Archive for July 12th, 2014

I recommend the following short bio of Bp. Giertz here at Aardvark Alley. I think July 12th should be recognized  as the Commemoration of Pastor Giertz, Pastor and Theologian.

Bp. Giertz was a bishop and a theologian and a writer and in particular a novelist. He was a thorough-going Lutheran Confessional Pastor. He stood up for the orthodox Confessional and true doctrine and faith as his church in Sweden was abandoning it.  

One of his most read novels is The Hammer of God.  The novel is actually three novellas about a parish in Sweden covering three  time periods in the 19th and 20th centuries.  FWIW:  The Hammer of God is probably my most dog-eared novel.  It truly is a narrative telling of  God’s Law and Promise and God’s promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ by grace alone for sinners alone…from day 1, from birth.  In the revivalism of the time, many Lutheran pastors were saying that infants could not be baptized and so believe.  Pastors Ahlberg and Fridfelt have the following discussion:

“But children cannot believe,” said Ahlberg, whose eagerness was increasing. The others listened in complete silence. “‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ Thus faith is necessary for baptism.”

“No, not for baptism, but for salvation. Jesus does not in that passage say what is necessary in order to be baptized, but what is necessary in order to be saved. Faith and baptism are two that belong together. Don’t you see, Ahlberg, how dreadful it would be if children could not believe? In that case they could not be saved, either.”

Fridfeldt was himself startled by this thought, which just now came to him. Was this just juggling with words? But then he remembered Frans, the dying old man, and his grandchild, and he felt that there was a deep and edifying connection.

“It may very well be that we have drawn wrong conclusions regarding faith,” he continued. “Faith does not dwell in our brain or in our thoughts. Faith is not a work which we accomplish; it is not a gift that we give to God. Being made righteous by faith does not imply that faith is some kind of payment that will serve as well as our almsgiving and good works. Is it not written that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit? Faith is, then, a poverty of spirit, a hunger and thirst, a poor, empty heart opening toward God so that He can put His grace into it. When God bestows His grace upon us, we are born anew and become partakers of the new life.”

O Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that, as You raised up Bo Harald Giertz to lead Swedish Lutherans into a renewed appreciation of their confessional heritage and trust in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as You spoke to the entire Church through his writings, so You would continue to provide faithful pastors and leaders, keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, defend us against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on Christ’s Church Militant Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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“Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” Judges 7: 20

Today’s Old Testament reading is Judges 7, the Narrative of Gideon and his 300 soldiers against a numerical and militarily superior Midianites.   It is a great read. 300 soldiers against an overwhelming force is the other true story of the 300 Spartans who held off a superior Persian Army at the Battle of Thermopylae.  This story has been made popular in the movie, 300.  But Gideon and his three hundred won with out initially drawing their swords. In fact, note that the LORD on purpose whittled down Gideon’s men to 300!

One of the prophecies of the coming of the Christ is Isaiah 9: 1-7, “For unto us a child is born” and in verse 4 it is written:

For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.

The reference, “the day of Midian” is to Judges chapter 7.  In Isaiah 9: 2 is verse that  the people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.  The great light, as in the light shining in the darkness from the torches of Gideon and the 300 in the clay jars, broken open, shining upon the Midianites setting them into confusion and disarray, thus saving Israel, as with light of Christ, the Word made flesh, the great light, shining in the darkness.  Professor and Pastor Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) preached it well:

“(The) rescue from the Law, says Isaiah, is prototyped through the very slaughter which Prince Gideon executed over the Midianites, mightily defeating them in Judges 7; for there it is recorded that Gideon did not achieve victory over the Midianites by the power of a mighty army, but through a marvelous and (to reason) a ridiculous manner. He took three hundred men, divided them into three groups, and gave into the hand of each one a trumpet and an empty jug and a torch. As they arrived at the place of the army, he commanded them that they should blow the trumpet and break to pieces the jugs in their hand. In this manner the Midianite army was chased into flight, and the Lord created a situation such that each sword in the entire army was in opposition to the other.

Now just as Gideon overcame his enemies at that time, not with great outward might, but rather through a common invisible manner, so also this Child and this Son, born for us, as Isaiah says, did not utilize outward pomp and power to rescue His people from their enemies. Rather, He began it foolishly, allowing Himself to be nailed to the cross, to the point where His vigor and strength were dried up like a shattered potsherd (Psa. 22:16). Thereafter He let His divine brightness [glory] and might shine forth with His resurrection and commanded that the trumpet of His Word be [sounded] in all the world.

The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child and wife,
Let these all be gone,
They yet have nothing won;
The Kingdom our remaineth. (A Mighty Fortress is Our God, by Martin Luther, TLH #262)

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