points us to the meaningful story of Christ’s incarnation. Read John 1:1-2, 14. What does John call the pre-incarnate second Person of the Trinity at the time of creation? Does He continue to remain in heaven? What does He do? Where does He go? What does He do here? By what name is He known after He becomes incarnate?

2. Rev. Pierson reminds us that the story of Jesus’ incarnation only has meaning if it is “for you.” Read Luke 22:19-20. How does the incarnate Jesus come to earth today? What does Jesus say about His body in His Supper? What does Jesus say about the cup of His blood in Communion? What is the significance of Jesus saying that His Body and Blood are given and shed “for you” for the forgiveness of sins?

3. Rev. Pierson writes of how Jesus satisfies the desires of the heart. Read Matthew 15:18-19 and Ephesians 3:14-19. Does the human heart normally desire good things? Who changes your heart? How does Christ now dwell in your heart? What is the result of God now filling your heart? How do new desires now come from your heart?

4. Jesus spoke as no one else had ever spoken, as Rev. Pierson notes. Read Matthew 7:28-29. What was the reaction of the crowds after Jesus had taught them from the mountainside? What was unique about the manner of Jesus’ teaching? How was this surprising, considering that the scribes who copied the scriptures regularly didn’t teach with the same authority? How does Jesus teach you with His authority today?

5. Rev. Pierson talks of the “eucatastrophy.” Read Hebrews 2:14-18. How does God humbling Himself to become “flesh and blood” turn out to be a “good catastrophy?” How is Jesus being tempted by the devil a “good catastrophy?” How does God in the flesh dying on the cross turn out to be a “good catastrophy?” 6. In the article, Rev. Pierson says that a story conveys meaning in a way sheer, cold facts never can. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-13. What sins had King David committed? How does the prophet Nathan confront David? How does the story about the man and his lamb effect David? What is David’s reaction? How does Nathan respond? How does God respond similarly in your life?


7. Rev. Pierson compares and contrasts the story of your salvation with “myths.” Read 2 Peter 16-21. Are the scriptures based upon cleverly devised myths? How did St. Peter come to know the things he wrote down in his epistles? What do we have so that we may test whether or not a message is from God? Are we to rely upon our own interpretation of God’s word? How did the bible writers get God’s prophetic word?

8. Close with the following prayer. Almighty 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 the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


“The First Time I Died” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 Leader Guide Introduction: This Bible Study looks at the how, in Holy Baptism, we died with Christ and are raised to new life. This means something both for our life now and for our eventual bodily death. For our life now it means we are dead to sin. For our bodily death it means that it cannot harm us and that we will rise to eternal life on the Last Day. 1. Read the article “The First Time I Died” in the Summer 2014 issue of Higher Things magazine. When did Pastor Riley think he had died? But when did he actually die for the first time? Pastor Riley shares some events of his earlier life in which he felt pretty much dead. So much so, in fact, that he even tried to make it permanent through suicide. But he really did die the day he was baptized and that's when his life really began. 2. When does our life begin? When does Jesus say that our new life begins? What language does He use to teach this? See John 3:1-8. To what is Jesus referring when He says “water and the Spirit?” Life begins at conception, of course, but typically we speak of when we enter this world at birth. Jesus speaks of being born “from above” (or “again”) in reference to the new birth that we are given through water and the Spirit in Holy Baptism. When we are baptized, we are born from above. Now God is our father and the church is our mother. The font is like a womb from which we come forth. Our new life begins at the font. 3. What does St Paul tell us happens to us in Holy Baptism? See Romans 6:1-4. How does this happen to us? What is the relationship between what Jesus did on Calvary and Baptism? In Baptism we are both buried and raised with Christ. So, the death of Jesus becomes our death with Him through the means of Holy Baptism. Likewise, because He rose, our baptism is our resurrection to new life. Baptism is the connection or delivery of what Jesus did on Calvary. Without Baptism, Calvary doesn't do us any good. Without Calvary, baptism is empty and meaningless. Rather, Baptism delivers what Jesus did for us at Calvary so that it is ours and we know salvation has been accomplished for us. 4. Continue reading Romans 1:5-14. How does what happens in baptism work in our lives? What is our relationship to our sinful nature? To God in Christ? Our death in baptism means that we are dead to sin. When you are dead to something, it can't harm you or affect you. Thus sin cannot rule over us. Likewise, we are alive to God in and through Jesus Christ (by our baptism). This means that as we live, we live in Christ, free from sin. St. Paul tells us what can only be told to us because we are baptized: Do not present ourselves as instruments of sin. The New Man in Christ doesn't want to serve sin but God, so we are called away from useless works and sins to live in the new life that Christ has given us. 5. Read The Small Catechism, Baptism: Fourth Part (LSB 325). What does this dying and rising mean for us as Christians? What does it look like in our lives? Each day, we learn to be sorry for our sins and repent of them. The Good News is that they are drowned in baptism. Each day, we live for God and are perfectly righteous and innocent in Him. To live in Baptism is to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us who daily forgives us, covers us, and does good works through us. So that “looks like” making the sign of the cross and asking forgiveness and remembering our baptism, being absolved, and receiving Christ's body and blood.


in Baptism is to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us who daily forgives us, covers us, and does good works through us. So that “looks like” making the sign of the cross and asking forgiveness and remembering our baptism, being absolved, and receiving Christ's body and blood. 6. There is a temptation to describe the Christian life as “ours” to live, as if we can somehow do good works apart from Christ. How does Paul describe the Christian life in Galatians 2:19-20? Who does good works in us? What does this mean for our sin? The Christian life is Christ living in us. We have died to sin. We are alive in Christ and we live by faith in Christ who gave Himself for us. Christ lives in us so that our sins are His and His righteousness is ours. He works through us to do good works for others. Some might argue that we do indeed “cooperate” with the Holy Spirit. Insofar as it's our bodies and minds at work, this is true. But the best illustration is to think of a horse and a rider. Jesus moves us to do what He wants us to do and where He would have us go. All the while, whatever sins and trespasses we have are covered by being made His. 7. Read Revelation 20:4-6, 11-15. What is the first resurrection? What do the saints who have been raised do? What is the second death? How are names written in the Lamb's Book of Life? See Ephesians 1:13-14. The Book of Revelation describes the first resurrection as what occurs in Holy Baptism. The “thousand years” and the saints who rule with Christ is a description of those who have been raised with Christ in baptism and are a part of His church. The second death is the eternal separation from God that results from rejecting Christ in unbelief. Thus, we can speak of a “first resurrection” and a “first death” in Baptism and a final resurrection to life on the Last Day and a final death from which believers are saved through baptism into Christ. You can draw a simple four box chart with the following to illustrate these: First Death: The body; Second Death: Eternal death and punishment. First Resurrection: Baptism; Second Resurrection: Of the body on the Last Day. 8. Look again at Pastor Riley's article. What “epitaph” does he suggest for the card given at his funeral? What does such a saying mean for the living? “Donavon Riley was baptized into Christ. All the rest was chaff.” Here is a confession that for him it is all Jesus. His life and death are Jesus' life and death. This is our life and death, too. And it's a comfort for the living because it rescues us from trying to come up with nice things to say or remember and it protects us from a false hope that a person is saved by how they lived. It's Jesus. Jesus delivered in Holy Baptism. That is enough and everything. 9. Close by singing “God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It,” LSB 594.


“The First Time I Died” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014

1. Read the article “The First Time I Died” in the Summer 2014 issue of Higher Things magazine. When did Pastor Riley think he had died? But when did he actually die for the first time?

2. When does our life begin? When does Jesus say that our new life begins? What language does He use to teach this? See John 3:1-8. To what is Jesus referring when He says “water and the Spirit?”

3. What does St Paul tell us happens to us in Holy Baptism? See Romans 6:1-4. How does this happen to us? What is the relationship between what Jesus did on Calvary and Baptism?

4. Continue reading Romans 1:5-14. How does what happens in baptism work in our lives? What is our relationship to our sinful nature? To God in Christ?

5. Read The Small Catechism, Baptism: Fourth Part (LSB 325). What does this dying and rising mean for us as Christians? What does it look like in our lives?

6. There is a temptation to describe the Christian life as “ours” to live, as if we can somehow do good works apart from Christ. How does Paul describe the Christian life in Galatians 2:19-20? Who does good works in us? What does this mean for our sin?

7. Read Revelation 20:4-6, 11-15. What is the first resurrection? What do the saints who have been raised do? What is the second death? How are names written in the Lamb's Book of Life? See Ephesians 1:13-14.

8. Look again at Pastor Riley's article. What “epitaph” does he suggest for the card given at his funeral? What does such a saying mean for the living?


What does such a saying mean for the living?

9. Close by singing “God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It,” LSB 594.


“Great Expectations” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 Leader’s Guide 1. We sometimes over-expect from people, leading to false hopes. Read Luke 3:15-17. What hope did the people have of John the baptizer? How were they let down in their expectation? How does John redirect their expectation to a far better hope? What does this teach you about your own expectations? The crowds hoped that John might be the promised Messiah, the Christ of God come to redeem them. He wasn’t. No doubt some were disappointed that John wasn’t able to live up to their expectations. So John points them to the true Messiah, Jesus the Christ, the One who would come to accomplish what John couldn’t—providing them a baptism with the Holy Spirit and the fire of God’s judgment. John’s words about your Savior direct you also to Jesus, who judges you worthy of life eternal because you are baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. 2. People often do not live up to our expectations. Read Luke 6:35-36. What does Jesus require of us Christians toward other people? Should we expect to get anything good from them in return for our kindnesses? Why not? What is our focus as believers in our daily walk? Jesus instructs us to do good to all people, even to our enemies. He teaches us to give without expecting anything in return. This is because the love you are showing to others is not your own…it is Christ’s love for them, given freely through you. Your focus, therefore, is to be upon the mercy of God. He freely gave you forgiveness, salvation, and life everlasting through the sacrifice of His Onlybegotten Son. So, too, does He give you to be merciful to others as a reflection of the mercy you have already received from your generous God. 3. When your expectations are not met, it can lead to anxiety, stress and worry. Read Matthew 6:2534. What does Jesus say about your continued anxiety? Why do you have no need to keep worrying? Instead of being anxious, where does Jesus direct your attention? How does this keep you from worrying about future troubles? Jesus instructs you not to keep on worrying about your daily needs like food or clothing. For your heavenly Father knows your needs, and He provides for your clothing, shoes, food, drink, house and home, and everything you need for the support of your body and its life here on this earth. The Holy Spirit provides you with the gift of faith, by which you keep on seeking, first and foremost, God’s kingdom and His righteousness in Christ Jesus. Your faith directs you to your baptism, where your Savior exchanges your sins (which He bore unto death in His Own body on the tree of Calvary) for His Own holy righteousness, which is now credited to your account as a free gift! This righteousness of Jesus now makes you worthy of life everlasting in heaven. So if God has taken care of your eternal living already in Christ, how will He not also take care of your temporal needs? 4. Sometimes Jesus surprises us as He exceeds our expectations. Read John 4:1ff. What does this Samaritan woman expect from a Jewish man like Jesus? How does He surprise her? What does He offer to her? Does she expect this? What living water have you received from Jesus, most of you without ever asking for it? Since Jews had nothing to do with the half-breed Samaritans, she didn’t expect anything but shunning from Jesus. Yet Jesus surprises her by offering to her the gift of “living water.” She doesn’t really know what to make of this offer until Jesus reveals Himself to her as the Messiah, the promised Christ of God. You have received the living water Jesus offers in your baptism. You who are blessed to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5) have that thirst quenched by the sweet swap Jesus makes with you at the font. Your sins are washed from you to Jesus on the cross, and in blessed exchange for them, Jesus gives you His Own goodness—His very righteousness as your own.


and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5) have that thirst quenched by the sweet swap Jesus makes with you at the font. Your sins are washed from you to Jesus on the cross, and in blessed exchange for them, Jesus gives you His Own goodness—His very righteousness as your own. 5. Expecting great difficulties in the future is a great challenge. Read Matthew 26:36-44. How does Jesus pray, quite honestly, according to His human nature, concerning the death that He was about to die? Yet what does He pray in the end about this cup He was about to suffer? How does Jesus us teach us to pray similarly in the Lord’s Prayer? How does this help us to see God working good things for us, even through difficult times? Jesus prays from His very honest human feelings, not wanting to suffer the cup of God’s wrath against all sin upon the cross. Yet, Jesus sets aside these human desires, accepting His heavenly Father’s will to pay for the salvation of all through His sacrifice at Calvary. “Thy will be done” is your petition to pray as well. For you know that when you pray this, the good and gracious will of God is being done, even as He works all things for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. 6. We honestly expect our fair share of sufferings while we live on this earth. Read Romans 8:18-25. Are you alone in these worldly sufferings? How do these temporary sufferings compare with the everlasting glory we expect? What do you have now that helps you get through this valley of tears and sorrows? How are you able to keep on hoping through this world’s great challenges? Not just you, but the entire creation has been subjected to futility, groaning and suffering until Jesus returns! But the brief amount of time you suffer here in this world hardly compares with the eternal blessings which await you in Christ Jesus. God has given to you His Own Holy Spirit and you have His first fruits (faith and sanctification) now which ensures you of even greater blessings that await you. The same Spirit of Jesus keeps you in the one true faith that you may persevere through all this world’s challenges. 7. Waiting for expected blessings can get frustrating at times. Read Hebrews 13:8-12. How is Jesus described here? How is this a comfort to us in the “not yet” of this world? How is your heart strengthened by grace while you await those forever blessings? Where are you directed to eat and to drink for that strengthening? Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever! Though we live “in time,” our Savior is not timebound. He is the everlasting second person of the Trinity, eternally begotten of His Father. As the timeless God, He has your eternity secure! He strengthens your heart where He has promised to be in His means of grace each Sunday and holiday—in His Divine Service to you. You are especially directed to Jesus’ real presence for you at His altar, where His body is given to you to eat, and His shed blood is given for you to drink for your forgiveness, life and salvation! 8. Close with the following prayer. Almighty God, keep your family and Church continually in the true faith that they who lean on the hope of Your heavenly grace may ever be defended by Your mighty power; and that among the many challenges of this age our hearts may ever be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


“Great Expectations” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 1. We sometimes over-expect from people, leading to false hopes. Read Luke 3:15-17. What hope did the people have of John the baptizer? How were they let down in their expectation? How does John redirect their expectation to a far better hope? What does this teach you about your own expectations?

2. People often do not live up to our expectations. Read Luke 6:35-36. What does Jesus require of us Christians toward other people? Should we expect to get anything good from them in return for our kindnesses? Why not? What is our focus as believers in our daily walk?

3. When your expectations are not met, it can lead to anxiety, stress and worry. Read Matthew 6:2534. What does Jesus say about your continued anxiety? Why do you have no need to keep worrying? Instead of being anxious, where does Jesus direct your attention? How does this keep you from worrying about future troubles?

4. Sometimes Jesus surprises us as He exceeds our expectations. Read John 4:1ff. What does this Samaritan woman expect from a Jewish man like Jesus? How does He surprise her? What does He offer to her? Does she expect this? What living water have you received from Jesus, most of you without ever asking for it?

5. Expecting great difficulties in the future is a great challenge. Read Matthew 26:36-44. How does Jesus pray, quite honestly, according to His human nature, concerning the death that He was about to die? Yet what does He pray in the end about this cup He was about to suffer? How does Jesus us teach us to pray similarly in the Lord’s Prayer? How does this help us to see God working good things for us, even through difficult times?

6. We honestly expect our fair share of sufferings while we live on this earth. Read Romans 8:18-25. Are you alone in these worldly sufferings? How do these temporary sufferings compare with the everlasting glory we expect? What do you have now that helps you get through this valley of tears and sorrows? How are you able to keep on hoping through this world’s great challenges?

7. Waiting for expected blessings can get frustrating at times. Read Hebrews 13:8-12. How is Jesus described here? How is this a comfort to us in the “not yet” of this world? How is your heart strengthened by grace while you await those forever blessings? Where are you directed to eat and to


7. Waiting for expected blessings can get frustrating at times. Read Hebrews 13:8-12. How is Jesus described here? How is this a comfort to us in the “not yet� of this world? How is your heart strengthened by grace while you await those forever blessings? Where are you directed to eat and to drink for that strengthening?

8. Close with the following prayer. Almighty God, keep your family and Church continually in the true faith that they who lean on the hope of Your heavenly grace may ever be defended by Your mighty power; and that among the many challenges of this age our hearts may ever be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


“Give Me Jesus! Only Jesus!” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 Leader’s Guide Christian fads nearly always direct a person back upon himself for confidence in his own salvation. This Bible study will work to refocus the youth’s natural tendency to look inward for spirituality onto the external Word and promise of Christ. 1. Pastor Mumme quotes the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee from Luke 18:9-14. St. Luke tells us that Jesus told this parable “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” The word that is translated as “trusted” isn’t about godly trust, but rather that they had persuaded themselves of their own righteousness. How had they persuaded themselves of their own righteousness? Where was their righteousness lacking? They had persuaded themselves of their own righteousness by their works. It is important here for the leader to distinguish between outward works and the inward works of the Spirit. Outward works produce a civic righteousness, a righteousness before the world, or, as Jesus calls it, the righteousness of scribes and Pharisees (direct the youth to read Matthew 5:19-20). This is a righteousness that is according to the Law. Inward works of the Spirit arise from the righteousness of God that is given in Christ. The audience of the parable persuaded themselves that, because they were good at obeying the Law, they were righteous. But their lack of righteousness was evident in that they treated others with contempt. 2. What kind of righteousness does the slogan “COMPLETELY. COMMITTED. FOLLOWER.” persuade a person of? The slogan directs a person back to himself for evidence of righteousness. An old saying in the Church is that sinful human nature is curved in on itself. That is to say, our Old Adams are naturally inclined to looking inward for proofs of righteousness. The slogan does not direct a person to Christ, and therefore does not persuade a person of the righteousness of God. 3. Some Christians prefer to call themselves “followers of Jesus,” rather than Christians. What do you think is meant by this phrase? Read Luke 9:21-27. How does Jesus say a person must follow Him? The phrase, “follower of Jesus,” suggests that the Christian faith is about mimicking Jesus, trying to model one’s life after Jesus as if He were simply another spiritual leader. The idea is that if one disciplines his outward behavior according to Jesus’ example, he will produce his own righteousness. In Luke 9:22, Jesus shows His disciples where His path leads: He must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and be raised. The path of Jesus is the path of the cross. Therefore, a person who follows Him must take up His own cross, and so follow Him. 4. Are you willing to take up Jesus’ cross and so follow Him? Read Matthew 27:32. How did Simon get into the cross-carrying business? Many youth will answer, “Yes.” Some may answer, “No.” Ask them why they answered that way. Ask them if it’s easier to say yes when there’s not a cross staring you in the face. In Matthew 27:32, Simon was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross. He was pressed into service. It was not his will that put Jesus’ cross on his shoulders, but the will of God. Following Jesus the way of the cross is not something that we willingly seek out.


will that put Jesus’ cross on his shoulders, but the will of God. Following Jesus the way of the cross is not something that we willingly seek out. 5. The pieces of wood upon which Jesus hung are lost to history. How is it that you are able to bear your cross and follow Jesus today? See Romans 6:1-11. Holy Baptism places Christ’s cross on us. In the Rite of Holy Baptism, the pastor says to the soon to be baptized, “Receive the sign of the holy cross both upon your forehead and upon your heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.” This blessing shows that Holy Baptism is the place where Christ places His cross on us. We are both crucified and raised with Him in the font, in order to walk a new life in the way of the cross. The way of the cross is the way of forgiveness. 6. Read Galatians 2:20. When you bear the cross of Christ and are crucified with Him, whose righteousness do you have? How does it come to you? The righteousness of bearing the cross is the righteousness of Christ, who lives in us. It is not a righteousness of outward works according to the Law, but an inward righteousness of faith in the Son of God. Christ gives this righteousness in love, and we receive it in faith. 7. Return now to the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. How did the Pharisee make His appeal for righteousness before God? How did the tax collector? How are you able to leave this Bible study and go back to your home justified? The Pharisee appealed to his works according to the Law—avoiding vices, fasting, giving a tithe. The tax collector came before God in humility and confessed his sins and implored God for mercy. Just as the tax collector went to his house justified, so we will leave this Bible study and return home justified not because we’ve learned how to more completely commit ourselves to following Jesus, but because of faith in Christ’s complete commitment to us. We are justified when we return to our baptism, confessing our sin and imploring God’s mercy. We are justified when we bear our baptismal crosses and follow Christ—the way of forgiveness. 8. Close with Responsive Prayer 2, LSB p. 285, and the hymn Baptismal Waters Cover Me, LSB 616.


“Give Me Jesus! Only Jesus!” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014

1. Pastor Mumme quotes the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee from Luke 18:9-14. St. Luke tells us that Jesus told this parable “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” The word that is translated as “trusted” isn’t about godly trust, but rather that they had persuaded themselves of their own righteousness. How had they persuaded themselves of their own righteousness? Where was their righteousness lacking?

2. What kind of righteousness does the slogan “COMPLETELY. COMMITTED. FOLLOWER.” persuade a person of?

3. Some Christians prefer to call themselves “followers of Jesus,” rather than Christians. What do you think is meant by this phrase? Read Luke 9:21-27. How does Jesus say a person must follow Him?

4. Are you willing to take up Jesus’ cross and so follow Him? Read Matthew 27:32. How did Simon get into the cross-carrying business?

5. The pieces of wood upon which Jesus hung are lost to history. How is it that you are able to bear your cross and follow Jesus today? See Romans 6:1-11. 6. Read Galatians 2:20. When you bear the cross of Christ and are crucified with Him, whose righteousness do you have? How does it come to you?


7. Return now to the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. How did the Pharisee make His appeal for righteousness before God? How did the tax collector? How are you able to leave this Bible study and go back to your home justified?

8. Close with Responsive Prayer 2, LSB p. 285, and the hymn Baptismal Waters Cover Me, LSB 616.


“The Life You Now Live” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 Leader’s Guide Pastor Borghardt’s article presents the same theology as St. Paul in Romans, chapter 6. In this Bible study, youth will read through this chapter and dig a bit deeper into Paul’s teaching for them. It would be helpful for the leader of this study to read through the entire book of Romans beforehand in order to put this chapter in context. 1. “You’ve already died,” writes Pastor Borghardt. Read Romans 6:1-4 and describe the nature of the death that you’ve already died. St. Paul writes that we “died to sin” (Romans 6:2). This death to sin is because we are baptized into Christ’s death. The death that we die in Holy Baptism is not a death of the body, but death in Christ. It’s a hidden death, revealed only by the Word of God that He attaches to the water. 2. Continue reading Romans 6:5-10. Who was crucified with Jesus on the cross, according to St. Paul? What was the purpose of Jesus’ suffering, His beating, His crucifixion? The old self was crucified with Christ, according to the ESV translation. Literally it reads, “the old man,” which is the same as saying “the Old Adam.” The purpose of the suffering and death of Jesus was “that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6b). 3. You are dead to your sins. Pastor Borghardt provides a long list of things that you are dead to. Compare this list in the fourth paragraph of the article to the explanations in The Small Catechism, Ten Commandments. Is there any sin against God or man that you have not died to? Every sin against God or man is included in this baptismal death—from the seemingly inconsequential to the shameful; from the hidden ones to the ones that everyone knows about. Encourage the youth to reflect upon which particular sins give them the most trouble, which sins are still alive and well in their lives. It is not necessary for the youth to make confession before the whole group, but perhaps they might speak of sins that the world and their peers accept as a normal way of life. 4. Review Romans 6:1-10. What is always coupled with the death of Jesus? What does this mean for you, who are dead to sin? Christ’s death is always coupled with His resurrection. As St. Paul writes elsewhere, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). In the same way that we have a share of Christ’s death through Holy Baptism, we also have a share of His resurrection. This means that the life we now live on this side of the font is a new life lived to God. 5. Now that you are baptized, does that mean that you no longer sin? After you answer, read Romans 6:12-16. Why do you continue to sin after you have been baptized? How do you “let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body”? St. Paul writes that sin enslaves us. Sin takes hold of us and we become instruments of disobedience. Not that we are mindless puppets; we ourselves seek our own slavery and delight


St. Paul writes that sin enslaves us. Sin takes hold of us and we become instruments of disobedience. Not that we are mindless puppets; we ourselves seek our own slavery and delight in returning to our old ways of living, according to our “Old Adams.” When St. Paul commands, “Let not sin reign in your mortal body,” he is not commanding us, but he’s commanding the sin (he commands in the third person, which we don’t do in English). Sin, therefore, will not reign in our mortal bodies, when it has been commanded God not to, when God uses us as instruments for righteousness. Sin does not have dominion over us when we are under God’s grace. 6. When sin is alive and well in your life, what does Pastor Borghardt say it’s time for? How do you die again? Read The Small Catechism, Confession. Which sins should we confess, and to whom? When sin is alive and well it’s time to die again. Repentance is a return to our Baptism. If there are sins we know and feel in our hearts, sins that particularly trouble us, God has given us a pastor to confess to. But before God we should confess all our sins, even ones we’re not aware of, like we do in the Lord’s Prayer. If we sin against your neighbors, we confess those sins to them, and ask them for forgiveness. 7. Continue with Romans 6:17-19. Does the grace of God set you free from sin absolutely, so that you can do whatever you please? Or is the life you now live bound to something else? St. Paul writes that we have been set free from the slavery of sin and are now slaves of righteousness. Ask the youth what kind of image comes to mind when they hear the phrase “slaves of righteousness.” Their understanding of this phrase is likely colored by American slavery in the 19th century. Direct them to the explanation of the Second Article of the Creed in the Small Catechism, that Christ Jesus “purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death,” etc. We were bought with a price, and so we are now bound to Christ. 8. Just as each of the Ten Commandments has a negative prohibition, each one also has a positive exhortation. Revisit The Small Catechism, Ten Commandments, what are some of the things that God expects you to do? Read Romans 6:20-22. How will you be able to do all that God expects? Let the youth reflect on the good works that God expects of them according to the Ten Commandments. These are not works we can accomplish of our own free wills, but they are fruits of the righteousness of God. This fruit leads to sanctification, which is Christ working in us and through us, and ends in eternal life for the baptized. 9. Close by singing, “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized” LSB 596.


“The Life You Now Live” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014

1. “You’ve already died,” writes Pastor Borghardt. Read Romans 6:1-4 and describe the nature of the death that you’ve already died.

2. Continue reading Romans 6:5-10. Who was crucified with Jesus on the cross, according to St. Paul? What was the purpose of Jesus’ suffering, His beating, His crucifixion?

3. You are dead to your sins. Pastor Borghardt provides a long list of things that you are dead to. Compare this list in the fourth paragraph of the article to the explanations in The Small Catechism, Ten Commandments. Is there any sin against God or man that you have not died to?

4. Review Romans 6:1-10. What is always coupled with the death of Jesus? What does this mean for you, who are dead to sin?

5. Now that you are baptized, does that mean that you no longer sin? After you answer, read Romans 6:12-16. Why do you continue to sin after you have been baptized? How do you “let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body”?

6. When sin is alive and well in your life, what does Pastor Borghardt say it’s time for? How do you die again? Read The Small Catechism, Confession. Which sins should we confess, and to whom?


7. Continue with Romans 6:17-19. Does the grace of God set you free from sin absolutely, so that you can do whatever you please? Or is the life you now live bound to something else?

8. Just as each of the Ten Commandments has a negative prohibition, each one also has a positive exhortation. Revisit The Small Catechism, Ten Commandments, what are some of the things that God expects you to do? Read Romans 6:20-22. How will you be able to do all that God expects?

9. Close by singing, “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized� LSB 596.


“Sanctification: Jesus in You” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 Leader's Guide Introduction: Sanctification refers to the Holy Spirit making us holy in Christ. This Bible study will look at the way in which the right approach to understanding our holy lives as Christians is to see our sanctification as Christ living in and through us by His Word and gifts, not merely our own outward seeming improvement or attempts at behaving better. 1. Discuss the following statement: “As you mature as a Christian, you will begin to sin less and less.” Is this accurate? If we don't sin less, are we not trying to live as Christians? Is the Christian life about how much we sin? Answers will vary but students may have the impression that being a Christian is primarily about how we live and behave. Rather, the Christian faith is the forgiveness of our sins which we have in Christ. In fact, the longer we live as Christians, we'll really begin to see more sin in our lives. As we see our sinfulness, we learn that our Savior is even more of a Savior than we thought possible! 2. What is “sanctification?” What is “holy living?” How would you describe what a “Christian life” looks like? Again, answers will vary. There will likely be a lot of talk about doing certain things or avoiding certain behaviors or actions. “Sanctification” comes from the Latin “sanctus” which means “holy.” It refers to the fact that Christ living in us by faith means we are holy before God. To be holy is to be special, set apart by God. But we are not holy because we sin less or stop sinning. We are holy because Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God who covers us. Our holiness, our sanctification, rests in Him, not in our behavior, much as we try to convince ourselves that it does. 3. What does St. Paul say about our sanctification in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31? What does that say about how we brag concerning our “Christian walk?” Paul says it quite clearly that Christ is our sanctification. Whatever “sanctification” is, it's Jesus. There are many people who boast that when they got Jesus they “cleaned up their life” or their life was “changed.” But bragging about how we live is boasting in ourselves. Christians boast in Christ, who has taken our sin and paid its price and set us free from its guilt and condemnation. 4. One of the things which Lutherans are often accused of goes something like this: “Well if you're just forgiven for everything you do, then you can just do whatever you want and not worry about it.” How would you respond? How does Paul answer that very objection in Romans 6:1-4? What clue is Paul giving us about what the Christian life is like? Simply put, of course we don't just do whatever we want. Rather, our Old Adam is crucified with Christ in Holy Baptism. The New Man in Christ desires to love God and serve our neighbor. The Old Adam desires to love himself and needs to drown. Paul is teaching us that the Christian life is the baptismal life. See below. 5. Read The Small Catechism, Baptism, Fourth Part (LSB p.325). What does this baptismal Christian life look like? It is daily contrition and repentance by which the Old Adam is crucified. The Christian life is nothing other than to examine our lives according to the Ten Commandments, learn our sins, be sorry for them,


It is daily contrition and repentance by which the Old Adam is crucified. The Christian life is nothing other than to examine our lives according to the Ten Commandments, learn our sins, be sorry for them, and be forgiven for them. This goes on, over and over each day, as we live in the promise that the water and the Word have put our sinful nature to death and that we truly stand before God as righteous and holy (sanctified) in Christ because our sins are forgiven. 6. If we are Christians, why do we continue to sin? How does St. Paul identify it in Romans 7:13-25. How can we describe this struggle in the Christian? Paul clearly continued to struggle with sin. We know what is right and wrong and yet we don't do it or we do what is not right. We struggle to overcome our sins and bad habits. Sometimes it seems like we have taken control and overcome them. Other times it seems we have not even tried and have just given in to our sins and lusts. Paul calls this the struggle between the old man and new man in Christ. Lutherans use the Latin phrase “simul justus et peccator,” - at the same time (simultaneously) saint and sinner. And this is not partial. We are 100% both at the same time. 7. How are the works of the flesh described? What is the fruit of the Spirit? How does the Spirit do these things in us? See Galatians 5:19-26 for the answers. The works of the flesh describe what our sinful nature, or our Old Adam does. They are HIS works. The fruit of the Spirit describes what the SPIRIT is doing in us through His Word and gifts. This is what baptism, absolution, preaching and the Word and the Sacrament of Jesus' body and blood work in us. To put it another way, when we are filled with Jesus in His gifts, then He lives in us and His works become our own. 8. Read Galatians 2:19-21. What does Paul say here about our lives as Christians? How does this differ from what so many other churches teach us about our “holy living?” Quite simply, sanctification and our Christian life is Jesus living in us and through us. There is not some magic way in which, once we are Christians, we just pull ourselves up and get our acts together to start behaving. The Christian life is one of constant struggle in which the Old Adam lives to sin while Christ lives in us to crucify our sinful selves and do good works in and through us for others. 9. So what should we do or how do we act or what does our life look like as Christians? What is the pattern for our lives as Christians? Where do we receive the things that make us holy? Review the answers in The Small Catechism, Third Article and Meaning (LSB p.323). Our lives as Christians is to live and do the good works God has given us to do in our daily callings. Each day we recall, by God's Word, what our sins are. We continue to come to Christ's gifts of Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, the Holy Gospel, and the Holy Supper. In those gifts, the Spirit gives us the forgiveness of sins and makes us holy. He sanctifies us. 10. Close by singing LSB #602, “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives.”


“Sanctification: Jesus in You” A Higher things Bible Study Summer 2014

1. Discuss the following statement: “As you mature as a Christian, you will begin to sin less and less.” Is this accurate? If we don't sin less, are we not trying to live as Christians? Is the Christian life about how much we sin?

2. What is “sanctification?” What is “holy living?” How would you describe what a “Christian life” looks like?

3. What does St. Paul say about our sanctification in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31? What does that say about how we brag concerning our “Christian walk?”

4. One of the things which Lutherans are often accused of goes something like this: “Well if you're just forgiven for everything you do, then you can just do whatever you want and not worry about it.” How would you respond? How does Paul answer that very objection in Romans 6:1-4? What clue is Paul giving us about what the Christian life is like?

5. Read The Small Catechism, Baptism, Fourth Part (LSB p.325). What does this baptismal Christian life look like?

6. If we are Christians, why do we continue to sin? How does St. Paul identify it in Romans 7:13-25. How can we describe this struggle in the Christian?

7. How are the works of the flesh described? What is the fruit of the Spirit? How does the Spirit do these things in us? See Galatians 5:19-26 for the answers.


8. Read Galatians 2:19-21. What does Paul say here about our lives as Christians? How does this differ from what so many other churches teach us about our “holy living?”

9. So what should we do or how do we act or what does our life look like as Christians? What is the pattern for our lives as Christians? Where do we receive the things that make us holy? Review the answers in The Small Catechism, Third Article and Meaning (LSB p.323).

10. Close by singing LSB #602, “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives.”


“Table of Duties: Workers and Bosses” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014 Leader’s Guide This Bible study is about vocation, specifically in the relationship of worker and boss. The Lutheran teaching of vocation is that God calls us to various stations in life wherein He works in us to produce good works for the sake of our neighbors. 1. What kind of jobs have you had? What kind of job(s) do you want to have in the future? Encourage the youth to share their work experiences: full-time, part-time, summer jobs, babysitting, chores at home. Ask them what they liked or didn’t like about particular jobs. Does their work experience influence what kind of jobs they’d like to have in the future? How many want to be a boss one day? 2. Workers, what did you think of your boss? Pastor Cwirla writes that workers “answer to a Higher Authority.” Read Ephesians 1:15-23. Why is Christ the “Higher Authority”? St. Paul writes that God the Father “raised [Christ] from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 1:20-21). This means that all earthly authority—including the authority of our bosses —is subject to the authority of Christ because of His resurrection and ascension. After reading these verses, ask the youth if this changes the way they see their bosses. 3. Continue reading Ephesians 2:1-10. How does Christ exercise His authority? What does this mean for your work? Christ exercises His authority over those who are dead in their trespasses and sins (v 1); in mercy and love (v 4); by making alive (v 5); by grace (v 5); in kindness (v 7); through faith (v 8); as a gift (v 8). Bosses give orders; Christ gives gifts, including the gift of work. We are created in Christ—that’s Baptism language—as God’s work, for good work. He is the One who has prepared our good works beforehand, so that we would walk in them. All good works come from the good work of the crucified One. 4. Good work is rewarded with a good paycheck, but your boss needs to see evidence of your work. Read Matthew 6:3-4. What kind of work does God reward? The blind mitered dovetail in the article is one example of a work that’s hidden from the eyes. What reward is there if no one can see it? Jesus says in Matthew 6:4 that God the Father rewards what He sees in secret. While no one can see the craft of the hidden dovetail joint, there are rewards of a sturdy construction and visual beauty. The good works of God are hidden under a pretty plain exterior—nothing fancy about them. But for such priestly works in our various vocations, God will reward them with His gift. He works the work, and He works the reward. 5. Reread Ephesians 6:5-8 (Table of Duties: To Workers of All Kinds). How will you become a dutiful and obedient worker? Whom does your work serve? What is the reward of the Lord? The obedience that Christ demands and expects is provided by the working of God in us. His work works good works in us. A Christian’s works are not automatically of better quality than a non-Christian’s. Rather, they are good works because they are provided by Christ, sanctified (made holy) by Him, and render service to our neighbors, including bosses, customers, and


work works good works in us. A Christian’s works are not automatically of better quality than a non-Christian’s. Rather, they are good works because they are provided by Christ, sanctified (made holy) by Him, and render service to our neighbors, including bosses, customers, and coworkers. The Lord’s reward for priestly work in our vocations is the gift of daily bread, that is, the things that are necessary for our bodies and lives. 6. Read Ephesians 6:9 (Table of Duties: To Employers and Supervisors). What does God specifically forbid masters to do? How does this reflect how Christ exercises His authority? Masters are forbidden from threatening their workers (slaves). Ephesians 2:4 tells us that Christ exercises His authority in mercy, that is, He withholds punishments that are deserved. 7. Is a boss above his workers, or equal with them? Before the world, bosses are above their workers. But before God, both boss and worker are equally under the authority of Christ. 8. The word for “favoritism” or “partiality” in Ephesians 6:9 literally means, “to lift up your face,” which comes from an Old Testament custom for showing acceptance. If the Master in heaven does not lift up His face on you because of your status as worker or boss, is there a place where He does? The Divine Service closes with the Benediction: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance (face) upon you and give you peace.” God does not lift up His face to us because of our stations in life, or because of our works. He accepts us for the sake of Christ, who “redeemed and sanctified the world of work, lifting up on the cross all the ways we take advantage of each other and rob each other, taking up our sinful selfishness and prideful egos. Jesus, the second Adam, restored the dignity and holiness to Adam’s work and made our labor again a priestly sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise” (Cwirla). 9. Close by reading The Small Catechism, Lord’s Prayer: Fourth Petition, and pray specifically for devout workers and devout and faithful rulers and bosses.


“Table of Duties: Workers and Bosses” A Higher Things Bible Study Summer 2014

1. What kind of jobs have you had? What kind of job(s) do you want to have in the future?

2. Workers, what did you think of your boss? Pastor Cwirla writes that workers “answer to a Higher Authority.” Read Ephesians 1:15-23. Why is Christ the “Higher Authority”?

3. Continue reading Ephesians 2:1-10. How does Christ exercise His authority? What does this mean for your work?

4. Good work is rewarded with a good paycheck, but your boss needs to see evidence of your work. Read Matthew 6:3-4. What kind of work does God reward?

5. Reread Ephesians 6:5-8 (Table of Duties: To Workers of All Kinds). How will you become a dutiful and obedient worker? Whom does your work serve? What is the reward of the Lord?

6. Read Ephesians 6:9 (Table of Duties: To Employers and Supervisors). What does God specifically forbid masters to do? How does this reflect how Christ exercises His authority?


7. Is a boss above his workers, or equal with them?

8. The word for “favoritism” or “partiality” in Ephesians 6:9 literally means, “to lift up your face,” which comes from an Old Testament custom for showing acceptance. If the Master in heaven does not lift up His face on you because of your status as worker or boss, is there a place where He does?

9. Close by reading The Small Catechism, Lord’s Prayer: Fourth Petition, and pray specifically for devout workers and devout and faithful rulers and bosses.

Profile for Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran!

2014 Summer - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)  

In This Issue: The Life You Now Live • The First Time I Died • Sanctification: Jesus Living In You • Great Expectations

2014 Summer - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)  

In This Issue: The Life You Now Live • The First Time I Died • Sanctification: Jesus Living In You • Great Expectations