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Walther on Advent 4 – John 1:19-28

by pastorjuhl ~ December 11th, 2010

Even he denies Christ who denies any truth of the Gospel, though it seems ever so unimportant, and  helps to confirm any error, though it seems ever so harmless.

How important this is for our day! Not a few suppose that they are faithful confessors because they have not denied that Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. But from the example of John we see that this is by no means enough for a true confession. One must confess everything which Christ said. For example, whoever wishes to confess that Christ is the Son of God, but either from pride in his reason or fear of the world denies that there is a devil, or that the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, is God’s Word, or that a person is reborn through Holy Baptism, or that the body and blood of Christ Jesus are truly present in the Holy Supper, and that all communicants receive it, and the like, I say, whoever denies one of these truths, and though it seems most insignificant, denies Christ himself and his Word. He makes a liar of Christ.

But more! As we have seen, John was very definite in his confession. Therefore, whoever confesses the truth, but in order to evade the mockery of his foes, confesses in such a way that he can point out the truth, but that his enemies can also interpret the confession in their favor; whoever does not diligently make his confession so clear that even his foes know exactly what he really believes, in the eyes of God such a confession is nothing else that a clear cut denial.
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Whoever confesses many things, but in order to keep the friendship of the world suppresses that truth which he knows the world hates; or, whoever suppresses the confession of a truth because he knows that peace and unity with the heterodox will be disturbed, considers the friendship of the world and peace with men more important than Christ and his truth. He also denies his Lord. He belongs to that wretched group of Jewish rulers of whom we read “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43).

How many there are in our day who deny Christ who do not suppose they do! For are they who wish to be known as sincere Christians honestly concerned not merely in being members of any church but of the true Church of Jesus Christ? Do not many nominal and also true believers join a church in which they clearly recognize that truth and error is tolerated as having equal rights? Are not many true believers ashamed these days to join the little flock of orthodox who have at all times remained with the simple words of Christ and whom Christ calls his true disciples? Alas, in these last times it has come to the point that the church is divided into many factions and even those who earnestly wish to be his own unknowingly deny him.
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If we wish to be Christians, we have the earnest call to be Christ’s heralds, to glorify his  name in word and deed, yes, with our whole life. The Second Commandment forbids taking Christ’s name in vain. That happens every time we deny him. Whenever we pray the Second Petition, we pray for God’s assistance to confess Christ before the world. When we were baptized, we permitted ourselves to be drafted into Christ’s army under his banner in battle for his honor. Whenever we deny Christ, we transgress God’s holy command; we jeer at our own Lord’s Prayer; we break our baptismal covenant; we forsake the host of believing confessors who stand under Christ’s cross. We become faithless deserters to the camp of the enemy, the world, and Satan. Though our reason or heart may recommend the denial of a truth under a good pretext, we must, as dear as God’s favor and our salvation is, always consider God’s command and our holy oath more important.
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What do we lose if we, like John the Baptist, must shed our blood, because we do not want to deny Christ by even one word? Then in place of temporal life we will inherit eternal life, in place of temporal grace eternal honor, for temporal pain eternal joy and salvation. Let Jesus above all have our hearts by faith; not only our heart, but also our mouth, yes, everything which we are and have. If already here he is all ours by faith; if we also confess him in such a faith, we will also receive the end of faith, eternal life; then Christ will there embrace us and be all ours also to see and enjoy; for the apostle testifies to us through the Holy Spirit, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10).

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