The Lutheran Spokesman (December 1997)
For He who is
mighty has done
great things for me, and
holy is His name. And
His mercy is on those
who fear Him from
generation to generation.
Luke 1:49 & 50
In this issue:
The Most Precious Birthday Gift
Have A White Christmas!
AN - EK - DEE - AY - GAY - TOS
Saved By a Child
Come Sing With Me
Idolatry And Rebellion: 40 Years of Mercy
Biblical Characteristics Of Angels
1998 Bible Reading Guide
For Circulation and Subscription Information, click here.
"Wouldn't a Christmas baby be just sooo precious?!" Parents who are
expecting a child in December grow accustomed to hearing this.
Certainly a Christmas birth is meaningful to Christian parents, as it
should be also for that child. It should be, but for the child growing
up with a birthday on or around Christmas, it is perceived to be less
desirable than it is a blessing.
For a child whose birthday is on or around Christmas, the coming of
Christmas is often met with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the child
is looking forward to Christmas because of the gifts he will receive.
On the other hand, that child will sometimes feel "cheated" because
his birthday and Christmas are so close together. Inevitably this
means that he will, at least from his point of view, receive fewer
presents at either celebration than he would have had he been born in
one of the months before Christmas.
It's interesting that even with the divine circumstances, as Mary and
Joseph looked forward to the birth of their Christmas Baby, they
displayed the traits of expectant parents everywhere. Mary, upon
hearing the news of her forthcoming pregnancy from the angel, at first
could not believe it. She said: "How shall this be, seeing I know not
a man?" When the angel explained that this Child would be conceived by
special operation of the Holy Spirit, she rejoiced over the
announcement and, upon telling her cousin Elizabeth, burst into song
Joseph, on the other hand, like most expectant fathers, was at first
apprehensive and fearful, as the angel had to calm him down, saying:
"Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife" (Mt. 1:20). However, the
circumstances were far different from those of any other expectant
father, as the angel continues: " . . . that which is conceived in her
is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt
call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins."
In that statement ". . . He shall save His people from their sins" lay
the real joy that Mary and Joseph felt as they awaited the blessed
event. The LORD God had seen fit to fulfill thousands of years of
prophecy through this virgin mother Mary, so that when this Child was
delivered the answer to the hopes and prayers of thousands of years
were also delivered in that little stable in Bethlehem.
Unlike other Christmas babies, He whose birthday IS Christmas, whose
birthday/Christmas gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh, was not
disappointed with His birthday. Far from it, for this is He who "for
the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the
shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb.
12:2). With His conception and birth God's Son began His thirty-three
year journey to the cross, where He would redeem sinful mankind. That
is the Christ-child's birthday gift to all people--the forgiveness of
sins, peace with God, and life eternal.
It is in this then that, as we look forward to another Christmas, we
can once again feel the expectant hope that Mary and Joseph felt, not
merely as expectant parents but as expectant believers, looking and
rejoicing in faith over the redemption of the world that has come
through the Christ-child. As one woman put it: "I always hated having
my birthday in December. It always distracted me from the real joy of
As we thus await Christmas, Christ's joy is our joy as we rejoice over
the birth of our Savior from sin, giving thanks to God for His Son,
THE most precious birthday Gift that has ever been given.
-- Pastor Joel Fleischer
Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? For many it just doesn't seem
like Christmas without at least a little snow. There is nothing quite
like the calm and quiet which descends after a heavy snowfall. A fresh
blanket of snow covers everything with dazzling white purity, and
creates a sense of peace and well-being. No wonder then that one of
the best selling songs of all time is "White Christmas."
Did you know, though, that God predicted a white Christmas? Joseph
didn't have to shovel a path to the stable in Bethlehem and the
shepherds didn't trudge through three-foot drifts to see the newborn
Baby. The climate of Israel is more like Phoenix than Minneapolis.
Nevertheless, it was a white Christmas. Nearly 1,000 years before the
angels sang of the Savior's birth, God spoke through Isaiah: "Come,
now, let us reason together . . . Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they
shall be like wool" (Is. 1:18).
To make this miracle a reality, God sent His Son: conceived by the
Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus truly makes our
Christmas "white." He came to calm and quiet the harsh accusations of
our guilty conscience. As you wrote out Christmas cards, did you feel
bad because you should have written Aunt Margaret long before now? Or
you really had wanted to visit Grandpa, but somehow it just never
happened? Our conscience reminds us that we are not the people we
ought to be. Self-interest all too often interferes with loving and
serving God and one another as God's Law commands. Guilt ringing in
our ears quickly drowns out joy. But then remember Christmas. Jesus
came to quiet guilt by taking every bit of it upon Himself. He didn't
come to condemn us for our sin. He came to be sin for us.
Jesus makes our Christmas white by blanketing us with the pure
whiteness of His righteousness. Our best efforts at measuring up to
God's holy standards are contaminated by sin. They are more like
filthy rags than fresh snow. But Jesus was born as the God-Man so that
He might live under God's Law in our place and give us His perfect
righteousness as our very own.
Jesus makes our Christmas white by giving us perfect peace with God.
our inborn sin makes us mortal enemies of God deserving of eternal
separation from Him in the fire of hell. But Jesus came as the Prince
of Peace. He won peace by His holy life and innocent suffering and
death. His peace is our peace now by faith. In Christ all is well
between you and God. He couldn't be happier with you. Things couldn't
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Here in the desert Southwest there
won't be snowflakes in the air Christmas Eve and we won't wake up to a
fresh blanket of snow on Christmas morning. Yet that really won't
matter. The birth of God's only-begotten Son means we'll still have a
"white" Christmas in the very best possible way.
That's no dream!
-- Pastor Michael Eichstadt
Most people are already doing their Christmas shopping. Funny how even
Christians get caught up in this. Spending many hundreds on their
children and others in a frenzy of . . . giving? Lots of people don't
like it if you talk about it negatively. And they get upset if you
talk about Christmas too positively, also. You know -- the Gospel, the
Incarnation, the real Gift for sinners.
What do you give to people who've got everything? I mean to say, the
expression that really characterizes our age (I don't know who coined
it) is: "Too much is definitely not enough!" Every TV ad and every
shopkeeper in the country (nowadays--in the world?) will be pulling us
into the secular Christmas maelstrom once again, with that very motto.
And we'll sail into it.
We--the people who have everything. Everything necessary, that is.
Bible words echo in our mortal frames: "All things are yours" . . .
"you are enriched in every way" . . . " that you through His poverty
might become rich." And it all boils down to one particular Gift.
Martin Franzmann describes the above title word (from the Greek) as
pertaining to that "grace, greater than man's words can tell." In 2
Corinthians 9:15 the NKJV uses the word "indescribable."
You've got that grace. But if you are a typical Lutheran, you don't
realize how much you've got. Why look through a narrow slit in the
wall when God gives you a big picture window? Why ride a motor scooter
when God provides a limo? Why stay in kindergarten when God bestows a
free university education? You men -- read the whole paper, not just
the sports pages! Follow me?
If someone receives a gift, birthday or Christmas or whatever, and
fails to open it, and eventually returns it (I've see that happen!),
you would say that the recipient hates the donor. Now, I don't mean to
insult you. But as a testimony to the Old Adam still in you, there's a
certain degree of hatred and enmity towards God that holds you back from
opening the various gracious gifts He gives in Word and Sacrament. Admit
it! We tend to be "closet Gospel-reductionists," while condemning those
who profess it openly. All we need to now is John 3:16, and we're all
right, as if there are no more things to learn, no more gifts to open.
Shame on you. Especially you men.
It Keeps Giving
You have heard something about "a gift that keeps on giving." Only the
Bible is like that. It keeps pouring out, delivering, opening up its
pages and passages, to divulge marvelous truths and concepts,
invigorating decrees and statutes. I remember the president of our
synod once preaching on the doctrine of election, declaring the
comfort it contains for our mission outreach--the work it saves us, by
the work it gives us as already done! What a relief for Word-bearers!
All the things we call "hard sayings" are really gifts. Did you ever
look at it that way? Or have you begun to complain about the Bible
concepts of fellowship, male suffrage, and close communion, as our
synod moves ahead in time, farther away from its roots and beginnings?
How about the gift of mission outreach, centered in the Office of the
Keys? God right here gives us something to DO with our lives, inside
and outside the congregation, for once and for all. We don't have to
sit around as though we are unemployed, idle, workshops fit for the
devil, working and living for him, spending time and money on earthly
gifts when we have heavenly gifts to bestow and share.
Speaking of the devil, there's a real gift-bearer! He sends a
messenger (an angel!) to buffet us. And all this under God's gracious
ruling, all of it under the cross of Christ, where we live. Have you
receive this gift lately? Ever discovered how Job opened it? Or Paul?
The danger in all this is that through neglect or abuse we should lose
the gifts. And the Gift. And with that the ability to express our
faith, halting as our expressing might be.
So--get ready for Christmas, O Christian! Take the real gifts, and
give them out. As someone has said: "Keep the faith, baby, but not to
The Church is Christ's Bride, His dear Lady . . . His "Baby" if you
will. She has packages of love to distribute in your neighborhood.
Don't just sit there. Get going. Because Christmas is coming!
And because those Christmas angels are getting ready to sing their
next big song, on Resurrection Day. Now, there's an inexpressible
thought. We live in the realm of "an-ek-dee-ay-gay-tos"--that's the
thrill of it. Man, get a gift!
-- Pastor Warren Fanning
SAVED BY A CHILD
On a personal level it is not easy. As we still are flesh and blood we
daily are contending against ourselves as it were. The war between the
old man and the new man is a wearying experience. We are still in the
world. In the world we have had and shall continue to have temptation,
sorrow, and tribulation. And then, as Martin Luther said, we have the
devil about us "who with his lying and murdering, day and night" will
let us have no peace within or without. The same struggle, sorrow, and
lying and murdering devil afflicts us also in the church.
On two fronts, then, the Christian suffers the scars of battle--in his
personal life and in his life as a member of the assembly of
believers. Contending is tiring. Fighting off the attacks of our own
flesh and those who would attack us is wearisome. It saps the
strength. Hanging on--holding fast, as Scripture puts it--so as not
to lose one's grip on the crown of life taxes us. Then there is the
burden of our sin and built. One gets tired just thinking about it.
All this suggests that life is not fair. But who is going to be the
judge of what is fair? Where in the Bible are we told that life should
be fair? But then who made the bed in which we must sleep, or better,
who is responsible for the weariness of life? Look in the mirror.
How abruptly life changed in the garden of Eden. In the twinkling of
an eye, from a bed of ease to a bed of thorns. By whose fault? Our
first parents'. But then rest, rest through a promise of the Savior.
There was no time of ease during the time of the prophets. But in the
judgment there was mercy--rest for the remnant.
In the midst of Roman oppression came the fullness of time. God sent
forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them
that were under the law, that the oppressed might receive the adoption
of sons (Gal. 4:4).
Christmas. The birth of our Lord inspired songs of peace and joy from
the angel host to a group of shepherds engaged in their daily task. In
the timelessness of divine promise, fulfillment and grace, the
Christmas message brings to you and me, to a weary church, the message
that we too are the children of God, beloved of the Lord. We too were
under the law, but are now redeemed from the law, its curse and
A Breath Of Hope!
It is the message of forgiveness. As to shepherds so to us--peace,
rest, a breath of hope! We are carried upon the shoulders and
enfolded in the arms of the Christ-child. How humbled we are when we
recognize that we are saved by a Child whose arms enfold us so
tenderly but whose hands at the same time are so strong that no one
shall pluck us out of those hands.
Christmas for us is a birthday celebration, a celebration of peace and
restoration of hope. Christmas is the Heavenly Father's declaration to
us: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect
in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).
We can endure! Not by might of ours, but by the power of Him who has
overcome the devil, and by the grace of Him who permits us to listen
in on His intimate prayer to His Father: "I do not pray that you
should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from
the evil one" (Jn. 17:15). What we brought and bring upon ourselves,
the Son of God has taken on Himself, and continues to take on Himself
as we come to Him in penitence and faith.
It isn't fair, but fairness was not the issue. God the Father looked
down on a fallen world and had mercy. That is Christmas.
Then Christian true,
Take courage new,
And let no earthborn woe or sorrow move thee!
Through God's dear Child,
Most tenderly His Father-heart doth love thee. (Hoppe)
Through all the tides and billows of life, and through all the
struggles and contendings that are the lot of God's faithful people in
this hostile environment, may we know the peace that passes all
understanding and the rest that is without end.
This is the Christmas gift to all who are not ashamed to be held by a
Child and gladly confess that by the same Child they are saved.
-- Pastor Daniel Fleischer
* LETTERS AND THE BIBLE READING GUIDE
While the Spokesman does not have a "Letters to the Editor" column
as such, rest assured that the editor does at times receive letters.
Some of these letters react to and/or question the content of what
appears in an editorial or another article; others express appreciation
for what is offered on these pages on a monthly basis; still others
let us know when something slips by for which a correction or
clarification may be in order.
If and when a response is deemed in order, it is sent directly to the
Speaking of letters, we received an e-mail last summer which had this
"I am enjoying the 1997 Bible Reading Guide and want to say thank-you
for this helpful guide to God's Word. I end each day reading the daily
scriptures. They are carefully chosen verses and I appreciate your
time and thoughtfulness in preparing the guide. With my limited
knowledge of God's Word, I would be unable to read the rich variety of
scriptures the guide provides. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of
God's Word with me. It means a lot to me. (signed)"
We are glad for such a note which confirms what we already know. That
is, when and where this or another devotional guide is used, the user
is bound to benefit. Psalm 1, for example, assures that one who
faithfully (day and night!) meditates on God's Word will flourish like
a well-watered tree. Using the readings, let us flourish together in
the new year.
We thank Keith Olmanson, a retired CLC pastor, for his work in
preparing the 1998 Bible Reading Guide.
* A BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR
"Blessed" rather than "merry" and "happy." For any thing--a day, a
year, an event--to be truly blessed implies God is smiling on it. God
smiles on that which acknowledges His gracious role as Creator,
Redeemer, and Sanctifier.
The Christmas season and the coming year will be blessed for us if we
keep our Savior-God center stage in our daily life and in all our
It is thus that our prayer is that your Christmas and the coming year
may be truly blessed.
* VOLUNTEERS AT ILC AND BEYOND
We suspect the periodic newsletter from our Immanuel Lutheran College
in Eau Claire will pass this along. But we would like all our readers
to hear the good words, taken from the report to the fall Coordinating
Council by Pastor Vance Fossum, Chairman of the Board of Regents for
ILC. Under "The Volunteers" the report said:
"They numbered over 100 during the months of June-September! They
included members of the ILC faculty and staff, their wives, and
children; members of Messiah-Eau Claire; a busload of brethren from
Immanuel-Mankato; and others from Red Wing, Minnesota, Saginaw,
Michigan, even Idaho! They offered their time, talents, and energies
for the cause of maintaining and improving our school. They even
donated paint, contact cement, gasoline, and many other items,
including a lawnmower.
"Under the direction of our new Facilities Manager, Luther Sieg, the
volunteer effort proved to be an efficient and enjoyable use of the
time, skills, and materials of many. We wish we had space to list all
of the cleaning, repairing, painting, landscaping, and building
projects that were completed by volunteers. . . . Dozens of tasks were
completed that required hundreds of man-hours, which would have cost
Immanuel thousands of dollars or would not have been done at all! May
God bless our volunteers for their ministry to us all."
Comment: A recent issue of Christianity Today magazine had an
article called: "100 Things the Church Is Doing Right." It explained
that "journalism is biased toward the negative because people tend to
talk about what goes wrong" and "when something is right, it doesn't
seem like news." This moved the magazine to gather "100 stories of
ordinary Christians and Christian groups doing extraordinary things in
the name of Jesus and his gospel." As biblical basis Ephesians 2:10
was quoted, which speaks of Christians being "created in Chrsit Jesus
for good works."
Over the years the Lutheran Spokesman has used very little of its
limited space for articles calling attention to "ordinary Christians
doing extraordinary things" in the church. Doubtless we could monthly
fill pages with accounts of godly men and women among us--yes, young
people and children too--showing their faith with its fruits, good
works. The volunteer work of many at ILC is but one example of God's
people putting their faith to work in a special way.
Volunteer work is going on all the time, isn't it? As James writes,
faith works! It is continually at work in the lives of those who serve
on our synodical boards and committees, in our Christian schools, in
our local congregations, and in our Christian homes (Luther liked to
say that one who washes the supper dishes in the fear of God is doing
a good work). Faith-full children of God serve Him by serving others
and one another in literally countless ways.
Dear children, come and sing with me
Of Bethlehem and King's decree,
And Joseph up from Galilee
With Mary mild.
When Caesar, king of high degree,
Did move the world with one decree,
There came One greater far than he:
The LORD of all.
In David's town no place to stay,
Except where cattle feed on hay;
Yet there is born a King today:
The Savior child!
Proud Caesar's troops spread death and fear;
Poor Jesus came to dry the tear,
Forgive, and bid us all draw near --
To give us life.
When Caesar spoke, it moved the earth,
But when poor Jesus came to birth
The heavens opened up in mirth:
So let us also rise to bring
Our praise to heav'n's Almighty King,
And with the angel chorus sing:
We thank staff member Paul Schaller, now professor at Immanuel
College, for again sharing with our readers with his annual Christmas
3. LUTHER AS TEACHER
"From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures which are
able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ
Jesus" -- 2 Timothy 3:15.
Martin Luther was many things during his lifetime. He was a German
peasant, a university student, an Augustinian monk, and a parish
pastor. Above all, he was a prolific author and an effective teacher.
Luther served throughout his adult life as a professor of theology at
the University of Wittenberg. Throughout his life he wrote books and
pamphlets to explain and defend the truths of Scripture. Luther's
works in the English edition comprise fifty-five volumes, and it by no
means contains all of his writings. Luther singled out two works
toward the end of his life which he hoped would survive the passage of
time. One of those was his Small Catechism, which was intended to
educate Christian youth. (The other was his Bondage Of The Will -- Ed.)
When Luther wrote the Small Catechism in 1529 he hoped it would be
used primarily as a tool by parents in the home. He wanted to provide
parents in general, but fathers in particular, with a simple way to
share the important truths they themselves learned from God with the
most important gifts they received from God--their children!
Who can argue that Luther was able in a very simple and winsome way to
capture and summarize the important truths of God's Word and will in
his explanations to the six chief parts of Christian doctrine. Think
of the simplicity of his explanation to the First Commandment: "We
should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." Consider
that comforting invitation of his explanation to the Address of the
Lord's Prayer: "With these words God tenderly encourages us to
believe that He is our true Father and we are His true children, so
that we may ask Him boldly and with complete confidence as dear
children ask their dear father."
Can we find any better summary of the work of our Savior than Luther's
explanation to the Second Article of the Apostolic Creed? "I believe
that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and
also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me,
a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sin, from
death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but
with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. He
did this that I should be His very own, live under Him in His kingdom,
and serve Him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and joy, just as He
is risen from death, lives and reigns in eternity. This is most
Such clear and simple explanations enable parents to teach their
children God's Word from little on. It was Luther's desire that what
was said concerning Timothy in our text could be said of any and all
young people instructed with his catechism. It was imperative in
Luther's mind to instruct the young, both for the sake of their
personal salvation and for the sake of the church and society.
Today the Lutheran church enjoys a strong heritage of Christian
education on the grade school, high school, and college levels.
Because of this, over the past 450 years generations of Lutherans have
been able to say: "From childhood (we and our children) have known
the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make (us) wise unto salvation
through faith which is in Christ Jesus"!
We remember and thank God for His gift to the church in the person and
work of Luther as Educator.
-- Pastor Paul D. Nolting
"That We Might Have Hope" (Rom. 15:4)
Exodus Chapters Thirty-two Through Forty and Numbers Chapters Six
Idolatry And Rebellion: 40 Years Of Mercy
"How could they have been so foolish!" I don't know how many times
this thought has crossed my mind as I've studied the Old Testament
children of Israel. As I have matured under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, now I say, "There but for the grace of God go I."
How Could They?!?
God was on that mountain! No one would deny that! It was just forty
days earlier that the children of Israel had seen the LORD descend
like a fire and smoke ascend as from a furnace. They had witnessed the
thunderings and lightnings, felt the earth shake, and heard the blast
of the trumpet. They had all fled before the face of God. Their
mediator, Moses, had disappeared into that forbidding cloud. How long
ago all of that seemed now! Now who was going to lead?
The children of Israel not only found a new leader, but a new religion
as well. The new leader was the golden calf, and how much better this
leader was than that old Moses! After all, the people had a hand in
creating this leader. They even had to sacrifice a little to create it
by bringing their gold and jewelry. This leader wouldn't push them
around, making so many laws and rules as that Moses had done.
This new religion even came complete with its own "prophet". Aaron was
an all too willing partner in this sin against God and His people. In
cowardly fashion he gave in to the people's wishes and delivered their
new god to them. Then he tried to gloss it over by declaring the next
day as "a feast day to the LORD."
How could they? How could they fall so far, so fast? Before we judge,
let us consider our advantages over the children of Israel. We too
have seen God. Through the eyes of faith we have walked through the
Red Sea. We too have stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and heard God's
thunderings and heard His laws. More importantly, we have
stood--through the eyes of faith--on Mount Calvary. We have seen our
Savior from sin bleed and die in our place. We have witnessed His
glorious resurrection! God's entire plan of salvation including its
glorious completion, all has been recorded for us by His Holy
Spirit. His Word! More sure than the ground we stand on! Here for
guidance, comfort, consolation, and encouragement!
So what's our excuse for often letting idols be built in our lives?
How many "golden calves" of pride and self-righteousness, greed or
lovelessness, self-indulgence or faithlessness have we allowed to come
between our Lord and our own hearts? We need to turn to our Savior in
His Word for the forgiveness and guidance we need.
Confession Is Good For The Soul
Soon the children of Israel were on the move again. Onward to the
Promised Land! They had to wait for forty days on the outskirts of
Canaan for the report of the twelve spies. Who would have thought
they'd bring back bad news! Oh, to be sure it was a land "flowing with
milk and honey," but the people! "We'll never be able to take them in
a fight," ten of the spies declare. The people were horrified. How
could God have let us down so! They were ready to kill Moses and
Aaron, choose a new leader, and head back through the wilderness.
Joshua and Caleb stood firm. God has led us here. He has promised us
this land. What is stopping us from taking it? The people were now
ready to kill them all and the LORD Himself intervened.
This is when God blessed the children of Israel with their wandering
in the wilderness. Blessed? We know that God "cursed" the children of
Israel with forty years of wandering in the wilderness. He told them
that they would get what they had feared for their children. Their
bodies would drop in the wilderness. Wandering about, a people without
a land, a nation without a country. We have to admit that hardly
sounds like a blessing. Yet, the LORD is more ready to bless than to
What did the children of Israel gain by not being allowed to enter the
land of Canaan? They gained the realization that sin against the LORD
is not without consequence. They had the opportunity to learn that
confession of our sins can free our soul even if the outward
conditions of our lives do no change. They also continued to receive
the LORD's tender care through His servant Moses and the bread from
heaven. They also had the opportunity to instruct their children to
not make the same mistakes they had made, and yet to remember there is
forgiveness with the LORD.
Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing
Fill our hearts with joy and peace.
Let us each, Thy love possessing,
Triumph in redeeming grace.
Oh, refresh us, oh, refresh us
Trav'ling through this wilderness! (TLH 50:1)
-- David Bernthal
The Angels #1
Biblical Characteristics Of Angels
Have you noticed the recent interest in angels? There have been
magazine articles, books, and a popular television series. We also see
the fertile imagination of the writers who are involved. They depict
the angels for the purpose of making an interesting story.
So that we are not led to accept wrong ideas about angels, it would
seem useful to explore the real facts as found in Scripture.
While angels may assume human form, they are spirit beings. The writer
to the Hebrews calls them "ministering spirits." As spirits, they have
no bodies of their own. After His resurrection Jesus encouraged His
fearful disciples to touch Him, saying: "Handle Me and see, for a
spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Lk. 24:39).
Having no bodies, they are normally invisible to the human eye.
Angels have names, though they are seldom used in Scripture. Gabriel
is mentioned a number of times. He was the messenger who announced to
Mary that she would bear Jesus (Lk. 1:26). In the book of Jude (1:9),
Michael the archangel is mentioned.
There are many angels. We remember from the Christmas gospel "the
multitude of the heavenly host" which praised God. When Jesus was
taken prisoner in the garden of Gethsemane, He told the disciples that
His Father could provide Him with more than 12 legions of angels (Mt.
26:53). There were approximately 5,300 men in a legion. But forget the
arithmetic--Jesus said "more than." And in Hebrews we read that the
angels are "innumerable" (Heb. 12:22).
Angels are not eternal since they did not exist until God brought them
into being sometime during the six days of creation. It is recorded in
Genesis 2:1: "Thus the heavens and earth, and all the host of them,
All angels were good when God created them. Some of them rebelled and
became evil angels, devils. The good angels are holy and are confirmed
in their holiness. The apostle Paul refers to the good angels as
"elect" angels (1 Tim. 5:21). As "elect"--chosen by God--they cannot
fall from their holy estate.
Angels will never die. While speaking of resurrected believers, Jesus
said: "Nor can they die any more, for they are equal to the angels"
(Lk. 20:36). These deathless angels have great power but they are not
almighty. Only God is almighty. The Psalmist says of the angels that
they "excel in strength" (Ps. 103:20).
We know that the angels are important from their frequent mention in
Scripture. They are mentioned 273 times in 34 books of the Bible. What
these holy and powerful spirit beings do that makes them so important
is the topic of the next article on angels.
-- Keith N. Olmanson
November 1997 Issue
In last month's issue, p. 6, the full text of the hymn stanza by
Gerhardt Mueller for the Second Sunday in Advent reads:
Behold, Daughter of Zion,
Salvation now draws near;
The Lord will speak His message
That all may rightly hear.
Grant us a heart with gladness,
Shepherd of Israel, dear,
Thou leadest us like Joseph,
With Thee we have no fear.
We regret the error, though the responsibility for this one falls of
the Iowa printer.
However, an error we regretfully missed in our editing was the number
on line 9 of Dr. Menton's article, p. 11. Instead of 1200, read 100.
Just In Time For Christmas
Our May issue included a review of Mrs. Celeste Reim's book A Peek
Into My Nigerian Diary, written when she accompanied her missionary
husband, Norbert, to Nigeria in the 1940's. The initial printing of 50
copies (intended only for family!) soon ran out.
A new offset print full-color-glossy-cover edition will be ready for
shipment by Christmas at $9.95 each, plus $3.00 postage (congregations
please note: no postage for 10 books or more to one address!). Orders
may be placed with the ILC Bookstore in Eau Claire, or sent directly
to Pastor & Mrs. Norbert Reim, 11060 Fargo Dr., Sun City, AZ 85351.
Cash with order is preferred.
According to our usage and order, the following were installed as
professors on the faculty of Immanuel Lutheran College on August 26,
1996 by the undersigned: Joseph Lau, Ross Roehl, Paul Schaller, and
-- Vance Fossum, Chairman, Bd. of Regents for ILC
According to our usage and order, Professor John K. Pfeiffer was
installed as President of Immanuel Lutheran College on May 24, 1997 by
-- Vance Fossum, Chairman, Bd. of Regents for ILC
According to our usage and order, Paul Sullivan was installed as
professor on the faculty of Immanuel Lutheran College, on August 24,
1997 by the undersigned.
-- Vance Fossum, Chairman, Bd. of Regents for ILC
A Blessed Christmas to All from the Lutheran Spokesman