Archive for July 6th, 2012

Isaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament prophet. His name means “Yahweh [the Lord] saves.” Isaiah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah from about 740 B.C. to 700 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah.

Isaiah was a fierce preacher of God’s Law, condemning the sin of idolatry. He was also a comforting proclaimer of the Gospel, repeatedly emphasizing the Lord’s grace and forgiveness. For this he is sometimes called the “Evangelist of the Old Testament.” No prophet more clearly prophesied about the coming Messiah and his saving kingdom. He foretold the Messiah’s miraculous birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), his endless reign (2:1-5; 11:1-16), and his public ministry (61:1-3), but most notably his “Suffering Servant” role and atoning death (52:13-53:12).

The apostle John’s description of Isaiah, that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of Him (John 12:41), is an apt summary of Isaiah’s prophetic ministry.

Reflection:  The fact that Isaiah’s name means “The Lord saves”, Isaiah knew that Isaiah did not save but need His saving! Isaiah knew the day would come in which both Jew and Gentile would be saved in the perfect Son born of the Virgin. From Isaiah chapter 6:  The Narrative of Isaiah’s Call:

 1In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said:

    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

 4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

 6Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

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My wife once asked me when the unpleasant topic of “church shopping” came up, “What would you look for in a congregation?”  I answered a church that would make uncomfortable…so we can cling all the more to Jesus Christ as forgiven sinners.  IN other words, where Law and Promise are clearly taught and preached.  This is why I like this C. S. Lewis Quote–Pr. Schroeder

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This reflection on evangelization is for everyone! Check out the Lutheran Hispanic Missionary Institute.

“I See Dead People” 

Are lost people really lost?

In the movie The Sixth Sense, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist played by Bruce Willis, works with an eight-year-old patient called Cole Sear, played by Haley Joel Osment. While it is not my purpose here to ruin the movie for you if you’ve not seen it, the character Cole Sear has the ability to see dead people walking around just like regular people. The line he uses with Dr. Crowe to inform him of this ability has become something of a classic, “I see dead people”.

While I was attending seminary, I had a missiology professor who gave an interesting writing assignment. It was simply this, “Are lost people really lost”. While I had to do a lot of research for the paper, and read a lot of Scripture, I affirmed the position I started with, yes, they are. If a person has not received grace, through Christ, then they are lost. Or another way of saying it might be that they’re walking around dead.

I recently asked the same question to a group of Christians and got mostly the same answer. However, there were a few that just could not accept the concept of hell and there were a number who believe there were many ways to get to heaven. Virtually all of them were willing to extend undeserved credit to the “good” people, while extending no mercy at all to “bad” people. In other words, they saw very few, if any, dead people.

If there is any consistent trend that I have noticed over the 30+ years of my ministry, it is that the longer people are Christians, and the longer churches exist, the less likely it is that they will have strong connections with the unchurched community around them. They simply stop seeing dead people. Before you quickly disagree with me, take a moment and list all of the people you know. Now, indicate which ones you know to be Christians and which ones you know who are not. How many are on the second list? Any at all?

This summer I have attended five district conventions for the LCMS. During one of the conventions I heard a report that the district had experienced one adult baptism for every 30 churches in the district. Of course, this does not include the children, but can it be said that these churches are seeing the dead people in their community?

New Christians win people to Christ faster than older Christians. New churches win people to Christ faster than older churches. These two truths underscore the need for adult baptisms and new church planting. And they should also send the message to older Christians and older churches that they need a strong renewal of their vision. Each Christian needs to be able to say, “I see dead people”, and of course, to want to bring them once again to the land of the living. If we truly have the heart of Christ, then we should weep when he wept.

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