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Walther Quotes for Feast of Pentecost – John 14:23-31

by pastorjuhl ~ May 18th, 2010

According to Christ’s own words only they belong to the Church of the New Covenant who not only know Christ, speak much and often of Him, and believe that He is a Teacher of the Truth, but who also love Him. Moreover, only those who not only have Christ’s Word, diligently hear it, and seek and search in it, but who also keep it.

The Lord does not at all mean to say that true faith is not enough in order to be a member of the Church; in other passages of Scripture the indwelling of God and membership in the Church, yes, salvation is expressly ascribed to faith. In our text Christ wishes to inculcate that only a faith which is not a dead head knowledge makes one a member of His Church. His faith must be a divine power which changes the heart of man, melts it, and fills it with holy fear of every sin and impurity. And his faith also fills the heart with love to Christ, a love consisting not only of words but an inner living power showing itself in deeds. It is a love which not only makes one willing but also capable of keeping Christ’s word. The Lord expressly adds in the following verse: “But he who does not love me, holds not My Words” (John 14:24). One who lacks faith cannot become a temple of God, a member of the Church.
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The Christian Church is like a field of wheat. Weeds grow up along with the wheat. they often are more colorful than the wheat itself; they are watered by the dew of heaven just as well as the wheat; the sun shines upon them just as well as on the wheat and ripens for the harvest. In the same way many are like weeds on the wheatfield of the Christian Church. They do not belong to it, although they are watered by the heavenly dew of the Gospel as are the members of the Church; the rays of eternal Truth shine upon them as on the true members, ripening for the eternal harvest. The weeds, however, are not stored in the granary at harvest time but are tied in bundles and thrown into the fire.

So all those, who here in in the Christian Church but did not love Christ and keep His Word, will not be brought into the granary of heaven, even though they were baptized, knew Christ, had sort of a faith in Christ, yes, outwardly led a Christian life. They will be separated from Christians and cast into the fire. Oh, my friends, we will with terror see that very many will be found among such weeds, many whom we considered the best wheat because of their knowledge, usefulness, or honorable life. Ah, when I think back how especially in the last years our congregation has progressed in temporal things but retrogressed in love to Christ and the keeping of His Word, my heart trembles at the thought of the harvest. I feel compelled to say: My dear brethren, let us not feel secure because we are in the Christian Church. Let us rather earnestly examine ourselves in the present festival of the Christian Church to see whether we love Christ and keep His Word; if we have fallen we can then arise again in true repentance, return to our first love, and at the cry: The Bridegroom comes, arise with rejoicing and follow the Bridegroom into the marriage hall of the Church Triumphant.
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The Lord comforts His own at His imminent return to the Father saying that when He will no longer walk and talk with them, the Holy Ghost would teach them everything and remind them of all the words which He said to them. Now what does Christ say would never be taken from His own and would never fail them? What does He say is inseparable from His Church and at the same time a positive sign by which it can be known? His Word, His Gospel.

And, my friends, it can be nothing else. The Church is the communion of all true believers and lovers of Christ. Nothing else can make a person a true believer and lover of Christ than His Gospel. Thus nowhere else than where this Word is can the Church of true believers be found. As you look for wheat only where you have planted the wheat seed, so you also find true Christians, the Church of the New Covenant, only where the heavenly seed of the Word is sown.
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The Word of God will never be preached in vain. It happens that wherever God permits His Word to be preached, He knows in advance that there are at least a few who will believe it, love Christ, and keep His Word. Wherever God gives His means of grace, the pardoned are certainly there also. Wherever there are those who are called by God’s Word, a number of elect to eternal salvation are there also…. Wherever the candle of the Gospel burns, the Lord certainly has a number of His own there also. In short, wherever there is a visible congregation, in which God’s Word is preached in its purity, there certainly is also an invisible Church of true believers.

As the column of smoke announces the presence of fire and as the rising sun announces the arrival of the day, so the preaching of God’s Word in any place announces the presence of the true Christian Church. Everything else which is extolled as marks of the Church, be it the outward holiness and the great works of its members, the long duration of its existence, the derivation of its beginning in unbroken line from the apostles themselves, or whatever it is – all this can deceive. However, the mark of the preaching of the pure Word is infallible. Where this is found, there is still today the workshop of the Holy Spirit; there even today we hear that rushing as of a mighty wind in which the Spirit descends from above; He is as powerful through the preaching of the Word as He was long ago on the first Pentecost. By the Word He calls, gather, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps the holy Christian Church with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. Stay where you find the pure Word, for there you find the true Zion of the New Covenant, the New Testament Jerusalem, the true temple of God, in other words, the true Church of Jesus Christ.
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That the Church is a ship which not only brings peace and security from the storms of the world but which also most certainly enters the harbor of a blessed world; that the Church is a tree which grows in this world as though in a nursery, but will some day be transplanted in the soil of heaven; that the Church is like a vestibule of the eternal temple, where all the saints gather, see God face to face, and live a life in perfect joy without measure and end; in a word, that outside the Church there is no salvation but in her everything is salvation, that, that is the great blessing, the most wonderful treasure which the Church has.

Blessed are all of you who are found in the ship of the Church as those elected out of the old for the true new world; this ship will not be wrecked; despite the gates of hell you will joyfully land on the shores of that land where only the blessed live. Blessed are all of you who are living branches on the tree of the Church; someday you will bloom and become green in the garden of eternal paradise. Blessed are all of you who worship here in the vestibule of the Church of grace; you will also sing an eternal hallelujah in the holy of holies in heaven. Amen.

2 Responses to Walther Quotes for Feast of Pentecost – John 14:23-31

  1. ptmccain

    Great quote/comments. Could you/would you please provide the bibliographic citation for these quotes? Many thanks.

  2. pastorjuhl

    Paul, these are from the CTS Print Shop publication of Walther’s “Old Standard Gospels”. Rev. Donald Heck translated these sermons from Walther’s “Evangeliumpostille”.

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