Dear Brethren in Christ! The Triune God grant you grace and peace for time and eternity! Amen.
We are assembled on historic ground for the Twentieth Annual Convention of the reorganized Norwegian Synod. In 1853, the same year that the Old Norwegian Synod was organized, the Rev. H.A. Preus began conducting Lutheran services in Madison. Here we had our first Theological Seminary, from 1876 to 1888. Here our pioneer fathers did “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” Jude 3. When a majority of the Madison congregation left the old moorings and withdrew from the Norwegian Synod, those who wanted to continue in the old paths organized Our Savior’s Congregation in 1887, and by the grace of God this congregation has recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. We praise and thank God that He has preserved for us His pure Word and sacraments and given us the peace of God that passeth all understanding.
Christ, our Lord, said unto His disciples in the night before He was crucified: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” II Cor. 5: 19. Christ is our peace, because He has reconciled us to God. Through Him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father, and we are the temples of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. This eternal peace, which was brought about by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, is made ours when the Spirit of God brings us to faith in the grace and mercy of God in Christ. Then there is peace and joy in the Lord, even though the world be full of trouble and unrest; and we need not be troubled in our hearts nor fear anything, for the Lord God almighty rules and governs all things for the good of those who love Him.
We need to be reminded of this peace and trust in the Lord, because of the ever increasing haste and unrest in the world and a seeking after something new and exciting, to the mind and flesh, instead of continuing in faith and trust in the eternal councils of God. The prophet Isaiah 30:15 speaks words of eternal wisdom when he says: “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” There were in the days of Isaiah also leaders who followed their own reason instead of God’s revelation, making covenants with the heathen, seeking their protection, and trusting in their riches and power instead of in the word and promises of the almighty and merciful God. But the Lord put them to shame and destroyed the prophets and their followers that speak not the truth but speak. smooth things (flatteries) and prophesy deceits. Therefore by turning back to the Lord in true repentance and trusting in Him alone shall they be saved. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” This is the secret of the power possessed by all believers. Our peace and joy and strength will be found in the Lord and His Word and not in the association of men and the pomp and riches of the world.
This does not mean, however, that we should be inactive and expect the Lord to fight our battles without us. No, He is our Lord, our commander-in-chief, and we must fight the good fight of faith in love to the glory of God and the spreading of His kingdom. The apostle Paul writes to the Galatians, 4:18: “It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing.” We must bring forth the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of faith and show our faith by our good works. For though we are saved by grace alone and not at all by works, nevertheless; “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Eph. 2:10.
We are often tempted to despair because of the work, the expense, and the opposition encountered in the work of the Church. But, my friends, the Lord has called us and sent us to carry out His orders, and promised to be with us and carry us through to victory, even though we must die in battle. Let us ever remember that to be a co-worker with Christ is the greatest privilege and the greatest blessing, and the more we do, the more will the Lord of the harvest give us to do. The fields are white for the harvest, the opportunities are unlimited. We cannot, therefore, do too much. We need men and money, but above all we need faith and love, because without faith it is impossible to please God.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Amen.