Understanding the Truth

Lutheran Education?
I spent 9 years of education attending Lutheran grade schools. Even though my family moved two different times during my grade school education, my parents always found a faithful Lutheran school where I could continue my education. After I graduated at the end of 8th grade, I spent the next 4 years at a Lutheran high school. After getting my high school degree, I went on to begin my college education at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

(Photo credit: Micah Jahns)

I have my parents to thank for my education grounded in God’s Work and Truth. Not everyone has the privilege of sending their children to private school, even if they value the importance of God’s Word in their children’s lives. It is an expensive route to go, and public schools are so readily available to those who can’t afford the financial burden that comes with private schooling. There is nothing wrong with having your children attend public school. In fact, it places the obligation on the parents to make sure they instruct their children in God’s Word. When parents engage in the teaching of Christianity to their children, it becomes the core of the family’s relationship. When parents send their children to a Lutheran school, they’re tempted to think that the teachers will guide them through God’s Word, and that they no longer carry that responsibility. This really couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the most important task in the vocation of parenthood is to teach one’s children the truths of Scripture.

How Lutheran Education Shaped my Faith
When you spend 13 years of your life around a Lutheran culture that centers its instruction on Scripture and the Catechism, you’re bound to have a very distinct worldview. Not every Christian is a Lutheran, contrary to what I knew and thought about Christianity in my early grade school days. Learning about Jesus and the importance of His death on the cross was the central doctrine of my education in Theology (or “Religion Class” as many teachers called it.) By the time I had started high school, I began to be exposed to some of the distinctions between Lutheranism and American Christianity in general. They were substantial differences. I had always assumed that what I learned about Christianity in my youth was more or less the same thing taught across the spectrum of denominations. This isn’t meant to criticize my teachers for not going over every single denomination and distinction found in Christian churches. That definitely would have confused me, and it was important that my teachers laid out the sound doctrine found in the Scriptures.

Needless to say, I became interested in the differences in doctrine between different divisions of Christianity. I had learned some things in my Catechism class, like the Papacy’s abuse of power before and during the Reformation, and the differences between transubstantiation and the sacramental union that Lutherans confess. However, I think the limitations of my young mind and lax attitude toward my faith prevented me from really thinking deeply about the implications of some of these differences. As I got older and did more research, I was astonished to find that some Christians did not believe in baptismal regeneration. I was surprised that many evangelical churches did not believe that the Lord’s Supper was a means of grace. I realized that many churches believed that one must accept Christ, instead of the Holy Spirit calling one to faith.

The Beauty of the Gospel
The point I’m trying to make here is that I took it all for granted. I had never realized just how beautiful and comforting baptism is. I did not fully understand the depth of love shown by God in imputed righteousness. All of these other churches, to some extent, placed part of the burden on the Christian, instead of Christ bearing the burden for us. Once I saw these differences in doctrine, which were far removed from what I had learned in school, I felt like it finally made sense. It’s not that it didn’t make sense to me before then, but rather that I felt like it finally clicked. I find it interesting that learning doctrinal errors led me to better understand the Truth. The beauty of the pure Gospel motivated me to learn even more about the deep mysteries of God. Theology became one of my main interests. I started buying books on apologetics, the creeds, and the Lutheran Confessions.

I realize that not every Christian will want to invest all of their time in studying theology, and that is perfectly fine. However, one should always seek to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) I would encourage every Christian to learn more about the history of the Faith. It leads to a greater appreciation and reverence for Christ and the Gospel.

My education experience in Lutheran schools gave me a firm foundation and understanding of Christianity. It taught me that I was a child of God. I am indebted to all of the teachers who guided and instructed me in my faith. I am grateful towards my parents for making it possible. Most of all, I must thank God for his gracious blessing of education. I pray that everyone would realize just how precious and beautiful the Gospel really is.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

-John 1:14 (ESV)

Reflections – Psalm 22:1

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”

Psalm 22:1 ESV

These words, originally penned by David, were a cry of despair and desperation toward God. Jesus echoed these words as He hung on the cross, bearing the guilt and sin of the entire world. God forsook him so that we would never be forsaken. Hell is the eternal separation of one’s soul from the presence of God. Christ endured that separation in our place.

Matthew 27:46, where Jesus repeats this cry of despair, is one of the most powerful and striking verses in the Bible, illustrating the sheer agony, pain, and despair that Christ suffered in our place. It is a completely unfathomable and alien notion that the eternal God Himself would suffer in our place. But that is all the more reason to thank God for this priceless gift of justification. God gives us His grace freely, not on account of our own merit. Grace is given freely to us, but was purchased for us through the most precious means imaginable: the blood of Jesus Christ, full God and full man, in our place.

When we face trials, temptations, and the pains of a sinful world, we can be tempted to feel as if God has forsaken us. But He has not forsaken us, nor will He ever forsake us. What proof do we have of this faithfulness? We point to the cross of Christ, saying, “There was the wrath of God outpoured. There was the punishment of God endured for us. There was and is the realization of our salvation. Because of this, God will not forsake us.”

When we feel as if God is distant, as if He has forgotten of us, we remember that His kingdom is not of this world. We remember how He claimed us through our baptism. Our fellowship with God does not waver with how we feel about Him. It does not shift along with the doubts we may have about His promises. It depends on Christ. And because it depends on Christ, we look to cross, where once and for all He proclaimed: “It is finished.