The Shepherd’s Scroll // July-August 2019

The Lord speaks. Stuff happens. So goes it since the Beginning. “I will build my Church,” Jesus says (Matthew 16:18). Jesus “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” (Matthew 16:16) that man alone does such building. The Church He builds belongs to Him. The Church is His own.

Lately, I’ve meditated on this one sentence, this proclamation and promise our Lord gives: “I will build my Church.” Thus it’s simply not your job or my job at all. That’s a tremendous relief. The pressure we pastors sometimes feel to build His Church in this world is founded on a lovely falsehood. When any Pastor or member of His Church starts to stress out about building His Church, it’s because we’re stealing the Lord’s “will build” verb for ourselves.

Pious hearts host an arrogant and domed-to-fail secret desire: “I will build His Church.” No we won’t. Jesus says so.

Try your hand at it if you must. Go ahead, build something better than the one Jesus is building with His pierced hands out of “living stones,” the very same flesh and blood folks we see here in His Church (1 Peter 2:5). Have you ‘better’ material to build with than all of these Christ gathers up and bought with His blood? Find a better foundation than “On Christ, The Solid Rock” (LSB Hymn #575) to stand?

Gather, then, your own personal Legos or lovely Lincoln Logs–Stack em up! Press them all into place. Your designs for His Church are perhaps grand enough, well intended, even beautiful. Will that Church which you will build stand the test of time? Will it endure the storms? When has our handiwork ever prevailed against the gates of hell?

Dear pastors, all my dear Christian friends–have we not worried and wearied ourselves enough? Shall we keep carrying on with this stolen verb? It is good we should repent and return the building to its rightful owner. We’re not going to get away with robbing “I will build” from the Father’s right hand. “I will build” belongs to the Son of the Living God.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain,” (Psalm 127:1)

Jesus now builds His Church. The thing is, I see stuff really coming together here at Immanuel. Some things for which we’ve prayed, some we hadn’t thought to ask of the Lord. Yet He seems pleased to build and give them all the same. People are gathering together, confessing together, learning our God’s Word together, sharing a common faith and hope, eating and drinking our Lord’s Supper together. Here Jesus builds His Church and breathes the Spirit of Life into our lifeless stone hearts and clay limbs.

“In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this [His] Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers in Christ…This is most certainly true.” (Small Catechism, 3rd Article of the Creed)

Freely He gives that Holy Spirit through God’s appointed means of grace. These are the Master builder’s tools. Receiving them together by His grace and tender invitation, “you yourselves are being built up” (1 Peter 2:5, Col. 2:7). Only then let us try our hands at building up rather than tearing down and scattering like stones. Here are our verbs to take up:

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”. (Romans 15:1-2)

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

And finally, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 1:20-25)

–Pastor Jeffery Warner

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