With the World War, which ended with the Armistice, declared November 11th, 1918, a new way of thinking, living and being was ushered in. Possibly no one would venture to say that the world or any nation has prospered or was made better because of the war. War does not only bring blood-shed and destruction with it, but in its wake always follow dangerous tendencies discarding old time-honored truths and principles and venturing upon new, untried and unsound ways. This is true not only as regards social, political, and economic affairs, but also with regard to spiritual values. It has a tendency to change the entire philosophy of the life of man, disturbing or even disrupting the attitude of man to almighty God who was revealed to the world in Jesus Christ.
War is a scourge. In warfare, God uses one people as a scourge upon another. The ten tribes of Israel were delivered into the hands of the mighty Assyrians, because they turned away from the Lord their God and would not hearken to His word and command. II Kings, 17. “The king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.” V. 5. Because of their persistence in disobedience, “the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight.” V. 20. Later the rod of chastisement also fell upon Judah, because they also provoked the Lord to anger by their disobedience to His word and command. “Because Manasseh, King of Judah, hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin, with his idols: therefore, saith the Lord, God of Israel, Behold I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem, and Judah, that whosoever heareth it, both his ears shall tingle.” II Kings 21, 11, 12. Judah and Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Babylonians.
The Lord who reigned supreme over Jew and Gentile in the time of the Old Testament rules with the same mighty hand over nations and peoples also in our day. It is difficult for mortals to see God’s wisdom as well as His justice and righteousness in bloody wars. We know, however, that also such terrible acts of man must ultimately, in the hands of, the Almighty God, serve to the glory of His holy name and to the salvation of blood-bought souls. “All things work together for good to them that love God.” Rom. 8:28.
Without a doubt, the last World War opened up new opportunities for God’s church on earth. How has the church made use of such opportunities? Instead of going out with the ever-victorious Gospel of the crucified, risen, and glorified Lord, it seems that the church, generally speaking, has gone out to a sin-cursed and war-torn world, preaching a strange Gospel for the social betterment of man. A spirit of externalism has thus been fostered within the church, which brings honor to the achievements of man and confidence in the strength of man instead of making Christ and His salvation all in all.
In our day a bloody conflict is again raging involving many nations. Where will it end? How many nations will be drawn into it before it ends? What changes will it bring about after it closes? How will it affect the minds of men, and how will it affect the spiritual being of man?
In order to guard ourselves against impending dangers, threatening our personal spiritual well-being as well as that of the church, we do well in establishing ourselves in the old ways, and see and ask for the old paths, where rest has been promised for the soul. Jer. 6:16. God sends times of special stress and trouble, in order to bring His own children nearer to Himself. Let it not be forgotten, however, that such times are full of deceptions and temptations. War and post-war periods bring dangers. in abundance. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him (the Lord) and he shall direct thy paths.” Prov. 3:6.
The Holy Scripture, which is the Word of God, is the only sure and perfect rule for our faith and life. That Word cannot err. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Ps. 119:105. “The Holy Scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation, thru faith, which is in Christ Jesus.” II Tim. 3 :15. The WORD OF GOD is our first line of defense against all error and in all danger. It alone speaks with divine authority. It is in no way dependent on the sayings of the fathers or on confessions. Before its searching test, our confessions which are only a second line of defense must stand or fall.
In our Little Catechism as well as in the other confessions of our Lutheran Church, we have a summary of Christian doctrines taken from the Holy Scriptures. These confessions have stood the test for over four centuries. They have been assailed by opponents of Lutheranism from within the Lutheran Church as well as from without. Melanchtons from within and Romanists from without have made their vicious onslaughts from time to time through the centuries. Truth, however, does not change with the times. If our confessions were a true summary of truth in the time of Luther and immediately after Luther’s time, they remain so today and will remain so unto the end of days. There are so-called Lutherans today who hold that our confessions which were written over four hundred years ago are not altogether applicable to our day and age. And some there are who read their own peculiar perversions of the truth into the confessions instead of letting the confessions speak for. themselves. Nevertheless, the confessions stand to this day as a test of sound and conservative Lutheranism. Because we are earnest in our adherence to the Lutheran confessions, we also believe that they will be of inestimable value. for us in carrying us through times of special danger and stress. Since they are a true presentation of revealed truth, they will serve to strengthen us and to establish us in that truth. They will help us in holding the right attitude to God, to His church. to the home, as well as to civil government. They will help to bring us away from the “it-seems-to-me” theology, to a firm basis for our Christian faith. A true Lutheran Christian will insist on a pure word and on unadulterated sacraments. Our confessions will help one to distinguish the pure from the adulterated. The Book of Concord has its rightful place in every Lutheran home. Let it be read, reread, and studied, together with sound devotional books and literature, our church organs, and in connection with the instruction of our youth.
In conclusion, let us ever be mindful of the fact that our Lutheran Confessions are at best only a second line of defense. More than ever, we need to hearken to the exhortations of the Holy Spirit through the INSPIRED WORD OF GOD. Devotional literature and confessions of the church must not and cannot replace the inspired word. “Let the WORD OF CHRIST dwell in you richly.” Col. 3:16. Let every home have its family altar from which this INSPIRED WORD is read. More than ever we need to be attentive to the public use of the WORD AND THE SACRAMENTS, giving heed to the Voice of the Spirit, Heb. 10:25.
“Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” More than ever we need to give heed to the voice of the Spirit through the WORD, in the training of children, and the young. “Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephes. 6:4 “Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Math. 28:20.