Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Altered Altar Book

1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

People change things for a reason. Something strikes them that they don’t like or don’t agree with. And whatever it is must have significance, or why bother to change it? We can detect the purpose when we consider the direction of the change.  “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification” (1 Cor. 14:10). To the present point, what is wrong with the doctrines of our elders? What is so strikingly erroneous that it must be changed? It is an extremely significant and important matter to change the teachings and codified doctrine of a church, for it is in reality to alter the church itself into something it was not. Christ is presented in word and doctrine, and if the doctrine is wrong, a false Christ is being taught.
There have been some subtle yet significant changes made to the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America Altar Book concerning the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism in the last printing of 1998. These changes in wording constitute a reversal of what our church fathers believed and contended for. The historical record is plain and available for all to read. It is my hope and prayer to here illuminate some of these changes so that we may seriously consider what is happening.
It was the removal of Romans 6:3, 4 from the section on Baptism which first drew my attention. The 1938 and 1969 editions of the Altar Book state: “Let us now hear Apostle Paul’s warning to us who have received the grace of baptism: ‘Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.‘” To what purpose is this Scripture removed? The end it serves is to deny the Apostolic doctrine that we are united with Christ in Holy Baptism.
I noticed another change also.  This is in the prayer following the baptism, which in the older editions state: “O, innocent Lamb of God, Jesus Christ! Thou, Who loveth children and therefore bade them come unto Thee; Thou, Who placed Thy hand upon them and blessed them, saying: Theirs is the kingdom of God: We pray Thee, look graciously upon this child, who also needs Thy holy blessing, that, as it has been baptized in Thy holy name, with water and the Holy Ghost, it also, by the same Spirit, may prosper and grow, and be filled with all good gifts to Thy honor and glory: Thou, Who reigneth with God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.” (bold print mine).
The latest edition, 1998, states:
“O, innocent Lamb of God, Jesus Christ! Thou, Who lovest children and therefore bade them come unto Thee: Thou Who placed Thy hand upon them and blessed them, saying: Theirs is the kingdom of God: We pray Thee, look graciously upon this child, who also needs Thy holy blessing, that, as (he) (she) has been baptized in Thy holy name with water, and that (he) (she) also, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may prosper and grow, and be filled with all good gifts to Thy honor and glory: Thou, Who reignest with God the Father, and the Holy  Ghost, world without end. Amen.” (bold print mine).
Is it right and necessary to remove the operation of the Holy Ghost from baptism? Why have some found it important to do so?  Is baptism only the application of water, as the latest edition teaches? These changes have made Holy Baptism to be only a sign or symbol. This is a complete departure from Scripture, our elders, and the Lutheran Confessions, into Anabaptist theology, where the water of baptism is beheld and considered as nothing more than that which the cow drinks.  We learn in the Catechism, however, that “Baptism works forgiveness of sins, etc.,“ and by virtue of the word and promise of God the water of baptism is “a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).” This is the ancient doctrine of the Christian Church defended in the face of Anabaptist assault, which doctrine is truly troubling the ALCA, and for a clear reason. Many are being re-baptized, and many are refusing to baptize their children, even some who attend ALCA churches. And why should we be surprised if baptism is only an empty sign, an act of obedience, or a work man does toward God? I believe these changes have heavy consequences.
The Sacrament of the Altar has also been changed, apparently making the bread and wine to be but symbols. We read in Scripture concerning the administration of the bread and wine, that it says, “This is,” to show the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in and under the bread and wine (1 Cor. 11:24, Matt. 26:26-28). It says, in fact, in Matthew, when Jesus gave the bread, He said, “This is my body,” and when giving the cup, “This is my blood of the New Testament.” This is a crucial doctrine for which our church fathers have strenuously contended, and Luther said of those who denied the Real Presence that they are of a different spirit. These are not inconsequential matters, for in Holy Communion the believing sinner receives full and complete forgiveness of all sins by partaking of the blood of Christ, and receives eternal life by partaking of the body of Christ, and we are called to believe this wholeheartedly as though it were preached by the mouth of Christ Himself, which in truth it is.
It is written in the 1938 and 1969 Altar Books:
“My this, the true Body of Christ, which was delivered unto death for thee and for all they sins, strengthen and preserve thee in true faith unto everlasting life. Amen.”
“May this, the true Blood of Christ, which was shed for the remission of they sins, strengthen and preserve thee in true faith unto everlasting life. Amen.”
The above sentences are not found in the 1998 edition. The word “true” is not found, and nowhere in that edition does it even say concerning the bread and wine, “is” or “this is.” The result of this change indicates, if not a purpose, at least an end and that is to make the bread and wine but empty symbols, removing union with the Sacrifice and the working power of God from the Sacrament of the Altar. The changes have served to remove the “this is” assurance of the True body and blood of Christ. Why?
All people are born in sin and need a washing from the inherited guilt of Original Sin. We furthermore need forgiveness daily in this life, and it has pleased God to deal with sinful mankind by means of the Word and Sacraments. The old teachings show that God comes to the helpless sinner by means of the Word and Sacraments, which are the Means of Grace, to receive, forgive, wash, renew, and grant and sustain faith. Man does not ascend up to God with his faith apart from the Means of Grace to receive blessing, but God comes to us to grant and strengthen faith. God has given Christ to us in both His word and the sacraments as the object of our faith and foundation of our hope. The gospel cannot fail, neither can the promises of God in the sacraments.
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is, according to Scripture and God‘s ordination, a saving “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5, 1 Pet. 3:21) which is the New Birth.“ It is also a washing of forgiveness from sin (Acts 22:16, Acts 2:38). This is the plain Word of God to be received by faith.
The bread and wine in the Supper are indeed, according to Scripture and the ordination  of God, the true body and blood of Christ which is a living matter, and which have power to forgive sin and grant eternal life. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor.10:16). To these promises we can cling, for they are sure.
As the sacraments have been diminished as a means by which God comes to the sinner to forgive sin, much emphasis is placed upon a person making confession as the means by which the sinner “puts away” his sin. This is against Scripture, which teaches that Christ has put away our sin (2 Sam. 12:13, Heb. 9:26), and this blessing comes to us by means of the word and sacraments, and not according to our auricular confession of sins.  Our forgiveness is not based upon our doing, but upon God’s doing. Let us again consider the God-ordained means by which He Himself deals with our sin. We do not want to begin to contend with Christ as to who puts away sin. To say that man can put away his sin is to usurp the chief office of Christ.

Steven E. Anderson

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Water is Water

John 13:10
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

It is interesting to note that Jesus here used actual water in this washing. How could this washing of the feet make one completely and totally clean? This is a word against those who deny the working power of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and spiritualize everything. Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). This is the actual water of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Faith in the Midst of Trials

What shall we do then [when Satan accuses]? Shall we howl and complain, shall we become disheartened and die of sorrows? Not in the least. For in this way we gain nothing. Let us rather “raise our heads,” as Christ commands when He prophesies concerning His coming (Luke 21:28). And let us laugh at raging Satan and the world (yes, even at sin and our conscience in us).
Let us, therefore, learn to be brave in all perils, especially, however, against ourselves and our heart. For there Satan has a most firm seat and is supported especially by the past. For he knows that we are sinners, therefore he holds the succession of our sins and the sad “bond” (Col. 2:14) before our eyes and oppresses us. Yea, he seizes also upon present things and opposes us with them, for example, that we do not yet believe as firmly as we ought, do not yet love so warmly, and are also tempted with impatience. When he magnifies these things - for he is a cunning and vehement speaker - the heart is broken and terrified not only by that tumult of princes and kings, but even by  the rustle of a falling leaf.
We should, therefore, fortify our hearts and look toward the invisible things and into the depths of the Word. We should not fear and quake at what we feel within or outside of us that is sensible and visible and is perceived by the flesh. We should lay aside our senses and go where the present verse leads us, to things invisible. And when Satan reproaches you: “Behold, you are a sinner, you do not believe, you do not love as the Word requires”; you say against this: “Why do you plague me with these visible things? I perceive these things well. Nor is it necessary for you to teach me. This is necessary, that I follow the Word and direct myself to invisible things, that is, to Him who dwells in the heavens and to His Word. In His eyes all things which terrify me are a mere jest and trivial spectacles of the flesh, as they are called, which are arranged not for terror, but for laughter.”
This verse must be applied in this way, not only to these external perils which are stretched out threateningly against us by the enemies of the Word, by the Turk, the pope, the bishops, kings, princes, by all who have been provided with power, wisdom, and righteousness, but also to spiritual temptations, when the devil terrifies the conscience, accusing us within ourselves on accounted of the sins we have committed. He, then, who has rightly reflected on this verse will laugh at Satan as well as at his accusations and threats. He will say: “These things are nothing to me, which even move my God, who dwells in heaven, to laughter. You will not prevail with your accusing and gloom-spreading, nay, rather, I also shall laugh with my God, for I know that your attempts are vain. For even if I am a sinner, even if the punishment of sin is eternal death, this will not keep me from laughing. For at the right hand of God sits He who made satisfaction for sins and conquered you in His own flesh and overthrew you. You assail not me alone, but Him who vanquished you, the Son of God.”
We must firmly believe that all persecutions, even that spiritual persecution which through Satan takes place in our hearts, occurs for the sake of Christ. For to believe in the forgiveness of sins through Christ is the highest article of our faith. And it is true that whoever believes this article has the forgiveness of sins. Therefore Satan tries so greatly to tear this faith from us.
Luther’s Works, AE
Vol 12 pp. 25, 26, 27
Psalm 2:4