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Dear Friend in the Savior-King:

For me one of the most inspiring, encouraging, and strength-giving passages of Scripture is John’s vision of heaven in Revelation 7: 9-17, which was the First Reading for All Saints Sunday. There are five elements in John’s depiction of the Church as having survived – as having “come out of the great ordeal” (verse 14). In the words of the beloved hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” these elements give “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

1. A gathered throng
John writes in verse 9, “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” They are “robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.” We all are concerned about aging and diminishing congregations. We are all alarmed over the pastoral shortage crisis. But here John describes the church not just as having survived, but as celebrating.

2. An occupied throne
Verse 9 – That multi-racial, multi-ethnic church is “standing before the throne.” They have not been deserted. They are not spiritually orphaned. Rather the God who is with them at the end has also been with them all the way through.

3. A slain lamb
Also in verse 9 – The church is “standing before the Lamb.” The contemporary Christian group Casting Crowns has a song entitled “Scars in Heaven.” It is about a loved one who has died after going through many painful experiences in life. Some of the words are as follows –
“I know you’re in a place where all your wounds have been erased,
And knowing yours are healed is healing mine. . . .
The only scars in heaven are on the hands that hold you now.”
The church is standing before the Lamb, who bore all our pain, died for our sins, is with us through all our suffering, and who overcame what frightens and threatens us the most.

4. Worshipping angels
Verse 11 – “And all the angels stood around the throne . . . they fell on their faces . . . and worshiped God.” The angels have seen it all – the rebellion of Satan, the fall of the human race, the rejection of the prophets, the death of Jesus, the suffering of the church. They have seen it all, and now they see how it will end. So, in the words of verse 15, “They are before the throne of God and worship him day and night.”

5. Springs of living water
Verses 16-17 – “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” We all need relief from the things that strike us down. We all need the refreshment of living water and someone to wipe away our tears.

Yes, knowing how it will end – knowing the outcome – gives us strength and courage in the meantime.

But for me it is so sad when I see, hear, and read of so many pastors and congregations who do not give God’s people “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” Rather they merely lay on the people the heavy burdens of what they need to do – whether it be more and more deeds of compassion or relentless demands to become more involved in the latest issues of social justice activism.

Everything is at stake. We will continue to keep you posted on the work of the ELCA’s Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church. As we have written in previous communications, because we know the makeup of the Commission, we can be certain of the outcome of their work – social justice activism as the prime purpose and mission of the church, LGBTQ+ ideology, and diversity, equity, and inclusion as the primary value system of the new church. On the day I am writing this letter I saw the first posting regarding follow up to another action taken by the ELCA’s 2022 Churchwide Assembly – reviewing the 2009 human sexuality social statement. The ELCA is now in the process of forming the task force that will reconsider the whole issue of bound conscience – which is ELCA language for eliminating the provision by which traditional views have a place of dignity and respect within the church. Again we will keep you posted on what will certainly lead to a massive breach of trust and the ELCA’s saying to those with traditional Biblical views, “You are not welcome here.” We will also keep you posted when the list of keynote speakers for the 2024 ELCA Youth Gathering becomes available.

During 2024 we will continue our work of providing such things as –

  • Warnings regarding ways in which the historic Christian faith is being rejected by and within the Church
  • Resources such as suggested prayers of the church, daily devotionals, and weekly lectionary based Bible studies
  • A support group for young adults, including seminarians
  • Support for the NEXUS program at Grand View University (Bible study, theological reflection, and vocational discernment for high schoolers); cross-generational, inter-denominational mission trips; and our Spanish-language/bi-lingual ministries Encuentro
  • Video reviews of books of interest and importance and videos on topics related to Biblical studies, Lutheran theology, ministry, and the Christian life

Please select a button below to designate a year-end gift towards our regular operating expenses as we work to be a Voice for Biblical Truth and a Network for Confessing Lutherans. Please also let us know how we can be praying for you. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel, especially at this critical time when everything is at stake.

In Christ,

Dennis D. Nelson
Executive Director of Lutheran CORE

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