You will notice a new picture gracing the home page of our blog. It shows Pastors as shepherds defending their flocks from the attacks of the many wolves in this old evil world. It speaks for itself. It is how we see the efforts of Intrepid Lutherans.
To go along with this new image, we are posting two other items. The first is a sermon based on a section of Ezekiel chapter thirty-three – the famous chapter dealing with what it means to be a watchman in God's kingdom. The second is a brief clarification of our purposes, objectives, and methods of working here on the blog.
As always, your comments and questions on both or either are welcome!
So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
Many of you might remember the terrible crash of a DC-10 a few years ago in Chicago, in which over two hundred people were killed. It was found that the crash was caused by a defective engine mount on one of the wings. The problem had simply been missed by maintenance workers.
Now, what would you have done if you had seen the crack in the mount and realized the dire implications? Most likely you would have warned the airline, and the people about to board the plane, of the danger. If they listened to you, you would save many lives, but even if they refused to listen, you would still know that you at least tried to warn them.
The same is true in the spiritual world. Many are crashing into Hell everyday and many more are on a collision course. God has given us the responsibility to warn others about Hell, about the coming danger if they continue to refuse to believe what God tells them in His Holy Word. And not only are we to warn people about rejecting God and His Word, but also about teaching and living falsely concerning His Word. As Ezekiel points out: We Are God's Watchmen! As such, We are to listen to Him, and We are to pass on His warnings.
First of all, it is true that Ezekiel had a special and specific divine Call, directly from the LORD, to speak to the people of Israel. In this, he is certainly a picture of all Ministers of the Gospel, the Pastors and teachers who are Called to speak God's Word publicly on behalf of His believers in a given place and time. But in a more general, yet limited way, every single believer is a messenger of the LORD in their private lives of faith. In addition, every Pastor, teacher, and member is a watchman in God's Church, "testing the spirits," and making sure that His Word is taught in all its truth and purity, and the sacraments administered according to the command of Christ. This is why we have Creeds and Confessions, to aid all of us in this essential task.
Now, if we are to be God's watchmen, then we need to listen to Him, because only He can tell us the right things to say to warn people properly. This is true because God is the only perfect source of infallible truth. For this reason the Lord says to Ezekiel, "so hear the Word I speak and give them warning from Me." Notice the word comes from God to the people. Ezekiel is only a messenger. This is always what a prophet is; a mouthpiece for God. He is someone who is to speak to the people for God and from God.
What God has to say is always important. More than that, He is always perfect and correct. As the psalmist says, "Is God a man that He should lie?" In other words, it is impossible for God to lie. The same is not true for man. Ever since the Fall into sin, when man chose to follow the devil, the "father of lies," we have all been more that capable of lying. We have all done it at one time or another in our lives, perhaps even quiet often. Indeed, lying, like many kinds of sin, can be very habit forming. But, what is especially sad is to see people lying in the name of God. Using God's holy name to back them up. People concoct all kinds of crazy religions and ultimately lead many people straight to Hell instead of the promised paradise they were shown by these false prophets.
We can trust God because He has led us to our own salvation. We have the peace of knowing all our sins, including lying, are paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ the sinless Son of God. We have felt the security of being the children of God. We have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, guiding and moving us to serve our Lord with our lives. Therefore we have confidence in our God and in His Word which led us to Him and will lead us finally to our reward in heaven.
If we are to have anything good to say in this world at all, we must listen to God. And not just for a few years in Sunday School and confirmation classes, or once a week for a few minutes, but we must be constantly hearing, learning, and growing in the Word of life. Just look at Ezekiel. He was a great prophet, chosen of God, but even he had to listen constantly to God in order to be a true prophet. Think of Abraham, Moses, David, St. Paul, and even Jesus! Did not all of them study God's Word at all times during their lives? Where did we find the boy Jesus - in the temple! Where did we see the young man of Nazareth - in the synagogue! How can we who so often know so little do any less? None of us are too old or too young or too smart or too busy to learn more of God's precious Word of truth!
So we learn more of God's Word. Then what? What are we suppose to say? Who are we suppose to say it to? And why? What does God tell Ezekiel to say? "say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,'" So, obviously, we are to speak to the wicked. But who are they, and how are we to judge? Let's remember who God was talking about when He spoke to Ezekiel. He was talking about all those who would not obey Him, and to obey God always means firsthand foremost, to believe in Him and in what says, and to put it into practice as much as possible in your lives. There were many in Ezekiel's day who professed to believe in God, yet lived only for themselves and even followed other gods - idols. And there were some who refused to acknowledge the one true God at all. These are the wicked.
We have many kinds of wicked people around us today. Just as in the Old Testament, there are those who claim to believe in God but do not follow His Word, they are the hypocrites, and they are wicked. Then there are those who say they follow God, but their religion is a false one, and the gods they follow do not really even exists. They are false teachers leading others to Hell, and they are wicked. Finally, there are those who claim to believe in no God at all, who put their trust in man, and his science, and technology. They are blasphemers, and they are wicked.
And why should we speak to these people at all? Why not just let God deal with them. Well, He has! He sent His Son Jesus to die for their sins too! And He has given us the task of warning them that unless they believe in the salvation won for them by Jesus Christ, they will be lost to Hell. Whether they believe us or not is not our concern. That we tell them is still our responsibility. Listen again to God as He tells us, "if you do not speak out to dissuade him from his wicked ways that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself." It is clear here what our duty is. We are warn the wicked. Not that they will merely die, but that such a death will be eternal and terrible. And if we fail to do so, God will ask us on judgment day why we did not speak up. Of course, since we are believers, we will not be damned to hell along with the wicked, but even to be saved from answering such a question from our Lord is worth whatever it takes to warn the wicked.
And yes, we are also our brother's keeper. Our brothers can be many kinds of people. They can be all the believers, and they can be all the other people in the world. Can we stand by and allow any to continue down the path of unbelief that leads to Hell? Can we stand still while some hold to false teachings that may destroy their faith? Can we be silent when the world attacks the true teachings of God's pure Word, and thus attacks our faith and our God? I believe we must all answer NO!! We must not remain silent in the face of evil of any kind. We must be witnesses to the truth of God's Word. We must call sin, sin; false doctrine, false doctrine. We must warn those who would put their faith in anything but the cross of Christ that they are in danger. We must point out all the terrors of Hell to those that deny God and His salvation. Finally, we must always be ready with an answer directly from God to any question or accusation. We must be prepared to defend our faith and our teachings from those who would tear it down. And to do all this, we must ever be students of the infallible Holy Scriptures and our precious Lutheran Confessions.
How would you feel if you had seen that crack in the wing and you didn't say anything about it, and saw the plane crash? Don't we feel the same way about those whom we are sure are without a saving faith? Don't we want to warn them of Hell, and show them the way to heaven? And don't we feel the same way about those whose faith we believe is in danger because of false teachings? I believe we do, and we can, and we must, and we will warn them all, because – We Are God's Watchmen! Amen.
[Preached originally by Pastor Steven Spencer at St. Peter Ev. Lutheran Church, Brodhead, WI – September 30th, 1984]
We've been getting messages about Intrepid Lutherans. Some have been quite good and complimentary, and some others somewhat worrisome. So, we wish to set the record straight. We want to clear up some misconceptions and false perceptions about our organization among brother WELS Pastors and all members and friends of our synod.
- It is not our Divine Call to preserve, repair, or create doctrinal unity in the WELS. That can only be accomplished by God working by means of His Word as it is studied, cherished, practiced and proclaimed by Believers, whether holding a Divine Call or not, all of whom possess His general call to watch out for false teachers and join only with those who are fully agreed in all matters of doctrine and practice.
- We also recognize that it is not our Call to tell Circuit Pastors, District Presidents, the Conference of Presidents, or the President of the Synod how to do their jobs. We speak according to Christian conscience. Those who believe something merits action, and who have a legitimate Call to act are certainly free to do so, or to refrain, on their own, without permission or direction from us. Again, as is true of all believers, we retain the freedom to speak passionately and confidently about sound doctrine and confessional practice.
- We are not "checking up" on Pastors or congregations. It is not our Call to nit-pick sermons, or web-pages, or worship services. In cases of questionable public and repeated statements and actions which are brought to our attention by concerned laity and others, we may address them indirectly as examples, or directly, as the case may warrant.
- We are not some kind of self-appointed “guardians” of “true” or “real” Lutheranism in the WELS. As stated above, all Christians, not just those holding office in church organizations, are under Scripture's direct injunction to watch out for false teachers, reject false teaching, hold only to the pure teaching of God's Word, and join only with those who do the same.
- We are not "militant," but rather only have a passion for the truth and a love for the Scriptures and the Book of Concord, consistent with what one would expect from within the "Church Militant" – those believers on earth who are "contending for the faith."
- We endeavor to support and encourage consistent confessionalism in every aspect of pastoral and congregational life – period, that’s it, no more, no less. And we are convinced that an internet blog can be a useful and effective vehicle for this effort.
- Just as we have truly endeavored to "put the best construction" on things we observe, we respectfully request the same consideration from those who may disagree with us from time to time.
- This is obviously a public forum and is intended to be such. Therefore, we respectfully request that if anyone has a comment, or a question, or a concern, or a complaint about anything posted on this blog, that they make it to us directly and publicly here on the blog. Please do not write to us or call us privately – again, about things written here on Intrepid Lutherans. We cannot guarantee that we will respond privately.
May God guide us to fulfill His good and gracious will!
The Editors of Intrepid Lutherans