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What is your greatest reason and need to go to church? And should not having this need met influence your choice of a church to attend?

People go to church for a variety of reasons, and they often choose which church to attend based on those reasons.

  • Some go out of a sense of obligation, and they often choose to go to a church where their parents went to church (and sometimes their grandparents too). It doesn’t matter if the church teaches false doctrine or fails to speak the truth; it’s their church and that’s where they belong.
  • Some go to be entertained, and they often attend where the music and worship forms are similar to those they enjoy in the secular world. They go for the band, the singers and for the emotional experiences.
  • Some go in an attempt to straighten out their lives, and they often choose a church which preaches law and offers self-help remedies.
  • Some go to feel good about themselves, and they often choose a church which no longer preaches the law in all its strictness and, consequently, does not preach the gospel in all its sweetness.

But do you choose a church that meets your needs? Do you choose a church that is faithful to God’s Word, the Bible, and rightly applies that Word to your life?

Our greatest need as sinful human beings is to have God’s mercy and forgiveness, to be restored to fellowship with our Maker, and to have eternal life in harmony and fellowship with God instead of the eternal death and punishment which we rightly earn and deserve on account of our sins.

And where can we have this need met?

Going to a church simply because our parents did, or our grandparents, will not necessarily meet our needs. Going to a church which only entertains and uplifts us emotionally will likely have no lasting effect. Going to a church which preaches only laws and commandments will offer us no comfort and no hope because we cannot measure up to God’s perfect standards. Going to a church which makes us feel good about ourselves won’t help us because the truth of our sinfulness is covered up and there is no assurance of life and salvation.

Rather, we need to go to a church which uncompromisingly proclaims all that the Bible teaches because it is God’s Word to us sinners and the truth even though it may not make us comfortable to hear it. We need to go to a church which uses God’s Word to reveal our sinfulness but then also uses God’s Word to point us to Christ Jesus and the redemption He accomplished for all as the only way to receive forgiveness and life everlasting. We need to go to a church which convicts us of our sinfulness but then comforts us with God’s mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus!

And which church so meets our needs?

When you attend a Lutheran Church which is faithful to God’s Word, you will be confronted with your sins in the opening confession of sins but comforted with the assurance that God forgives all your sins for the sake of Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross. You will hear God’s Word read, explained and applied to you in the Scripture readings and sermon. You will be assured of God’s grace given to you in Your baptism and comforted as you partake of Christ’s body and blood which were sacrificed in your stead for the remission of all your sins. And, you will have ample opportunity to offer up your prayers, praises and thanksgiving before the blessing of the Triune God is spoken over you.

While many may find Lutheran worship “outdated” and less than exciting, it certainly is not. It offers and gives to sinners God’s mercy and forgiveness and life everlasting through faith in Christ Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross. It is a service to meet our greatest needs through Word and Sacrament.

In fact, Jesus commands us to disciple the nations by going out, baptizing in the name of the Triune God and teaching all that He taught and commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). He commands that repentance and remission of sins be preached in His name (Luke 24:46-47). He commands us to forgive the sins of penitent sinners and to retain the sins of the impenitent as long as they do not repent (John 20:23). And He commands us to regularly partake of His body and blood, given and shed for us for the remission of our sins (Matthew 26:26-28). And that is exactly what faithful Lutheran Churches offer in their services.

Where will you go to church to have your needs met?

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“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

The precious truth expressed in this passage of God’s Word was for centuries clouded and hidden from the people. Even today many think that salvation depends upon human works rather than upon the grace and favor of God toward sinful man. But salvation from the eternal torments of hell which we all deserve on account of our sinfulness is by God’s grace alone and through faith alone in Jesus Christ!

We cannot by our own works and lives contribute anything toward our salvation. God is gracious to us sinners and offers to us forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven only because Jesus Christ, His own dear Son in human flesh, lived a sinless life in our stead and then suffered and died upon the cross for our sins, rising again on the third day.

For Christ’s sake, God graciously chose us to be His own and, in time, brought us to trust in Him to forgive our sins and accept us as His own dear children for the sake of the redemption accomplished by His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:3ff.; 2:1ff.). He raised us up from spiritual darkness and death by the Spirit’s working through the Gospel, bringing us to know our sinfulness and to trust in Christ and His blood, shed upon the cross for our sins.

From start to finish, our salvation is of God’s grace; we have nothing of which to boast. Even the works we do as a result of God’s gracious gift of salvation are His working in us for Jesus’ sake. To God be the glory forever and ever!

Dear LORD God, we thank Thee for Thy grace and mercy toward us for Jesus’ sake; and we pray Thee to keep us trusting in Christ alone for our salvation. Grant also that we, as Thy forgiven children, may live our lives for Thee doing those works which Thou hast created us to do. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.” Hebrews 11:11-12 (Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7)

Do you have faith like Sarah? Do you question God’s promises and have doubts but are then moved to believe?

Certainly, Sarah doubted God’s promise at the first and even laughed at the thought. After all, how could she, when she was 90 years old and past her child-bearing years, give birth to a son in her old age? And how could Abraham, 99 years old, have a son by her? But, “is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).

But God’s promise moved her to trust. And, she gave birth to Isaac (which means laughter) when Abraham was 100 years old and she about 90. And, through Isaac, God’s promises were fulfilled to make Abraham’s descendants as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. And through Isaac God fulfilled His promise to make Abraham a blessing to all the people of the world, to send the promised Seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent and undo the work of Satan (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4-5).

Sarah’s faith reminds us of the faith of another woman in another promise – related to this promise but also impossible according to human understanding and natural law – Mary, a virgin, would conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son who would redeem His people Israel from their sins and be the Savior of the world (cf. Luke 1:26ff.; Matthew 1:18ff.).

Mary questioned the angel, saying, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). The angel answered her: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God … For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:35,37). And Mary’s doubts were overcome by faith in God’s promise. She responded: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). And, of course, God fulfilled His promise to send His Son to be our Savior (Luke 2:1ff.).

God also promises to us what is by nature’s laws impossible – redemption by Christ’s death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ Jesus, our resurrection and eternal life in heaven for Jesus’ sake. We question how this can be, but the Holy Spirit uses God’s promises to work in us faith to believe His words to us are true: that Christ died for our sins and rose again on the third day (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4); that God justifies and forgives us sinners, counting us righteous in His sight, when we simply trust in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (cf. Romans 3:21-26; John 3:14-15; 1 John 1:5 – 2:2); that Christ washes away our sins and gives us His Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism (cf. Acts 22:16; Titus 3:4-7; Colossians 2:11-15); that Christ gives to us in His Supper to partake of His body and blood given and shed for us for the remission of all our sins (cf. Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23ff.); that Christ will raise up our bodies from the dust on the Last Day and give to us and all believers eternal life with Him in heaven (cf. Job 19:25-27; Psalm 17:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:51ff.;). “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

O gracious and merciful God, pardon our unbelief when Your promises seem impossible to us, and strengthen our faith to believe Your Word and to live our lives trusting in all that You offer and promise to us in Christ Jesus. Grant this to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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