Pastors’ Corner

Be Gone Satan!

admin : April 26, 2017 8:00 am : Pastors' Corner

During the past couple of centuries, the belief of Satan and evil in the world has become an abstract way of thinking. Culture tells us that Satan and evil are interesting ideas, but that is all they are. Satan would love for us to forget about him. The reality is this: Satan and his evil exist and we can’t ignore him.

One component of the ancient Baptismal Rite was always the use of the exorcism, or casting Satan out. Between the time of the Reformation and now, the use of the exorcism has fallen out of use in many churches. One cause for the exemption of the exorcism in the Lutheran Church was due to the influence of Pietism. This movement of the Church did not deny baptismal regeneration, but it did shift the emphasis of faith and Baptism to a personal commitment to God or a second birth. The results of this movement of the 19th Century diminished the importance of baptism, often rendering it a cultural, familial, and civil event. In turn, parents became indifferent to the Baptism of their children and we continue to see this still today.

However, the use of the exorcism in the Baptismal Rite is still of great importance and many churches are witnessing its reintroduction into use. In fact, when the new Lutheran Service Book came out, it included two rites for pastors to use. One of the rites is “Luther’s Baptismal Rite.” This Rite is what we have begun using at Trinity as it retains the use of the exorcism.

So why is the exorcism important? The word “exorcism” comes from the Greek word “ekballo,” which means, “to cast out.” The use of the exorcism today recognizes three things: first is original sin, which we are all born with the sin of Adam. Second, it recognizes the reality of evil in this world; evil that assaults the Christian both day and night. Third, that Baptism is solely God’s doing. Lutheran theologian Dr. David Scaer wrote:

“No one can free themselves from Satan’s grip. Exorcism is an awareness to synergism, since here God alone acts to release the believer from Satan’s grip. Not only is the use of the exorcism in baptism a statement of awareness of the supernatural power of Satan and evil, it is also a complete rejection of human righteousness.”

This is an incredibly important point made by Dr. Scaer as it emphasizes the work of Baptism as solely God’s, but also as the world’s disbelief in God increases, so Satan’s grip on civilization increases. One of the great tricks of Satan is how he has sewn himself into the very fabric of time and everyday life so that he is unnoticeable to the eye of the Christian without the assistance of the Holy Spirit, whom God gives the Baptized through water and His Word in the Holy Baptism.

Martin Luther wrote, “Remember, then, that it is no joke to take sides against the devil and not only to drive him away from the little child, but to burden the child with such a mighty and lifelong enemy.” (AE 53:102) Baptism is a battle line for the Christian. It reminds us that while we live in this world, Satan wishes to lead us into temptation. St. Paul says as much by writing, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Complacency in the life between the Baptismal font and the eternal joys of heaven received at the Altar is never an option for the Christian. While we rejoice in the gift of God’s name placed upon us and all the Baptized, we are reminded through the liturgy of Baptism how Satan still desires your fall and the hardening of your heart towards God. The inclusion of the exorcism in the liturgy is a wonderful reminder of the battle won by Christ on the cross of Golgotha. It’s a reminder when we are tempted, when we are scared, or feel we are being led into darkness, God gave us a lifeline. The name of Jesus is your hope and your salvation. It recognizes the battle is His and He has won your salvation and gives you the joys of heaven.

In Christ,

Pr. Rogness

 

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Taking God at His Word

admin : March 30, 2017 8:00 am : Pastors' Corner

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is, “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read it, you are misinformed.”  His words seem almost prophetic regarding the news today.  We live in the information age.  A quick Google search will produce more information on a topic than a person could possibly read.  And, of course, there is plenty of information on the internet that is simply not true.  But how does one know what’s true and what’s not true?

The Abraham Lincoln meme is a true statement, but it obviously cannot be attributed to Abraham Lincoln.  It’s so ridiculous that it’s humorous.

The problem with having fake news stories, internet inaccuracies, and other misinformation so readily available is that all information becomes suspect and one can easily become cynical.

When it comes to accuracy, how do we know for a fact that what we read in Holy Scripture about the resurrection of Jesus Christ is accurate?  How do we know it wasn’t just made up by some first century do gooders?

There is reasonable evidence for us to trust that the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, is factual and historical.

First, Jesus foretold His own death and resurrection and they both occurred exactly as He had predicted (Luke 18:31-33).  Even some non-Christian sources point this out.

Second, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for His empty tomb. The Biblical text shows that the grave where they laid Jesus’ body was being guarded by Roman soldiers and sealed (Matthew 27:62-66).  If Jesus had not died on the cross, but was only weakened, the guards and the stone would have prevented His escape or any attempt by His followers to get to Him.  Jesus’ enemies would never have taken the body since His body missing from the grave would only serve to encourage the belief that he rose.  Not to mention the fact that if Jesus had not risen from the dead they could have gone to the grave, rolled away the stone, and shown people body of Jesus.  But they could not.  Why not?  Because His resurrected body was no longer in the tomb.

Third, the resurrection is the only plausible explanation for the appearances of Jesus Christ to His disciples.  After His resurrection, Jesus appeared at least ten times to those who knew Him and to as many as 500 people at the same time.  The Lord also proved that these appearances were not wishful hallucinations, by eating and talking with them and allowing them to touch Him. (1 John 1:1 ff)

Fourth, the resurrection is a logical explanation for how the Christian church came into existence .  More than half of the first sermon ever preached had to do with the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:14-36).  Obviously, the early church knew that this was the basis of its message.  The enemies of Jesus and His followers could have stopped them at any time by simply producing Jesus’ dead body, but they couldn’t.

Fifth, the resurrection is the only logical explanation for the changed lives of the disciples.  They had deserted Him before His death.  After His death they were discouraged and afraid. They didn’t expect Jesus to rise from the dead (Luke 24:1-11).  Yet after His resurrection these same discouraged and fearful men and women proclaimed what they had seen and heard.  A number of them were martyred for their faith in Christ.  Their courageous behavior does not make sense apart from their conviction that Jesus Christ truly rose from the dead – a fact worth dying for.

And finally, we have God’s Word on it“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32 ESV)

If the enemies of Christ and of His Church could prove that Jesus hadn’t been raised from the dead, which is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, they would have done it.  They couldn’t do it then and they can’t do it now, so you can firmly believe what you read in God’s Word and rejoice that you have a crucified and risen Savior.

~ Pastor Christensen

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