Rev. Dr. Walter A. Maier II 1925-2019

The name Walter Maier is not unfamiliar to our listeners. The life of the first Dr. Maier was profiled on the podcast and Dr. Maier III has been a guest. In between these two men stood another great man of God, with zeal for truth, and fire in his bones, Walter Maier II.

WAM II, as he was affectionately known, was a fixture in the classrooms of Concordia Theological Seminary for decades. Especially edified were those privileged to hear him teach about Paul’s epistles. Dr. Maier was known for his kindness, patience, and graciousness to all. We thank the Lord for raising up such a man, that men might know the Gospel.

He now joins his father, WAM I, in the Church Triumphant, where they ever behold the face of the Lord. His testimony continues in the faith handed down to his children and grandchildren and in the Word of the God he preached in truth and power, which never returns void.

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Revelation 14:13

A Christian Meditation for the New Year

Another year has come and gone.  Each of us is one year closer to eternity:  “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).  Do not mourn that you are closer to death, but instead thank God that you are now that much closer to eternal life.

A generation comes and goes, but the earth remains.  Though all streams flow into the sea, the sea is not full.  The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  Though we toil on this earth, we can take nothing with us into the next life.  Though we may indulge in the comforts and pleasures of this life, we will never be satisfied (Ecclesiastes 1:1-18).  The wise man and the fool, the rich and the poor, the king and the servant all will die (Ecclesiastes 2:1-17). 

As one year passes and another begins, let us remember that we are dust (Genesis 3:19).  Let us remember that at any moment we could be called away from this life.  Who of us knows if he will make it to the end of this year?  Be not like the rich fool who basked in his earthly blessings only to lose his life that very night (Luke 12:13-21).  God forbid that any of us should be found without the oil of faith when we awake from death at our Lord’s return (Matthew 25:1-13).  

Where your treasure is, there your heart is also (Matthew 6:21).  What are the greatest objects of your heart’s desire?  God and his word?  Free salvation through Jesus’ death?  

What is worth more than God?  What on this earth is worth more than hearing His word?  What is a better use of your time than coming to church regularly?  Everything in this world fades, rots, fails, falls apart, does not satisfy you, does not save you, does not last forever.  

Therefore, dear Christian, examine your heart.  Examine your time commitments.  Examine your loves.  This world is passing away.  Do not pass away along with it.  Do not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2).  

Redeem the time, which passes so quickly.  Redeem it by using it to hear God’s word.  Fill your flasks with oil while there is still time (Matthew 25:8-10).  Come to church.  Come regularly.  Meditate on God’s word throughout the week and throughout your life. 

The word of God preserves you for eternal life.  Faith comes from hearing the word.  Faith in Christ’s death saves you from the eternity in Hell you deserve for sinning against God.

Christ has risen from the dead.  He has loosened the chains of the grave.  He has broken through, and risen above, the cycles of meaninglessness and death in Ecclesiastes.  He has opened eternity to all who believe in His life, death, and resurrection.  Into the toil, sadness, and vanity of this earthly life Jesus breathes joy and hope.  Joy because of reconciliation with God.  Joy because of His presence.  Joy due to humble, fearful, grateful faith.  And hope because of God’s promise that he will raise all who believe in Jesus to everlasting life.

The Work of an Evangelist: The Need

It was a truth universally acknowledged that a parish pastor in a free church should “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). Providentially guided to flourishing in America, the early Missouri Synod was ardent in spreading the gospel and planting new congregations. A synod that began with a dozen congregations and scarcely fewer clergymen reached its fiftieth anniversary with many, many times that number of churches and ministers. Without the in-depth demographic research and financial backing that is our contemporary good fortune, they spread the kingdom of God the Lord widely and deeply. They had been freed from the unbelieving strictures of the state church. They were now free to preach the Word in season and out of season.

We cannot recall their fervency without a mixture of confusion and of shame, confusion due to the sea-change in our common life and shame due to our lukewarm efforts by comparison to our fathers who were threadbare in the things of this life and rich in the things of the life to come. Everywhere we look, congregations are struggling mightily, and pastors are drowned in busyness, when they do have the means to be supported by the church. When they do not, the church’s work suffers so that the minister can put some food on his family’s table. Everywhere we look, we hear that the Faith is receding from our shores and going elsewhere, that the “passing shower of the gospel” has passed us by. What has become of us? Where has all our fathers’ resolve and confidence and joy gone? Yet we cannot recall their fervency only to bemoan our degeneration. The saints are our examples for imitation, not the occasions of our piously mournful recollection. This cloud of witnesses spurs us on to look afresh at how we might yet in our own time fulfill our calling and do the work of an evangelist.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look closely at the evangelistic nature of the office of the ministry as the New Testament teaches it. We’ll do that in the firm conviction that if the Lord has placed us in a difficult field, yet it is here that he has given us the work that is his to bless. We do not find Saint Paul bewailing the difficulty of his task or being at all daunted by the ideological and political forces arrayed against him. In the firm conviction that “now it is the opportune time, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2) for all mankind, we preach in season and out of season the Word of reconciliation also here and now in America, also here and now to the actual neighbor next door.

Here and now God has put our free church, our confessional church, our church of the pure Gospel, to proclaim that Gospel and to fulfill our calling to teach and to baptize all nations, including this one, including the spiritual-but-not-religious, including the less-than-exotic auto mechanics and coal miners and sugar beet farmers. We know that God works by calling something out of nothing and not by the wisdom of the world. We know that Christ died for us while we were yet his enemies and committed to us the Word that in Christ God was reconciling the world, even present-day Americans, to himself (2 Cor. 5:19).

The First Blast of the Trumpet—A Word Fitly Spoken

By a word the sick man was healed. By a word Lazarus came out from his tomb. By a word the adulterous woman was saved from certain death. A simple, fitting word can move heaven and earth. Everlasting life depends on someone preaching, because without someone preaching, how will the dead hear and live? And the one preaching must proclaim the word of Christ and nothing else. God’s Word is enough to make the man of God perfect, equipped for every good work.

God’s Word is enough for understanding Scripture. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Scripture has its power and authority that needs no supplement for doing the work of converting, enlightening, and equipping the servants of Christ. The powerful and clear Scripture moved Josiah to upend his own kingdom.  God’s Son pointed to this powerful and clear Scripture to demonstrate that He had been sent to fulfill it. It is then powerful and clear for us, too, so that poring over Scripture in depth is endlessly rewarding, refreshing, and renewing. Sustained by Scripture, we are like trees planted by streams of water, ever refreshed and ever fruitful.

God’s Word is enough for proclaiming the whole counsel of God. The servant of Christ did not choose to proclaim but was chosen to proclaim. Paul did not select his message but was found and used mightily by the Lord to proclaim a message he had not known in his prior foolishness and blindness. Made wise by the study of Holy Scripture, the preacher will joyfully and powerfully proclaim the entirety of Scripture, not only those passages or tenses or doctrines dearest or most comfortable to him. Christ would feed His people with the plenty and the variety of His Word. Christ’s servants have only to serve what the Master offers.

God’s Word is enough for spreading the reign of God the Lord. The servant who imitates his Master and the apostles will be fervent in proclaiming the good news of Jesus everywhere he goes. He will do the work of an evangelist because he knows the kingdom of God is at hand. A sober and glorious zeal will fill his heart in extending God’s kingdom through the preaching of the gospel.

By words about reading the Scriptures, about preaching the Scriptures, and about the mission on which the Scriptures send all of us, we here at A Word Fitly Spoken aim to give you, the servant of Christ, more and more always from the fullness the Lord has given us in His Holy Word. We love and would glorify our Lord in His Church and His faithful servants, who are being changed even now from this earthly glory to a heavenly glory beyond all comparing. Look here for words on the way to that latter glory, words to refresh and guide, to lift up and to build up, words beautiful and true like apples of gold in a setting of silver.