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Te Deum

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Higher Things 2015 Conferences

Retrospective Issue www

. h i g h e r t h i n g s . o r g / FA L L / 2015

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t u o b a g n i k n i Th Ministr y?

Kirk di d.

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

Now he’s a fo urth year stu dent at Concordia Seminar If yo u’re y. thinking abo ut m inistr y t check o u o o, t these events.

Vocatio

Taste of the Sem

(For high school guys and girls)

(For high school guys only)

June 25-30, 2016

January 16-18, 2016

Ready to register? Visit www.csl.edu or call 800-822-9545.

2 Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


Contents T A B L E O F

Volume 15/Number 3 • Fall 2015

Special Features 5 On Second Thought

By Rev. Mark Buetow Higher Things addresses concerns about the summer issue article “A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break.”

14 Te Deum Photo Retrospective!

Whether you attended a conference last summer or not, you’ll get a definite flavor of what the experience was like. Can you find yourself in these pictures?

6 Law and Gospel in Worship

20 Slaying the Monster of Uncertainty

8 Just Shut Up and Die!

22 MARVEL Movies and the Creed: Defend, Guard, Protect and Avenge

By Rev. George F. Borghardt We often think worship is about what we offer to God and indeed we do have something to offer Him: our sins. In return, we receive the glorious gift of Jesus in Word, water, Body and Blood, for which, declares Rev. Borghardt, we get to respond to God with praise for the sake of our neighbor!

By Rev. Donavon L. Riley Death is a brutal reality. It is inescapable because we are slaves to the power of sin. But, as Rev. Riley reassures us, we are baptized children of God, and so we are raised daily in the waters of our Baptism. We can tell our Old Adam where to go because death is not the end.

10 Te Deum 2015: What Did It Mean?

By Monica Berndt After her inaugural experience of being a College Conference Volunteer, Monica enthusiastically takes us on a tour of how a Higher Things conference helps to strengthen faith and equip youth.

12 Apologists Every Christian Should Know, Part 5 The Masterful Mind of John Warwick Montgomery: Why You Can Know the Truth

By Rev. Mark A. Pierson Rev. Pierson explains how the arguments and writings of John Warwick Montgomery will help you stand up and fight the truth decay that is saturating our culture.

By Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard Rev. Richard offers great insight into the origin of that monster who likes to terrorize us with claims that we can’t really know we are saved and he reminds us Who the mighty Slayer of that monster is.

HigherThings

®

Volume 15/Number 3/Fall 2015 Bible Studies for these articles can be found at: higherthings.org/ magazine/biblestudies.html Editor

Katie Hill Art Director

Steve Blakey Editorial Associates

Rev. Greg Alms Rev. Paul Beisel Rev. Bart Day Rev. Gaven Mize Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard Copy Editor

By Rev. Ted Giese You know the Apostles’ Creed word for word, right? You might have even memorized some of the dialogue from your favorite MARVEL movie as well. Yes, there’s a connection. Movie reviewer Rev. Giese gives us a look into how the Creed can be used as a jumping off point to evaluate movies, books and art of all kinds.

Regular Features

16 CHECK OUT THE BREAD OF LIFE HIGHER THINGS 2016 SUMMER CONFERENCES! 28 Catechism:The Third Commandment

By Rev. William M. Cwirla So how is the Sabbath made holy? It’s far more than observing a day of rest from work, it’s about a person: Jesus Christ, and the rest we find in Him and in His restful Word.

30 Bible Study: Why You Can Know the Truth

Be sure to check out this sample of one of our student Bible studies which links up with Rev. Pierson’s article on P. 12.

Dana Niemi Bible Study Authors

Rev. Mark Buetow Rev. Jacob Ehrhard Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz Subscriptions Manager

Elizabeth Carlson IT Assistant

Jon Kohlmeier ___________

Board of Directors President

Rev. George Borghardt Vice-President

Rev. Dr. Carl Fickenscher Treasurer

Chris Loemker Secretary

Rev. Joel Fritsche Rev. Duane Bamsch Eric Maiwald Sue Pellegrini Matt Phillips Rev. Chris Rosebrough ___________

Executive Council Deputy Executive/Media

Rev. Mark Buetow Conference and Retreats Executive

Sandra Ostapowich Business Executive

Connie Brammeier Technology Executive

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 2015. Higher Things® is 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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Dare to be a Deaconess! Concordia University Chicago: The Total Package for Deaconess Education With a 35-year history, CUC’s deaconess program is the oldest and most well established in the LCMS. Students and graduates serve throughout the U.S. and the world.

n Sit at the feet of outstanding theology professors n Learn from veteran deaconesses n Worship and study God’s Word in a vibrant community of faith n Live, learn and serve alongside many church work students n Study theology in Cambridge, UK n Live out God’s mercy in field work, internship and graduate placement around Chicago,

the U.S. and the world n A cost-effective way to obtain full LCMS Deaconess Certification n Earn a Bachelor of Arts in Theology plus a one-year paid internship n Graduates can enhance their service with a master’s degree in social work, counseling, H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 4

gerontology, teaching or business

Learn more about becoming a deaconess today by visiting CUChicago.edu/deaconess or email Kristin.Wassilak@CUChicago.edu.


On Second Thought: A Follow Up to the Summer Article on Gender Dysphoria

I

n the summer issue of Higher Things Magazine, HT published an article entitled “A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break.” This article was also shortly thereafter posted on the Higher Things website. The author is the Rev. Greg Eilers, a retired LCMS pastor who suffers from gender dysphoria. His article described his struggle with gender dysphoria and his desire to remain male while feeling in his brain that he is female. Some readers expressed various concerns that Higher Things handled this issue inappropriately by giving a platform to a man who is plainly suffering from this mental illness and that doing so would result in confusion to youth and other readers of the magazine and website. In response, we attempted to clarify that Higher Things was not condoning a person’s physical transition from living as a male to living as a female or suggesting that transitioning was a God-pleasing “treatment” of gender dysphoria. We believe that such a transition is contrary to God’s Word. When the article was solicited and printed, Rev. Eilers was at a point where he was hoping to “beat” his illness. Higher Things received Rev. Eilers article, it was evaluated to be doctrinally sound, and was printed/ posted in the hope that we were hearing the voice of one whose struggle to remain living as a male was being won in Christ. However, in his most recent blog posts, Rev. Eilers has announced that he has decided to move ahead with the treatments and process of finally transitioning from living as a man to living as a woman. We are saddened to hear that he has chosen this course of action and do not believe it to be a solution in keeping with God’s Word. Christ and His love for the church are the very realities that stand behind God’s creation of human beings as male and female. His love for the church is the true marriage of which all earthly marriage is to be a picture. When it comes to gender dysphoria (or depression or alcoholism, or any other ways sinners are assaulted by the devil, the world, and their sinful flesh), this fact holds true: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). “Whoever believes and is baptized

will be saved. Whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). The article was originally published for two main reasons: (1) to bring about discussion on the topic and (2) to hear from an individual who is struggling with gender dysphoria, who recognizes the struggle, and who confesses Christ as his only hope. HT has always attempted to tackle difficult topics such as addiction, depression, and abuse in articles, conference breakaway sessions, videos, and other media, and in doing so, to point readers and hearers to Christ alone. Some have said that our article on gender dysphoria could have been better. We agree. There is always room for improvement and the online article was edited soon after its posting, in consultation with the author. Some have said it was not a good idea that we included the author’s solicitation of friend requests on Facebook. We also agree, and so we removed that from the online bio. Most HT articles include an author’s contact information, but the sensitive nature of this topic and the way that Rev. Eilers subsequently used his Facebook wall as a forum to process his daily struggles suggests that we should have omitted that particular means

of contact. Some think that Higher Things supports Rev. Eilers’ decision to live as a woman. We do not. Some want us to categorically condemn and reject him for doing so. We will instead mourn. We will pray that Rev. Eilers’ own hope which he expressed will be true on the Last Day, namely, that He will stand before His Savior as a man in the resurrection. Finally, we encourage all our readers and supporters to take up the loving task of learning all we can about gender dysphoria and other mental illnesses, living out our vocations as Christians, and bringing to bear upon those neighbors who struggle under this cross the blessed Good News of the Lamb whose blood was shed to secure our place beside Him in Paradise. That is what it means to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). And this is Higher Things, after all, which means that if we’re going to be talking about “gender dysphoria,” then, like everything else, it’s just another opportunity to be talking about Jesus Christ our Savior. Rev. Mark T. Buetow is the Media and Deputy Executive of Higher Things.

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Law and Gospel in Worship: It’s All About

God’s Gifts By Rev. George F. Borghardt

There is a direction to Lutheran worship.

It moves from God to you. It starts with God and goes to you. It’s the German word, “Gottesdienst” or Divine Service. God serves you! The Lord Himself does the acting, working and giving. He does the doing. He does the giving.

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The Lord begins worship in His Name—the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Divine Service is all about Him delivering His love to you, and you soaking up the Father’s love for you in the giving up of His Son. His sacrifice on the Cross does you no good without its delivery to you today! The Divine Service is where the Spirit gives to you all that the Son did for you. Faith flows from the Spirit’s gifts! Faith receives them and it opens your ears to hear the Words of Christ. Faith is watered in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And faith tastes forgiveness in Christ’s Body and Blood in your mouth in the Sacrament. God does the doing; faith does the receiving. You are saved. Faith saves because it receives Jesus’ cross and resurrection. That’s how God wants to be worshiped—by faith alone. “Surely,” you think, “I have something to offer to God. I certainly do something. I praise Him. I feel it. I experience it. That makes it real for me.” That’s the divine service of the Law! It starts with you. It also ends with you. You offer God your works, your thoughts, your feelings. You think these things matter to you. I do, too.

So they must matter to God too, right? They must hold some weight with Him as well. Our hands are filled only with what we have done—our sins. We have done what we shouldn’t do and failed to do what we should have done. That’s what we have to bring to God. We bring to God our sins! The worship of the Law ends with us. It stops there. It’s centered on what we do. And it’s as incomplete and flawed as we are. It may be the worship we think we need and what feels the most effective for us…but it’s not the worship that pleases God. Faith alone pleases God. He gives you salvation and He wants you to receive it. He delivers forgiveness, emptying your hands of all your sins. That absolution was achieved by Jesus’ holy life and bitter sufferings and death, and it is delivered to you in this time and space in His gifts. The one called by God, your pastor, has been sent to you and he doesn’t just forgive some of your sins, He forgives all of them. You are made at peace with God. But isn’t the receiving something I do? Well, does the person who is brought back to life by a doctor say, “I’m alive today because I decided to live.”? Does the baby make a choice


to be born? The action is done from outside ourselves. We receive the action being done upon us. The Word is the external, saving gift. Faith is how we receive the Lord’s Word in water, Word, and bread and wine. You have been raised from the dead. You have been born from above. You now live in Christ. Faith responds with an, “Amen.” That’s an enlivened, born-from-above, raised-from-thedead Word. You say, “Amen,” meaning “Yes, yes, it shall be so.” Amen and faith go together. Where we have Jesus’ words, there we have the “Amen” of faith. But your Amen isn’t just for you. No, having been given to, having been enlivened, having been raised from the dead and given the words to say by Jesus, faith then repeats what it has been given for others. You respond to God with what He says by repeating it for your neighbor! You sing to God for others. You praise Him for others. You confess Him for others. You say the Creed so that others can be lifted up. You don’t live for yourself anymore. You don’t even serve yourself when you are worshiping God. Now, when you sing, praise, pray, you do

these things as enlivened children of God for the sake of others. Don’t you sing for yourself because it feels good to sing? Don’t you praise God because God wants you to praise God? Sure, you might do these things for those reasons. But the Lord gave you words to sing and praise— whether it feels good or not—so that others might be saved through the words He’s given you. He wants to save others like He’s saved you! Worship in the way of the Law offers to God what we do: work, praise, sing in order to merit favor with God. God wants to be worshiped by faith. He desires for you to be saved and to receive from Him all the good that He has done for you in the Cross of your Lord Jesus Christ. He wants to shower on you His love and forgiveness and mercy. He wants to do that for others, too! True faith, living faith, active faith, receives from God what He did for us. It’s passive first. It’s like an empty hand that the Lord fills with goodies. Faith is then active for others— serving them with the forgiveness and love that God has given to us in Christ. Rev. George F. Borghardt is the Senior Pastor at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in McHenry, Illinios. He also serves as the president of Higher Things.

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Death hurts. Sometimes it burns like a wildfire: Pancreatic cancer devours a body. Sometimes death flickers like a candle flame: the slow suicide of one enslaved to addiction. At other times it is a dull glow: heartache and shame. Hurt and pain, heartbreak and rage are smoke signals that death is about to overtake us. And when death comes, our one desire is to make an escape. We become liked frightened animals. We want safety, comfort, and certainty.

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by Rev. Donavon L. Riley


We seek rescue from the threat, not just the reality of death. Whatever promises to keep us safe from death we will worship it, subscribe to it, swallow it, and empty our bank account for it. Why wouldn’t we? Who enjoys pain and hurt? Who gets excited to buy a cemetery plot? Who hopes to bury her baby’s body, say goodbye to the woman he’s lain next to in bed for 46 years, or place a lily on the coffin of the father who preached the resurrection to her? When death stalks us what are we to do? First, we need to admit that we deserve it. We serve sin. Sin curves us in on ourselves. It turns us away from God. Sin is why we die. “The wages of sin is death,” writes St. Paul (Romans 6:23). Is there anyone who doesn’t die? So we are all slaves to sin. We are all preoccupied with ourselves and ignorant of God. We have turned our back on the source of our life. We deserve to die. This points to the bigger picture, too. Death isn’t a dumb beast, blinded by hunger, who drags down and tears apart anyone he catches. He is a servant of God. God’s furious anger toward the power of sin is poured out through death. Death comes to devour sin—to kill it. When death comes and sees that we are under the power of sin, and that sin rules in our bodies, he consumes us to put an end to sin. We are seduced by sin’s false promise: that we can be spared from pain and hurt and death, if we just… Maybe we ought to take Job’s wife’s advice, to “curse God and die.” What hope is there for us against a power that can be seen, smelled, tasted, and touched, but cannot be stopped? The simple answer is that there is no hope for us. We are ruined. There is no escape for us from heartache and shame, heartbreak and rage. We are slaves to a power we don’t even understand: the power of sin. Worst of all, God, it seems, has turned a deaf ear to our cries for help. Is it any wonder that so many choose to kill themselves rather than suffer one more day of pain? When even God is silent, what hope of relief is there for anyone? None that is permanent. We are slaves to sin. Trapped inside ourselves. Incurable. There is no future for us, except to just shut up and die. Its grim stuff. Harsh. Vulgar even. That is the truth about us. Even Christians are not spared this grief. Christians have bodies. Sin rules in our bodies. As a consequence of sin, Christians die. Christians are buried. But Christians are buried with Christ. We are also resurrected with Christ. As St. Paul proclaims, “We were therefore buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too may walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:4). For Christians, physical death is the little “d” death of the body. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the death of death. He is our Life. Baptized into Christ, we die and are raised. This we call the “new creation,”“regeneration,” and “spiritual birth.” There is an actual death of sinners and an actual resurrection of new creations. “Behold, I am making all things new,” Jesus says in Revelation 21. And He does it to us in the waters of Baptism.

So daily we die like all sinners. But daily we are raised by God to new life in Christ with all Christians. We are reborn every day in Christ. This is the Christian’s sure consolation when pain and hurt, heartache and shame threaten to overcome us. Now, instead of staring at ourselves, at our sin and guilt, wondering when death will overtake us, we stare at Christ crucified for us. On Him hangs all our sin. He suffers the furious anger of God toward sin. He dies, forsaken by God in our place. Death comes to devour us, but He offers His body to it instead. What He’s done for us frees us from sin and death and gives us His righteousness and life as our own. That’s the blessed exchange that happens when a sinner is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. When a drunk driver kills our son, baptism is our refuge. When a loveless marriage disintegrates, baptism draws husband and wife outside themselves to God’s baptismal promises. God’s Word and the water bathe the unsettled mind of a mentally ill woman with peace and comfort. Restless hearts full of pain and troubled minds and diseased flesh are embraced from the font to the grave by Baptism. This is where Christians may find rest in all our troubles, even when death overtakes us. As Martin Luther writes in one of his pastoral letters, “Jesus Christ… will never waver or fail us, nor allow us to sink and perish, because he is the Savior and he is called the Savior of all poor sinners, of all who face tribulation and death, of all who rely on him and call on his name.” To be baptized means we are washed in the blood of Christ. Christ comes not only in the water but with water and blood. He is, Luther writes, “always wanting to mingle his blood in the baptism in order that we may see in it the innocent, rosy-red blood of Christ.” To be baptized then is to be washed and made new by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are baptized into His atoning death. This is our consolation and sure hope. Baptism forgives our sins, rescues us from spiritual death, and makes us sure that God is pleased with us. Now when death comes we trust that sin is put to death, that we are put to death, but that in death we are sunk into our Baptism. When death rages like a wildfire we trust that the waters of Baptism will quench its fury. When death hurts and pains us we look to the Cross of Jesus. The pain and hurt are His, which He gladly suffers for us. And there on the Cross we see revealed to us that until we are dead and buried in the ground, until we turn to dust, the dying and drowning of sin is not yet complete. It will be then when we are ready to be resurrected by God’s Spirit to eternal life—whole and complete in Christ. Rev. Donavon L. Riley is the pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Webster, Minnesota. He is also the online content manager for Higher Things. You can contact him at elleon713@gmail.com.

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Te Deum 2015: What Did It By Monica Berndt

“We praise You and acknowledge You, O God, to be the LORD.”

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These first words of the historic hymn known as the “Te Deum” have been sung by Christians since some time in the 4th century. This hymn also happened to be the theme of this year’s Higher Things summer conferences. It’s rather hard to explain a Higher Things conference to someone outside of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, but it’s also surprisingly difficult to explain it to someone within the Synod who has never heard of it before. “What is it?” they ask, puzzled by the description. Well, Higher Things draws people from all across the U.S.A (and even from Canada and Sweden) to hear God’s Word preached, to participate in the Liturgy, and to listen to pastors from all different walks of life speak on issues that are quite relevant to young people in our current society. Perhaps another way to describe a Higher Things conference is to say that it is a church camp. However, this, too, is unfortunately inaccurate. Church camp tends to come with a whole host of stereotypes which include, but are not limited to: emotional praise songs around campfires, dedication of lives to Jesus, and the desire to make everybody who attends feel empowered by some sort of spirit, so that they can go out and blast through every worldly problem that comes their way. No, the Higher Things conference was not that either. There were no speakers telling us how amazing our lives are or will be, no praise songs moving us to tears, no promises of a better life. In fact, the pastors took great care to remind each of us that we are sinners living in a fallen and deceived world, and that if it weren’t for the mercy of Christ we, too, would be running headlong down the wide path that leads to destruction. So then, what was this conference all about? Jesus. More Jesus. Only Jesus. His Word and His Sacraments were present throughout the conference as each pastor continually went back to the Bible, and to the clear distinction between the Law and Gospel, to remind us that even in the midst of the troubles and issues of our day-to-day lives, God will take care of each and every one of us. Every time we attended a service during this conference (14 total), and heard the Scriptures preached by many different pastors, received Holy Communion, made the sign of the cross in remembrance of our Baptism, or bowed to acknowledge the Trinity, we confessed Jesus. We confessed that we are totally sinful human beings in this world and yet, through Jesus, we are totally righteous and redeemed members of


Mean? His heavenly kingdom. It’s a wonderful and mysterious paradox: simul justus et peccator (at the same time righteous and sinner). I had the great privilege of attending my first Higher Things conference this year as a College Conference Volunteer (CCV) and was able to see the wonderful things that take place at this conference. We attended daily services: Matins, Vespers, Evenin g Prayer, and Compline. Each service has a slightly different focus and is designed for a specific time of the day. For instance, Matins is an early morning service designed to prepare the Christian for the day ahead while Compline is the service at the close of the day to prepare the soul and body for rest. Then, each day we had a plenary speaker who talked about topics related to the Te Deum theme, such as the difference between the old and new man and how they approach worship, and the history behind the Te Deum hymn. Each day also allowed us the opportunity to break into smaller lectures which covered a variety of different topics from university idolatry to gay marriage to patterns and themes within the Scriptures. There was so much wisdom within these sessions as each presenter had drawn his or her topic material from the Scriptures and was careful not to rely on personal opinion. That was perhaps one of the most amazing things about this conference: No one claimed to have all the answers, but everyone directed our attention to the place that does. It was truly wonderful to interact with so many people who believe, teach and confess the same thing, drawn from the same place and faithful to the same Scriptures. Higher Things was not simply some conference that led me to believe that I could change myself by my own strength and be better. Rather, it was through the ancient rites, sacraments, and the wisdom of many pastors and adults that I came to better understand my faith, the faith of my forefathers, and the faith of my descendants—the faith that receives Jesus and His gifts for the forgiveness of sins. We are not alone; we have the whole host of heaven singing and chanting with us… but even so, it is gratifying to know that there are others out in the world who dare to be Lutheran. Monica Berndt is a member of Christ the Savior Lutheran Church in George, Washington and studies church music at the University of Washington.

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7

Apologists Every Christian Should Know PART 5

Must-Reads

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History, Law, and Christianity: Evidence for Jesus is weighed by historical-legal standards. ­­­­­————————­­­­­— Faith Found on Fact: Clearly shows why faith should be based on evidence and reason. ­­­­­————————­­­­­— “Apologetics for the Twentyfirst Century” is a helpful essay on avoiding the mistakes of the last century and how to proceed in this one. It is found in Reasons for Faith. ­­­­­————————­­­­­— “Christian Apologetics in Light of the Lutheran Confessions” is an essay in Concordia Theological Quarterly (and available online) that answers the common complaint that Lutherans shouldn’t do apologetics. ­­­­­————————­­­­­— Where Christ is Present: This collection of essays (coedited with Gene Veith) stresses where to find a Christ-centered church. ­­­­­————————­­­­­— Craig Parton, a fellow lawyer and apologist, has simplified much of Montgomery’s work in two excellent books. In fact, readers should likely start with these. The Defense Never Rests (second edition). Religion on Trial.

The Masterful Mind of John Warwick

Why You Can K “Jesus may be true for you, but not for me.”

“All religions are basically the same.”“There is no way to know which religion is correct.” These views are a plague on the public because they are illogical, have no factual basis, and are deadly to faith. Yet everywhere you look, people are spreading the contagion that truth is relative. In fact, the unspoken creed of our culture is that every belief is acceptable … except the one that says it alone is right and all others are wrong.

Sadly, Christians are not immune to this disease. Many have been so infected with politically correct spiritual tolerance that they’ll even disagree with Jesus, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Just as toxic is when Christians repeat the lie that belief is merely a matter of the heart, not a matter of the head. Feelings frequently trump faith. Facts cease to matter. And “God” is no longer identified as the Jesus who lived, died, and rose for our salvation. As the old line goes: With friends like these, who needs enemies! But what is the cure? How does one know that Christianity alone is true among the world’s religions? If there is any apologist whose special skill set has allowed him to provide an antidote to this disease, it’s John Warwick Montgomery. When It’s Okay to Like Lawyers The word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia, which means “a reasoned defense.” It’s the sort of argument made in court, building a convincing case based on logic, testimony, and evidence. Thus, lawyers who routinely cross-examine witnesses and inspect the facts are especially suited to be Christian apologists.

Montgomery is an international lawyer and professor, with 11 earned degrees (yes, 11!) and more than 250 publications. He’s been called “God’s Universal Man” because of his ability to address a wide range of subjects, including theology, history, philosophy, jurisprudence, the occult, fantasy literature, social issues and human rights. He even climbed Mt. Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark. Here we will mention three ways Montgomery has masterfully defended the faith and helped eradicate false notions of truth. A Simple Law of Logic Montgomery begins his treatment by pointing out the plain fact that all religions contradict each other. Despite popular belief, disagreement is the only thing they all have in common. Some have one deity, some thousands, and others none. Some have a heaven/ hell scenario at death, others have reincarnation, and some say you become a god. Many believe in evil, some don’t. Therefore, it is mistaken to think each one essentially teaches the same thing. Even more foolish, however, is to say they can somehow all be true. This flies in the face of logic, since two contradictory claims cannot both be true. Can you imagine someone on trial


Montgomery:

Know the Truth saying he both fired his gun and didn’t fire his gun? It must be one or the other. The same goes for religious claims. Either Jesus is the Son of God or He is not; but to say He is God’s Son for some and not for others is to speak nonsense. Still, many think it is impossible to know which religion is true, or that they’re all false and atheism is correct. Here, too, Montgomery has some powerful medicine to apply. Jesus vs. the Flying Spaghetti Monster Have you heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster(FSM)? He’s a supernatural creature who wants you to believe in him, eat spaghetti, and pass out pamphlets that say, “Flying Spaghetti Monster loves you.” Do this, and you’ll go to Flying Spaghetti Heaven. But if you don’t, it’s Flying Spaghetti Hell for you! He’s really real, and lives in the hearts of all who believe in him. Want proof? Well, that’s the tricky part. There is no possible way to detect the FSM because there is no evidence for him or against him. I cannot prove he exists, and you cannot disprove it. No, I didn’t make the FSM up— someone else did. He is used to show some apparent problems with religious beliefs, namely that they cannot be tested, and that facts don’t matter to believers. So whether you follow Allah, Krishna, or Zeus, it’s all the same. It is argued that having religious faith is like having an imaginary friend. It’s not a part of the real world, because the gods are disconnected from what we can see, hear, smell, and touch. While these points are generally true, Montgomery has shown why only

By Rev. Mark A. Pierson

the biblical God is immunized against such charges. Christianity’s central claim is that God became a flesh-and-blood human in the person of Jesus for our redemption. Thus, when people saw, heard, and touched Him, they were seeing, hearing, and touching God himself (John 1:1, 14). In Jesus, God let Himself be tested, prodded, and investigated. And He still allows for this today through an examination of history. The Gospels speak of real people and actual events. They depend on eyewitness testimony. The documents and artifacts can be dug up and handled. That is why lawyers like Montgomery like history so much—because a tangible, testable Jesus is the remedy for all religious speculation and ignorance. Thus, making a case that Jesus was real is no different than doing so for Julius Caesar or George Washington. And certainly no Flying Spaghetti Monster has ever been publicly executed, only to appear alive again three days later! So firmly does Scripture ground its claims about Jesus in the real world, it even goes so far as to rest everything on the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:14), meaning, not only is there evidence for Christianity, but (in theory) you could also provide evidence against it by showing Jesus never rose. This simply cannot be done for other religions.

1. Are the New Testament documents historically reliable? To claim your holy book is true because it says it’s true is circular reasoning. Instead, start by investigating Jesus like you would any figure of ancient history, and the gospels are vindicated.

The Four-Point Outline Given that Christianity is the only religion that can be supported or overthrown by facts, where does one start in weighing them? Montgomery has used his legally trained mind to produce a four-step process that serves as a healthy regimen for discovering the truth.

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.

2. What does Jesus claim therein? To be God himself, and to rescue the whole world from sin, death, and the devil … for free! No other religious figure ever said such things. 3. How does He prove it? Resurrection! Proof doesn’t get any better than this. 4. What is Jesus’ view of Scripture? He treated the Old Testament as God’s Word, and promised the Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth for the New Testament (John 16:13). Since Jesus is God, we would be wise to adopt His view as our own. Truth is not relative. All religions do not teach the same thing. In fact, when the evidence and history are investigated, Truth turns out to be a Person: Jesus Christ. And He alone rescues us from the lie that truth is relative and gives us what is most true: forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.

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Te Deum

Higher Things 2015 Conferences July 14-17

University of Nevada Las Vegas, NV

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July 21-24

Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI

July 28-31

Concordia University Nebraska Seward, NE


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University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA

Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO

July 26-29

Visit BreadofLife2016.org or email conferences@higherthings.org for more details.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” (St. John 6:35). Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the bread that came down from heaven. Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness and they all died. Jesus is the Bread that a man may eat of and never die. Believing in His Words and promises, receiving His Body and Blood, we live forever. We are very excited to announce that the 2016 Higher Things conferences will rejoice in Jesus being the “Bread of Life.” We will receive His Words. We will eat His Body and drink His Blood. We will live forever.

Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN

July 5-8

Higher Things 2016 Conferences

Bread of Life

June 28-July 1

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Bread of Life Higher Things 2016 Conferences

June 28-July 1 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN

July 5-8

University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA

July 26-29

Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO

Why Higher Things?

We live in a culture of blurry religious distinctions and do-it-yourself spirituality. Youth, especially, need solid ground that will nurture lasting Christian faith. Rather than treating youth as an adolescent subculture and confusing them with religious experiences that cannot be replicated at home, Higher Things believes in challenging youth to learn the pure doctrine of the Christian faith. By teaching them the same message that they hear at home, youth grow in the fullness of the Christian faith as they come to appreciate historic liturgical practice and its unique focus on God’s gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation for us delivered in Word and Sacrament.

The Theme: Bread of Life

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” (St. John 6:35). Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the bread that came down from heaven. Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness and they all died. Jesus is the Bread that a man may eat of and never die. Believing in His Words and promises, receiving His Body and Blood, we live forever. We are very excited to announce that the 2016 Higher Things conferences will rejoice in Jesus being the “Bread of Life.” We will receive His Words. We will eat His Body and drink His Blood. We will live forever. H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 18

Registration

Please note: Registration windows have changed! Download a Registration Packet with detailed registration information and instructions at BreadofLife2016.org. Registration will open on November 1, 2016 and close as each site reaches capacity. We work very diligently to keep costs as low as possible while providing the best conferences we can – every year! The per-person rates below are based on the date your group’s registration fees are paid in full. Additional fees may apply for registrations and changes made on or after May 1, 2016. Balances paid on or after May 1, 2016 will be subject to a $25 per-person late fee. See the detailed Registration Packet for more information about fees and deadlines.


EARLY BIRD! REGULAR Nov. 1, 2016 through Feb. 1, 2016 through Jan. 31, 2016 April 31, 2016

LATE (on or after May 1, 2016)

Vanderbilt University (June 28-July 1, 2016) University of Northern Iowa (July 5-8, 2016)

$355

$385

$410

Colorado State University (July 26-29, 2016) Your Registration Fee includes:

• All conference programming (Catechesis, Worship, Entertainment) • Three (3) nights of campus housing (double-capacity) • Nine (9) Meals (Tuesday supper through Friday lunch) • Conference Handbook • Daily Services Book • Conference T-Shirt • Free issue of Higher Things magazine Not only can you register your group online at BreadofLife2016.org, you can pay deposits and your balance online for no additional charge too! All you need is a valid HT Online account. If you don’t have one yet, you can sign up for one at www.higherthings.org.

Age Requirements

Higher Things conferences are generally planned for high-school-aged youth, but registrants may be any youth who have been confirmed prior to the conference, including middle school and college students. We recognize that the ages of confirmed youth vary from congregation to congregation, and just ask that if a group is bringing young people who are not yet confirmed or in high school, their group leaders be prepared to provide additional supervision accordingly.

Chaperones

Chaperones must be at least 21 years old at the time of Registration, and approved by the group’s pastor to serve in that role. There must be at least one (1) male chaperone for up to every seven (7) male youth in a registered group, and at least one (1) female chaperone for up to every seven (7) female youth in the group. There is no restriction on the number of chaperones that may register with a group. All chaperones and other adults in a group must complete the registration process. If you are unable to recruit the necessary number of chaperones from your congregation for your youth to attend a conference, Higher Things will be happy to help you find other groups from your area who would be willing to “share” their chaperones with you. All Higher Things staff, volunteers, and leadership have completed child safety training and annual background checks. All adults/chaperones registered to attend a Higher Things conference must also pass a national criminal and sexual predator background check by May 1 of the conference calendar year. See Registration Policies in the Registration Packet for additional information regarding background checks.

Conference Capacities

All three 2016 conferences have a capacity of 1,000 attendees.

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Slaying the Monster of Uncertainty By Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard

Culture and churches are assaulted by inward spirituality. The emphasis is on the soul, while the tangible material world is diminished, if not eliminated altogether.

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Take, for example, Bruce Jenner. In his interview with Diane Sawyer he stated, “My brain is much more female than it is male. It’s hard for people to understand that. But that’s what my soul is.” By Bruce’s own definition of himself, he has a female soul and a biologically male body. However, because the soul is what is most important to Bruce, the material makeup of his body is to be diminished or disregarded; therefore, we should consider Bruce a female. This elevation of the soul above the material body is also present in the issue of same-sex marriage. According to same-sex marriage advocates, marriage is no longer defined as the union of a husband and wife in heart, body, and mind, for the procreation of children, but rather, by the union of two people in heart, body, and mind. In both of these examples, the biological makeup of a person and the need for biologically and sexually compatible people (i.e., husband and wife) for the procreation of children is disregarded and subjugated to the soul and/or emotions.

So what’s really happening here? Culture is implementing Platonic thought. That’s right: The ancient ideology of the philosopher Plato seems to be at work. Permit me to explain. Plato saw our existence in two different spheres or realms. He held to the transcendental realm of forms and to the material realm. To Plato, the transcendental realm was right, true, and perfect, but the material realm was changing, flawed, and a mere shadow. As a result, Plato taught that it was the goal of mankind to escape their evil and flawed bodies. Simply stated, Plato considered the soul as good and material things as bad. This leads us back to our examples. If the soul is good and the body is bad, which one is supreme? Which one is authoritative? Obviously, the soul (e.g., emotions) is! This results in the soul taking precedent, while the body is placed into a secondary role or diminished altogether. Furthermore, if the soul/emotions are authoritative, where does a person impacted by Platonic thought look: inward


or outward? The inner self—that is to say, the inner soul—becomes the command center of the individual impacted by Platonic ideology. More specifically, this Platonic ideology impacts the church when it attacks the Word and Sacraments. Otherwise stated, since words, water, bread, and wine are earthly external material things, this Platonic scheme makes them inferior to the inward soul. According to Platonic thought, they do not have power over the soul, for material things are evil. Therefore, they are diminished and the church is forced to conclude that they do not play major role in the Christian faith. How can they? After all, they cannot confer salvation to the soul. At most, they signify the inner workings of salvation in the soul, but that’s about it. Tragically, if the Christian does not have the external Word and Sacraments—if the Christian cannot depend on a watery baptism, breaths of preached word, and consecrated bread and wine— he will go digging around in his innards, searching in vain for hope and assurance. The problem with such an internal emphasis is that when we need eternal certainty, we will look internally to our own emotions/hearts/souls; however, in doing so, we will never have enough assurance. Otherwise stated, if we have an inward Platonic spirituality, we will focus on our life, take our own spiritual temperature, and become fixated on navel gazing, but to no avail. So why the lack of being certain? We are overtaken by the Monster of UNcertainty. That’s right, looking inward to the soul/ emotions—or we could say the caverns of the heart—is to engage with what Martin Luther called,“The Monster of Uncertainty.” Let’s be honest: Everyone is compelled to try to justify himself. We need to feel whole and complete. We need to convince ourselves that we are good. Thus, with inward spirituality, we dig into our souls/hearts/emotions looking for treasures of assurance; however, this does something far more serious: It awakens a beast within. Yes, from the deep caverns of our souls/hearts/emotions, the Monster of Uncertainty is awakened and we are in danger of being devoured by this great beast. The Monster rouses, he attacks assurance, gobbles it up, and leaves us with a bloody mess of doubt, fear, and uncertainty. After the Monster of Uncertainty laughs and devours our assurance, we are left saying, “Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Have I done enough? Who am I? Do people like me? Does God like me? What must I do to be saved? Am I saved?” This is the fruit of a Platonic ideology.

So, how is this Monster of Uncertainty confronted and defeated? It is challenged when our eyes are taken off of ourselves and placed upon the certainty of the Cross. Just think about this for a second: The cross is something that is framed in unmovable and unchangeable history. You were not physically present at the crucifixion; therefore, there is nothing that you can presently do that would prevent Jesus from going to the cross. There is nothing that you can do to go back into time and keep Christ in the grave. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus lives today. It is just that certain! On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” Certainty, my friends, is found in Christ, not self. Certainty is found in Jesus’ life, not yours. Certainty is found in the historic event of Jesus’ atonement, not the events of your life. Certainty is found in the Christ, not the Christian. It is outside of you. And unlike Platonism, material stuff matters to God. The Lord has promised to resurrect you at the final judgment—a new body joined with the soul. Furthermore, the Lord God is not a Platonist, for He delivers certainty to you with earthly things...through matter. Using words, water, bread, and wine He delivers to you the benefits of Mt. Calvary and Himself. He puts certainty into your ears:“In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He puts certainty on your head: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He puts certainty on your lips and on your tongue and in your belly:“Take and eat, this is my body; take and drink, this is my blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” And so it is that the Lord’s Word and Sacraments slay that the Monster of Uncertainty. Your Lord is no Platonist, which means that your salvation does not lie within the monster’s den, but lies outside of you in words, water, wine, and bread; words spoken to you; water poured on you, Body and Blood given to you. Certainty lies outside you, not within you. And that certainty is in Christ—for you. Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard is the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church (LCMS) of Gwinner, North Dakota. He is a graduate of Lutheran Brethren Seminary, Minnesota and Concordia Seminary, Missouri. He can be reached at pastor@ziongwinner.org

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MARVEL Movies and the Creed:

Defend, Guard, Protect and Avenge By Rev. Ted Giese

“There’s only one God, Ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” - Steve Rogers, Captain America

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his sarcastic remark by Captain America in Avengers: Avengers Assemble probably took some movie viewers by surprise. After all, there doesn’t seem to be too much public expression of faith in God in the entertainment industry. As Christians, “We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity ... For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is another,”1 as we say in the Athanasian Creed. However, one of the best ways to keep all of this straight is to learn, mark and inwardly digest the more concise Apostles’ Creed. It’s direct, to the point and easy to memorize. You confess it with your congregation, it’s one of the six chief parts of the Catechism that you are studying or have studied during confirmation classes, and Dr. Luther in the Small Catechism suggests that you include it in your daily prayer life, along with the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning and close of each day. The Apostles’ Creed is an amazing summary of our faith, confessed for centuries.

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It’s one thing to have this Creed memorized and to understand it, but what’s the point of learning something if you never apply it to anything? It would be like learning math and then never solving an equation. I know some of you would rather skip math altogether but I guarantee you it’s not a good idea to skip solving equations any more than you should skip applying your faith to the world in which you live. There are the serious situations to which we apply our faith, but there are also times when we engage in the gift of entertainment, like

watching movies (something I enjoy greatly). As with books, music, or any kind of art, production film makers are busy trying to express ideas to you—ideas you might find entertaining or thought provoking, interesting, or boring. In light of that, as you watch movies in the incredibly popular superhero genre of movies, in particular MARVEL movies, there is a place for analyzing these flicks through the lens of the Creed. Doing so gives us practice in learning to confess what is true and what isn’t about the faith we believe. So in the case of the character of Captain


America, when he says to Black Widow, after Thor appears on the scene,“There’s only one God, Ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that,” the God that Captain America is talking about is the true God—the one you and I confess in the Apostles’ Creed. That’s a curious thing to have pop up in a super hero movie nowadays, isn’t it? Something worth thinking about, perhaps? The character of Steve Rogers grew up in the 1920s and 30s and therefore is far more likely to share the Christian faith of your great-greatgrandparents. If you recall, he’s a man out of time in a world gone mad. He feels greatly out of place at times, but let’s face it, don’t you as well? Even in many Christian circles, adhering to a creed of any kind is seen as “too religious.” In addition to Steve Roger’s remark above, the terms “god” or “gods” get tossed around a lot in the MARVEL movies. In Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Hawkeye’s wife, Laura Barton, says to her husband, “I see you with the Avengers, and, well ...” Hawkeye replies,“You don’t think they need me?” Tenderly she tells him,“Actually, I think they do. They’re gods, and they need you to keep them down to earth.” Steve Rogers would be the first to say he’s no god. And while the Avengers are powerful and fight to defend, guard and protect people against evil, they are not all-powerful, all-knowing, or all-present. They have limitations. Then you have the MARVEL characters who are based on the gods of Norse mythology. There are the Asgardians like Thor, his adopted brother, Loki, and their father, Odin. Within the MARVEL movies they are still only creatures; none of them are depicted as being the Creator, nor are they presented as omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. So in the first article of the Creed when we Lutherans confess, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,” it’s good to remember that none of the Asgardians even claim this role as their own. Loki, in the first Avengers film, talks about how humans were “made to be ruled,” but he doesn’t claim to have made them himself. Even Odin, the All-Father, in Thor: The Dark World (2013) makes no personal claim on creation; while talking to his adopted son Loki he says, “We are not gods! We’re born, we live, we die, just as humans do.” The reason MARVEL’s movies are so very powerful and attractive is because they appeal to our deep need to have a hero (a Savior, if you will).

We love the idea of rescue and redemption. Do you recall when Thor “died” and redemption stepped in and he was able to regain his powers and deal with Loki? That pivotal part of Thor engaged that very appeal, but it is merely a shadow of the One who truly conquered death for us: Jesus. As the Creed expresses, we believe that Jesus lived and died just as humans do (without sin), but that death was not the final word for Jesus because He did not remain dead after His crucifixion and three days in the tomb. “He rose again from the dead,” and, “ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” The Creed teaches that Jesus was uniquely “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” and we confess that the Son of God is eternal, having neither beginning or ending. In the book of Revelation Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8 ESV). This Jesus we acknowledge in the Creed was given to you by God the Father as a gift in His incarnation. Jesus gives Himself to you as a gift at the cross and in His Supper, and the Holy Spirit gives Jesus to you as a gift in your faith made sure by your Baptism. When compared to the stories told in the MARVEL films it’s clear that characters like Thor and Odin can’t begin to measure up to Jesus and the Father as found in Holy Scripture and confessed in the Creed, even if aspects of them shadow the One True Savior. So when movies, TV, art, music or books talk about God, or gods, it’s fair to ask, “Does this fit with what I believe and confess?” Be encouraged! You can use the Creed as a jumping off point to evaluate practically anything. Use it to compare, to contrast, to examine the thing you’re looking at, whatever it might be, and when it comes to the MARVEL films, regardless of what they throw at you, know that you can heartily agree with Steve Rogers,”There’s only one God, Ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” 1 Athanasian Creed - Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, Pg 319 verses 4-5.

Rev. Ted Giese is the associate pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; a contributor to KFUO-AM Radio, The Canadian Lutheran and Reporter/Reporter Online; and movie reviewer for the Issues, Etc. radio program. You can follow Pastor Giese on Twitter @RevTedGiese.

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HT

We Confess

january 2, 2016 – chicago, il Every summer for the last 15 years, youth have been immersed in the waters of their baptism at Higher Things conferences. On January 2, we invite college students and young adults to the campus of Concordia University—Chicago for an evening spent drinking from the firehose of the Gospel. This unique Higher Things Lutheran unConference will begin with a service of Vespers and end with Evening Prayer. In between, seven incredible Lutheran pastors will take the stage for just 20 minutes each! A sit-down dinner will be provided with a Q&A session with the speaker panel. Registration is just $100/person

Schedule

3:00 - 3:30 p.m. 3:45 - 3:50 p.m. 3:50 - 4:10 p.m. 4:10 - 4:30 p.m. 4:30 - 4:50 p.m. 4:50 - 5:10 p.m. 5:10 - 5:30 p.m. 5:30 - 5:50 p.m. 5:50 - 6:10 p.m. 6:10 - 6:30 p.m. 6:45 - 8:45 p.m. 9:00-9:30 p.m.

Vespers Introduction Ten Commandments The Creed Lord’s Prayer Baptism BREAK Holy Absolution The Lord’s Supper Daily Prayer & The Table of Duties *Dinner and Q&A with speaker panel Evening Prayer

Live Streamed!

Just can’t make it to Chicago in January? Don’t worry! For less than half the price of one unConference registration ($40) you can access the live-stream of the We Confess unConference. Gather some friends together at home or church and watch together! We’ll provide downloadable devotional materials so you can follow along with the opening and closing services, and have your own discussion of the presentations during dinner! * not included the livestream.

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Registration

Registration for the Higher Things: We Confess unconference will open on November 1, 2015. Watch for more information at the website below!

http://higherthings.org/we-confess-2016


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You’re out there, working hard to make a difference. Take time to have some fun, watch some videos and learn some stuff! Visit Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s (LCEF) new Y.I. Activity Center at yiclub.lcef.org.

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lcef.org LCEF is a nonprofit religious organization; therefore, LCEF investments are not FDIC-insured bank deposit accounts. This is not an offer to sell investments, nor a solicitation to buy. LCEF will offer and sell its securities only in states where authorized. The offer is made solely by LCEF’s Offering Circular. Investors should carefully read the Offering Circular, which more fully describes associated risks. StewardAccount access features are offered through UMB Bank n.a. StewardAccount is not available to investors in South Carolina.

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

*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.


Winter Higher Things Retreats! More details about these and other upcoming retreats is at www.higherthings.org/retreats!

Law and Gospel November 6-7, 2015

Faith Lutheran Church in Plano, Texas Teacher: Rev. Brent Kuhlman Contact: Pastor Steve Kieser, skieser@flsplano.org Cost: $45/person

Science, Sex and Secularism: Challenges to the Christian Faith November 13-14, 2015

Zion Lutheran Church in McHenry, Illinois Teacher: Rev. Mark Buetow Contact: Pastor George Borghardt, revborghardt@gmail.com Cost: $50/person

The End of the World as We Know It November 13-14, 2015

St. Paul Lutheran Church in Chatfield, Minnesota Teacher: Rev. Dr. Larry Rast Contact: Judy Goldsmith, judyg@rochester.lib.mn.us Cost: $40/person

Patriarchs, Pharaohs, Philistines: Evidence for the Old Testament January 22-23, 2016

St. John Lutheran Church in Corcoran, Minnesota Teacher: Rev. David Kind Contact: Jayme Kruse, jayme.kruse@gmail.com Cost: $30/person

We are now booking retreats for the Winter/Spring of 2016! If you’d like to host a Higher Things retreat at your church,
 contact Patrick Sturdivant (retreats@higherthings.org) for more information.

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Holy Word, Catechism

By Rev. William M. Cwirla

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. (Small Catechism)

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like the way this commandment goes in the German version of the small catechism: “You shall holy the holiday.” What makes a holiday a holy day is the Word of God, which is ultimately what this commandment is all about—the gift of God’s Word and our restful hearing of it. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath Day was the seventh day: what we know as Saturday, the last day

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of the week. In the creative week, God rested on the seventh day (Genesis 1). The word Sabbath (Hebrew: shabbat) means “rest.” Notice that God didn’t say anything on the seventh day. He spoke for six days, creating, ordering, and naming everything by His Word, but on the seventh day He rested and declared the seventh day “holy.” It was set apart from the other days and capped off the week. “For in six days the


Holy Day LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:11). Old Testament Israel rested in worship on the seventh day for two reasons. First, God Himself rested from His work of creation (Exodus 20). Second, God had freed them from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5). Slaves worked seven days a week. God’s free people rested on the seventh day. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15). The Sabbath began at sundown at the close of the sixth day with a nice meal, usually of meat and fish together with undiluted wine. The next day—the seventh day—you did nothing but hear the Word of God, pray, praise, and give thanks. You rested in God’s Word and received everything as a gift from His hand. You were reminded that you stood before God by His grace through faith without your works. Before men, you work. Before God, you rest. In the New Testament, there is no particular day set aside for worship. Sunday is the traditional worship day for Christians because of the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but that is a tradition and not a command. Sunday is not the “Christian Sabbath day,” even if it is the “Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10) and the traditional day for Christians to worship. The old creation was encompassed in six days plus one—a week of days culminating in the Sabbath (Genesis 1). The new creation is but one day, the eternal Day of our Lord in which there is no night but endless day in the Light of Christ (see Revelation 22:5). In Baptism, we have already become new creatures in Christ. We have a part in the dawning Day of the new creation. “The old has passed away; the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Sabbath Day of the old creation has given way to the eternal Day of Jesus and our rest in Him by faith.

What carries over is the Word, and that’s what the catechism picks up. To have a “holy day” is to have the Word preached and heard and believed. The Word makes the difference between a mere holiday, a day off, and a holy day—a day of faith-full rest. Jesus promises eternal rest to all who trust in Him. “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is the ultimate Sabbath: rest from the Law; rest from the burdens of conscience and guilt; rest from struggling with sin, death, and devil. He is more than a day at the end of a workweek. He is The Day in which we rise to life as He is risen. Rest in the Word is God’s gift to us in Christ the Word. We are justified before God by grace through faith in Christ apart from works. The Sabbath Day was a reminder of that fact. God doesn’t need our works; our neighbor does. God wants and creates faith that rests in Him—faith that trusts His Word and clings to Christ’s work. When we do not take time to hear God’s Word and receive His gifts, when we despise preaching and the Word, we deprive ourselves of ultimate rest and peace. In the end, we will work ourselves to death. The Lord wants better for you and me. He wants to give us rest in His restful Word. “I was glad when they said, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1). O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light, O balm of care and sadness, Most beautiful, most bright; This day the high and lowly, Through ages joined to bless, Sing, “Holy, holy, holy,” The Triune God confess. (Lutheran Service Book #906)

Rev. William M. Cwirla is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, California, and is a president emeritus of Higher Things. He can be reached at wcwirla@gmail.com.

F A L L 2 0 1 5 _ 29


Why You Can Know the Truth A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY • Fall 2015

1

Discuss the meaning of the phrase “truth is relative.” What does it mean? How is it used in discussing religion? How would you evaluate the statement, “All religions basically teach the same thing?”

2 3

Read 1 Peter 3:15-16. What sort of “defense” is Peter talking about here? What is “apologetics?”

Read John 14:1-7. What question does Thomas ask? How does Jesus answer? How would this passage apply to the statements that “All religions teach the same thing” or “there are many paths to God?”

4

Read Luke 1:1-5; 2:1-5; 3:1-2. What details remind us that there is a historical basis for the Christian Faith? How does Luke begin his Gospel?

5

Read 1 John 1:1-4. To what does John point as reasonable proof of what he writes? How does this add to Luke’s approach? How do these two elements help our “defense?”

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

6

What prediction does Jesus make about Himself in Matthew 16:21? How is it fulfilled? See Mark 15:15; John 19:30-34 and Mark 16:1-7.

7

Non-Christians often reply that to believe Jesus rose from the dead is foolish. How does St. Paul address that idea in 1 Corinthians 15:1219? How does Paul know that the resurrection really happened? Read a little earlier in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.

8

How does Jesus instruct His disciples about Himself in Luke 24:25-27 and 24:44-48? How does this show us the basis for the Christian faith and the basis for our defense that we are ready to give?

9

Review the “Four Points” from John Warwick Montgomery in the article and discuss how you might use these in talking with friends and unbelievers who have questions or who try to challenge what you believe.

10

Close by singing LSB #482, “This Joyful Eastertide.”

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 HTOnline subscription, point your browser to: higherthings.org/magazine/biblestudies.html.


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“Just Shut Up and Die” A HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY Leader’s Guide

Opening Prayer “Lord, let at last Thine angels come, To Abrah’m’s bosom bear me home, That I may die unfearing; And in its narrow chamber keep My body safe un peaceful sleep Until Thy reappearing. And then from death awaken me, That these mine eyes with joy may see, O Son of God Thy glorious face, My Savior and my fount of grace. Lord Jesus Christ, my prayer attend, my prayer attend, And I will praise Thee without end." (LSB 708, st. 3)

1. How does our culture both embrace and avoid death in ways that are contrary to Scripture’s teaching? It’s popular today, for example to hear people saying, “It’s not a funeral; it’s a celebration of life.” How does this example miss the mark of confessing the Christian faith in the face of death Examples may vary on this question, however try to lead the discussion by way of using cultural events, news, media, celebrity funerals, etc. as a way of demonstrating how death is both glorified in a negative manner and avoided as well. Just practically, think of the popular phrase now “celebration of life” and how that has completely bypassed the grieving of those who mourn their loved one, and has contributed to a denial or lack of closure concerning death. Consider also the fact that we call it a coach not a hearse, or a funeral director instead of a mortician or an undertaker. One the one hand our culture is desensitized to death and on the other hand we’re obsessed with it, e.g., skull and cross bones mark children’s clothing and other such things. 2. Read Luke 2:22-38. What had the Lord promised Simeon? How did He fulfill His promise? And how did Simeon respond? Where do we join in Simeon’s song? The Lord promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah. God fulfilled this promise to Simeon by sending Jesus in the flesh, to the temple at 40 days old to perform what was required of the Law on behalf of all—even Simeon. And so Simeon held in his hand the Lord’s promise —Jesus who was born to take away the sin of the world. Jesus: his Savior and ours. The Lord had kept His promise to Simeon and he was ready to die—Lord, let your servant depart in peace. Then, like Mary and Zechariah before him, Simeon couldn’t help but sing praise to God for his faithfulness and mercy. He sang the song we now call the Nunc Dumittis. We sing this during the Service of the Sacrament after we’ve received Jesus’ Body and Blood for our forgiveness. We’re really 21st century Simeons. We hold Jesus. Jesus keeps His promise to us. And we’re prepared to die in peace. His word is fulfilled. We are forgiven. 3. Job was also a man who was ready to die, yet the Lord did not grant him release from his suffering until later in life. Yet, where was Job’s confidence, even in spite of the bad advice he heard from his wife and friends? Read Job 19:22-27. Job’s confidence—even in the face of so many horrific tragedies and such intense suffering – was in the Lord’s promise. Job knew he would die. He knew his flesh would be destroyed and that he would become worm food. Yet, he also knew that in his flesh he would see his redeemer face to face. Job believed in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. The resurrection is the promise we believe and confess as well. And since Christ is raised, the firstfruits of all who fall asleep in death, we know that we, too, shall rise again on the Last Day and see Him face to face, along with Job and all the faithful departed.

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


4. Read Romans 6:1-11. How is our Baptism a death and resurrection? St. Paul uses symbolic language to describe what Jesus is doing to us in Baptism, but Baptism is no symbol of death and resurrection; it is a literal death and resurrection. In Holy Baptism Jesus gives us life by drowning. Our sin is buried. We are drowned and death is covered by the water—just like Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea. Baptism is our exodus where we are brought from death to life. And just as we are buried with Christ in Baptism, so too, we are raised with Him in Baptism. This is why many of the early church fonts had stairs going down and then back up, so that when you were baptized your body followed the descent and ascent physically that was taking place spiritually by water and word. 5. Pastor Riley mentions several times—at the beginning and towards the end—how death grips us and causes us fear, despair, and sadness. How does St. Paul answer this in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57? Death is natural, people say. It’s part of the circle of life, they opine. But this is all false and misleading. Death isn’t natural, and it was never intended to be part of life. God did not create the world with death in it. Death came through sin. And so Paul writes that the sting of death is sin. It’s a terminal disease, a bee sting in our flesh from which we cannot remove the venom. It must be sucked out by someone who is our helper, like poison from a snake bite. Jesus takes the sting of death for us. Jesus dies in our place and so conquers death. He gives us His victory. Death is the last enemy and in Jesus our death is defeated. Therefore when death claims those we love, and eventually ourselves, we need not fear. Christ has gone before us into death and out again to life; and He takes us with him. His death and resurrection is the promise that He will raise us, too, and that, in the midst of death, He is our life. 6. Read Revelation 1:17-18. What does Jesus promise us in face of our fears, sorrow, and uncertainty regarding death? If someone holds the key to something that means they have the power. Think of the common civic example of receiving the keys to the city. If you have the keys to the city you can go wherever you want when you want; you have the power and authority. Jesus has the keys of death. Death no longer has dominion over Him, and that means it no longer has dominion over you either. Jesus has the authority over death, therefore, we need not fear. Jesus is the Living One who died and lives, and because He lives His promise that we, too, shall live is trustworthy and true, and cause of endless joy, thanks, and praise.

Closing Sing together “God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It” (LSB 594, stz. 4-5).

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Just Shut Up and Die” A HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY Opening Prayer “Lord, let at last Thine angels come, To Abrah’m’s bosom bear me home, That I may die unfearing; And in its narrow chamber keep My body safe un peaceful sleep Until Thy reappearing. And then from death awaken me, That these mine eyes with joy may see, O Son of God Thy glorious face, My Savior and my fount of grace. Lord Jesus Christ, my prayer attend, my prayer attend, And I will praise Thee without end." (LSB 708, st. 3) 1. How does our culture both embrace and avoid death in ways that are contrary to Scripture’s teaching? It’s popular today, for example to hear people saying, “It’s not a funeral; it’s a celebration of life.” How does this example miss the mark of confessing the Christian faith in the face of death

2. Read Luke 2:22-38. What had the Lord promised Simeon? How did He fulfill His promise? And how did Simeon respond? Where do we join in Simeon’s song?

3. Job was also a man who was ready to die, yet the Lord did not grant him release from his suffering until later in life. Yet, where was Job’s confidence, even in spite of the bad advice he heard from his wife and friends? Read Job 19:22-27.

4. Read Romans 6:1-11. How is our Baptism a death and resurrection?

5. Pastor Riley mentions several times—at the beginning and towards the end—how death grips us and causes us fear, despair, and sadness. How does St. Paul answer this in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57?

6. Read Revelation 1:17-18. What does Jesus promise us in face of our fears, sorrow, and uncertainty regarding death?

Closing Sing together “God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It” (LSB 594, stz. 4-5).

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Holy Word, Holy Day” A HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY Leader’s Guide

Opening Prayer “O sweet and blessed country, The home of God’s elect! O sweet and blessed country, That faithful hearts expect! In mercy, Jesus bring us To that eternal rest With You and God the Father And Spirit, ever blest.” (LSB 672, st 4)

1. “You shall call holy this holy day” the Lord says about the Sabbath. What does the word holy mean? Holy means “consecrated, sacred, or set apart.” Thus, God sets apart, or consecrates a day and time for us to hear His Word and receive His gifts. Though the New Testament finds the Sabbath fulfilled in Jesus, this does not mean it disappears. Rather, it transfers to the places and times when Jesus is present with His Word and Sacrament. So we have Holy Communion, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, Holy Word, and so forth. These things are holy because Christ gives them to us, fills them with Himself and His promises, and He promises to be present for us there to also make us holy. 2. According to the Old Testament, why did God give His people a time of rest? What did they rest in? Israel rested because God rested on the seventh day. Was He tired? Certainly not. But He rested to show that man’s rest is found in Him. Israel also had a Sabbath because God had freed them from slavery and redeemed and delivered them. In other words, they were resting in God’s promises, presence, and provision for them. It’s no different today for us. Whenever we hear the Word and receive His Sacraments, we, too, receive God’s promises, presence, and provision. We rest in Him and in His resting for us. After all, Jesus rested on the Sabbath day from all His labors on the cross and rose again on the third day to bring us into an endless day of new creation. 3. Where and when is our Sabbath rest, since there is no proscribed day for it in the New Testament Church? Since the Book of Acts, Christians have typically gathered (at the very least) on Sunday because this is the first day of the week, the dawn of the new creation, and the day of Jesus’ resurrection. It makes sense that we find rest and peace in this weary world in His promise, especially gathering to receive His gifts on the day when this happened long ago. And yet any time the church gathers around our Lord’s Word and sacraments, He promises to be with us (see Matthew 28:16-20), and so whenever and wherever these gifts are given, we have Sabbath: Bible class, Divine Service on a Sunday or any other day, family devotions, bedtime prayers, etc.

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


4. Although we celebrate and rejoice in God’s Sabbath rest now, what else does God have in store for us in His Sabbath rest? From the beginning, Adam and Eve were meant to live in eternal rest and communion with God. Sin destroyed that. But what Adam and Eve lost, the second Adam won for us. Now in Christ we have true Sabbath rest, and we look forward to the eternal day that is yet to come in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. Baptism gives us this now and not yet tension / promise that we live in daily. This gives us hope and a future. 5. There are many holidays—or holy days—in the church year calendar. What makes each of these days holy? Just as in Baptism, the Supper, Absolution and everything else our Lord calls holy, what makes any day or thing or word holy, is Jesus’ Word. His Word fills water with His cross and resurrection. It fills Absolution with His life-giving promise. It fills bread and wine with His own Body and Blood. And it fills our lips with thanks, praise, and rejoicing, no matter what day it is on the calendar.

Closing Prayer “You shall observe the worship day That peace may fill your home, and pray, And put aside the work you do, So that God may work in you.” Have mercy, Lord. LSB 581:4

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Holy Word, Holy Day” A HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY Opening Prayer “O sweet and blessed country, The home of God’s elect! O sweet and blessed country, That faithful hearts expect! In mercy, Jesus bring us To that eternal rest With You and God the Father And Spirit, ever blest.” (LSB 672, st 4)

1. “You shall call holy this holy day” the Lord says about the Sabbath. What does the word holy mean?

2. According to the Old Testament, why did God give His people a time of rest? What did they rest in?

3. Where and when is our Sabbath rest, since there is no proscribed day for it in the New Testament Church?

4. Although we celebrate and rejoice in God’s Sabbath rest now, what else does God have in store for us in His Sabbath rest?

5. There are many holidays—or holy days—in the church year calendar. What makes each of these days holy?

Closing Prayer “You shall observe the worship day That peace may fill your home, and pray, And put aside the work you do, So that God may work in you.” Have mercy, Lord. (LSB 581, st. 4)

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“MARVEL Movies and the Creed: Defend, Guard,A Protect and Avenge” HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY Leader’s Guide

Leaders’ Introduction The phenomenon of the Comic Book Movie has made many of the classic Marvel characters household names. While it may be fun to compare and contrast the various characters and their situations with the Christian faith, it’s important to remember, as Pastor Giese reminds us, that we don’t come to a knowledge of God by analogies, but by the Creed, which is a summary of what Holy Scripture reveals about God. This Bible study will explore a few of those passages of Scripture that reveal who God is, with a nod to the Marvel characters from the big screen. Leaders may want to familiarize themselves with the references in this article and study by a quick Google or YouTube search, or perhaps an entire Marvel movie marathon! 1. In The Avengers, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, boldly asserts that there is only one God, and that he’s pretty sure that he knows how God might dress. How is it that we know anything about God? See Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:19-20; John 1:18; Hebrews 1:1-2. There is a natural knowledge of God that is revealed in creation. Simply the existence of such a majestic creation is testimony to a Creator. Likewise, the Law written on our hearts reveals something of God. But this natural revelation is imperfect. The natural knowledge of God can only tell us that God exists; it can never tell us anything about His disposition toward us. In fact, the natural knowledge of God can only reveal His wrath (Romans 1:18). Specific knowledge about God must be revealed. In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself by the prophets. But now we have a greater and more complete revelation in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is only through Christ that we learn the extent of God’s mercy and love toward us. 2. The Apostles’ Creed is a simple commentary on the baptismal formula from Matthew 28:18-20. How do the Words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” reveal the unity of God? How does it reveal the plurality of God? In the baptismal formula, the “name” is singular, but there is a plurality of Persons. One name; three Persons. The unity of the divine essence, the divine “stuff” of God, is shown by the shared name. God is united in will, in purpose, and in substance. But He is unique in His distinct personhood. The Father, Son, and Spirit are all distinct persons, but united in substance. 3. The super heroes and villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe range from gifted humans to beings of extreme power. But none of them can claim the title “Almighty.” What distinguishes God, the Father Almighty, from a fictional super-powered hero? Skim Genesis 1:1-2:3; Job 38:1-40:2. Then read Hebrews 11:1-3. God, the Father Almighty, isn’t merely a super-powered being subject to the basic rules of the universe. He is the One who creates the universe and its rules. He does so by speaking. God calls creation into existence by His command. He speaks and it happens. The mightiness of God is found precisely in His Word.

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


4. Hawkeye is just a regular guy who keeps his super-powered teammates down to earth, according to his wife. How does God distinguish Himself from false gods by being “down to earth?” See 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Ephesians 4:7-10; Philippians 2:1-11; John 12:20-26. God distinguishes Himself from false gods by sending His eternal Son to the earth in human flesh. What’s more, in this humility, Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, mocked, shamefully treated, crucified, and buried in the earth. The true God is a down-to-earth God because He becomes man in order to suffer and die. 5. Every good super-hero needs a good super-villain. St. Paul had opponents he called “super-apostles.” Read what he says about the “super-apostles” in 2 Corinthians 11:1-12:13. Even though Paul can boast about more “powers,” what is it that he boasts about instead? Are there “super-apostles” today who are the enemies of the Gospel? The “super-apostles” in 2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11 set themselves forward as worthy of praise and present a different gospel to the Corinthian church. They preach a theology of glory, that is, they believe and preach that God can be found in power, strength, wealth, success. St. Paul calls them servants of Satan, who disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul instead boasts—quite convincingly—of his weaknesses. His theology is a theology of the cross, which finds God revealed in weakness, in suffering, and in the cross. The same “super-apostles” are still around today. The Word-Faith movement is a collection of preachers who proclaim a message that you can find God in power, strength, and particularly in wealth. They are named for their teaching that if you speak what you believe, it will be yours. Also known as the “prosperity gospel,” some of the more popular preachers are Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and Joyce Meyer. If youth identify other “super-apostles,” ask them how their attitude and gospel differs from what St. Paul preaches in 2 Corinthians and elsewhere. 6. Toward the end of his argument in 2 Corinthians 12:9, St. Paul presents a word from Christ Himself. How do strength and weakness relate to each other? In what particular way does Jesus perfect His strength? How is His strength perfect in you? Jesus says that His grace is sufficient because His strength is made perfect in weakness. This Word was a special revelation to St. Paul in relation to his own suffering. It is not simply a word of encouragement, but a revelation of the person and work of Jesus. His moment of strength was at His moment of greatest weakness—as He hung upon the cross. And so for us as well, God is revealed through suffering and bearing our own crosses.

Closing Sing together “We All Believe in One True God” (LSB 954 or 953) and then pray: “Almighty and everlasting God, You have given us grace to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity by the confession of a true faith and to worship the Unity in the power of the Divine Majesty. Keep us steadfast in this faith and defend us from all adversities; for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“MARVEL Movies and the Creed: Defend, Guard,A Protect and Avenge” HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY 1. In The Avengers, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, boldly asserts that there is only one God, and that he’s pretty sure that he knows how God might dress. How is it that we know anything about God? See Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:19-20; John 1:18; Hebrews 1:1-2.

2. The Apostles’ Creed is a simple commentary on the baptismal formula from Matthew 28:18-20. How do the Words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” reveal the unity of God? How does it reveal the plurality of God?

3. The super heroes and villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe range from gifted humans to beings of extreme power. But none of them can claim the title “Almighty.” What distinguishes God, the Father Almighty, from a fictional super-powered hero? Skim Genesis 1:1-2:3; Job 38:1-40:2. Then read Hebrews 11:1-3.

4. Hawkeye is just a regular guy who keeps his super-powered teammates down to earth, according to his wife. How does God distinguish Himself from false gods by being “down to earth?” See 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Ephesians 4:7-10; Philippians 2:1-11; John 12:20-26.

5. Every good super-hero needs a good super-villain. St. Paul had opponents he called “super-apostles.” Read what he says about the “super-apostles” in 2 Corinthians 11:1-12:13. Even though Paul can boast about more “powers,” what is it that he boasts about instead? Are there “super-apostles” today who are the enemies of the Gospel?

6. Toward the end of his argument in 2 Corinthians 12:9, St. Paul presents a word from Christ Himself. How do strength and weakness relate to each other? In what particular way does Jesus perfect His strength? How is His strength perfect in you?

Closing Sing together “We All Believe in One True God” (LSB 954 or 953) and then pray: “Almighty and everlasting God, You have given us grace to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity by the confession of a true faith and to worship the Unity in the power of the Divine Majesty. Keep us steadfast in this faith and defend us from all adversities; for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.” © 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Te Deum 2015:A HIGHER WhatTHINGS® Did ItBIBLE Mean?” STUDY Leader’s Guide

Opening Prayer “We praise You and acknowledge You, O God to be the Lord, The Father everlasting, by all the earth adored. To You all angel powers cry aloud the heavens sing, The cherubim and seraphim their praises to You bring:“O holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth; Your majesty and glory fill the heaven and the earth!” (LSB 941, st. 1) 1. What do the words “Te Deum” mean? They are the first words of this ancient Latin hymn. They are Latin for “we praise God”, or “to God we praise.” It begins, like many prayers, addressing God as Trinity and how He has rescued and saved us. 2. Using Lutheran Service Book read through the words of the "Te Deum," found on page 223-225 or 941. Discuss the teaching in each stanza. What is this verse confessing about the Christian faith? 3. This hymn is commonly sung at the morning prayer service known at Matins. When else would be appropriate to sing this hymn of praise? 4. Read Revelation 5, especially verses 9-14. What is going on in this part of St. John’s Revelation? How does it parallel the Te Deum? St. John sees the heavenly throne room and he witnesses a heavenly divine service. There’s incense, the Lamb at the center, and lots of singing. Want to know what heaven is like? We get a glimpse of this every Divine Service. Jesus is present with His gifts and there’s lots of singing. The "Te Deum” is one of many hymns that sings the praises of Christ and gives us the proclamation of His salvation for us. Too many songs these days focus our attention on ourselves whereas the “Te Deum” focuses our attention squarely on the work of the Triune God to save us. 5. Ms. Berndt mentions the biblical teaching of simul justus et peccator. What does this mean? Where do we learn about this in Scripture? It means simultaneously saint and sinner. We hear about this most clearly in Romans 7 where Paul describes this inner civil war between his old sinful flesh and his new man, created in Christ and in communion with the Holy Spirit. We live in daily tension with this reality until death. When we try to break the tension or solve the paradox, that’s when we run into trouble. Singing Hymns like the “Te Deum” are a good way of waging war against our sinful flesh which does not want us to hallow God’s Name or let His kingdom come, as we learn in the catechism.

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Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


6. How does the “Te Deum” give us a glimpse of heaven here on earth? Read Hebrews 12:18-24. The author of Hebrews teaches us that we have been brought – by the washing of water and word—to a new Jerusalem, a holy city whose foundations are unshakeable. The words in the passage of Hebrews 12 is a joyful, promise filled section of God’s word, pointing us to the reality of what we’re receiving in Divine Service already now, and what we have to look forward to in heaven. The “Te Deum” also reminds us that we are singing with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, that Christ draws us together from around the world to the places He promises to be present for us. And so in a way, the liturgy —and good hymns like this one—are like a time machine (think TARDIS) that transport us and God’s gifts, across space and time. After all, the chancel area and even our hymnal are bigger on the inside than they appear on the outside.

Closing “You, Christ, are King of glory, the everlasting Son, Yet You, with boundless love sought to rescue everyone: You laid aside Your glory, were born of Virgin’s womb, Were crucified for us and were placed into a tomb; Then by Your resurrection You won for us reprieve—You opened heaven’s kingdom to those who would believe.” (LSB 941, st. 3)

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© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Te Deum 2015:A HIGHER WhatTHINGS® Did ItBIBLE Mean?” STUDY Opening Prayer “We praise You and acknowledge You, O God to be the Lord, The Father everlasting, by all the earth adored. To You all angel powers cry aloud the heavens sing, The cherubim and seraphim their praises to You bring:“O holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth; Your majesty and glory fill the heaven and the earth!” (LSB 941, st. 1) 1. What do the words “Te Deum” mean?

2. Using Lutheran Service Book read through the words of the "Te Deum," found on page 223-225 or 941. Discuss the teaching in each stanza. What is this verse confessing about the Christian faith?

3. This hymn is commonly sung at the morning prayer service known at Matins. When else would be appropriate to sing this hymn of praise?

4. Read Revelation 5, especially verses 9-14. What is going on in this part of St. John’s Revelation? How does it parallel the Te Deum?

5. Ms. Berndt mentions the biblical teaching of simul justus et peccator. What does this mean? Where do we learn about this in Scripture?

6. How does the “Te Deum” give us a glimpse of heaven here on earth? Read Hebrews 12:18-24.

Closing “You, Christ, are King of glory, the everlasting Son, Yet You, with boundless love sought to rescue everyone: You laid aside Your glory, were born of Virgin’s womb, Were crucified for us and were placed into a tomb; Then by Your resurrection You won for us reprieve—You opened heaven’s kingdom to those who would believe.” (LSB 941, st. 3)

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Why YouACan Know the Truth” HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY Leader’s Guide

Leaders’ Introduction Pastor Pierson surveys some of the key arguments made by John Warwick Montgomery (JWM) for the truth of the Christian faith. It is important to remember that saving faith is only given to a person by the Holy Spirit. You can't argue someone into the kingdom of God! Nevertheless, it is good for Christians to also see that their faith is not based on make-believe things but upon real facts and logic. This is the center of our Christian faith: that God became man in Jesus Christ. Jesus, as a real historical person who died and rose from the dead, establishes the Christian faith in a reasonable way. 1. Discuss the meaning of the phrase "truth is relative." What does it mean? How is it used in discussing religion? How would you evaluate the statement, "All religions basically teach the same thing?” Answers will vary. The idea that truth is relative is that something is only true for the person who believes it. It might be true for me but not for you. This is the way that religions are most often approached today. You might believe what your religion teaches, which means that it's true for you, but if I don't believe it, then it's not true for me. There really is no such thing as objective truth, that is, something that is true whether a person believes it or not. We believe that truth is objective and that Jesus Christ is the true God whether someone believes this or not. This way of thinking applied to religion is really ridiculous because it tries to say that they are all right when clearly the teachings of the various religions contradict each other. 2. Read 1 Peter 3:15-16. What sort of "defense" is Peter talking about here? What is “apologetics?" The Greek word for "defense" that Peter uses is "apologia" from which we get the word "apology" and "apologetics." Ironically, an "apology" and "apologetics" have nothing to do with saying we're sorry but rather with speaking the truth that we believe. Again, we can't argue someone into the Christian faith, but the discipline of "apologetics" seeks to provide a reasonable defense of what we believe, showing anyone who will listen that the Christian faith is based on a real person (Jesus) and real events (His life, death, and resurrection). There can be other types of arguments and defense and proofs and evidence used in apologetics, too, but the heart and core of giving this defense is to have an answer to those who accuse Christians of being silly and foolish. Remind students that the faith is often attacked by unbelievers and it can be easy for Christians to think those arguments "beat" Christianity, especially when they don't know how to respond. 3. Read John 14:1-7. What question does Thomas ask? How does Jesus answer? How would this passage apply to the statements that "All religions teach the same thing" or "there are many paths to God?” Jesus clearly taught and said that He is the Truth. In fact, when asked what truth is, our first answer should be "Jesus!" Thomas wants to know how he and his fellow Apostles can know where Jesus is going, to which Jesus replies that He Himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life. One of the helpful things Pierson points out about JWM's apologetic work is that he is always reminding us that "truth" is not some abstract concept but a Real Person, namely, Jesus Christ in whom is revealed the Father, because the Son shows Him to us. Although it sounds "unloving" or unfriendly to say, Christians must confess that Jesus alone is the Truth, and the only way to God (being God Himself). To say that all religions teach the same thing is simply not true. To say that there are many paths to God is just untrue as well, since Jesus Himself says precisely the opposite. © 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


4. Read Luke 1:1-5; 2:1-5; 3:1-2. What details remind us that there is a historical basis for the Christian Faith? How does Luke begin his Gospel? Luke is careful to include historical details in his Gospel. He names Roman emperors and provincial kings, all of which can be and have been verified to be real historical persons in writings apart from the Bible. Luke begins his Gospel by saying he carefully investigated the things that were being preached about Jesus. He knew historical (for him, current) references and spoke with eyewitnesses. The point of all of that is that the Gospel, the story of Christ, is rooted and grounded in historical facts, independently verifiable by other historical records. No other religion can claim that sort of historical detail. 5. Read 1 John 1:1-4. To what does John point as reasonable proof of what he writes? How does this add to Luke's approach? How do these two elements help our “defense?" John was an eyewitness of Jesus' death and saw Him alive after His resurrection. Plus, he spent three years with Jesus. He writes as one who saw and heard Jesus with his own eyes and ears and witnessed the things that He did. The writers of the New Testament are very particular about reminding the readers that the writers have seen the things they're talking about. Combine that with the historical details and we see that there is a very solid foundation of details that mean that faith in Christ is not just based on some fairy tale but is for real. 6. What prediction does Jesus make about Himself in Matthew 16:21? How is it fulfilled? See Mark 15:15; John 19:30-34; and Mark 16:1-7. Jesus predicts for His disciples His suffering, death and resurrection. He undergoes suffering and death and rises again the third day. They saw Him taken. Some saw Him crucified. The tomb was empty and they saw Jesus alive after that. What Jesus said would happen did happen and there were eyewitnesses who wrote about it. Again, these things in and of themselves don't give us faith (only the Holy Spirit does) but they provide reasonable discussion points to show that we aren't simply believing some made-up story. 7. Non-Christians often reply that to believe Jesus rose from the dead is foolish. How does St. Paul address that idea in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19? How does Paul know that the resurrection really happened? Read a little earlier in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead stands at the heart of the Christian faith. St. Paul knew this. He knew it had happened from eyewitnesses who, when he wrote to the Corinthians, were still alive to verify the truth. Paul readily admits that if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, Christians are foolish and, in fact, the most pitiable of all people for believing something like that. So Paul points to this historical fact of Jesus' resurrection as the foundation and basis of the saving faith he preaches as an apostle. 8. How does Jesus instruct His disciples about Himself in Luke 24:25-27 and 24:44-48? How does this show us the basis for the Christian faith and the basis for our defense that we are ready to give? Jesus teaches that all the Old Testament pointed to Him. He shows how it points to and foretells His death and resurrection. He ordains His apostles to be His witnesses of these things. Remind students of the close connection between the eyewitness testimony of the apostles and the scriptures they wrote. It's not unlike how we believe that other historical figures existed (and most proven by far less historical evidence).

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Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


9. Review the "Four Points" from John Warwick Montgomery below and discuss how you might use these in talking with friends and unbelievers who have questions or who try to challenge what you believe. 1) Are the New Testament documents historically reliable?
 To claim your holy book is true because it says it’s true is circular reasoning. Instead, start by investigating Jesus like you would any figure of ancient history, and the gospels are vindicated. 2) What does Jesus claim therein?
 To be God himself, and to rescue the whole world from sin, death, and the devil…for free! No other religious figure ever said such things. 3) How does He prove it?
 Resurrection! Proof doesn’t get any better than this. 4) What is Jesus’ view of Scripture?
 He treated the Old Testament as God’s Word, and promised the Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth for the New Testament (John 16:13). Since Jesus is God, we would be wise to adopt His view as our own.

Closing Sing together “This Joyful Eastertide” (LSB #482).

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Why YouACan Know the Truth” HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY 1. Discuss the meaning of the phrase "truth is relative." What does it mean? How is it used in discussing religion? How would you evaluate the statement, "All religions basically teach the same thing?” 2. Read 1 Peter 3:15-16. What sort of "defense" is Peter talking about here? What is “apologetics?" 3. Read John 14:1-7. What question does Thomas ask? How does Jesus answer? How would this passage apply to the statements that "All religions teach the same thing" or "there are many paths to God?” 4. Read Luke 1:1-5; 2:1-5; 3:1-2. What details remind us that there is a historical basis for the Christian Faith? How does Luke begin his Gospel? 5. Read 1 John 1:1-4. To what does John point as reasonable proof of what he writes? How does this add to Luke's approach? How do these two elements help our “defense?" 6. What prediction does Jesus make about Himself in Matthew 16:21? How is it fulfilled? See Mark 15:15; John 19:30-34; and Mark 16:1-7. 7. Non-Christians often reply that to believe Jesus rose from the dead is foolish. How does St. Paul address that idea in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19? How does Paul know that the resurrection really happened? 8. How does Jesus instruct His disciples about Himself in Luke 24:25-27 and 24:44-48? How does this show us the basis for the Christian faith and the basis for our defense that we are ready to give? 9. Review the four Points from John Warwick Montgomery below and discuss how you might use these in talking with friends and unbelievers who have questions or who try to challenge what you believe. 1) Are the New Testament documents historically reliable? 2) What does Jesus claim therein? 3) How does He prove it? 4) What is Jesus’ view of Scripture?

Closing Sing together “This Joyful Eastertide” (LSB #482). © 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Slaying the Monster of Uncertainty” A HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY Leader’s Guide

Leaders’ Introduction An old saying in the Church is that the natural man is incurvatus in se—he is curved in upon himself. This is a way of describing the inclination of human nature to look inwardly in matters of faith. Martin Luther labeled this “enthusiasm,” by which he meant, “looking for God inside yourself.” This is the first sin (Smalcald Articles VII.5). In this Bible study, participants will be directed by Scripture and our Lutheran Confession to look outside of themselves to Christ and His means of grace for assurance in matters of faith. The leader should make sure that there is at least one copy of the Book of Concord available in addition to Bibles, and should know where the references can be found. 1. The New Testament word for “soul” is psyche. It means your whole self, everything about you that makes you you. Read Matthew 6:25-34. What does Jesus say about how the body relates to the soul? (Note that here, the ESV translates psyche as “life”). Jesus indeed says that the soul is more than clothes and food and drink. The whole self is more than just the body. But the soul is not divided from the body. The body is a necessary part of the whole self. Plato’s philosophy that makes a sharp division between the material (body) and the spiritual (soul) denies the basic goodness of the human body. Jesus promises that the Father will also provide for the body. 2. The author observes that a spirituality that divides the soul from the body is evident in our society’s view of marriage. What is marriage a union of? See Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31; Matthew 19:5-6. In the beginning God instituted marriage as a union of the flesh. The two shall become one flesh. The prevailing understanding of marriage in our culture sees marriage as primarily a union of souls, with sexual union simply being an expression of the higher spiritual connection. The one-flesh union, however, is concretely seen only in the procreation of children. A child is the melding of two into one flesh. Ask the youth to consider how they give a unique expression of both their mothers and their fathers. 3. An old saying in the Church is that the natural man is incurvatus in se—he is curved in upon himself —because of original sin. How did the first sin of Adam and Eve turn them inward? What did they reject? See Genesis 3:1-24. See also the Smalcald Articles, article VII. In listening to the voice of the serpent, Adam and Eve rejected the external Word of God. Instead, they listened to their own inner voices, which told them that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was something they should desire. The Smalcald Articles, written by Martin Luther and included as our Lutheran Church’s confession of faith, state: “All this is the old devil and old serpent [Revelation 12:9], who also turned Adam and Eve into enthusiasts. He led them away from God’s outward Word to spiritualizing and self-pride [Genesis 3:2–5]. And yet, he did this through other outward words. In the same way, our enthusiasts today condemn the outward Word” (SA VII.5). 4. If we look inward, what should we find? Read 1 John 1:8-10. A truthful self-examination will find only sin and death inwardly.

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Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


5. Read Romans 10:8. The Word of God is near you, but it does not originate with you. How does God’s Word get “in your mouth and in your heart”? What is the remedy for what Martin Luther calls enthusiasm? See also the Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIII.13. The Word of God that is in our mouths and hearts comes to us first as the Word that is proclaimed. St. Paul goes on to ask in Romans 10:14-17 how a person can have faith if he has not heard and how he can hear if he does not have a preacher. The remedy for enthusiasm is the ministry of the Word, which is outside of ourselves. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, written by Philip Melanchthon as a defense of Lutheran teaching, states: “It is helpful, so far as can be done, to honor the ministry of the Word with every kind of praise against fanatical people. These fanatics imagine that the Holy Spirit is given not through the Word, but through certain preparations of their own. For example, they imagine He is given if they sit unoccupied and silent in far-off places, waiting for illumination, as the Enthusiasts formerly taught and the Anabaptists now teach” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIII.13). 6. In addition to the spoken Word, Jesus has also attached His Word to earthy elements: water and bread and wine. Why does our Lord attach to these “earthen vessels”? See 2 Corinthians 4:7 (check the King James Version). What kind of certainty does this give us? The “earthiness” of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are to show us that the power of forgiveness and reconciliation with God is from Him and not from us. The certainty of the Sacraments is that our sins and imperfections have no bearing on our standing before God. He is the One who initiates the reconciliation by His grace. The “earthiness” of the Sacraments remind us that God’s strength is perfected in weakness. 7. Finally, how does John 1:14 show us that God is not a Platonic philosopher? Why is He also concerned about the materialistic creation? See also Colossians 1:15-23. God, who is spirit (John 4:24), becomes flesh when the Word, that is, the Son of God, becomes flesh. The spiritual and fleshly realms are united by the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This union of spiritual with material was the will of God from the beginning of creation, according to St. Paul. Creation was made for Jesus, so that He would become flesh. He reconciled the two by His own suffering and death. And because He is risen in His body, we can be certain that our bodies will also be part of His recreation.

Closing Sing together “Christ, the Word of God Incarnate” (LSB 540)

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Slaying the Monster of Uncertainty” A HIGHER THINGS® BIBLE STUDY 1. The New Testament word for “soul” is psyche. It means your whole self, everything about you that makes you you. Read Matthew 6:25-34. What does Jesus say about how the body relates to the soul? (Note that here, the ESV translates psyche as “life”).

2. The author observes that a spirituality that divides the soul from the body is evident in our society’s view of marriage. What is marriage a union of? See Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31; Matthew 19:5-6.

3. An old saying in the Church is that the natural man is incurvatus in se—he is curved in upon himself —because of original sin. How did the first sin of Adam and Eve turn them inward? What did they reject? See Genesis 3:1-24. See also the Smalcald Articles, article VII.

4. If we look inward, what should we find? Read 1 John 1:8-10.

5. Read Romans 10:8. The Word of God is near you, but it does not originate with you. How does God’s Word get “in your mouth and in your heart”? What is the remedy for what Martin Luther calls enthusiasm? See also the Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIII.13.

6. In addition to the spoken Word, Jesus has also attached His Word to earthy elements: water and bread and wine. Why does our Lord attach to these “earthen vessels”? See 2 Corinthians 4:7 (check the King James Version). What kind of certainty does this give us?

7. Finally, how does John 1:14 show us that God is not a Platonic philosopher? Why is He also concerned about the materialistic creation? See also Colossians 1:15-23.

Closing Sing together “Christ, the Word of God Incarnate” (LSB 540)

© 2015 Higher Things, Inc.

Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Law andA HIGHER Gospel in Worship” THINGS® BIBLE STUDY Leader’s Guide

Leaders’ Introduction This Bible study examines what worship is and the direction that worship “flows.” Worship, contrary to popular belief, isn’t really about us doing something for or giving something to the Lord. Rather, worship is first and foremost the receiving by faith of the Lord’s gifts that He gives to us. The goal of this study is that we learn this very simple definition of worship: to receive the gifts of Christ through faith. It might be a good idea to have hymnals available to look at the various parts of the Divine Service to see how the Lord gives His gifts. 1. What does it mean to “worship?” Whom do we worship? How do we worship? Does the Lord need us to tell us how great He is? What happens in worship? What things do you associate with “worship?” Answers will vary but words like “prayer” and “praise,” and “thanksgiving” may be words you hear. When most people think of worship, they have the idea that we are praising God and tell Him how awesome and great He is. Of course, the Lord doesn’t need us to tell Him that. Worship is NOT little, tiny people telling great big God how great He is. What happens in worship is that God gives us gifts and we receive them by faith. While there IS a direction of worship that goes from us to God (our praise and thanksgiving, for example), the main part is the direction from Him to us, giving us His gifts the bring forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. 2. Read Psalm 51:14–15. What order do things happen here? What does God do? What do we do? Can we do our part unless God does His? What does this teach us about how worship happens? These words, some of which appear as the opening versicles of Matins and Vespers, were sung by David after he had sinned with Bathsheba and been confronted and absolved by Pastor Nathan. David calls upon the Lord to save him so that he can sing of God’s righteousness. If the Lord opens David’s lips then he will be able to declare God’s praises. These verses very simply summarize the direction of worship: God gives to us and does for us, and His work calls forth our praise to Him. You could say it this way, that there would be none of our praising God without Him first saving us from our sins and opening our lips. 3. Look at LSB p.151/184. How does the Divine Service begin? What does this recall to our minds? What has God done for us there? See Matthew 28:18–20. How do we respond? Divine Service Setting One and Three are referenced in this study as these are the two most commonly used settings. If your congregation uses another setting mainly, you are free to reference those pages in the hymnal. The Invocation brings to mind the Name into which we were baptized. In Holy Baptism, we were made disciples. The Lord reached to us, washed away our sins, and made us His own children. Worship therefore starts with the reminder of what God has already done for us at the font. When we hear that Name spoken upon us, we respond with the word “Amen.” 4. Read John 20:19–23. What does Jesus tell His Apostles to do? What does our pastor do using the words in LSB p.151/184? Whose action is this? With what word do we respond? Jesus commands His Apostles to go and forgive sins. Because He is risen from the dead (this was Easter evening), He shows that He is indeed alive and that sins are defeated. So He gives them the job of going to declare that forgiveness to all sinners and to absolve them. This continues in the words of Holy Absolution,

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Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


spoken by our pastors. With these words, Jesus uses the voice of our pastors to deliver His forgiveness. Again, this is God’s action toward us to which we respond with the word “Amen.” 5. What is Christ doing for us through the sermon? Compare what Paul says they preach in 1 Corinthians 1:21–24. What word do we hear and speak at the end of the sermon? In the sermon, yet again, the direction is from God to us. The Word is proclaimed to save us. The Good News of Christ crucified and raised for sinners is proclaimed so that we may believe in it and trust in Christ and His promises to save us. The sermon is not about what we can do for God; it is a proclamation and declaration of what God has done for us in and through Jesus Christ. Once more, we hear the “Amen” at the end of the sermon from the pastor and from ourselves. 6. What is the direction of the gift in the Sacrament of the Altar? See Matthew 26:26–28 and 1 Corinthians 11:23–26. What is given to whom? What word do we speak when we receive this gift? See LSB p.164/181. The Sacrament of the Altar is more of God coming to us, giving to us. Here, Christ gives to us His Body and Blood under the bread and wine to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. As with the other gifts we hear about, we speak the word “Amen” when we receive it. 7. With what words does the service end? See LSB p. 183/202. Where are these words from and what is going on when they are spoken? See Numbers 6:22–27. What is our response? What does that word mean? At the end of the service, the main direction of worship is still from the Lord to us. With the words of the Benediction, the service ends as it began, with the Lord’s Name given to us as a gift and we respond with the word of faith, “Amen.” Over and over we hear that word. The word “Amen” is a Hebrew word that is related to “faith” and “believe.” It means, “Yes, it shall be so.” Saying the word “Amen” is faith saying, “Gift received! God has given it to me! It is mine by His Word and promise!” So whenever we receive a gift from the Lord, we say, “Amen,” which is why there are so many “Amens” in all over the Divine Service! 8. Read 1 Peter 2:9–10. What action of the Lord’s is described? What does that lead us to do? The direction of worship is clearly seen in these verses also. The Lord acts first, calling us out of darkness into His light. Then, we proclaim His praises. We speak about what He has done for us. True praise is really nothing other than us speaking and singing and confessing the good things Christ has done to save us and give us everlasting life. 9. Read Hebrews 10:24–25. How is our worship also a gift and good work for our neighbor? Why might we consider that we go to church for the sake of others? Worship is from God to us. But in being in worship, we are also doing good works for our neighbor. In worship, we are joined together in the common confession of Jesus and His gifts. You might remind students of the great joy they get from a Higher Things conference when there are so many like-minded youth together in one place, especially in worship. But “regular” church services are just the same: They are an opportunity to be together with those who share and confess the same faith, who rejoice in the same gifts of God, and who encourage one another by this faith in their believing and the good works they do in their daily lives. Thus church is a place to worship the Lord by receiving His gifts in faith, but also worshiping the Lord though good works of supporting and encouraging and brothers and sisters in Christ.

Closing Sing together “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives" (LSB #602)

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Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015


“Law andA HIGHER Gospel in Worship” THINGS® BIBLE STUDY 1. What does it mean to “worship?” Whom do we worship? How do we worship? Does the Lord need us to tell us how great He is? What happens in worship? What things do you associate with “worship?”

2. Read Psalm 51:14–15. What order do things happen here? What does God do? What do we do? Can we do our part unless God does His? What does this teach us about how worship happens?

3. Look at LSB p.151/184. How does the Divine Service begin? What does this recall to our minds? What has God done for us there? See Matthew 28:18–20. How do we respond?

4. Read John 20:19–23. What does Jesus tell His Apostles to do? What does our pastor do using the words in LSB p.151/184? Whose action is this? With what word do we respond?

5. What is Christ doing for us through the sermon? Compare what Paul says they preach in 1 Corinthians 1:21–24. What word do we hear and speak at the end of the sermon?

6. What is the direction of the gift in the Sacrament of the Altar? See Matthew 26:26–28 and 1 Corinthians 11:23–26. What is given to whom? What word do we speak when we receive this gift? See LSB p.164/181.

7. With what words does the service end? See LSB p. 183/202. Where are these words from and what is going on when they are spoken? See Numbers 6:22–27. What is our response? What does that word mean?

8. Read 1 Peter 2:9–10. What action of the Lord’s is described? What does that lead us to do?

9. Read Hebrews 10:24–25. How is our worship also a gift and good work for our neighbor? Why might we consider that we go to church for the sake of others?

Closing Sing together “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives" (LSB #602)

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Magazine Bible Studies - Fall 2015

Profile for Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran!

2015 Fall - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)