Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The theme of our readings for today is clear. There are those who preach in the name of God, who speak in the name of God, but are not sent by God. This was true in the time of Jeremiah, in the time of our Lord and today as well. Our Lord says: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you dressed as sheep, but inside are rapacious wolves." They are not only wring, but it is dangerous for us to listen to them.
How do we recognize false teachers? By their fruits, not by their appearance. The fruits come out of their mouths. Those who preach the Word of God in their purity are true preachers, those who deny some part are not faithful preachers. False teachers preach what people want to hear. As in the free market, when there is a demand for anything, someone will meet the demand. But the preaching of the Word of God is not like that. We must preach what God wants to say to the people, not what they want to hear. Where do we find the Word of God? As the banner on the wall of our church says, "Scripture alone."
Maybe someone preaches the truths of Scripture mixed with false doctrine. However, we must seek pure doctrine, not a mixture of truth and error. And we should not be fooled by appearances.
I am dressed in this robe because for us it is the uniform of ministers called and ordained by the church and by Christ. The liturgical dress emphasizes our identity with the ancient church and the church of the centuries. It's like the uniforms of the police or the military. They are authorized to use the weapons in the name of the people, to protect the people from the evildoers. This uniform means that I am authorized to preach the Word of God, and only the Word, not my own opinions.
In our Lutheran churches, no one can preach or administer the sacraments without a regular call, rite vocatus in Latin. Which means, no one can say I'm authorized to preach by a feeling in my heart, or a dream in the night. To pass the rite of ordination, a man must be trained and approved in his ministry by the church, according to the requirements found in Titus 1: 6-9.
"Whoever is irreproachable, husband of a wife, who has faithful children, who are not accused of dissolution, or rebellion. Because it is necessary that the bishop be blameless, as administrator of God; not arrogant, not angry, not given to wine, not quarrelsome, not greedy of dishonest gain; but hospitable, lover of the good, sober, just, holy, temperate; Retain the faithful word as it has been taught, so that he may also exhort with sound doctrine, and convince those who contradict. "
These requirements do not indicate that the preacher has a spiritual state superior to others, but has the basic character to be faithful in his ministry.
So then, the liturgical dress covers the man. His authority does not come from his own knowledge or wisdom, but from the Word of God and the approval of the church. The liturgical dress allows the laity to recognize a duly called minister, also serves to remind the minister that he does not preach of his own authority.
But someone can wear a uniform as a disguise, whether the uniform of the government or the church. The devil is everywhere, to speak to the heart and can corrupt the heart of a minister of the church. Therefore, even the best appearance is not the best guide. What is absolutely certain is what comes out of the mouth, whether it is the Word of God or not.
So, it is important for everyone to study the Bible, like the people in Berea (Acts 17: 10-13). "They received the word with all readiness, scrutinizing the scriptures every day to see if these things were so." The basic doctrine of the church is simple, we find it in the Small Catechism, written for children. However, the study of the Bible deepens our understanding of the faith and prepares us to recognize the false doctrine.
And the focus of the preaching is to call everyone to the recognition and repentance of their sins and forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ. In that we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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