For those of you who read the Jesus calling devotionals, I have a question for you: Did you realize that Sarah Young the author receives messages from God through a “practice of waiting on God to receive and record his messages?” In essence Ms. Young waits and listens for the voice of God, writes down what she hears Him say, and passes the message along to all of her reading audience as messages that she received personally from Jesus or God. That is the description given to Jesus calling, the blockbuster series by Sarah Young, in the latest catalog for Christianbook.com.
Now Jesus calling is being marketed to children and teenagers. Maybe we ought to look at this phenomenon with a little more discernment.
Preached rightly, the Gospel does not change, but is timeless. 486 years later the Word preached should still apply to us today, otherwise it is not the Gospel of God. Below are some excerpts of a sermon preached by Martin Luther on Christmas Eve 1525. Luther addresses the Gospel hidden in the Christmas story, in the shepherds, the manger, the proclamation of Christ to the World from heaven itself. He notes that Christ must be preached in every proclamation of the Gospel — Christ for YOU and for ME, Christ for SINNERS. Christ must become ours and we His before we can take those steps forward in service to our neighbor to do any good work. And no work is good either if it does not benefit my neighbor. This is still the work of Christ, my work that is. For just as Christ serves me, so I serve my neighbor in the same way Christ does, giving everything in service to my neighbor.
May the peace, love, and joy of the Christmas season be yours, in Christ for YOU!
The Mysteries Hidden in the Gospel of Christmas Eve, Luke 2:1-14 Excerpts from the 1525 Christmas Eve Sermon of Martin Luther
Faith – What is to be Believed Christ For YOU The first matter is the faith which is truly to be perceived in all the words of God. This faith does not merely consist in believing that this story is true, as it is written. For that does not avail anything, because everyone, even the damned, believe that. Concerning faith, Scripture and God’s word do not teach that it is a natural work, without grace. Rather the faith that is the right one, rich in grace, demanded by God’s word and deed, is that you firmly believe Christ is born for you and that his birth is yours, and come to pass for your benefit. For the Gospel teaches that Christ was born for our sake and that he did everything and suffered all things for our sake, just as the angel says here: “I announce to you a great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord” [Luke 2:10–11]. From these words you see clearly that he was born for us.
He does not simply say: “Christ is born,” but: “for you is he born.” Again, he does not say: “I announce a joy,” but: “to you do I announce a great joy.” Again, this joy will not remain in Christ, but is for all people. A damned or a wicked man does not have this faith, nor can he have it. For the right foundation of all salvation which unites Christ and the believing heart in this manner is that everything they have individually becomes something they hold in common. What is it that they have?
But if one proceeds from God and not from man, not from human religion, nor even from the Christian religion, but from the Gospel, as do the Reformation confessions, it is possible to understand the church. If one has understood what faith in the Evangelical sense is, worked by the Holy Spirit himself, and never “by my own reason or strength” [SC, Creed, 6]; that the Holy Spirit creates faith in the Word of God; and that this is quite different from all human religions within the bounds of pure and practical reason, then it is possible to understand the church as the Reformation understood it. This church is not built by us. It is created by God himself. And this is so as surely as God is God, as surely as Jesus Christ is Lord, as surely as God’s Word is the Word of the Creator and Consummator, the Judge and Redeemer, the greatest power on earth.
The concept of the church of Luther and Lutheranism originates from faith in this Word. In this definition of the church, man, as individual or Volk, can never have a founding or co-founding role. He is passive. One does not decide to join the church; he is rather called to the church. We do not build the church (“Arise! Let us build Zion!”); we are only the stones used to build it, or at most the tools used to build it. The church of the Word is the chur of the sola gratia [“by grace alone”]. It is the true catholic church because it alone is the curhc of God, not a Roman or German church, not Reich or national church, not Volks-church or free will church, or whatever other adjectives we place beside it. These adjectives finally have no other intent…. than to smuggle man back into the definition of church. All these names serve finally only to deny the unity, holiness, and catholicity of the church.
— Herman Sasse, “1933, The Lutheran Confessions and the Volk,”The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters, Vol. 1, tr. Matt Harrison, Kindle Edition, Loc. 2937-2953, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO 2010)