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

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The Best of Intentions

“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:11).

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” This quotation from Shakespeare jogged my memory to something my sainted mother used to say about what would/should be on the tombstone of her middle son (me): “His intentions were good.” I confess that it took me way too long to acknowledge that she had nailed it like few others in my life!

Intentions have such a way with us, and not always for the better. While they may help us formulate an action plan meant for good, and guide us in carrying it forward, they can just as easily become part of some weak excuse offered to those whom we have disappointed with our words and/or actions. Even worse, they can become the very thoughts that Satan and our own flesh use to accuse our conscience of our worthlessness before God on account of our manifold failures. This is where Christ, and His gifts of life, salvation, and forgiveness become so important in the life of Christians!

It is the Holy Spirit Himself who alerts us to mankind's ongoing problem when He inspires Moses to write of the pre-flood condition of man: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Even after the flood, when only eight people of Noah's family had survived, Moses repeats the same thing in slightly different words: “Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). The point is, when Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, it turned natural man away from His creator and caused him to lean in the direction of “evil from his youth.” And even the best of intentions, when they flow from an evil root, serve only to further condemn us. This is the curse of original sin and it is only in the second Adam, Christ, that man is forgiven the original and actual sins in his life.

This is precisely why it is critical that pastors, congregations, districts, and synod get and keep the Church's mission and evangelistic task aligned as perfectly as possible with Scripture. For to err on either side of getting the message straight and getting the message out endangers the earthly and heavenly welfare of the very people entrusted to each pastor and congregation's care.

So what does it look like to get and keep it right, and at the same time get it out to those in the world who desperately need what the Church has been given to deliver? Scripture reveals at least four important strands which can be summarized as follows.

  • God alone knows His elect, and although He desires and calls all to believe in Him (and yet, many do not), not one of the elect will be lost (1 Timothy 2:1-6; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-6).

  • It is the power of the Holy Spirit alone (working through Word and Sacrament) which brings about conversion in unbelievers and spiritual growth in believers (Matthew 13:1-23; Romans 10:13-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17).

  • The mission of the Church (proclaiming the good news of Christ crucified for the sin of the world) is precisely the marks of Church (the Word of God taught in all its truth and purity and the Sacraments administered in accord with Christ’s institution) enacted, or carried out, in real time (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 2:36-47).

  • Pure doctrine clarifies and supports the Gospel, false doctrine obscures and hinders it (Romans 16:17-18; Ephesians 4:11-16; Titus 1:5-11).

    Now what does all this have to do with intentions and does it really matter? Much, in every way, beginning with God! For everything the Triune God intended, and set in motion, from the beginning of time has been for the benefit and blessing of mankind. Nothing has He done solely for His own pleasure, but always that the crown of His creation might know and be blessed in and from His giving goodness. That it is why, when it comes to the Church's mission and evangelistic task, we must hear and heed His voice as He has chosen to reveal it to us, and charged us with carrying it forward into all the world!

    Thus, it is vitally important that we understand, heed, and embrace the four strands noted above, for they serve as Christ's ways and means to shape the conscience and life of the Church. As His body, we are conscience bound to do all within in our vocations to implement practices in each and every congregation which undergird those doctrinal truths which are the warp and woof of Christ's one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church!

    When congregations, pastors, districts or synod ignore these four strands they do so to their own peril and to the detriment of those whom they have been given to serve!

    Our Lord has made it clear to His Church: He will not lose one of His elect. It is not for us to question what He alone knows in the secret council of His will, nor to second guess His revealed word, but it is for us to carry on the work He has privileged us to do using the ways and means He has given us.

    I have little doubt that many congregations and pastors in the LCMS who have abandoned, or are ignoring, one or more of the four strands noted above have done so with the best of intentions, believing that somehow they know better than that which Christ's one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church has taught and confirmed through the centuries. They, like all of us, will have to give an account of their ministry before God. As for this poor sinner's “good intentions” – be they in life, and/or in ministry – I plead only for God's mercy and grace in the blood of Jesus.

    To explore this important topic in greater detail, the ACELC invites pastors and laity alike to Eagle, NE, on August 6-9, 2019, for our Ninth annual ACELC Free Conference: “Christ for Us: The Church's Mission & Evangelistic Task.” Be sure to mark your calendar and visit our website for more information and details, including the Evidence of Errors document which describes some of the errors tolerated and or promoted through the LCMS. Even more, download the Bible Study on this topic that is used in conjunction with the ACELC video, “If Not Now, When?”. Finally, there are four additional teaching materials on this topic to be found here.

    Pastor Bruce G. Ley
    Documents Chairman, ACELC

    Save the date for this years ACELC Free Conference. The ACELC will have an early bird registration fee of $89.00 until July 23rd 2019. If fee is not paid or postmarked by July 23rd 2019 the regular registration fee of $99.00 will apply. This year's conference speakers will be as follows.

    Rev. Rolf Preus - Justification and Mission
    Rev. Mark Preus - Election and Mission
    Rev. Robbie Rojas - A Theology of Lutheran Mission
    Rev. Andrew Richard - A Theology of Lutheran Evangelism
    Rev. Jeffery Kuddes - A Firsthand Report of Overseas Mission
    Mr. Scott Diekman - Transforming Churches Network
    Rev. Marcus Mackay - Mission Planter’s Institute

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