President's Message

Volume 26, Issue 2 — Winter 2024 - 02/21/2024

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President's Message

Recently I had the privilege and blessing of leading the Sunday morning Divine Services and teaching the Bible class at one of our congregations, as their pastor was away. O, what a joy to be with God’s people in His house, and focused upon His Word! This should be the greatest of joys for us all, for in this gathering are brought together God and His people; the saints in heaven and we who are on earth; time and eternity. All are brought together in the eternal Son of God who became flesh for us. Paul sums it up this way in Eph. 1:3-10:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

As Paul speaks of how God has blessed us in Christ, notice where he focuses: "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us."

The forgiveness of sins, lavished upon us: is this your focus? Over the course of my 38 years in the Holy Ministry I have heard many times the lament that we Lutherans – at least, we in the LCMS – focus a lot on sin. "Oh, how negative! How depressing!" To this I say, "Oh, contraire! How Biblical this is! How Christ-like! How positive and uplifting!" This assumes, of course, that our focus is not simply upon our sins but above all upon their forgiveness. This must be our focus, for this is the focus of our God and His Word.

Consider the Psalms. Ps. 103, one of my favorites, begins: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." It then proceeds to list a number of God’s benefits, beginning with: "who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy." The forgiveness of our sins is the first blessing listed, for it brings with it every other blessing; indeed, all of the blessings that God desires to give us! Then, there’s Ps. 32, which was the focus of my Sunday morning Bible study in the congregation I recently served. It begins: "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit, there is no deceit." An entire Psalm focusing on forgiveness, and the blessings that come from it! This is a good Psalm to memorize and meditate upon often.

Then, there’s Jesus in His ministry. How did He sum it up? "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28) He spoke this to His 12 disciples to emphasize that such sacrificial service to ransom and save the lives of others was to mark their lives. So: if your pastor focuses predominantly upon your sins and their forgiveness in Christ... give thanks to God! He is doing what Jesus has told His pastors to do.

Remember when the Pharisees and Scribes grumbled because Jesus was welcoming sinners to Himself? He responded: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17) A physician for sinners: that’s who Jesus is, and so that’s who faithful pastors proclaim. They begin with diagnosing the affliction – sin – so that the cure – Jesus, the forgiveness He won for us on the cross and gives to us through His Word and Sacraments – will be desired and received.

So, if your pastor regularly focuses on your sins, and then proclaims and gives their forgiveness in Christ: give thanks to God! He is serving you well! May God bless us with many more of such faithful servants!!

In Christ Jesus, our Lord,
Pastor Bob Beinke, DP

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