Countdown to the Ninth Annual ACELC Free Conference, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Eagle, Nebraska – "Christ For Us: The Church's Mission & Evangelistic Task"
August 6, 2019, 9:30 AM
Verse of the Day

The Pattern of Sound Words

“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13).

Words are fundamental to our existence and coexistence! Words are not only the primary mode through which we communicate (relate) with one or more individuals, they are the very means by which God “created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1ff). Words have meaning, and it is crucial to have a common understanding on the definitions of words if we hope to carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone. If we cannot agree on the meaning of the words we use, finding a common path forward will be nigh unto impossible. St. Paul, in his admonition to St. Timothy, stresses how important it is for Timothy to “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me” (2 Tim. 1:13). In like manner, at the recently concluded 2019 ACELC Conference (Christ For us: The Church's Mission and Evangelistic Task), the first paper - titled: A Lutheran Theology of Mission — opened with these sound words:

“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! Psalm 96:3

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.' Matthew 9:35-38

“What does it mean to be a Lutheran? What does it mean to be a Confessional Lutheran? Do the Lutheran Confessions form and shape us? Can one be a 'confessional' Lutheran without being a 'confessing' Lutheran? What does it mean to be a 'Lutheran by conviction?”’

As we began listening to the presenter, Pastor Clint Poppe, he challenged each us to evaluate whether we are truly Lutheran or just "'wearing the hat' of Lutheranism,” as is often the case for some people, who wear hats with a team logo, not because they are true fans, but for some other reason!

Shortly thereafter, we were treated to a well written definition of mission and outreach.

“Mission may be defined as God’s task of reconciling the fallen world to himself. This is a universal undertaking because God is the creator of all and loves his creation. God accomplished this reconciliation by sending his Son to die and rise for sinful humans, by sending the Spirit through the Son, and by sending the church through the Son and the Spirit to labor for the conversion of sinners to faith in himself. Missiology is the study of that mission in terms of its basis in scriptural revelation, its manifestation in historical dimension, its challenges in facing cultural and theological contexts, and its implementation in terms of practical issues facing those involved in (or training for) the mission task.(1)

This generally acceptable definition of mission and outreach among most Christians may well suffice for their purposes. As Lutherans, however, we have a need and obligation to “dig down to our 'first principles',” to verify that we have “a distinctly Lutheran theology of mission.” When we do things in this manner, according to our speaker, it leads to this “best and most authentic 'mission statement'.”

“Luther teaches us, that where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation.(2) The mission of the church is the forgiveness of sins.(3) In other words, the very reason for our existence as church is the forgiveness of sins.”

Later, in that same paragraph, we heard these clear, sound words – words which highlight and stress what it means to be Lutheran when it comes to a theology of mission, or any other doctrine for that matter!

“Justification is not only the chief doctrine in Lutheranism, it is the heart and soul of every other doctrine as well. To speak of 'mission' apart from justification is to deny the material principle of Scripture. To have a theology of mission that does not have at its center the doctrine of justification is to cease to be Lutheran.”

But don't just take our word for it, you are invited to read all of it for yourself here.

You can take us at our words, however, when we say there is plenty more good stuff packed into this presentation, which takes us into the Augsburg Confession in search of a Lutheran theology of mission! We also remind you that soon all the video presentations of our presenters will be posted on our website, so please check back periodically. And remember, we welcome any thoughts, questions, or concerns you may have along the way.

Contending together for faithful doctrine and practice in the LCMS, The ACELC Board of Directors

1 Ingemar Öberg, Luther and World Mission, trans. by Dean Apel (St. Louis: CPH, 2007), xiv.
2 Book of Concord, Small Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar, KolbWengert, 362.
3 Werner Elert, The Christian Faith An Outline of Lutheran Dogmatics, translated by Martin Bertram and Walter Bouman (St. Louis: CPH, 1974) 280.

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