Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.
July begins with a bang – it always does, doesn’t it? The bang is the sound of fireworks all over the United States as people celebrate freedom. Something all Americans can agree upon – even Congress and the President! That’s amazing!
Christians, likewise, should agree about certain things. Yet, many doctrines divide us, but they shouldn’t. We agree that we are saved by grace alone. Which means Christians agree in what Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
Seems cut and dried, doesn’t it? Then why the difference in doctrine? Simply put, different denominations have different interpretations of certain key Bible texts. A couple come to mind.
One of them is the Lord’s Supper. The difference in doctrine and practice is the word “is”. Did Jesus mean “is” when He said, “This is my body; this is my blood?” One of my confirmands from a few years ago said, “It is Jesus’ body and blood because He said it is.” That’s good enough for me! It is good enough for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Out of the mouth of babes comes such wisdom!
Speaking of babes and babies, the other major difference is Baptism. The LCMS practices infant Baptism, other church bodies do not.
There are lots of passages the LCMS draws upon to support infant Baptism. Just a couple will do: Acts 2:39, “The promise is for you and your children.” Another is from the story of the jailer at Philippi. Paul and Silas were put in jail for speaking the Word. About midnight there was a great earthquake that literally shook their shackles loose and opened the doors of the jail. They could have walked out but they stayed to save the jailer from taking his own life. Long story short, Paul and Silas end up in the jailer’s house and here’s what happened, “(The Jailer) washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his household” (Acts 16:33).
These are two of the main doctrines that separate the LCMS from other denominations. Are they important? Yes, I believe they are. Does it mean that Lutherans are more saved than Baptists? Yes! Just kidding all my Baptist friends and all Baptist-leaning Lutherans! No, everyone who believes in the Triune God and in His grace given to all in the Person of Jesus Christ will be saved.
What does this have to do with the Fourth of July? Like politicians of all stripes celebrating the Fourth of July, Christians celebrate the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are free to believe what we want about doctrine and practice, but what really counts in the end is believing that Jesus died for our sins and that God raised Him on the third day. Amen.
The peace of Christ be yours,