How to be a Confessional Lutheran Pastor in America
May 16, 2007
By Pastor Rolf Preus
I am honored by your invitation to
speak to you today. I am
doubly honored by the fact that you have chosen to ask me to talk to you
on this holy eve of Syttende Mai, also known as Norwegian Independence Day.
It was thirty years ago as I was sitting at the feet of the
preeminent spiritual gifts discovery facilitator of this institution Ė
the Rev. Dr. David P. Scaer Ė that I discerned my own spiritual gift of
interpreting signs. It was
recently revealed to me that the date of our meeting together has a
prophetic significance. It
signifies that my separated Norwegian Lutheran brothers will, one day, be
delivered, receive their independence from the Wauwatosa Gospel, and led
back into the promised land of Waltherian confessionalism.
Can I have an ďAmenĒ?
My topic is: ďHow to be a
Confessional Lutheran Pastor in America Today.Ē
I was thrilled to be asked by this yearís graduating class of my
alma mater to speak to you on a topic so close to my heart.
I was disappointed to learn that I would not be permitted to speak
on campus. But I have managed
to cope with my disappointment. You
see, the Ft. Wayne campus never did work its way into my affections as a
special place in my heart. I
grew up on the campus of the other seminary and it was in my childhood
that I learned what a seminary should look like.
Neo-Gothic architecture is a must.
The Ft. Wayne campus has, for some reason, always reminded me of a
Senior College. Besides, when I entered the institution from which you are
graduating this week it was located in Springfield, Illinois.
It was there that I was baptized into the theology of this
institution and received my heart strangely warmed experience.
Now donít you cold-hearted
Lutherans start mocking me! I
do have external proof. Itís
on the wall of my study at First American Lutheran Church in Mayville,
North Dakota. It is an award signed by Daniel Preus and John Wesley on
April 28, 2000. I was the
recipient of the Neo-Methodist of the Year Award, also known as the
ďHeart Strangely WarmedĒ Award. I
submit to you, dear brothers, that what binds us alumni of CTS together is
not any affection for campuses, classroom buildings, or even beautiful
chapels with baptismal fonts in the front filled with water.
It is rather an experience. I
will share that experience with you today.
It was a baptism by immersion. At Springfield we were literally immersed in Lutheran
theology. We called the
cafeteria the soup. The soup
was where we drank coffee, smoked cigarettes, and talked theology.
We loved to talk theology. Let
me bring you back to the theological environment of those days.
I began the seminary in Springfield in 1975.
The Missouri Synod had just fought the Battle for the Bible.
Seminex had recently been formed.
Professor Marquartís masterful analysis of the controversy, An
Anatomy of an Explosion, had just been published.
The Missouri Synod was in fellowship with the ALC.
The ELCA didnít exist. Neither
did Lutheran Worship. Nobody
had ever heard of the Church Growth Movement.
The Charismatic Movement was at its height.
While the conservatives had won the Battle for the Bible, the fight
had taken its toll on the Missouri Synod as an institution.
The Synod had just lost ninety percent of the faculty at its
premier academic institution. The
synodical consensus in doctrine had been shaken if not shattered.
There was a theological vacuum and this institution arose to fill
Nowadays the term ďconfessional
LutheranĒ has become saddled with church political overtones as if it
signifies a faction within the political battles of the Missouri Synod.
Thatís too bad. It
was different during the seventies. As
you know, the Formula of Concord was written in 1577 and the Book of
Concord was published in 1580. As
Missouri was reeling from her recent civil war, the four hundredth
anniversaries of these events drew attention to what would bind us
together. There was a renewal
of the confessional spirit in Missouri.
The Lutheran dogmatic tradition was rediscovered as the great works
of Martin Chemnitz were made available in English for the first time.
A new generation of pastors looked
for their theological roots, not so much in Perry County or in St. Louis,
but in the confessional, polemical, devotional, and dogmatic works of the
Lutheran Church in the 16th and 17th centuries.
They looked where Walther looked.
Not so much interested in reestablishing a synodical consensus,
they sought instead a confessional identity.
And they were and are associated with Concordia Theological
It was Fred Danker in his book, No
Room in the Brotherhood, an autobiographical polemic against Jack
Preus and Herman Otten, who used an expression describing the Missouri
Synod that I have found particularly apt to describe just about any synod. He spoke of Missouriís corporate ego. While it takes a bit of chutzpah for a representative of the
faculty majority to speak of the ego of others, he did coin a useful
expression. Synods arenít
simply the collection of churches, pastors of churches, theological
institutions established to serve these churches and pastors, and other
entities established to assist congregations and their pastors.
Synods are also self-perpetuating bureaucracies.
The ego of a bureaucracy must be protected.
So then, confessional Lutherans
live in two churches at the same time.
They live in the church that is identified by the marks of the pure
preaching of the gospel and the right administration of the sacraments.
This is the church that remains for us an article of faith.
We can identify her marks but we cannot see the Communion of
saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, or the life
everlasting. We cannot see
the Holy Spirit who sanctifies her nor can we see her holiness.
But she is there. She is the bride of Christ, the temple of the living God, the
sheep of the Good Shepherd, the royal priesthood of saints. She is the pillar and ground of the truth for she has been
led into all truth by the Spirit of truth who, through Christís
apostles, has given to the Church the Holy Scriptures, which are in their
every assertion and promise the unalloyed truth of God free from any error
of any kind. We are called by
God to serve her by preaching and teaching only the truth.
But we also live in synods that
are governed to a large extent by constitutions, by-laws, policies,
handbooks, and a permanent bureaucracy.
A synodical bureaucrat at whatever level is responsible for
maintaining the equilibrium of the institution as an institution.
He cannot see the essence of the church anymore than a parish
pastor or royal priest can see it. This
is hidden. But the synodical
structure is quite visible, measurable, and predictable.
Conflict of any kind must be studiously avoided.
Whether or not synodical conflict is grounded in doctrinal
differences is beside the point. The
point is that synodical conflict is bad for the synod as a visible and
identifiable entity. Conflict
is conflict and regardless of its source it is bad.
It breeds all sorts of troubles, not the least of which is the
drying up of steady funds required to keep the bureaucracy fed.
Insofar as a synod is church she
must be identified by the marks of the church. To
the extent that she cannot be so identified she isnít church.
What Danker identified as the corporate ego of the synod does not
and cannot apply to the synod as church but to the synod as a
self-perpetuating bureaucracy. There
is no corporate ego of the church as church.
She has no ego. Her
identity is given her by Christ, her head.
She lives alone by mercy. She
is constantly confessing, returning to her baptism, and there being washed
in the blood of the Lamb. She
confesses her sins and she confesses her faith.
Her perfection is always hidden underneath the foolishness of what
The synod as self-perpetuating
bureaucracy is not a church. She
doesnít live alone by mercy. She
doesnít confess her sins. Indeed,
she cannot. While not
infallible in principle (this is unacceptable among Lutherans) she cannot
afford to admit to error. The
corporate ego must be protected at all costs.
Once the bureaucracy admits error she loses both credibility and
authority. The churchís authority rises out of her self-denial.
From that comes the authority of Christís blood and Godís holy
word. The authority of the
bureaucracy comes from self-affirmation.
All synods seek to raise awareness of their synod among the public.
The Missouri Synod must protect her synodical logo from theft. The Wisconsin Synod invites all and sundry to come to the
WELS. The ELS continues to
celebrate ďOur Great HeritageĒ even as she settles more firmly into
the American Protestant culture.
The synod as self-perpetuating
bureaucracy straightens out procedures, rules, and public synodical
policy. All this must be made crystal clear. But she tends to obfuscate Christian doctrine.
The reason is that she is not church but must be regarded as
church. She cannot afford to
permit truth to rule because truth by its very nature causes division.
Conflict is precisely what threatens the synod as bureaucracy.
But neither can she afford to deny the truth by which the church as
church is identified for this would destroy any pretense she has to be
church. What to do?
First she must subordinate the
truth to the authority of the synod.
Once the synod is in firm control of defining the truth she assumes
an obligation to establish an acceptable official teaching to which most
of the organization is willing to submit.
This official teaching need not correspond to what is actually
taught by anyone anywhere. Thatís
not its purpose. The purpose
of an official position is to overcome doctrinal conflict by means of
synthesizing the various conflicting theological positions into a
theoretical consensus. After
this theoretical consensus has been formulated, the Scriptures, the
Confessions, the fathers, and existing official synodical statements are
gathered together to support it. Then,
the theoretical consensus having been achieved, the synod can lay claim to
Now should you object to the
latest manifestation of the official synodical position out of loyalty to
a more permanent standard of truth you will be encouraged, urged, or
threatened (depending on the synod to which you belong and the clarity
with which your objection is stated) to acquiesce to what the group,
through its adopted procedures, has covenanted together to say to say and
to do. The synodical
consensus secures the peace and wellbeing of the synod.
You know the rules. They
are for the benefit of us all. Besides,
you agreed to them when you joined.
Within the Missouri Synod the
synodical consensus is expressed by the CTCR.
This is not to say that the CTCR has the authority to define
doctrine to which others must submit.
Thatís not what it is for. Neither
does it exist for the purpose of teaching anything to anyone.
Its purpose is to set down in a neat and tidy fashion the
acceptable boundaries within which the synod can live at peace with itself
and thereby thrive numerically, financially, and in the esteem of itself
and prospective members.
Can a confessional Lutheran submit
to the authority of such an organization?
Of course not! A
confessional Lutheran confesses the truth regardless of the consequences.
This both defines our present and projects us to the eschaton where
we will stand with intrepid hearts before the judgment seat of Christ and
confess the truth that He gave us to preach.
But we have another duty than the
duty to speak Godís truth. We
have another loyalty than our loyalty to the pure preaching of Godís
word. We donít preach just
to preach or teach just to teach. We
preach and we teach as undershepherds of the Good Shepherd.
The flock placed under our care does not belong to us.
It belongs to the One who bought the sheep with His own blood.
Why did He do that? He
O wondrous Love, what hast Thou
ďSimon, son of John, do you love
Me?Ē Simon says yes. Jesus replies, ďFeed my sheep.Ē
Love Jesus, love His sheep. We
are called to feed the sheep and the lambs that belong to the One who in
love gave up His life for them. We
must love them, too. True
love requires both prudence and courage.
It requires prudence.
While we may bemoan the bureaucratization of the church,
bureaucracies are a necessary evil for the simple reason that rules and
regulations are required if things are to proceed in an orderly fashion.
Should we choose simply to blast away at the weaknesses,
corruption, or even errors of the synod to which we belong out of a
devotion to high principles and pure doctrine we just might find that we
have hurt the sheep God has called us to feed.
Killing the patient in order to save him is not sound practice for
the physician of the soul. We
must distinguish between the church as church and the church as
self-perpetuating bureaucracy. We
must distinguish between the holy and the profane.
But we cannot wrench the holy away from the profane. They are intertwined within the hearts of Christís sheep.
When we are tempted to do a bit of idol smashing we need to remind
ourselves that when idols are smashed people get hurt.
Let God smash the idols in the hearts of His people.
Our job is to preach and to teach Godís truth.
To show respect to the synod as
self-perpetuating bureaucracy will do us no harm, as long as we do not
submit to any other authority over our teaching and practice than the
authority of Godís word. But
Godís word isnít floating out in space.
The eternal is wedded to the transient and the indispensable
evangelical substance is fixed within dispensable structures.
Prudence is born in the humble admission that we cannot entirely
disentangle Godís word from the various legalistic forms and structures
that attach themselves to it. The
problem is never with the forms and structures per se, but with the
legalistic spirit by which they seek hegemony over Godís word.
Yet we donít learn the Bible apart from an ecclesiastical context
with its various manmade structures and everything man touches becomes
tainted by legalism, that is, by sin.
It has never been any different.
To combat legalism doesnít require the destruction of every
institution that serves it. Love for Christís sheep requires prudence.
It also requires courage.
To take a stand on the truth of Godís word is easy to do when you
are visiting with friends over a beer or pontificating on an email chat
list. It is not so easy when
those who appear to have your future in their hands make it clear to you
that your future will better be served if you avoid taking a stand on a
particular issue. The
confessional Lutheran pastor is required to stand on Godís word in and
out of season. He doesnít
choose the battle. He
doesnít choose the time. He
doesnít choose whether or not to be engaged.
When God calls you into the office He has established in and for
His church for the feeding of His sheep He calls you to fight for the
sheep. Since Godís truth is
the indispensable food for the sheep, any attempt to muzzle its
proclamation is an attack on the sheep.
If you love those whom God calls you to serve you will not fail to
preach to them the entire truth of Godís word even when many of them
donít want to hear it.
A pastor is under authority. He is under the authority of the church.
But he is not under the authority of a synod.
He is not under the authority of the whim of the majority of the
moment. He is under the
authority of Godís word entrusted to the church.
The Lutheran principle of Scripture Alone is indispensable for an
understanding of that authority.
The church simply has no
extra-biblical authority. If
she is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets there can be
no norm for preachers in addition to the prophetic and apostolic
Scriptures. So we confess in
the Formula of Concord:
ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New
Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only
true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged
and evaluated. (FC SD Rule and Norm par. 3)
This is how we Lutherans understand the authority of the church. If the Lutheran Confessions do not obtain their authority solely by being drawn from the Holy Scriptures and agreeing with them, they cannot be imposed by the church as a standard for the churchís pastors. But if the Lutheran Confessions agree with the Holy Scriptures because they are drawn from them and are a correct exhibition of biblical doctrine, then the church does right in requiring her ministers to subscribe unconditionally to the Confessions as a precondition for serving in the ministry of the word.
Confessional Lutheran pastors
submit to the authority that God has given to the church.
In matters pertaining to love, they submit to all sorts of
arbitrary requirements, for that is what love does.
Love submits. This has
nothing to do with the Fourth Commandment, and once upon a time this was
understood. The advisory
nature of the synodís relationship to the congregations that form it
should rid us of any notion that pastors or congregations are to submit to
synodical authority as children are to submit to the authority of their
parents. It is the brotherly
duty of all Christians to submit to one another in love, and it is as an
expression of brotherly love that pastors submit to many extra-biblical
requirements that do not militate against the truth.
But confessional Lutheran pastors
submit to no other authority over their teaching than the authority of
Godís word and this is precisely why the church must require an
unconditional confessional subscription and why the ministers must give
it. Our unconditional
confessional subscription is our submission to the churchís authority.
We are under orders. The
office to which God calls us belongs to the church.
This is why she must require of all office bearers an unconditional
confessional subscription. It
is her duty to require of her ministers submission to Godís truth in all
that they teach. Only then are her ministers ministers of Christ.
The Confessions obtain their
normative authority from the Bible. The
Bible is the norm that norms. The
Confessions are the norm that is normed.
Since the Confessions have already been judged by the Bible and
found to be in agreement with it, we may rely on the Confessions as a
guide in our understanding of what the Bible teaches.
To some this sounds a bit brazen, as if we are subjecting the Bible
to an extra-biblical standard. But
thatís not what weíre doing. We
are subjecting ourselves Ė not the Bible Ė to legitimate
ecclesiastical authority. Submitting
to authority is good for preachers to do.
We have no right to interpret the Bible any way we please.
If we want to be confessional Lutheran pastors we must submit to
the normative authority of the Lutheran Confessions.
The Confessions tell us what the Bible teaches.
If they didnít, weíd have no business subscribing them.
The Confessions tell us what the
Bible teaches. We do not rely
on a catholic tradition with a capital ďTĒ or a theological commission
or a synodical consensus or an academic elite that knows lots of stuff we
donít know. But if the
Confessions tell us what the Bible teaches, who tells us what the
Confessions teach? Walther
does! Well, then, who will tell us what Walther teaches?
Francis Pieper or August Pieper?
Letís go with Francis. But
then who speaks for him? And
on and on it goes as the Confessional subscription gives way to a
synodical tradition that is always evolving and becoming more and more
refined to the point where the tradition has acquired a life of its own
often disconnected from its original moorings.
What is a confessional Lutheran to do?
Here we can learn from a professor
of Concordia Theological Seminary that you brothers have chosen to honor
by establishing the Kurt Marquart Fund for Theological Education in Haiti. I commend you for this.
I am confident that this is what he would have wanted. He wasnít much into titles, status, or honors.
He loved Lutheran theology and he loved to teach it.
Thatís why we loved him. I
recommend that you read everything he wrote.
He was one of the finest theologians of his generation.
I also recommend that you follow his example.
Specifically, consider how Professor Marquart dealt with the
theological tradition of the Missouri Synod as one of the Synodís
He came to the United States from
Australia in the wake of the Great Missouri Civil War.
The synodical consensus had been shattered.
The corporate ego had been wounded.
Professor Marquart was called to teach.
What did he do? He
taught. He didnít try to
sooth the corporate ego of the institution or even to regain a lost
consensus. He taught. While
respecting the tradition of Missouri, he did not submit to it as if it
were normative for his own teaching.
He was one of the finest Walther scholars in the Missouri Synod.
But he did not force Walther to conform to the ever evolving
tradition. He read Walther
with great sympathy and respect. He
chose to become his student. As
Waltherís student, he was able to teach us.
I have a rather unique perspective
on Professor Marquart for a number of reasons.
I would like to share with you something you may not know that to
me and my family is very precious, indeed.
When my father had been removed as president and professor of CTS
by means of a forced retirement and then later suspended from the synod on
account of actions he took to defend his call, Professor Marquart served
as his theological advisor. I
read the briefs he wrote in that capacity as my fatherís case went
through the adjudication process that the Missouri Synod had in those
days. Rarely have I read such
sound biblical theology. Professor
Marquart consistently appealed to what was pure, right, holy, and just.
Void of any acrimony or bombast, he argued as a confessional
Lutheran theologian, appealing to the authority of Godís word.
He did so in defense of a brother.
The clarity and persuasiveness of his arguments in those briefs was
He honored my father.
He honored the fathers. He
honored Walther, not because of his status as a Missouri Synod icon, but
because Walther was Marquartís father in the faith and God teaches us to
honor our fathers and to imitate them.
Others who saw the breakdown of Missouriís corporate identity
retreated into a synodical triumphalism.
Others tried to leap past Walther to find an allegedly more pure
strand of confessionalism than what he bequeathed to us.
Still others, in a quixotic quest for authentic confessionalism
leaped right back into Eastern Orthodoxy and are now gone from us.
Professor Marquart honored his fathers.
So we honor him.
Professor Marquart showed respect
to the synod as a self-perpetuating bureaucracy out of a love for his
brothers. But the authority
he acknowledged was the authority of Godís word.
In preserving for us the teaching of Walther without all of the
later accretions that were imposed upon him, Marquart taught us all how to
do theology. A confessional
Lutheran does not trash the tradition within which he serves.
He respects those who have won the affections of the people, but he
refuses to be bound by the tradition.
In many ways he helped to return conservatives to a more
confessional and less synodical theological orientation.
A confessional Lutheran is bound by written and immovable texts,
not by changing traditions, whether of the early church, the age of
Lutheran orthodoxy, or the Synodical Conference.
Professor Marquart was wonderfully eclectic.
He made us aware of the great contributions of Herman Sasse, was
not afraid to quote Malcolm Muggeridge, and taught us Christian
apologetics as only a confessional Lutheran can do.
Who else but Professor Marquart would refer to evolution as a
When I was a member of the ELS, I
was privileged to teach several times at St. Sophia Theological Seminary
in Ternopilí, Ukraine. One
of the students in my first class Ė who is now the Bishop of the
Ukrainian Lutheran Church Ė is a loyal Ukrainian nationalist who wanted
to keep all Russian influence out of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church.
Russian was the language of the oppressor.
One day he and I were talking about Professor Marquart who had
lectured at the seminary the previous year.
Slavic waxed eloquent on what a wonderful teacher he was.
I asked him: In what language did Professor Marquart lecture?
He replied that he lectured in Russian.
Oh, I commented, I thought you didnít like Russian.
Ah, he replied, but it was the royal Russian!
Personally, I wouldnít know the royal Russian from the Communist
Russian, but Slavic did.
I am not suggesting that God has
given us all the same gifts and Professor Marquart was one of a kind.
But we can learn from his example how to speak the truth in love.
When I was at the seminary I had
Dr. Henry Eggold for Homiletics and Pastoral Practice.
Eggold was an excellent homiletician.
First, he taught us that we didnít know how to preach. Then he taught us how to preach.
He was a true Lutheran, rightly dividing the word of truth.
In Pastoral Practice, Dr. Eggold would be rambling on about what
the parish was like, what people are like, the kinds of difficulties a
pastor encounters in the parish, and then heíd stop talking, look at us,
and say: ďYa just gotta love íem.Ē
I donít know how many times he said that. He said it enough for it to sink in. Thatís what pastoral practice is all about.
Sheep are not wolves.
They are sheep. You
are their servant. True, you
take orders from Jesus. But
Jesus serves. This is how He
ransomed us from death and hell. He
serves. We joke about little
kids calling the pastor Jesus. One
kid used to call me Jesus Preus. This
sort of thing happens a lot when you grow a beard.
Now I donít want to get into all this iconic business, but the
fact is that the portrayal of Jesus provided by the pastor is going to
make a difference. You
represent Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Youíre not a CEO. Youíre
not a coach. Youíre not
some kind of professional enabler of good deeds.
You are a minister of Jesus Christ, called by God Himself to preach
the gospel by which those entrusted to your care are forgiven of all their
sins, delivered from death and the devil, and given eternal life.
This is service. It is
work. You serve them with
Godís word. You donít
take the credit or the blame for what God says in His word or does with
His word. If you are loved for the gospel you preach, thank God.
If you are hated for the gospel you preach, thank God.
A confessional Lutheran pastor
must be a stubborn man. When
you ascend the pulpit on a Sunday morning you stubbornly persist in
preaching the gospel week after week after week.
You canít convert a soul. But
God can. And He does. He
does it where and when He pleases in those who hear the gospel that you
preach. So you preach it. You preach the law, not just in the abstract, but concretely.
Simply informing people of
the doctrine of original sin is not preaching the law.
God condemns us on the inside by coming at us from the outside.
What is this you have done? From
exposing the doing God exposes the interior wickedness of the one who did
it. Bad law preaching is
endemic in the church these days. Itís
your duty to preach the law as a divinely given and unchangeable standard
of conduct and to do so with great specificity.
It is your duty to preach the
gospel. You must talk about
Jesus or you arenít preaching the gospel.
You talk about who He is, what He has done, why He has done it, and
what God has to say to you about you on account of it.
You preach the incarnation, the two natures in Christ, the
vicarious atonement, the resurrection and exaltation of Christ, the
forgiveness of sins, the means of grace, faith, renewal, the resurrection
of the body, and eternal joy in heaven.
Preach doctrine. You
are there to teach. Donít
let anyone tell you anything else. It
is by means of the heavenly doctrine that souls are saved.
Sermons with no solid doctrinal content are a waste of time. Donít try to make your sermon a means of grace.
Just preach the gospel to the people who are sitting in front of
you. Let God worry about what
it does. Your job is to
preach it and never to fail to preach it.
For this is why God is calling and ordaining you to this holy
Brothers, it doesnít really
matter so much if all your parishioners know what youíre there to do as
long as you know and you do it. When
we Lutherans confess that justification by faith alone is the central
article of the Christian doctrine we are not just asserting a claim in
opposition to those who would emphasize something else.
We are committing ourselves, as ministers of the gospel, to
proclaim the blood and righteousness of Jesus, to preach against all
reliance on works, to preach the free forgiveness of sins for Christís
sake, and to do so every single time we preach anything at all.
Donít think that preaching about recreation is preaching about
justification. It is not.
The people need to be forgiven of their sins.
The blood of Jesus is what washes away sins and it is by means of
the spoken word God has told you to speak that forgiveness is given to
those who need it. So donít try to be clever or imaginative.
Try instead to be crystal clear.
And keep on preaching it.
Confessional Lutheran pastors are
stubborn. Teach your people
good hymns. Be patient.
Throw out a bone now and then.
But it is our duty to bring back to our Lutheran people the
heritage they have lost. Itís
not their fault they lost their taste for chorales and learned to prefer
methodistic schmaltz. Itís
the fault of lazy pastors who werenít doing their jobs.
It will take longer to bring their affections back to their
Lutheran heritage. But itís
worth the time and the work. Work
at it. Stay with it.
It will bear fruit.
The ministry bears fruit. Preaching and teaching the confessional Lutheran doctrine you have been taught will bear fruit. You may not see it. But we live by faith, not by sight. Underneath all of the frustrations, self-doubt, criticisms, and apparent failure is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, establishing and strengthening sinners in the faith through which they are justified and made heirs of eternal life. And God has chosen you to be His servant to say the words by which He will accomplish this. Through the words you speak sinners will be justified. People on their way to hell will go to heaven. Doubt and denial will turn into faith and confession. Despair will be replaced by hope. Weakness and death will yield everlasting life. What did you do to merit the right to preach the words of everlasting life? Nothing at all. Itís by Godís grace alone. God must love you very much.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus