Christ Lutheran Church

Soldiers of Christ

by Pastor Lehmann

Posted on February 01, 2015 4:53 AM

C.F.W. Walther, known in some circles as the "American Luther" because of his great work in establishing and promoting true, confessional Lutheran theology and practice in the United States, was a pastor as well as seminary professor and synodical president (Missouri). One of his practices as pastor was to give an address to new voting members of his congregation, explaining the meaning of that membership and exhorting them in it.

Sometime between 1841 and his death in 1887 (likely toward the end of this period; we don't have a date), Walther gave the following address to the new members of his congregation in St. Louis. How would it go over if given today? Is it "dated", or is this a message we need even more in this age?

Allow me to welcome you, who have now signed our constitution, as our brethren and permit me, as your brother, to add a few remarks.

Do you realize the significance of the step you have taken? Thereby you have voluntarily entered the ranks of warriors for Jesus Christ, for Christ's Church is the Church Militant.

Ever since the Lord said to the Serpent in Paradise: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15, NIV1984) this world has been a battlefield.

Arrayed on one side are Satan and his host, the unbelieving children of this world, the enemies of Christ; while on the other side is Christ, the Captain of our salvation, together with all His true Christians.

Accordingly all Christians are urged to put on the whole armor of God, to take the helmet of salvation, to gird their loins about with truth, to seize the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to have on the breastplate of righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, to take the shield of faith, and to have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:14-7, cf. KJV)

Christ tells all His would-be followers in advance: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'" (Matthew 10:34-36 (Micah 7:6), NIV1984).

Are you prepared to fight along in this great war?

Are you determined to fight daily against your own flesh, the devil, and the world?

Perhaps you will say: "We are prepared to fight along with you Lutherans, but we prefer not to become involved in your doctrinal controversies. We prefer to interfere with no one's religious views. Content to confess the truth, we prefer to let charity govern our attitude toward those who differ with us."

But, my friends, would that be charity if, seeing a blind man about to walk over an embankment, you would not make an effort to stop him?

Insistence on pure doctrine is an essential part of the warfare against the world, your flesh, and Satan. Would you class him as a quarrelsome man who opposes such as seek to poison bread and drinking water?

Did not all prophets and apostles by word of mouth and by pen testify against false prophets? Did not Christ Himself continually combat the false teachings of the Pharisees and Sadduccees?

Be not misled in these days of indifference in matters of religion.

We have no alternative, we must fight.

Let nothing induce you to forsake the banner of Christ; nothing, to desert his cause. Desertion is a disgraceful act, deserving even as the world judges the death penalty.

Who has not stood the battle's strain
The crown of life shall ne'er obtain

Let not the fanaticism of Chiliasts deceive you to entertain false hopes. We cannot hope for perfect peace until we shall enter heaven. There all wars will cease, and all warriors will be crowned. The Church Triumphant is not here, but yonder.

Christians are a blessed people, but the nature of their blessedness is often misrepresented. Their blessedness consists not in this, that they are basking in undisturbed enjoyment of God's grace and loving-kindness, not in this, that God always satisfies all their desires, nor in this, that others recognize their happy condition and even envy them because of it.

On the contrary, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22, NIV1984).

Wherein, then, does the blessedness of God's children consist? In this, that through faith in Jesus they are sure of being God's beloved children and of having their sins forgiven, that they experience the comfort and power of the Holy Spirit and consequently peace of soul, that they are sure of their ultimate entrance into glory, so that they exclaim with Paul: "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" (Philippians 1:23, NIV1984).