Last Sunday, I attended the Missouri Synod Lutheran church, one of its Sunday school classes, and the “Word of Faith” church.
A. I have been attending the Wednesday adult Bible study at the Missouri Synod Lutheran church, in which we go through the coming Sunday’s Scripture readings. As we read the Scripture readings last Sunday, what the pastor said last Wednesday made more sense to me. The pastor said that the priests and Sadducees opposed Peter and John’s preaching because Peter and John proclaimed that Jesus rose from the dead, and the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. Sure enough, Acts 4:1-2 says that the priests, captain of the Temple, and Sadducees were “grieved that [Peter and John] taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (KJV). I John 3:16 states: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (KJV). The pastor said that we lay down our lives for the brethren when we give our possessions and our words to people in the body of Christ. Sure enough, the following verse talks about giving to one’s brother in need when one has the world’s goods. The pastor differentiated between intellectually knowing and knowing intimately, and he stated that Jesus knows his sheep intimately. Sure enough, John 10:15 affirms that Jesus knows the Father and the Father knows Jesus, and this probably does not mean that each is aware of who the other is, but that they intimately know each other.
B. A theme running across the services was God’s love. The Missouri Synod pastor told the story of how he feared being forgotten by his parents when he was a child, and, similarly, we wonder if anyone cares about us. He said that God cares for us, even when we are unlovable. The children’s part of the service contrasted a bad shepherd, who does not care about the sheep, with a good shepherd, who tenderly cares for the sheep and fights to protect them when they are in danger. The Sunday School class watched another Rob Bell video. This one was criticizing bullhorn street evangelists, who pass out tracts and preach hellfire and damnation on the street. The message that came out, on the video and in discussion, was that we should love others, whether they accept our message or not, for God loves everybody, including the bullhorn evangelists. The “Word of Faith” service was continuing through Ephesians. The pastor set up a visual aid, in which God declares a Christian to be “Son,” principalities call the Christian “dumb,” and Jesus is covered up in the process. According to the pastor, the principalities are indeed strongholds: they encourage oppression, berate people, try to convince people that personal rights are absolute (i.e., in the case of abortion), accuse people when they make mistakes, or encourage unforgiveness. Jesus is covered up through this. When a Christian accepts his identity as a child of God, Jesus is revealed. The pastor said that we can gain a fuller comprehension of God’s love with other believers, for Ephesians 3:18 talks about comprehending with all the saints the height and depth of God’s love.
C. There were interesting side-issues. The “Word of Faith” pastor said that faith can affect the chemicals and molecules in our body and lead to healing, and even have an affect on such things as seeds, helping them to be productive. I do not know if this is true. I doubt that faith always leads to healing, but I do agree that having a positive attitude can be healthy, whereas bitterness, stress, and loneliness can lead to poorer physical health.
What particularly interests me about the Sunday School class is when people talk about their denomination: what they like, what they dislike, and why they stick with it.