Date: April 4, 1943

The soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat. Now, the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said, therefore, among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it whose it shall be, that the Scripture might be fulfilled which saith, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots. These things, therefore, the soldiers did.John 19:23-24

Lord Jesus, Our Only Savior:

At Calvary those who crucified Thee took away even Thy garments, and today likewise men would strip Thee of all Thy blessings, remove Thine atoning love, deprive Thee of the glorious truth that Thou art our true and eternal God. O send us Thy Holy Spirit, who can give us the courage required to confess Thee as the only and last Hope of our decaying world! Show us more clearly every day that the call of this hour is for sincere repentance and wholehearted return to God! Grant us a soul-deep sorrow for our own sins and an immovable trust in the mercies and merits Thou didst secure for us through Thy death of unspeakable agonies on the cross! Fortify with this faith the defenders of our cause at home and abroad! Shield these young men and women against destruction and spiritual death! Let our armies and navies come home soon, precious Savior, with victory for righteousness and peace for all nations! Lead masses in our country to Thy Father and make us a humble, penitent people whose trust is only in God, whose desire is only exalting righteousness! We ask this in Thine ever-blessed name, O Jesus! Amen.

ONE of the most lavish and luxury-loving kings in history was the monarch who ruled France 250 years ago, Louis XIV. He played with gold as though it were sand. In a single building enterprise he erected Versailles Palace at a cost of $200,000,000. His outstanding extravagance, however, was showered on his own clothing. At his wedding he was arrayed in rare velvet embroidered with precious metals, covered with jewels, and prepared at a cost of over $1,000,000. As he grew older, his wild spending increased; and during public audiences he was often clad in a costume valued at more than $12,000,000.

By contrast, I ask you now to think of another King. His throne was a cross planted on a lonely hill; His diadem a crown of cutting thorns. He had no palace, for though “the earth was His and the fullness thereof,” He claimed not an inch of it; when He died, He was buried in a borrowed tomb. That French ruler might tax his subjects until, hungry, oppressed, barefooted, they were driven to despair; but this King, our King—may every one of you have the faith which enables you to say, “My King”!—Jesus Christ, Son of the all-merciful God and Savior of a sin-stricken world, gave His life to save and glorify His redeemed. His realm, far from collapsing, is constantly increasing in eternal triumph. While Louis was bedecked in sinful splendor, Jesus refused all robes of royalty—the ermine and crimson, the gold and silver, as well as the rare jewels and precious gems that were rightfully His. When He died He left no wardrobe, only the few articles of clothing he wore to His crucifixion. Now, as every page of Scripture is crowded with powerful messages for our unbelieving, unrepenting world, so this record can teach us all some personal lessons. Let us, then, behold the garments of Golgotha, especially

THE REDEEMER’S ROBE

and study their meaning as described in our text, Saint John, chapter nineteen, verses twenty-three and twenty-four: “The soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat. Now, the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said, therefore, among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it whose it shall be, that the Scripture might be fulfilled which saith, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots. These things, therefore, the soldiers did.”

I

THE SAVIOR’S APPAREL WAS LARGELY COMMON CLOTH

To make death by crucifixion even more shameful, the victim was first stripped and then nailed to the cross. Our Lord was no exception. At Calvary He, God’s Son of all glory, was crucified naked. Well might the earth have swallowed alive the degenerates who tore the clothing from the innocent, unresisting Savior. Well might a flash of lightning have flattened those blasphemers to the ground forever. Not even the few garments, the last earthly possession, could remain His. The hatred and cruelty of His enemies would rob Him of everything. So completely did Jesus permit Himself to be humiliated and disgraced when He atoned for your sins and paid their total penalty with exposure, anguish, God-forsakenness, and death!

Clothes cost relatively more in those days than now, and soldiers were accustomed to keep the apparel of every crucified criminal as a sort of ghastly payment for the execution. So the four legionaries stationed beneath the cross divided the Savior’s clothing among themselves, casting lots (“throwing dice,” we would say today) to see who would win this article or that piece of fabric.

It is not a pleasing scene, this picture of the soldiers beneath the cross; but as we study the Lenten account, we ought to be impressed by the fact that American men in arms throughout the world are confronted by temptations to similar sins. Those guards at Golgotha, during the six hours of the crucifixion, viciously attacked the Son of God. They did not know that they had nailed the Lord of Life to the timbers of death; and today many of our soldiers likewise do not know Jesus. An instructor in a government training school writes: “The thing that burdens me is that there are 500 pre-aviation cadets here, and I will venture to say that less than 10 percent know Jesus. . . . From what kind of homes did these boys come? Continue to exhort mothers and fathers of our military boys to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. It is hard for boys who come from unchristian homes to realize that they need a Redeemer, and it is harder still to bring Jesus to boys whose folks played at religion. . . . Oh, tell every army chaplain who goes out that what our soldiers need is someone who can tell them of a personal Savior and show them how to find Him!”

As Pilate’s soldiers hurled blasphemies at the crucified Christ, so military life still has the same tendency to make men abuse His holy, precious name! This day of national danger is the time to be prayerful, not profane, to speak with reverence, not cursing. Willful misuse of the divine name can prolong this struggle and increase our casualty lists. Soldiers of America, make David’s prayer your deep petition as you ask, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer!”

The company of legionaries at Calvary also tried to while away those six slow hours with wine, just as millions in America—soldiers and civilians—are trying to drink away the present hostilities. This war will never be won with whisky or at cocktail bars. Increasing drunkenness can delay the victory. Though people may smile indulgently at intoxication, God’s Word warns plainly that drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Read 1 Corinthians 6:10 carefully!

Finally we see the soldiers gambling—another vice in present-day army life. It may sound out of place and date to call gambling a “vice,” when newspapers feature it in their comic strips; when certain American cities thrive on its income; when even churches run raffles and plead for bingo; when the Government itself purchases 750,000 pairs of dice to build morale in the Army, and when a Congressman introduces a bill for a national lottery. All this cannot change the fact that gambling is a destructive evil, condemned alike by God’s Law and man’s. It promotes the desire to live without work, to gain at the expense of others; it has always been connected with fraud, cheating, immorality. It has caused indescribable suffering within many homes, as your letters reveal; it has left children improperly clothed and underfed, wives neglected, families burdened with misery. Christian citizens should rid their communities of all slot machines, punch boards, bingo parties; for gambling, even in its simplest forms, is the devil’s device.

Though the soldiers played a sorry role at the crucifixion, one military man proved himself the exception. He was the centurion, the officer in charge who remained at Calvary—and glorified the Savior. Beholding Jesus with eyes of faith, he exclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God!” What an example for many of you in the Army and Navy! A word in behalf of Christ from you may have greater power than you realize. Use that influence! Commissioned officers of our fighting forces, follow that centurion! Don’t be ashamed of Jesus! Testify openly to His power and love!

As we look once more at the Redeemer’s apparel strewn on the ground between the four gambling soldiers, we see that it is the common clothing of the Palestinian workman. He might have worn the choicest products of the loom; the gold of Sheba and Seba was His. Large diamonds, precious pearls were stored in the treasuries of His earth. Yet He spurned all this and chose the garb of a lowly servant. As He walked the Palestinian highways and byways, nothing in His garb attracted the multitudes. He was so unknown to the leaders that they had to secure a traitor to identify Him.

We dare not lose sight of this truth for the hard years before us. Jesus, even by His dress, showed that He was a Friend of the poor, a Companion of the afflicted; and unless God is unusually merciful to us, there will be plenty of poor and afflicted during the postwar readjustment. I cannot sufficiently warn you against the promises, sometimes made in the name of statesmanship and often in the name of religion, that, when this struggle is over, we shall enter a period of unparalleled prosperity, with money, work, food, and happiness for everyone on earth. No man knows what the future may bring; but just as assuredly, no man should dangle before the eyes of a peace-starved world unfounded hopes of wealth and progress; especially when these predictions are built on purely human specifications and advanced in entire disregard of God. Thousands may make more than the much-discussed $25,000 a year during war times, but millions in the United States have never made twenty-five dollars real profit a year. They want a Savior who understands their needs, who knows what it means to be poor; and here is Jesus whose clothes proved that He was the Man for the masses, the Man for all classes.

When rabid Communists try to inflame workers by preaching that Christianity is capitalistic, without sympathy for laborers, that it works hand-in-glove with moneyed interests, we who love Jesus point to the Savior and demand of the atheists, “Have you ever produced one leader as humble, as poor, as ‘all things to all men’ as Jesus?” Let us be on guard for the years ahead! We must follow Christ’s self-denial and self-sacrifice, rejecting completely the goal of establishing wealthy, powerful congregations. For what is a church profited if it has millions of dollars in real estate and investments, while men and women are dying every second of the day without knowing the Lord? What advantage has a religious group if its legacies and investments tower into the tens of millions, yet it does not use these funds for calling sinners to repentance? The clothing of the crucified Savior appeals to us, asking Christians all over the world to emphasize the Redeemer’s marvelous love in humbling Himself to become a true man among men, to live with us in poverty and privation, and to grant us the vision of service and sacrifice for our fellow men.

II

THE SAVIOR’S APPAREL WAS PREDICTED

Only one piece of the Savior’s clothing was unusual, His “coat,” or, as we say today, His robe, which was “without seam, woven from the top throughout.” To cut it into four pieces would destroy its value. So once more the dice rolled as the soldiers gambled for this prize.

The Gospel records do not tell us who won the robe, but according to conflicting traditions it has been preserved, wholly or partially, in various European cities, where credulous throngs bow before it. Many of these relics cannot be genuine, and to worship them is idolatrous. Do not place your reliance on anything manmade! Put your whole trust always, completely, only, in Christ! Keep the Savior’s warning in mind, “God is a spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth,” not with charms and superstition! The Lord wants your crushed, repentant, trusting heart directed solely to Him.

Nor could that robe in itself exert miraculous power. A new book, Lloyd Douglas’ The Robe, a best seller, pictures it as a marvelous garment which brought peace and healing to those who touched it. No robe in itself can ever do that. If you accept Jesus as your only but all-sufficient Savior, you need not touch anything to receive His blessing. Without rites or rituals, penances or privations, our Lord, always “nigh unto all them . . . that call upon Him in truth,” can mightily help you. Today, as nineteen centuries ago, He can heal you if it be His will. He can help you in any suffering or sorrow, family trouble, or business difficulty. He can richly comfort you in any affliction, grant you peace and joy instead of tears and trials; and—blessed Redeemer that He is—you can always come to Him directly, without reliance on robes or relics. He is yours by faith and faith alone.

The mention of this seamless garment is not accidental, since the very robe for which the coarse Roman soldiers gambled had been seen a thousand years before by David. Saint John says pointedly in our text that the soldiers cast lots “that the Scripture might be fulfilled”—and these are the prophetic words of the Twenty-second Psalm, “They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots.”

What a marvelous volume our Bible is, when in scores of similar passages it predicts such minute details centuries in advance and with absolute certainty! This fact of fulfilled prophecy alone should convince skeptics and unbelievers that the Bible is God’s Word, the absolute Truth. Do you know another volume which can forecast clearly what the distant years will bring? But Scripture, because it comes from God, who plans the programs of the years, has exactly foretold the future in hundreds of passages. I challenge anyone to prove that a single Biblical prediction concerning the rise and fall of ancient empires, the destruction of proud cities, the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, has ever been exposed as false.

Is not this the faultless Book for our disturbed, distracted day, when military experts are unable to foretell with assurance what will happen next year; when millions, particularly our military youth, do not know what may occur tomorrow? For assurance and guidance forget fortune tellers! Turn away from crystal-gazers! Renounce astrologers! Spurn every spiritist medium! Go back to the Bible!

Because Scripture assures us that “all the promises of God in Him [Christ] are yea, and in Him amen,” we have within the covers of Holy Writ the guarantee of comfort, which must be fulfilled as unfailingly as Old Testament predictions were realized at Calvary. If the ancient prophecies that Jesus would be crucified with sinners; that His hands and feet would be pierced; that He would be mocked and derided by the very transgressors whom He had come to save; that He would die on the cross; that His lifeless body would be buried in the tomb of a rich friend; that in all this He was atoning, as Isaiah states eleven times in his faith-filled fifty-third chapter, for our sins, suffering for our iniquities, substituting for every one of us, dying His death so that we could live in His life—if these precious pledges foretold the truth for the past, then accept the Bible confidently for your future! Trust it with all your heart! When our Lord promises, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” realize that, though your life may be restless and storm-tossed, in the Savior you can assuredly find calm and quiet! When Scripture declares, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” take that glorious word, “whosoever,” at its full face value! Thank God that no man can ever keep you from Christ, no matter how cruelly you may be cut off from other blessings! Rejoice because your redemption is not a hit-or-miss proposition, not a vague uncertainty, nor a remote possibility, but Heaven’s own truth, a reality firmer than the foundations of the world!

Are you haunted by the sorrow of war, tormented by questions concerning the safety of your beloved ones? Have you accompanied your husband or son to the railroad station during these last days to bid him a brave farewell as he left for camp, wondering whether he would ever see you again? The Bible, with its completed promise, is the Book for you; for it offers the Christ of all comfort, who consoles those who are His, “I will not leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Since in such relatively small matters as the casting of lots for a seamless robe the Bible promises were fulfilled at Calvary, will you not believe that in the incomparably greater issues concerning your soul, which, Jesus declared, is worth more than all the world, His assurance of salvation and sustaining love will be surely realized? “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but” His “Word,” the wondrous pledge of grace, full and free, “shall not pass away.”

What a warning also in the fact that these gambling soldiers proved the divine power and truth of Scripture! Every threat of God’s punishment on unbelief will likewise be carried out. You may doubt and deny the Bible’s prediction of doom for the unforgiven sinner, but “be not deceived; God is not mocked.” The blackened ruins of ancient cities, destroyed in harmony with Bible prophecy, cry out that the Almighty will judge all unbelief; that it is impossible to escape the long reach of divine justice; that every sinner, no matter how wealthy, influential, important he may seem to be, must pay, and pay fully, here and hereafter for every unremoved transgression of Heaven’s Law. If nothing has ever been able to put the fear of the Lord firmly into your heart, stop for a moment to see how exactly the Old Testament forecasts were accomplished to the letter; and then draw the conclusion that, if Scripture is faultlessly correct concerning a piece of clothing, how unquestionable must be its warnings concerning your eternity, when it thunders out this sentence upon all who reject Christ: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die!” “He that believeth not shall be damned!”

The Bible, with its fulfilled prophecy, is the one Book for these years of war and weariness; but to exert its heavenly force, it must be studied, followed as never before. Because it can mightily strengthen the nation—and we need spiritual fortifying as much as military defense—we should obey its request for a repentant nation by getting down on our knees before the Almighty in genuine sorrow over our thanklessness and pride. When Scripture asks for a godly people walking in the Lord’s ways, let us work and pray that the forces of lust, the grasping of greed, the worship of might, be checked and masses be brought back to Christ, in whom is the only help they can ever know!

We need the Bible in our homes, where altogether too frequently it becomes the forgotten Book, with family devotions—may God forgive us!—falling into steady discard. Yet if home religion has decreased, assaults on domestic morality have increased. Social workers and parents write disturbed letters complaining that their daughters, fourteen, thirteen, even twelve years old, stay out until early morning in questionable company. Cases of youthful alcoholism and immorality have soared to unprecedented heights. Over in England a star performer of the British Broadcasting Corporation, a University of London professor, says the idea of man having one wife is unsatisfactory. Marriage laws ought to be altered, he suggests, so that a husband can live in polygamy with a number of wives. From now on you will hear repeated suggestions of this kind, and many will try to practice successive polygamy, indulging in one divorce after the other. Only Scripture can be an effective check against such attacks. Put the family Bible back into any home, and that household will be blessed by Christ’s presence!

We want God’s Word and its power for our own souls. Chaplain Willard with the United States marines on the Solomon Islands reports: “Three men in my regiment have been saved from wounds and death because they loved the Book. . . . I urge them to carry it with them into battle. One of the New Testaments stopped a Japanese twenty-five-caliber bullet which went through to the back cover. Two other Testaments prevented their owners from being seriously wounded by Japanese shrapnel.” Scripture will do much more than stop bullets. It will help stop sin and the legions of hell. The Bible, through your faith in Christ, can save your soul for eternity.

III

THE SAVIOR’S APPAREL WAS BLOOD-STAINED

Look at that robe once more, and you will find it marked not by beautiful design and embroidery but by heavy blotches! What are those sodden spots, those deep stains? Their crimson color betrays them. They are Christ’s dark, red blood!

Throughout history blood has been regarded as a sign of suffering; and never has this vital fluid otherwise marked such harrowing and soul-deep anguish. That scarlet dripped from Christ’s thorn-cut, wounded head, from His scourged back, the same blood which spurted from His hands and feet when they were crushed to the cross, which trickled down the cross, dropped into little pools or sank into Calvary’s soil—all in anguish of soul and body such as human eyes have never otherwise beheld.

Today we associate blood with crime; and again, never has any iniquity been as shocking as the injustice which made Jesus bleed. He was perfectly innocent. Even malice and perjury could invent no real charge against Him. Yet despite His utter sinlessness, His blood was spilled under the lash and on the cross in the supercrime of the ages. True, innocent people have sometimes been sentenced to death, as wrong has repeatedly triumphed over right; yet the worst miscarriage of justice is not to be compared with this gruesome murder at Golgotha. For it is not ordinary blood which stains His robe and marks His cross. Though you examine it under the microscope and find that it is human blood with the usual plasma and corpuscles, yet you must know it is the blood of Jesus Christ; and He who shed it—oh, accept this glorious truth!—is a true man, yet indescribably more: He is your God.

Blood has also become a sign of help and hope. Lives are saved by transfusion; and in the marvelous progress of medical science blood plasma has been used to preserve thousands of wounded. After the war authorities plan vast plasma banks with first-aid stations throughout the country as a means of sustaining many thousands of lives. God bless their effort, but God give us the faith to realize that the blood which stained this robe and spotted the cross can save far more than men’s bodies! It can rescue our souls from ruin. In the Old Testament men sought forgiveness of their sins in the blood of sacrificial animals, slain on sacred altars, for God’s Word had declared, “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” But Golgotha and the cross gave the world a new and final atoning blood. Because our Lord went to Calvary, because He shed His blood there for the full and free atonement of all human transgressions, we have the peerless promise of God’s truth, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” Every crimson stain on that robe, every red drop oozing from the Savior’s five wounds, is proof divine that God loved you, hardened and hopeless in your iniquities though you may be; loved you, sought you in your misery and anguish, even though men spurn you and friends forsake you; He planned your rescue and ransom, not by simply forgetting your sins (your heavenly Father is too holy for that), not by permitting you to work off your sentence and atone for your wrongs (since no one can pay for the enormity and multitude of his own sins), not by accepting the prayers and good works of some saint or morally superior person (for the Scripture warns, “None of them can by any means redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom for him”), but by providing a Savior from sin, a Substitute to bear your iniquities. By the marvel of His mercy God, our faithful, loving Father, in the sacrifice for which angels will eternally chant His praise—how our mortal minds stagger at the very thought!—sent His own Son to shed His blood and die for the redemption of all sinners. Those crimson marks on the robe, those stains on the cross, are thus a pledge to you that you are saved.

“The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”—That triumphant truth is the only hope you can ever have, and it is a positive statement. “The blood of Jesus Christ” is mentioned thirty-seven times in the New Testament. Remove it from the sacred record, and the race is ruined. Believe its power; teach it; preach it; exalt it; and God will mightily be with you! For as one drop of the precious blood can cleanse a world of sinners, so you alone, with faith in the atoning love, can defeat a world arrayed against you.

What, then, is the message of the Redeemer’s robe for which the soldiers cast lots? What, indeed, if not God the Father’s own appeal that you stop gambling with your soul, risking your salvation by postponing your acceptance of Christ? Jesus no longer wears that gory robe. In His eternal majesty He is now clothed in the radiance of dazzling purity and power. If you would see Him in that celestial beauty; if heaven is to be your home; if you want an eternity with your loved ones who have died in the Lord, then confess your sins now! Fall on your knees to cry out that you are hopelessly lost; that you are altogether unworthy; that you deserve nothing but rejection; that you plead for mercy, not merit; for redemption, not reward; for pardon, not payment; that above everything else in this world you want to be cleansed by the Savior’s blood! Then from the throne of never-ending mercy He will speak peace into your soul as He declares, “This is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Then all the filthy rags of your own unrighteousness will be gone. Your spotted garments of sin will disappear, and the Christ of Calvary will clothe you with His holiness. To that end may our constant, contrite prayer, addressed to the Savior of the blood-stained robe, ask: O Jesus, robe us forever in Thy blood-bought righteousness! Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: March 28, 1943

They that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads and saying, Thou that destroyest the Temple and buildest it in three days, save Thyself! If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross! Likewise also the chief priests, mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him!Matthew 27:39-42

Lord Jesus, Who Didst Love Us Until the End:

How can we ever worthily thank Thee that Thou didst stay on the cross to endure unspeakable pain of body, but far greater anguish of soul, in completing the task of our redemption? O blessed Savior, with our whole heart we praise Thee that Thou didst willingly bear the crushing load of our iniquities and with Thy blood pay the fearful price demanded as our ransom from death and hell. Help us endure our sorrows and afflictions by turning to Thee, our Holy Example and Source of every comfort! We need Thy sustaining presence during every moment of these sin-darkened days, when in our human weakness we are too likely to compromise with unbelief instead of confessing Thee before men. Therefore, abide with us and bless us! Strengthen Thy followers in the armed forces to remain loyal amid all temptations to forsake Thee; and, O Jesus, Thou Prince of Peace, protect them by Thy might until—and may it be soon—Thou wilt mercifully bring them back to us with blessed victory and a triumph of truth! Hear us and help us, as Thou hast promised! Amen.

WHEN our country declared war in December, 1941, a United States Senator predicted that within six months our enemies would be destroyed. The half year elapsed, but we had to fight on. Other voices were then heard predicting the last of the conflict by the end of 1942. That year closed and we were still embattled. New prophets arose to foresee the triumph of our cause before 1943 is over; yet last week Great Britain’s prime minister asserted that the struggle will last until the conclusion of 1944, or maybe 1945. Ten percent of the Washington political and military experts, recently interviewed by a newspaper man, believe that victory will not appear on our horizon until 1946; some, not before 1951.

With so many bad guesses in the past and such uncertainty for the future, people hardly know what to believe; but every American ought to know what to do. We should be on our knees before God, constantly beseeching Him, with whom “all things are possible,” if it be His will, to stop this conflict now. A long struggle may mean long casualty lists, the impoverishment of the masses, the end of free government in the United States. We should humbly bow before the Almighty, confess our individual and national sins, plead for pardon in Jesus’ name, resolve to remove the transgressions for which this visitation has come upon us: pride and profanity; unbelief and ridicule of the Christian religion; falsehood and false witnessing; impurity and immorality; crime and covetousness. If we want this war to end and thousands of American lives to be spared, we must not make the mistake of thinking that we ourselves can say when this bloodshed will cease. We must leave that to God and with sincere contrition plead that His might and mercy may grant us speedy victory.

Instead of repenting in sackcloth and ashes, however, millions in the United States are regaling themselves in furs and finery, luxury and lust, carnival and carousal. Multitudes have not felt God’s chastening hand. They complain about the new ration schedule of two pounds of meat each week; but where in this broad, blessed country has there been any real shortage of necessities? A Congressman who investigated the restaurants in Washington reports, “Chicken dinners only half eaten; halves of good, juicy steaks left on the plates; whole bowls of peas from which only one spoonful had been taken; good desserts nibbled at and left”; and he concludes, “I believe that the waste in the District of Columbia restaurants every week would feed a thousand families in some of the occupied countries and make them fall on their knees and praise the Lord.” Not only do we waste earthly blessings; the country’s greatest sin is the loss of spiritual power, the neglect of Christ’s blood-bought salvation.

Whatever comes, however long the war may last, the Christian—I mean the believer who looks to the cross of the Lord Jesus and to His cleansing blood for pardon, peace, and heaven’s paradise—has the guaranteed assurance that these times of testing are for inner growth, for the fortifying of his faith. Today perhaps more than ever before in our country we should realize that God does not always lead His children the easy way; that their sorrows, far from being short and quick, are often long and drawn out; that sometimes they must suffer in order to gain spiritual successes. For courage in great crises, for willingness to endure agony, we turn to Christ crucified at Calvary. When He hung on the cross of shame and agony, our text (Saint Matthew, chapter twenty-seven, beginning at verse thirty-nine) tells us: “They that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads and saying, Thou that destroyest the Temple and buildest it in three days, save Thyself! If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross! Likewise also the chief priests, mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him!” Because the crucified Savior refused to heed the taunting challenge “Come down!” we today breathe this prayer of heart-deep gratitude:

“THANK GOD: CHRIST STAYED ON THE CROSS!”

May the comforting, enlightening Spirit of all truth now draw you close to the dying Lord of love at Golgotha and teach you to find joy, courage, hope, for your own lives at Calvary!

I

THE TRAGEDY OF A CROSSLESS CHRIST

We should truly feel ashamed at being members of the human race when we behold the Savior’s countrymen standing within the shadow of His cross and hurling their taunting insults against the bleeding, dying Son of God. We would suppose that no matter how misplaced their enmity may have been before, now that their satanic purpose had been accomplished, with Jesus nailed to the tree of torture, they would have been satisfied and returned to their homes. No; their hatred was so fiendish that they remained to revel in His agony. Recently the newspapers printed the picture of a dog that kept watch over another dog, its dead playmate. Unmistakable in that puppy’s eyes was the look of animal sorrow and brute grief; yet these crucifiers at Calvary showed less sympathy even than dumb, irrational creatures. We might be inclined to regard their depravity and deep-rooted cruelty as exceptional and entirely abnormal, if it were not for the grim fact that within our own generation we ourselves have witnessed the same gleeful gloating, which made Christ’s enemies drag figures and effigies of the sinless, stainless Savior through muddy streets, led atheist societies to print dirty jokes about the Virgin Mary, urged infidel writers to feature scurrilous attacks on Scripture.

They were not restricted to one class or group, these jeering, howling throngs beneath the cross. Look at them closely, and you will find the high and the low of Jerusalem: on the one hand, priests, scribes, politicians, Sanhedrin members, influential leaders; and on the other hand, the city’s dregs: criminals from its slums, wretches ruined by its vices! The common hatred of Jesus put men of opposing stations in life on the same level, just as, a few hours before He went the way of the cross, Pilate and Herod, bitter enemies until that time, were reconciled through their mutual rejection of the Savior. Even today atheists and unbelievers form similarly strange alliances. No matter how completely they may spurn each other in social life, their hatred of the Redeemer is so overpowering that they will march against Him shoulder to shoulder with people whom they otherwise shun. Inspect the roster of Reds and radicals in America, and you will see white and black, clergy and laity, capitalists and laborers, teachers and students, anarchists and socialists, Gentiles and Jews, millionaires and paupers, writers and illiterates, pacifists and warmongers. They forget their differences to present a united front against Christ.

Among these cruel critics at Calvary was a group of average, middle-class people. As we see them stick out their tongues at the Crucified, “wagging their heads” in derision, pouring out their profane ridicule, we realize that they were blind followers of blind leaders. They knew that the chief priests, the politically and socially important, had rejected Christ, and they concluded that it was smart for them to do the same thing. Why is it that some of you, after nineteen centuries, in which Christ has powerfully demonstrated the truth of His Gospel, are still outside the Church today? Is it not because you likewise take the word of some unbelieving teacher, infidel lecturer, agnostic writer, in preference to God’s? You feel that the people whose names make news are often opposed to the Lord, their lives plainly hostile to His Gospel; and you follow them. You demand, repeating the charge voiced in the Savior’s day: “Are any of the leading scientists disciples of the Lord? Are any of the intellectual geniuses Christian?” And you answer with an unqualified “No!” In all truth, however, you forget that the mightiest minds of all generations have been humble and reverent. Throw off these destructive prejudices and take time to study God’s Word fairly, think for yourself, and with the Spirit’s help believe for yourself!

Here, scattered throughout the morbid crowd, are the leaders in the crucifixion, the clergy that remained at Golgotha to gloat over the Savior’s agony. It is bad enough when a man outside the Church is found guilty of crime; but it seems a hundred times worse when a servant of God deliberately connives with evil and murderously plans to take an innocent life. Note that the highest of the high, the chief priests, together with the scribes and the elders of the temple in Jerusalem, were the moving spirits in this supercrime. They, in the first instance, are responsible for the grief and devastation that overtook their country. They sold Jerusalem to its ruin, just as, through succeeding generations, whenever those who should be preachers and prophets of the Almighty forgot the Lord, they helped sign their nation’s sentence of doom and destruction. The government refuses to draft theological students and clergymen for active warfare because it wants them to fortify the home front. However, can ministers strengthen our nation if they weaken its faith in the Bible? Can they point us to victory if they seek to defeat Christ? Can they fortify America by assisting in tearing down the mighty fortress we have in our Savior? The broadcast of this Sunday is sponsored by the students of our Concordia Theological Seminary. As I thank God for the fact that this divinity school, which during the 104 years of its existence has sent more than 6,000 ministers into mission fields on the six continents, has never had a Modernist on its faculty, never graduated a student who did not unreservedly accept the Scriptures as the inspired, inerrant Word of God and Jesus as the divine, complete Savior, I appeal to these men of Concordia, our graduates beyond the campus, yes, to every true minister of Christ, and every student of theology in the United States: Preach the Word! Preach the Law, with all its shattering, crushing power! Tell people without exception that they have “sinned, and come short of the glory of God”! Warn them that as far as they themselves are concerned, they are hopelessly, eternally lost in their sins! Testify that they are not strong enough, good enough, rich enough, smart enough, to make their own way into heaven, that every day they live against Christ they are destroying their own souls! But then, when the horrors of hell rise before their eyes, when the torture of unforgiven sin tears at their heart, when they realize that they are driving on to inevitable perdition, preach Christ! Preach the cross! Preach the blood! Preach the atonement! Preach justification by faith! Before God I declare that you young men who are loyal to the Gospel are, under God, the nation’s and the Church’s highest hope for the crisis days ahead. In the Savior’s name I beseech you: “Don’t let us down! Don’t compromise the Redeemer! Don’t surrender one iota of the blood-bought heritage, the pledge of Christ’s full, unfailing redemption!”

With the same conviction I say to you men in clerical robes who have put a question mark behind the Redeemer’s promise and who, if Jesus were with us today, would be under the cross like those clerical killers, your defiant denial of the Bible, your rejection of Christ’s redemption, are helping to undermine the foundations of faith on which this nation has rested in the past and on which alone it can be secure for the future. You, with your veiled but violent hatred of God’s Son, are the frontline enemies of the United States today, just as those Jerusalem priests were the prime factors in the destruction of their country. You, too, are not satisfied with your own sarcastic unbelief. You deliberately seek to tear others from Jesus. Someone sent me a clipping from an Omaha newspaper (I deeply appreciate this help; please give me all such assistance you can!) which told of a religious meeting in that city. Two laymen are reported as speaking. The one asserted: The Church should preach the Gospel; and the other reinforced this by declaring: The churches should stick to the preaching of the Cross. However, the newspaper reports opposition to this emphasis on the Savior;—objection—think of it!—raised by clergymen! They requested “a reinterpretation of Christ’s teachings”—and you know what that means: They asked vaguely for “brotherhood” but neglected to demand the Gospel’s power. How long will you consecrated laymen keep on worshiping in congregations which you and your family helped to build, but in which your Bible-grounded faith, your Christ-exalting creed, is steadily attacked from the pulpit by a man who, despite the robes he wears and the titles preceding or following his name, makes Jesus merely another human leader, a reformer, a teacher, a prophet—anything but God’s Son and the world’s Savior? How long will you devout disciples sit quietly in your pews to hear the message of salvation by the Redeemer’s blood supplanted by salvation through your own achievement? If you really want to serve God’s kingdom and do something for your country, banish all pulpit unbelief! Keep Christian congregations clean of betrayal and treachery! If your church in its charter is dedicated to support the Scriptures and the Savior but instead is used to undermine the Bible and belittle Christ, you have only one alternative, would you be loyal to your Lord: You must see that those who persist in dishonoring Jesus are barred from your church; and if they are not removed, you must eventually leave that congregation, hard as the parting may be!

Listen now to the taunting, cutting cries raised against Christ at Calvary! First of all they challenge, “Thou that destroyest the Temple and buildest it in three days, save Thyself!” Viciously they twist and tear our Lord’s words. They falsify and lie. Jesus had never said that He would rebuild Herod’s temple at Jerusalem in three days. He did say that, though the temple of His body be wrecked (by death on the cross), yet on the third day it would be rebuilt in the resurrection unto life, as, praise God, it was revived. Changing God’s Word has been a withering curse during all succeeding ages. Men in Germany, England, France, Russia, and—may God forgive us!—in our own country, gifted, talented scholars have spent long years of university study and then devoted their lifetime all for one evil purpose: to change the unchangeable Word, to make Scripture say what they want and not what God wants. Earnestly I warn you against altering the Bible to suit yourself. Take every syllable of heavenly truth as it is written! Abraham Lincoln suggested, take it with reason if you can, but above all take everything with faith!—When you read, “Christ died for the ungodly,” then reply: “God said this. Christ did it. I believe it. That settles it.”

In the second place, these poison-tongued, rabble­rousing priests cry, “IF Thou be the Son of God.” Note that they do not blame Jesus for having healed their sick, fed their hungry, comforted their bereaved! Today no one but a moron will attack Christianity because of its Sermon on the Mount. But tell men that this Sufferer on the cross is the almighty God, the Son of the heavenly Father, and immediately the finger of superior scorn will be pointed at you. You will be called a “funny-mentalist,” charged with having a medieval mind. Yet it is Bible truth that Jesus, above our poor powers of understanding, is God all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful, without a “perhaps” or “perchance,” without a “possibly” or “probably,” without a “can-be” or “maybe,” “could-be” or “would-be.”

The cruelest of the cries at Calvary demanded, “If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross!” and again, “If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him!” These people actually sought to dictate the terms under which they would accept Jesus! He had to free His hands from the nails on the crossbar, and His feet from the spikes on the beam, before they would believe Him. Many of you are making a similarly fatal mistake. You say that you will accept Christ if—if He gives you what you want. You are willing to agree that Jesus is your God, if He heals your sickness, brings your boy home safe from the battle front, grants you a good, easy, comfortable life. What pride, arrogance, and effrontery to state the conditions under which you are willing to receive Jesus! Can a leaf bargain with a whirlwind? Can an insect on a railroad track argue with the onrushing express train? Can a pebble on the seashore reason with the rolling tides? You ought to crawl to Christ on your hands and knees; instead, you stand with the crucifiers and say, “I will accept You if—”

As these lying priests are ready to receive Christ, but not crucified, so their cruel cry, “Let Him . . . come down from the cross, and we will believe Him!” is revived today in American church circles. Leaders in certain denominations reject the gory cross and tell us that the picture of the Savior with His pierced hands and feet is repugnant to the modern mind. They, too, demand, “Let Him now come down from the cross!” Teachers in divinity schools, some of them endowed with funds gathered from the faithful, insist on human attainment instead of divine atonement and cry out, “Let Him now come down from the cross!” Preachers in some of the country’s most influential pulpits and wealthiest congregations declare: The world needs Christ as an example, not as a substitute. They too, shout, “Let Him now come down from the cross!” Men want Christianity without the Crucified, religion without the redemption, belief without the blood. Keep your distance from every church that covers the cross! When the Russians invaded Finland, their planes bombed a hospital, which, according to international law, should have remained untouched by enemy fliers, since it was clearly marked with a large red cross on its roof. However, investigation revealed that in the night before the air attack, snow had fallen and covered the roof. While the cross could be seen, the wounded Finns in that hospital were safe and secure; but when it disappeared, many were killed. You see the striking similarity in our sin-marked lives. As long as we have faith in the cross of agony and redemption, our souls are under divine protection, but when that cross vanishes from our lives, we are lost.

Keep your distance, then, from creeds without the cross, from churches which refuse to recognize Calvary, from religious books ignoring the blood, from hymns that never mention the crimson-stained sign of our salvation, from prayers that spurn the Crucified’s name, from clergymen who change Saint Paul’s resolve to preach Christ, and Him crucified, into the brash “We preach anything but Christ, and Him crucified”! Only one creed has a cross. Judaism has a star; Mohammedanism, a crescent; Buddhism, a swastika. The ancient Assyrian religion featured an eagle; the Babylonian a sun. These are all signs of power, achievement; but the cross is the emblem of suffering and sorrow, bleeding and brutality, destruction and death. Because Christ refused to heed the taunting sneer, “Let Him now come down!” the cross has become the highest and holiest, the most powerful and blessed, of all symbols in your life.

You may be able to recite the list of judges, kings, and prophets; you may know names, dates, places in the Old and New Testaments; you may have memorized chapter after chapter—but if you do not understand in a personal faith what the cross means, your detailed acquaintance with Bible history will not bring you a quarter of an inch closer to your God. You may be well informed about Christ. You may be able to tell His life story from the birth at Bethlehem to the ascension from Olivet; yet, if you do not understand why Jesus went to Golgotha, you could just as well study the career of Socrates, Caesar, or Cicero; nothing of this could give you the slightest spiritual conviction.

II

THE BLESSING OF A CRUCIFIED CHRIST

To have eternal, unbreakable, victorious assurance for life and death, you must know that Jesus stayed on the cross and thank God you have a crucified Savior. When His enemies cried, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save!” they were right in their first claim. Jesus “saved others”; He died to save every one of the wanton killers on Calvary’s crest. He died to save His countrymen, who planned His death. He died to save the Roman rulers and their servile soldiers, who had scourged His back until it was ripped and red with His blood, pushed a crown of thorns into His head and hammered the nails through His hands and feet. Even more: the Lord Jesus—and this is the climax of my message—has saved you, the desperate, however frightful and vicious your sins may be. If you have never heard this supreme, sacred truth; if you have given up hope for yourself, convinced that you have transgressed God’s holy Law too often to be forgiven, listen carefully: Jesus was nailed to the cross for you. He suffered on the cross for you. He stayed on that cross for you until He died and His friends removed His lifeless body. Everyone in this vast mission of the air can say: “Christ was crucified to save me. He is my Redeemer, for His mercy is wider than the world, His grace more than sufficient for a million universes like ours.” Only unbelief, rejection of this limitless love, can keep your soul from being cleansed by His blood. You may spurn His salvation, but that cannot change this triumphant truth: Jesus stayed on the cross to save you from sin, its guilt, its appalling punishment. He remained on that accursed tree to redeem you from the torture of eternal death, the terror of hell. He refused to come down because He wanted to pay the whole penalty for all your transgressions and by dying in your stead leave nothing to pay or earn. When He cried, “It is finished!” the work of your redemption was completed. Nothing remained undone. The ransom demanded for your release was laid down before God in the only offering acceptable to the Father. Deliverance from death, the title to the prepared place in the heavenly mansions, the salvation of your soul—these indelible, precious pledges are all sealed for you by the truth that Jesus continued to suffer on the cross.

His enemies made one mistake, however. Instead of sneering, “Himself He CANNOT save,” they should have declared, “Himself He” WILL “not save.” Jesus could have rescued Himself even after He had been affixed to those beams. The same almighty power which hardly twelve hours before had cast armed soldiers prostrate to the ground could have paralyzed the entire mob at Calvary. A single angel of the more than 72,000 at the Savior’s beck and call could have wiped out all opposition. A mere word from His parched lips, and His enemies would have been annihilated. Jesus did not have to give Himself for you and me. There was nothing good and clean and noble in our lives that appealed to Him. “All our righteousnesses” were “as filthy rags.” Yet He loved us despite our sins and ingratitude. I read recently of a mother who for fourteen years, day and night, attended a mentally handicapped child, constantly denying herself life’s pleasures. One day she broke down and cried: “If only my child would once show that it recognized me! If only in all these years I could see a single glance of recognition and love!” That weak-minded child is a picture of human thanklessness. Masses live on year after year, decade after decade, enjoying divine bounty every moment, but never raising their sin-blinded gaze to Christ. Yet, despite our thanklessness Jesus loved us and stayed on the cross for us. More than a dozen times before Good Friday His people had tried to destroy Him, but Jesus waited for Calvary. He willingly, lovingly, voluntarily laid down His life and in all those previous instances proved that no one could take it from Him. It was His own deliberate, determined love for you and me that made Him give Himself to the cruelty of His countrymen. He went to the cross by His own free choice.

Crucifixion is a long, excruciating, terrifying torture. If Christ had to die, He might have chosen a quick, sudden death; but He definitely selected long, lingering agony. Each moment the anguish of His raging fever heightened; yet He refused to come down. Each moment the pain of the burning, festering wounds increased; but He stayed on the cross. Each moment the parched dryness of His body mounted; still He remained riveted to those timbers of death. Each moment the crushing agony of His soul, infinitely greater than the bodily misery, grew more intense; yet, thank God, He stayed on the tree of torture to conclude the marvelous plan of your redemption!

Remember, likewise, that Jesus remained crucified so that He could fulfill the ancient promises of Sacred Scripture. Centuries before the first Good Friday, God’s prophets had foreseen that He would be crucified with sinners, that His hands and feet would be pierced, that He would be mocked and derided by the very transgressors whom He had come to save, would die on the cross, His lifeless body be buried in the tomb of a rich friend, that in all this He was atoning, as Isaiah stated eleven times in his faith-filled fifty-third chapter, for our sins, suffering for our iniquities, substituting for us, dying so that we could live. There at Golgotha, by fulfilling those ancient prophecies, Jesus sealed the truth of Holy Writ in His own blood. No other sacrifice we have ever seen or can see gives us assurance for the question-marked future which awaits us, despite the glib guarantees frequently uttered by political prophets. Because the Bible assures you that “all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen,” you have within the covers of your Scriptures the promise of free grace, which will be granted as positively as those Old Testament previsions were realized on Good Friday. Christ stayed on the cross until death to leave you a proved and faultless Bible, a Book which has never made a mistake and will never be convicted of error. At Calvary He gives you a volume of imperishable truth. If Scripture was found exactly accurate at the crucifixion, believe with all your heart that it will be unfailing in the small emergencies of your life! Thank God, the Savior clung to the cross and gave you the assured, errorless Scriptures!

Take courage for your own life from the fact that Jesus unflinchingly did God’s will, refused to avoid the pathway of pain! Most of us do not realize that from the beginning to the end of His public ministry our Lord was constantly confronted with the temptation to substitute ease for anguish, applause for affliction, comfort for conflict. “Don’t take the hard way of the cross,” Satan had whispered. “Worship me, and I will give you the whole world!” “Don’t go the grim, gory road to Golgotha,” Peter had pleaded. “Fight your way through with the sword! Destroy your enemies!” The same appeal may come to you: “Don’t take your religion and your life seriously! Why be narrow and believe that Jesus is the only Way to heaven? Why not be broad and agree that Gentile and Jew, Christian and Confucianist, student of the Bible and student of the Koran, Modernist and Mohammedan, are all headed toward the same goal? Why deny yourself? Enjoy life to the fullest and forget Scripture’s Thou-shalt-not-do-this’s and the Thou-shalt-not-do­that’s! You young folks, why not discard the old ideals of personal purity, of keeping yourself wholly for the young man or young woman of your choice for better or for worse, until death do you part? Why do you followers of Jesus insist on living separated lives, on coming out from sin and godlessness?” These questions are repeated today with greater frequency than ever as believers are enticed from following the Savior. Perhaps American Christians must go the hard way in the years ahead. We are losing spiritual power. We are becoming soft and flabby. How many in the United States today will fight an all-out battle for Jesus, refuse to compromise, to pay the consequences of confessing Him before men? How many of our countrymen agree that resignation to suffering, under God and through Christ, is finally the best and the happiest way?

When you who love the Savior are racked by heavy anguish, don’t be dismayed and discouraged! God’s enemies, bloated by their own prosperity, boasting that nothing has gone wrong with them, may turn to you and taunt: “You claim that God will help you; why doesn’t He? You insist that He loves you. Well, where is His devotion? Why don’t you forget your religion?” Instead of discarding your faith, remember, Easter followed Good Friday; that after the crucifixion came the resurrection. The same Lord of glory is mighty in all things today. Because Jesus stayed on the cross to do His Father’s will, you have the divine comfort that no matter what you may be called upon to endure, your heavenly Father in His own time and in His own way will deliver you. Your trust in Jesus will never be misplaced; and just as the empty, blood-stained cross gave way to the empty, divinely opened grave, so Christ can give you triumph after trial, victory after defeat, life after death. God grant that now across the continent, as this appeal goes to our ships on the Atlantic and our outposts in the Pacific, we may all, standing in spirit at Calvary, raise our hands in undying allegiance to the crucified Savior of all mankind and give this pledge: “We thank Thee that Thou didst not come down from the cross of shame and agony, but that Thou wast faithful unto death, so that we have the assurance of our blood-bought redemption, guidance and comfort for time, glory and majesty for eternity. O Jesus, as Thou didst remain on the cross, so we promise Thee that we will come to the cross, stay with the cross, living and dying, glorify the cross!” God help us! Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: March 21, 1943

When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple standing by whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother!John 19:26-27

O Jesus, Our Christ of Endless Compassion:

As on Thy cross of agony and shame Thou didst establish and bless a new home for Thy mother, so from the throne of Thy glory in heaven look down on the families of this nation! By Thy Spirit graciously direct parents and children to Calvary in deep contrition and with a living, trusting faith! Forgive the repeated transgressions, especially the lovelessness, strife, unfaithfulness in many households, and by the power of Thy blood remove all selfishness! Show us that without Thee we can do nothing good! We are too weak and selfish to preserve peace and mutual understanding, if Thou dost not enter our homes to bless us! Teach us, however, that no affliction of body or soul, no loss of money or treasure, no sorrow of disaster, nor even death need overwhelm us. In all these adversities we are more than conquerors through Thee and Thy limitless love! Graciously protect our military men and women who are far from their homes, daily surrounded by multiplied dangers; and, O Christ of mercy and might, grant them soon a happy homecoming in true victory and lasting peace! We plead according to Thy will and promise! Hear us, O Jesus, for our help is in Thee! Amen.

A FEW years ago, when scientists were digging in the ruins of Herculaneum, the city which, together with Pompeii, was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 A.D., they were amazed to find under the lava and ashes a cross impressed on a bedroom wall in a most beautiful ancient dwelling. Though surrounded by pagan vice and debauch, that home, the first in all history known thus to be marked, was not ashamed to show its devotion to the Lord Jesus.

Today, when far more houses are destroyed by the bombings and blastings of this world conflict than by that fire and treachery of Vesuvius, every twentieth-century household in the United States could well follow this first-century example. Of course, there is no miraculous power in the wood or the precious metals of which a cross may be made or in the costly jewels with which it may be studded. Nor is there any help for the soul in bowing before the alleged fragments of the timbers on which the Savior was nailed. It is a million times more important to understand the true meaning of Jesus’ suffering and to have our homes blessed by a Christ-centered faith.

Because family life in this nation faces serious difficulties, which can be removed only by loyalty to the Crucified, I urge you: Stand once more at Calvary! Witness the Savior’s deep concern for His mother’s sorrows and suffering! Hear Him, as His love establishes a new home there, beneath the blood-marked cross! Ponder carefully this record of Saint John, chapter nineteen, verses twenty-six and twenty-seven: “When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple standing by whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother!” These words issue the call from Calvary:

FAMILIES OF AMERICA, CLING TO THE CROSS!

May the Holy Spirit mightily bless this message of Jesus’ dying love in many sorrow-stricken, war-torn, peace-robbed homes!

I

CLINGING TO THE CROSS, PARENTS LEARN TO STAND BY THEIR CHILDREN

Who can ever know fully the anguish which surged through Mary’s heart in those torturous, grief-numbed hours at Golgotha when she saw her own Son nailed to that accursed, unclean instrument of death? The Scriptures do not record that she spoke a single word during the hours of that agony, and perhaps the bleeding horror of the crucifixion left her speechless. No one knew Jesus as intimately, lovingly as His mother. How her thoughts must have raced through the thirty years in which, before His public ministry, He had been her considerate, devoted, and absolutely sinless Son! How vividly Mary must have recalled those sacred moments when her arms cradled His infant form! Yet, here at Golgotha she could not even wipe the grime, sweat, and blood from His wounded body; she could not stop the raging fever or quench the fiery thirst. She remembered that the angels had sung the promise of “great joy” which her Son would bring to all people. Where, she must have asked bewilderedly, could there be any joy in the appalling agony that would soon kill Him? “He shall save His people from their sins,” the angels had promised; but at Golgotha, Mary heard the murder-crazed crowd cry in sneering sarcasm, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save!” Christ, so prophecy had told her, was to be “a Light to lighten” the world, yet here on the skull-shaped hill of death both His countrymen and the Gentiles were united to destroy Him. Never in all human suffering has any other mother endured the horror which gripped Mary there beneath the cross.

In their cruelest punishments degenerate tyrants have made parents witness the execution of their own children. This was the favorite penalty imposed by Caligula, the insane, satanic Roman emperor who often insisted that fathers and mothers look on while their sons writhed in agony. But love, pure and unconquerable, not force, brought Mary to the execution of her sinless Son. Gruesome though the whole crucifixion was, nothing could keep her from Jesus in His last moments. The cowardly disciples might flee and hide, but she would stand by her Son. Jesus might be ridiculed and rejected, cursed and crucified, but come hatred, come persecution to the blood, come death itself—weak, helpless woman though she was, Mary would stay with Christ and comfort Him until the end.

Mothers and fathers of America, follow Mary in standing by your children during their crisis moments! Never have they needed the encouragement of parents as intensely as now, in World War II. Eleven million of our choicest young men are to be under arms in the nation’s defense before this year closes, and at least one of every three families in my audience knows what it has cost to give a son to the country. While it is neither weak nor unpatriotic to feel this loss so keenly that your eyes sometimes fill with tears, do not let self-concern dictate your emotions! Rather try to help your sons, as Mary sought to sustain Jesus!

If you truly wish to fulfill your responsibilities as fathers and mothers, work and pray that your children go out to Calvary to convince themselves that Jesus is their Savior; that, while His limitless and unrestricted love offers forgiveness, pardon, peace, and heaven itself to all men in the entire past, present, and future of history, nevertheless His cross-crowned mercy is so individual and personal that every sinner can look up to the crucified Redeemer and say: “He shed His blood to cleanse me; He was crucified to rescue me from hell. He died here, so that I might have eternal life.”

We hear much of morale-building agencies. May God bless any program that can give real encouragement to our armed forces! But if you could visit our men in Pacific island foxholes, Tunisian tanks, on Aleutian airfields, or North Atlantic conveys, many would personally assure you that the highest and steadiest morale­builder is Christian faith. These men know that, when you see an enemy detachment approaching, find a torpedo steering its way toward the center of your ship, hear an aerial bomb whistling its way in your direction, you need Christ. Therefore, parents of America, strengthen your sons with the fortitude of trusting faith! It is not enough that you love them, write to them regularly, supply them with everything money can buy. They need more than devotion or letters. They must have something money cannot buy—Jesus for their hearts and their lives.

Unbelief and rejection of Christ are always destructive, but never so much as when parents who should help their children spiritually are forced to stammer hopelessly in soul ignorance. I certainly would not want to be an atheist father and have to send my son into this war with no support for its dangerous hours other than the vague hope that somehow luck or fate may be good to him. If you parents who have never brought your children to Christ—simply because you have stubbornly and selfishly resisted the Savior—want to undo the influence of your bad example, stop battling against the Almighty! Give Jesus His way in your soul! Drop your pride to confess yourselves poor, lost sinners! Ask the Lord to forgive you for Jesus’ sake! Put your trust wholly, continually, sincerely, in your crucified Savior, and then—God be praised—you can do what Mary did, you can truly stand by your boy through life or, if divine wisdom decrees, through death! You can help fortify the hearts of our fighting men from Kiska to Casablanca to China. How? If you churchless and Christless listeners will accept Jesus as your Savior and then write letters like this: “Dear Son: Today Mother and I have accepted Christ. We have been blind up to this time, but now, thank God, we see the light. We are sorry that we have helped keep the Lord from you all these years, but now we beg you to welcome Him as your Redeemer!”

To help your son find Jesus a large number of Christian pastors have offered their services as Army and Navy chaplains. Records in my own Church, which has furnished some 150 spiritual leaders for our armed forces, show that in this conflict more than ever before the chaplain meets the same dangers which confront your son. As we thank every truly Christian chaplain for his self­sacrifice in behalf of Jesus, we plead with each one of them to maintain an uncompromising, unswerving devotion to the Savior and to help keep our armed forces believing and trusting the Lord of their salvation.

We cannot promise, of course, that, if you parents help bring your sons to Christ and keep them with Him, they will lead a “charmed” life, escaping danger and death. Even Mary’s intense love at Calvary could not save her Son. Some of our fighting men will lose their lives; but then what blessed assurance to know that they have gone home to Jesus, that they are face to face with Him, relieved from war, wickedness, and suffering! . . . How terrifying, on the other hand, for a soldier to face the horror of death alone, without the Lord’s sustaining companionship, because his own parents kept him away from this divine Companion! Believe also, however, that, if it be God’s high and holy purpose, a Christian soldier can be protected, miraculously, if necessary. Recently I stated on this broadcast that the Almighty can change the course of bullets to shield His children. Some of you may have thought that exaggeration, but recently I received a letter telling of a sailor whose ship was twice torpedoed off North Africa, and who, as he took to the lifeboat, was under close, constant enemy fire. He writes: “Bullets continually grazed my legs and arms. It is a miracle of God that I was spared.” Behind that miracle was a family which for two years prayed daily for his safety. If your son is Christ’s, then, in life or in death, you can have the confidence by which the father of a twenty-one-year-old distinguished pilot in the South Pacific air-service wrote me: “May the Lord, if it be His will, keep Howard well and safe! But should He will it otherwise, we pray that He will give us strength and courage to travel on until we, too, shall reach the end of the road and meet again at Jesus’ feet.”

American parents must also stand by sons and daughters who stay at home. They, too, must battle, not so much against actual flesh-and-blood adversaries as against treacherous wickedness and alluring temptations. Here they are, these regiments of ruin mobilized against your boys and girls as never before: Youth Enemy Number One: loose morality. An old proverb warns: “When war breaks out, hell has to be enlarged.” While we should reasonably expect that the visitations of this present struggle and the longer casualty lists would sober people, make them humble themselves under God’s chastising hand, lead them to repent of their sins, we see instead worldliness on all sides. How true Jeremiah’s complaint: “Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; Thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction; they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.” Our young people cannot escape all contact with evil forces. The laxity and looseness of immorality, the lure to live fully while you can, continually coax our young people, and too often temptation triumphs. Study the increase in teenage lawbreakers; survey our overcrowded reformatories!

Youth Enemy Number Two: the spending, the luxury, the love of easy money. Most young people have never before handled the large sums they now receive; and the widespread extravagance they behold on all sides—$3,000 mink coats, $500 hats, $30 shoes—helps increase the love of vanity at the expense of soul growth and a clean, humble life.

Youth Enemy Number Three: lax family standards. Where, outside the churches—and not even in all of them—do any agencies emphasize marriage as a divine gift and lifelong blessing; parenthood, a sacred privilege and responsibility; motherhood, a divinely appointed power in the home rather than in business, politics, and social activities? Even the United States Supreme Court has made the lowest, easiest divorce laws granted by one of our States legal for the whole nation! Our young men and women are influenced by this collapse of family morality. Not a few of the girls who run carelessly into hasty weddings without really knowing their husbands or understanding the sacrifices wartime marriages demand are saying to themselves, “Well, if this marriage does not turn out as I expect, or if I meet someone I like better, I can always get a divorce.”

Youth Enemy Number Four: sinful amusement and drink. A mere glance at the advertisements of most night clubs reveals their sordid character. Widely applauded stage productions feature the triangle relation without rebuke. The F.B.I. has branded certain public dance halls as breeding places of vice. In Saint Louis the military police have closed taverns to soldiers because they were centers of crime and disease. Drunken driving has increased 60 per cent in one of our large cities.

Youth Enemy Number Five: printed attacks on God’s Word and the Christian home. Newspapers have again featured full-page advertisements of certain pamphlets, miscalled “books,” published by a Kansas infidel, some of them written by perverted minds, many openly opposed to Christ and the demands of decency. I rejoice that a New Orleans friend, to present the counteracting, saving influence of the Gospel, is paying for full-page space in the largest paper of that city, so that he can bring our message to all the people in New Orleans. I earnestly invite other business men whom God has richly blessed to do the same thing in their communities. We must use the press for the Savior, since it is too widely abused against Him. Think of it, in a syndicated column conducted by a woman nationally known as a counselor on home questions, a nineteen-year-old Catholic young woman writes that she is in love with a Protestant married man twelve years older than she, the father of a seven-year-old child! This man plans to secure a divorce, and the girl, who states that she “can hardly wait for that glorious day,” asks where she should be married. In answer, that widely heralded consultant on courtship and marriage merely suggests the wedding be performed by a justice of the peace or by some minister who does not hesitate to remarry divorced persons, but not in a single word does she warn the girl that she is helping to break a home, ruining her life, losing her soul!

Youth Enemy Number Six: anti-Christian influences. Christ-rejecting churches, often with large funds at their disposal; social-gospel churches, with much entertainment, but little soul-encouragement; sleepy, spiritually dead churches which spurn their divinely bestowed gifts; Bible-ridiculing schools, with large scholarship and endowment funds; atheist-Communist political movements, with pointed appeals to our young people—these have wrought unspeakable havoc in young lives by turning many from the Lord. The latest atrocity is offered by the Texas University student paper, in which a girl editor applauds Russian atheism and lists “religion,” along with slavery and prostitution, as one of the seven sins with which men are cursed.

Youth Enemy Number Seven, the last and in many ways the worst: the indifference of parents and the breakdown of the home. Ask J. Edgar Hoover, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, why more girls are going wrong than ever before, and he gives this reason: “A deplorable lack of parental guidance and discipline in many homes”! Ask social workers why they are overcrowded with family case work, and they will answer that often, when father and mother both work, they are too busy or unwilling to care for the family; that far too frequently parents are separated, divorced! Ask any pastor why young people who seemed to give promise of a victorious life have forsaken Jesus, and usually he will reply that they had no reinforcement for their religion at home, that their families never took time to meet God in prayer and worship!

The order of the day, then, for the home front is: Parents, cling to the Cross and use its divine power to help your children! It is not enough that you provide them with food and shelter, educate them, lavish your affection on them. You yourself must have Christ to give them Christ. Everything else you bequeath them can be taken away; the money they inherit may endanger their soul’s salvation, but the faith they have learned from you can be the imperishable assurance of their heavenly redemption.

Fathers and mothers, can you truly say, “I have stood at the Savior’s cross, and my children have worshiped with me”? Do you answer, “No”? Realize then, if there is to be pardon and promise for you, you must first show sincere repentance for your sins. Then, as God’s Word directs you, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house!” you must accept Him as your suffering, bleeding, dying Redeemer, welcome Him into your family circle as the Head of your household, daily commune with Him in the Scriptures, constantly intercede with Him through fervent prayer; eagerly plead and work, so that the whole family—father, mother, and children—all kneel at the cross in one blessed faith and in one triumphant hope.

II

CLINGING TO THE CROSS, CHILDREN LEARN TO STAND BY THEIR PARENTS

Our text tells us that when the Savior “saw His mother, and the disciple standing by whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother!” The pain of soul and body which our crucified Savior endured at Calvary as He paid the full, fearful price of all iniquity, atoning for sin after sin, in the endless list of human guilt, is utterly beyond human measurement, understanding and expression; yet, when the crucified Redeemer beheld Mary, He forgot the horror and the terror our sins had laid upon Him; He provided a home for His mother, with shelter, protection, and love. How marvelous His compassion!

How striking His example and appeal, too, for American sons and daughters similarly to stand by their parents! Mary, the Savior knew, would have to face loneliness, public curiosity, persecution; and many of your parents, now or in the near future, unable to support themselves, may hover on the edge of destitution. What are you going to do? Refuse to provide for them because, as you say, you have your own worries? Send them to the poorhouse? Let them rely on state old-age pensions? Remember all that your father and mother have done for you! They gave you life; they guarded you during childhood years, provided for you until you could begin to make your own way; and if you are blessed with Christian parents, they brought you to Jesus, taught you the Savior’s love, prayed for you, denied themselves so that you could enjoy advantages they never knew. Yet, in cold selfishness, many young people have forsaken their fathers and mothers. Some of the saddest letters we receive come from aged parents, seventy, eighty, or more years old, whose children have no room for them in their homes; no love for them in their hearts. How shocking that ingratitude and how terrifying its punishment! God’s Word warns, “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother!” And again, “The eye that mocketh at his father and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” I£ you have thus sinned against your parents, fall on your knees to ask God’s forgiveness! See the Savior, writhing in agony, provide for His mother’s earthly needs, and resolve that with God’s help you will amend and improve your sin-marked life!

Has God graciously given you parents who, like Mary, love the Savior and cling to His grace? Make it your duty to radiate their faith! Rembrandt, the world-renowned Dutch artist, gratefully painted many pictures of his mother. Almost one hundred have been found, and in most of these she clasps a small Bible in her hands. You may not be able to immortalize your mother or father in portraits; but if you show the faith your Christian parents taught you, you will pay them a tribute more valuable in God’s sight than any costly canvas. When you follow Christ’s example and honor your parents, the Lord will honor you. The commandment, “Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother,” is the only ordinance of the ten with a blessing—“that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long on the earth!”

III

CLINGING TO THE CROSS, THE WHOLE FAMILY IS BLESSED BY CHRIST

Saint John—for he was the disciple to whom Jesus entrusted His mother—experienced the fulfillment of this promise in a long life and, despite persecutions, a good life. He was in all probability the youngest of the Twelve; but in no way was he morally or spiritually better than the others. On the contrary, before the Savior’s crucifixion he shared the weaknesses of the rest. He, too, dreamed of a powerful kingdom which the Lord would establish on earth. He, too, coveted a high position of authority at the Savior’s right hand. He, too, had not learned to supplant hatred with love; for when the people of a Samaritan village refused to welcome Jesus, he besought the Lord that fire from heaven might destroy them. He was a true son “of thunder,” who would have used force and destruction to spread the Redeemer’s realm. After the crucifixion, however, John was a changed man; in his Gospel and three epistles he becomes the outstanding Apostle of love and humility, teaching that Christ’s dominion is spiritual, that it welcomes not those who resort to tumult and bloodshed but those who are “born of water and of the Spirit.” How can we account for this startling change? We know, of course, that it was a miracle wrought by the Holy Spirit through the Word; but who brought Saint John that Word? Are we not entitled to conclude that in his home Mary confided to him the marvelous wonders which she as the Savior’s mother had witnessed in the life of her divine Son—all the treasures of sacred memory she had kept in her heart since Jesus was born?

Every one of you can find the same regenerating power in your Bible, which, by its own promise, “is able to build you up” and strengthen your household. Is your family happiness broken by quarrel, cursing, drunkenness, unfaithfulness, waning love? You have one—but only one—hope of permanent help: God’s Word, as it brings you the Gospel grace of your crucified Savior. If real understanding, true affection, mutual helpfulness have been banished from your dwelling, there is again only one way to forgiveness and unselfishness: the way to the cross, where, beholding God’s Son slain in your place, you learn, believe, and trust the supreme truth of earth and heaven—“He died for” you. If parents and children understand the terrible curse of sin, doubly damnable, it seems, when it blasts peace and joy from the family circle; if they cling to the cross with the soul­deep assurance that “the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin”; if they practice the Savior’s teachings concerning the home, invoke His presence in daily prayer, attend a true church regularly and reverently, have the children, wherever possible, enjoy the blessings of Christian day-school training, the members of that household, be it rich or poor, will enjoy the fullest blessings we can know this side of heaven.

Why, we may well ask, did Jesus entrust His mother to John, when she had close relatives, who could have given her food and shelter? Probably because these kinsfolk did not believe in the Savior, He was unwilling to entrust His mother to them. By contrast, how easily young people entrust themselves for life to unbelievers! How readily parents permit their sons or daughters to marry infidels! It takes more than money, furniture, decorations, to make the truly happy home. It takes more than even love itself. You must have Christ.

He who suffered on the cross for us can strengthen our families in any trials or sorrows. European medical annals tell of a Hungarian nobleman who lost his only child, a beautiful daughter, on the eve of her marriage. For two years he remained in a state of melancholia from which not even the efforts of specialists could free him. Then a friend suggested a new way to counteract the growing depression. The assistance of Elizabeth Mara, distinguished court singer, was secured, and unknown to the count, it was arranged that she, without being seen, would sing for him from Handel’s Messiah, the Christ­exalting masterpiece. At first the melancholy man paid scant attention to the exquisite music. But when Elizabeth Mara sang the words, “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow,” and the oratorio pictured Jesus on the cross of shame and agony, the despised, rejected, sin-bearing Son of God, the count was suddenly gripped by His Savior’s love. Tears gathered in his eyes, the first since the funeral of his daughter. He fell on his knees in contrite faith, and when the choir accompanying the singer joined in the “Hallelujah Chorus,” his voice was blended in that hymn of praise.—The Triune God of grace promises you, parents and children, that no matter how often sorrow may cross your threshold, how heavy the weight of grief these days of war may bring, how hopeless life may seem, if you hear the crucified, sin-crushed Redeemer plead, “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow,” and declare: “O Jesus, truly no one could suffer as Thou didst suffer, since Thou didst take upon Thyself my sins and the guilt of all the world. O Jesus, no one could be tortured as Thou wast, for Thy soul pain on the cross grants me pardon and peace; Thy death assures me of life”—if your family is marked by that faith, the Almighty now gives you the most blessed assurance even He can grant—the promise of your glorious, heavenly home. Parents of America, children of America, come to Calvary! Cling to Christ’s cross! Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: March 14, 1943

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!Luke 23:34

Our Father:

As Thy beloved Son, our only Savior, pleaded for His enemies in the agony of the crucifixion, so, with firm faith in the Christ of Calvary we now intercede for those who hate us, our personal and national adversaries. Father, “nothing shall be impossible” with Thee; therefore, we beseech Thee to bring all those who oppose us to the cross, so that they witness Heaven’s highest compassion, heed the appeal for repentance, and find the assurance of their redemption through faith in the crucified Redeemer. If Jesus loved us while we, His enemies, were yet in our sins; if He gave Himself into that painful, shameful death to atone for those who blasphemed Him, how can we hate our fellow men and refuse to forgive, even as we have been forgiven? Show Thy mercy to our military men and women throughout the world! Restore many listed as missing! Heal the wounded! Cheer the captives! Comfort the dying! Again, O Father, we ask: Give us a true, triumphant peace soon! We pray according to Thy will and in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

LAST week the United States ambassador to Russia issued an amazing indictment. In effect he asserted that, although our country has shipped the Soviet armies large supplies of airplanes, tanks, cannon, ammunition, raw materials, and food, this fact is being systematically withheld from the Russian people, who do not know the extent of our help nor appreciate the aid we have sent. Serious, nationwide concern was shown over this statement. But why, I ask you, are we not more vitally agitated by the spiritual ignorance in our own country, according to which men and women, beholding the Savior’s cross, do not believe that it represents the greatest source of national and individual help? Why have some American churches hushed the message of the groaning agony at Golgotha? Before we accuse the Russians of ingratitude to men, should we not plead guilty of our own ingratitude to God?

Because it is either Christ or continued crisis, either the Savior’s cross or men’s double cross; because America needs spiritual security before social security, I shall devote every message in this Lenten season to the central, vital heart of our true Christian faith, the cross of the Lord Jesus. I ask everyone of you not only to meet with us each Lord’s day in this mighty mission of the air, but also to direct others, the uncounted self-righteous sinners, the afflicted, sorrow-burdened friends, to the crucified Christ of all compassion. Begin with us, then, this afternoon! Stand in spirit at Calvary’s crest to hear Jesus plead (Saint Luke, chapter twenty-three, verse thirty­four), “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!” and to echo:

“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM—AND US!”

May the Holy Spirit bless this message and bring many souls to their only Savior!

I

THE MARVELOUS MERCY IN CHRIST’S PRAYER, “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM!”

These words, the first spoken from the cross, form a prayer. Jesus might have shrieked in agony; He might have screamed in protest against the hellish injustice that had sentenced Him to death. Instead, during His first moments on that tree of torture He prayed. On the last day of His earthly life our Savior maintained the regular communion with God which had marked every previous day, and which had made Him spend long hours, often the entire night, pleading with His heavenly Father. If only we would follow Christ in esteeming and applying the power of fervent prayer! War’s multiplied perils should constantly bring us down on our knees before God; yet too many in the United States have no interest in intercession, no understanding of its necessity and blessing. We may have to suffer far more than the worst we have experienced in the past before we fully realize our utter dependence on the Almighty and the merciful privilege which is ours in humbly petitioning His grace. Prayer can prevail when every earthly hope collapses. Dominic Izzi, United States Navy gunner, will testify to this truth. With two other companions, he spent eighty­three days in a small raft on the open sea. What kept him alive during almost three months, when the raft drifted twenty-two hundred miles? Was it his will power, his own strength, his good luck? Ask him! He replies, “I prayed daily, and I knew that God was with me all the way.”

Jesus prays to His Father; and if your pleas are to be heard, they must be directed to the one God, who can and will reply to His children. As throughout His life, so in His death Jesus reveals to the world who the true and eternal God is—not Allah, the god of the Mohammedans; not Zeus, the god of the Greeks; not Jupiter, the god of the Romans; not Asshur, the god of Assyrians; not Marduk, the god of the Babylonians; not Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, the Hindu gods; not Buddha, worshiped by millions in China and the Far East; not Ahura Mazda or Ahariman, the gods of Persia—all false and fraudulent. The sole Source of rescue and redemption for our age is the Father whom Jesus invoked and who together with His Son, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, is the Lord of lords, the sole, supreme, triune Cod. He it is who made America great; and He it is to whom the nation’s prayers must be directed in this crisis. Many people have read casualty listings so often that they are no longer moved by the reports of more than two thousand American soldiers fallen during a single week’s Tunisian fighting, of many more American sailors lost in submarine sinkings. We are becoming so accustomed to accounts of mass killings in this war that we forget the value of a single life and the high estimate which Jesus places on an individual soul.

Besides, millions in the United States seem stolidly unconcerned about the future. Walk through the downtown streets of a typical city at night and you will find just as much revelry as before the war! While we thank God for a government which seeks to give us “security from the cradle to the grave,” we need spiritual security beyond the grave. When we are promised after the war “a life of abundance unparalleled in all history,” we ought to understand that, if the plans for the future leave out the Almighty and set Christian principles aside, we may face trials and afflictions unparalleled in previous history. The Vice-President of the United States felt called upon to warn our people of the possibility that Germany and Russia might become allied against us. Here are his words, “There is a great probability of Germany and Russia sooner or later making common cause.” If that should happen, we must be prepared to battle world Communism, world atheism, world opposition to Christianity. My countrymen, this is only one of the disastrous dangers that may confront us. America should constantly be on its knees in penitent pleading before the Throne of Grace. The call that should resound every minute of every day is, “Pray without ceasing!” If you love this divinely blessed nation, beseech the Father, as did Jesus on the cross! What magnificent mercy to know that through Christ God is our merciful Father, who gives us life and sustenance, guidance and guardianship; a Father to whom we can take every trouble, who can help us when all other help fails, who “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all”!

How astonishing also that in this first prayer on the cross—only ten words—Jesus did not plead for Himself! By contrast, think of our petitions, in which we often ask: “God, give me this! God, give me that!” and rarely take time to voice a word of sincere thanks for His unnumbered blessings on soul and body! It was refreshing to read this recognition in General MacArthur’s order of the day following the victory at New Guinea: “To God Almighty I give thanks for that guidance which has brought us to this success in our great crusade. His is the honor, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”

True, there was abundant reason for Christ to think of Himself. He had come through a sleepless night of horror. He had been betrayed by one of His disciples and deserted by the rest. He had been beaten, bruised, spit upon, by His own countrymen. He had been scourged, crowned with thorns, by the Roman soldiers and made to carry His cross until He collapsed under its weight. And now, perhaps as He spoke this prayer, heavy nails were being hammered through the flesh and bones of His hands and feet. How terrifying the agonies of that crucifixion! How crushing, beyond the physical pain, the soul anguish such as earth and heaven had not witnessed otherwise. There, on those rugged, gory beams He bore in His own holy body the burden of all transgressions that curse the entire human race; yet—O marvelous mercy!—He pleads not for Himself; forgetting the torture of His soul, He prays for others.

For whom particularly did Jesus intercede? Not for His mother, who stood, bewildered and hopeless, beneath the cross; not for the godly women who had traveled to Calvary, hoping to perform some last, lingering service of love; not for His disciples who, despite their declarations of loyalty, had proved cringing cowards. He had knelt for them and all the faithful only a few hours before in His majestic high-priestly prayer. It is easy to plead for those who love us—a mother for her son, a wife for her husband, a pastor for his flock; but here Jesus intercedes for the soldiers who are crucifying Him. Was there ever love like this? Recall, by contrast, the hatred of Tamerlane, Oriental conqueror, said to have made a pyramid of 90,000 human heads on the ruins of Baghdad! Genghis Khan killed more than 18,000,000 human beings in China alone. Review the hatred practiced in the name of religion! When Mohammed was wounded in battle at Ohod, he cried in resentment and rage: “Let the wrath of Allah burn against the men that have besprinkled the face of his apostle with blood! Let not the year pass over them alive!” And within the twelve months they were all killed. Again on Easter Monday, 1282, during the joyful festival of the Savior’s resurrection, when the vesper bells rang throughout Sicily, 8,000 French men, women, children were cut down in a religious war. Yet, at Calvary, Jesus, suffering in the vilest miscarriage of justice, appeals for His enemies and pleads not merely that their penalty be reduced, not that the Lord instead of striking them dead on the spot, would grant them some consideration; but by the highest, deepest, widest love even God could show, He begs that they be entirely forgiven, completely pardoned, their sins altogether removed, the charge of murder wholly canceled. We call it noteworthy clemency today when a governor commutes the death sentence of a guilty criminal to life imprisonment; how much greater is the Savior’s total mercy which, in those terrifying moments when His enemies were crucifying Him, pleaded that their sins, their guilt, punishment, curse, and doom to hell, be absolutely and finally removed.—Was there ever love like this?

We may be assured, however, that Jesus’ prayer, “Father, forgive them!” was spoken not only for those Roman crucifiers; He was pleading with the earnestness of unquenchable love also for the high priests, scribes, Pharisees, those proud, unbending, hate-filled clerical killers, who conspired to destroy Him. He was approaching His Father in behalf of the Jerusalem politicians who had agreed that He, the innocent, spotless Son of God, should be delivered into death. He was raising His voice for the bloodthirsty mob howling at Him in derision, shaking their heads in mockery, taunting Him in His suffering. From that high altar where Jesus was being sacrificed as the final offering for the sins of the world, He appealed for all who had despised and rejected Him, for every sinner in the ages yet to come. Above all, however—and this is the personal message of the Lenten season, the warning and comfort of Christ’s cross—He pleaded, “Father, forgive them!” because He was thinking of you and your transgressions, because even the agony of the crucifixion could not make Him forget you nor keep Him from beseeching His Father to remove your iniquities.

You cannot understand the real meaning of the crucifixion unless you know and confess that your sins sent Jesus to Calvary; that your guilt made Him suffer agony, unfathomable and indescribable. You will forfeit His grace; you will let the eternal salvation of your preciously bought soul slip away unless you are convinced that, when Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them!” He was reminding Himself of your utter helplessness and hopelessness without Him, and beseeching His Father that your iniquities might be forgiven, your disloyalty, hatred of the truth, rebellion against the Almighty, canceled and removed forever. Many moving appeals have been made before the bars of human justice in behalf of prisoners condemned by their own confession; but never again will earth or heaven witness that most powerful and penetrating petition with which Jesus began His death plea, “Father, forgive them!”

Christ did far more than pray for you. In His matchless mercy and endless grace He died to seal your pardon with His blood. Amazing grace: the sinless Savior crucified for sin-filled mankind; the pure and holy Redeemer suffering for an impure and vicious race; the glorious Son of God offered as a living and dying sacrifice for all the selfish sons of men; the almighty Lord of lords slain for His depraved, degenerate creatures; Jesus Christ delivered into death for you!

Today we see many examples of heroic devotion. Millions of American young men under arms risk their lives in defending our country. Oh, that we genuinely appreciated what they are doing for us, that we could understand the sorrows surging through the hearts of America’s gold-star parents! Our admiration goes out to a chaplain from Newark, Father John P. Washington, whose transport was torpedoed in the North Atlantic. He drowned after giving his lifebelt to save a soldier who had none. We are deeply moved by the love of a Brooklyn father who last week lost his life attempting to rescue his son from a burning house. These men each died to save one person; Christ died to save the world. These heroes gave their lives for a friend or a dear one; the Savior was crucified for His enemies. The chaplain and the Brooklyn father went to their doom attempting to rescue men’s bodies for this life; Jesus went to Calvary to rescue souls for eternity. Here at Golgotha, then, is complete compassion, the removal and canceling of all our sins. Here is guaranteed grace, no wishful thinking, no “perhaps,” no “if” or “maybe,” but assured certainty. “I am persuaded,” we can exult with Saint Paul, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Here is the full forgiveness, without payment, without intercession or introduction by saints, the magnificent mercy that receives you just as you are, with all your sins and shortcomings. Therefore, repent and rely on the Savior! Here on the cross, towering over the skull-shaped hill, is positive pardon for you, all-embracing atonement for your transgressions, all-sustaining love for your life’s sorrows.

Note this added mercy: Jesus pleads that His murderers may be forgiven because “they know not what they do.” Plainly He indicates that the Roman soldiers nailing Him to the cross did not realize they were killing the Prince of Life. Many in that hate-swollen crowd, even some of the priests and higher-ups in the political circles of Jerusalem, did not recognize the terrifying crime in which they had involved themselves; and Jesus had compassion on their shocking, damning lack of knowledge.—Ask any attorney, and he will tell you that ignorance of human law is no excuse. If you exceed the speed limit, it will not help you to say, “I didn’t know I was driving too fast.” If you neglect to pay your federal income taxes, the Government will not listen to your plea, “I did not know I had to make a return.” If you are eligible to register for military service, no one will even consider this excuse, “I did not know I should report.” But at the cross men learn that Christ, as always, has more mercy than we have. Only He could pray, only He and His have ever interceded, only He and His faithful will ever plead, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!”

II

THE URGENT NECESSITY THAT WE PRAY, “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM—AND US!”

Now, we will do well to add to the Savior’s prayer and plead, “‘Father, forgive them’—and us!” for too many people, without Christ or against His cross, similarly do not know what they are doing. Some of you are entirely ignorant of the destruction and disaster your rejection of the Redeemer can cause. You “know not what” you do, you the religiously indifferent, who keep your distance from the church and think Sunday only a holiday; but you are not only starving your own souls, you are undermining the foundations of the nation. General Henri Giraud recently ascribed the downfall of France, in part at least, to the neglect of the Lord’s day. You “know not what” you do, you enemies of the home: attorneys who make money by easy and quick divorce; judges whose decrees split the family after plain collusion; club women and agitators who are working for the public distribution and open teaching of birth-control methods; physicians who aid impurity; husbands and wives who secretly break your marriage vows—you not only disregard God’s Law but also weaken American family life and help to increase national guilt. You “know not what” you do, you hypocrites who in the name of patriotism are trying to make money from soldiers and sailors; you tavern keepers, who ply them with drink; you frauds and cheats who advertise large, attractive packages for our service men but stuff them two-thirds full of straw and paper. You are not only defrauding the country’s defenders; you are also undermining their morale, working hand in hand with the enemy. You “know not what” you do, you Modernists who question God’s Word, misinterpret it, and finally deny it in sermons delivered from pulpits built by true believers in Christ’s atonement and the resurrection. You are not only guilty of deceit; you are also blind leaders of the blind. Far more, many of you refuse to accept the redemption in Christ; not knowing what you do, you are endangering your own preciously bought souls, toying with your eternal destiny, daily drawing closer to the brink of hell. For the guarantee of heaven, will you not come to Calvary and pray, “‘Father, forgive them’—and us, for often we ‘know not what’ we do”?

Some of you are purposely blaspheming the Lord, deliberately sneering at Jesus, willfully living in sin, determinately rebelling against the Almighty. To you I can only say, “May God have mercy on your souls!” Jesus was not praying for you, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do!” You know what you are doing. Yet, despite your avowed wickedness, Christ, whose grace is new every morning, whose forgiveness is never withheld from any penitent sinner, however vile, offers you atonement, if only before your heart is altogether hardened, you humbly, contritely, accept Him as your Redeemer! No matter how terrifying your rebellion against the Savior, He died for you.

No forgiveness is complete until it is accepted. Even the United States Supreme Court has ruled: if a prisoner refuses to agree to a pardon, he is not released. The blessings of redemption are not yours until you believe in Jesus. So that Christ will not have been crucified in vain for you, I ask you: Come to the cross! Accept your Redeemer! Be cleansed in His blood! Find life through His death! Crushed by the weight of your sins, stand at grim Golgotha to pray, “Father, forgive” me! and from Heaven itself will come the assurance that your sins—every one of them—have been canceled at Calvary for eternity!

Because we have received mercy, we must show mercy. In this age of personal hatred, class hatred, religious hatred, national hatred, we hear Jesus say, “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you!” If we would be Christ’s, we must try to put this command into practice. We are not worthy disciples of the loving Lord unless we ourselves radiate forgiveness and compassion. True, forgiving charity starts at home, in our family circles. Some of you are living in households split apart by long-nourished grudges. Brother is estranged from sister; parents have banished their own children; as unbelievable as this is, husband and wife are often practical enemies, working at cross purposes, with never a kind word, never a caress. Can you, blessed as you are by the Christ who freely forgave the multitude of your heavy transgressions, wreck your own lives and the happiness of others through sustained quarrels over trivialities or through proud, selfish insistence on your rights? Now, while you behold the immeasurable mercy of your Savior crushed to the cross, give room to the resolve which the Spirit would plant within you by seeking forgiveness from those whom you have injured and granting forgiveness to those who have injured you!

There can likewise be no racial or religious, color or class prejudices among true Christians. Even a World War cannot change that statement. We dare not push religion aside for the duration to forget that Jesus specifically commanded, “Love your enemies!” and that on the cross He loved His murderers to the bitter end. In contradiction to Christ’s compassion a high figure in American life cries out, “We must hate with every fiber of our being.” A New York psychiatrist declares that, if we stop hating Germans, Japanese, and Italians, this will be “a stumbling block in our efforts to build a world in which further wars will be impossible.” How utterly absurd this proposal to build a warless world with hatred! On the contrary, if passion and prejudice increase, we face a world of darkness and disaster beyond description. If during war, at the peace table, in the postwar period, we forget our Savior’s holy example on the cross, who can measure the devastation and conflict which may follow? Of course, we denounce the Nazi system that has produced the hatred and persecution of the Jews; but with all our deep-rooted aversion we dare not, would we be true to Jesus, permit our hearts to be filled with bitterness and malice toward the German people. Rather must we repeat the Redeemer’s appeal for His foes, “Father, forgive them!” and with all the means at our disposal bring them, as soon as possible, the promises of Gospel grace. I cannot forget how Russian Communists persecuted Lutheran pastors and church members. I can see those martyrs praying as they were cut down in the cold blood of mass murders; but I cannot hate the Russian people for those supercrimes. Instead, because I have pledged allegiance to the Cross, I must love them, intercede for them, and as soon as possible bring them, too, the message of full forgiveness. To this end we are seeking permission to broadcast in the U.S.S.R. After the war is over—may it be soon!—and with God helping us, we hope to enter devastated Europe with the message of spiritual reconstruction through the Savior preached in a dozen different languages. Ask God to grant us that request!

At Calvary we find two ways of life; the one is the path of might, cruelty, hatred; the other, the road of reconciliation, love, mercy. Which way will you take? Which will our bleeding, battered world follow? Before Nurse Edith Cavell faced the German firing squad in World War I, she declared “I must die without hating.” Must we not, looking to the Lord Jesus for strength in our weakness, resolve to live without hating, and as we daily pray, “Father, forgive them!” add, “and us, for Jesus’ sake”? God grant that every one of you will follow the example of your crucified Christ throughout a life of love—even for your enemies! We ask it by His promise. Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: March 7, 1943

When He was come near, He beheld the city and wept over it.Luke 19:41

Jesus, Lord of Love:

Once in the days of Thy humiliation Thou didst weep over sinful, impenitent Jerusalem. The unbelief, the worldliness, the corruption of the Temple caused tears to course down Thy cheeks in soul-deep sorrow over the disaster which soon would destroy that privileged but sin-laden city. Today, if Thou wert visibly with us as in the years of Thy ministry, Thou wouldst likewise sob over our American cities. Too frequently we have forgotten Thy blessings; too often our service is mouth worship; too repeatedly we have spurned Thy mercy. O blessed Savior, enter not into judgment with us! For the sake of Thy precious, cleansing blood forgive us! Cast us not away, but look compassionately on us despite our ingratitude! Make us humble and penitent! Convict us of our utter weakness without Thee! Purify and cleanse our churches! Grant Thy Christians throughout the country fortitude and firmer faith! By the visitations of this war, turn the unconverted to Thee! Guide Thy young disciples who have been called to the colors; protect them with Thy might and love! As Thou hast put peace into the hearts of all those who receive Thee, so give the nations peace, with righteousness and blessing! We ask this benediction, O Christ, trusting Thy blood-bought promise. Amen.

HAVE you ever seen a strong man weep? Powerful lessons can be learned from the tears of great leaders. Who can forget King David’s moaning over the death of proud, rebellious Absalom: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Who does not feel in this haunting lament an appeal asking American fathers to find time for their children and bring them to God before they are snatched away by death and lost forever?

Alexander, miscalled “the Great,” is said to have wept because he could find no more empires to conquer. After a single victory he sold 30,000 of his captives as slaves. The world was at his feet. Yet his tears show that despite money, power, position, life without God is empty and futile.

When Peter, that rough-and-ready disciple who had cursed himself and denied Jesus, saw his Savior, bound and beaten, he wept in bitter repentance.—If you have rejected Christ, behold Him now, betrayed by your cowardice, suffering in your stead, and then sob in sorrow over your sins!

Saint Paul, the fearless Apostle, who could ride Mediterranean hurricanes without a quiver of terror, tells the believers in Ephesus that for “the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.” What a challenge to American Christians, urging them to show their zeal for the Savior, not by bakery sales, fish fries, card or dancing parties, but by such heart-deep, self-sacrificing devotion to others that tears testify to their sacred earnestness!

When Napoleon saw the remnant of the proud army which had marched through the snow and ice of a Russian winter (the whole campaign cost him a half million lives; 90,000 died on the terrifying retreat) he broke down and sobbed. Here was the confident war lord who boasted that he did not need God to conquer Europe! Find in Napoleon’s lament a proof that the Almighty can stop this conflict overnight!—May it be soon, heavenly Father!

Yes, vital present-day lessons are to be learned from the tears of history’s leaders; but the strongest warning and appeal come from the tears of the mightiest Figure in all history—Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior of the world. Three times the Scriptures record that Jesus wept: first, at the tomb of Lazarus, where He proved Himself a compassionate Lord, moved by the suffering of friends; and last, in the Garden of Gethsemane, where at the beginning of His never-to-be-measured agony in atoning for the world’s sins (so the Epistle to the Hebrews testifies) He “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.” Only five days before that groaning in Gethsemane, Jesus, about to enter Jerusalem, had also wept; for Saint Luke records in our text (chapter nineteen, verse forty-one), “When He was come near, He beheld the city and wept over it.” This is the Savior’s grief to which I call your attention as I show you His

TEARS OVER AMERICA

May God’s Holy Spirit bless these words and throughout the land bring sinners to their weeping Redeemer!

I

THEY ARE TEARS OF SORROW FOR OUR SINS

The Jerusalem of our Savior’s day was far more glorious than it is today. Even pagan writers paid their tribute to its brilliance. A Latin author calls it “one of the world’s wonders.” People were so blinded by its radiance as it reflected the Palestinian sun that they had to turn their eyes away; so Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us. Yet when our Lord, at the head of a large throng preparing to enter Jerusalem, stopped on Mount Olivet’s heights to look toward the majestic city, there was no awe or admiration in His gaze. Instead, He stood silent. His lips quivered; His eyes filled; tears coursed down His cheeks.

Why was Jesus, about to hold His victorious entry into Jerusalem, in the moment of His greatest earthly triumph, so moved by the sight of His country’s capital? To find the answer, let us stand in spirit with Him on the crest of Olivet to see what He beheld in the panorama before Him. Perhaps He was at a point where His first glance would single out the Temple, a magnificent structure, on which architects and laborers had toiled for fifty years and were still not finished—a colossal sanctuary of white and red marble, gilded roofs, dazzling courts, stately pillars, nine gates covered with gold and silver—altogether an imposing monument to God. Yet that grandeur left Jesus untouched, for He was inexpressibly saddened by the hollow mockery, shocking insincerity, cold formality, to be found in that house of the Highest. With His mind’s eye He could see the money changers, the sellers of the sacrificial animals, and others who piled up profits in the name of religion. He remembered the multitudes who bought doves or lambs, the wealthy who purchased steers or bullocks and thought that by such offerings they could be cleansed from their sins even though their hearts were far from God and they refused to repent. He could almost hear the loud chanting of the Pharisees, who threw their shoulders back, raised their heads high in their self­esteem, and intoned, “God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” Because the Savior saw masses ruined, in spite of this outward worship, cursed because of their hypocrisy, His eyes were wet with tears.

If Jesus were with us today, He would undoubtedly weep over America’s spiritual life. We have congregations that count their real estate and resources in millions, some of them in tens of millions! Yet that alone means nothing to Christ. The United States likewise is crowded with churches which forget the divine command, “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind,” and which, instead of this inner, heart-centered, soul-deep worship of God, permit head and lip worship to creep in, formalism and ceremonies to receive far too much attention. The plain preaching of the Gospel, without which no man can be redeemed, is pushed into the background. Ask the average American: “How do you expect to be saved? What is your hope of heaven?” and you will find first that many of our countrymen do not want to be saved, since they think they do not need to be; and you will also learn that of those who believe in the hereafter, the majority actually like to think themselves so good, so much better than others, that God will welcome them with open arms—when they ought to understand that without the Lord Jesus they are lost forever; that their hearts are filled with greed, lust, hatred, their lives marked with secret and disguised sin. Because millions in this nation, founded by Christian pioneers, blessed above all other people on earth through religious freedom, have forgotten their God, neglected their privileges, spurned their blessings, rejected their Savior, we can find Him on Olivet, grief­gripped not only for Jerusalem’s Temple, but for churches in the United States that are more concerned about money raising than soul-winning, more intent on gaining popular applause than divine approval. As we hear Christ repeat His warning, “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me,” may God give us the spiritual insight required to understand that, if America is to come closer to the Almighty, this rededication must start in the churches; that the groups called Christian must receive a transfusion of firm, unquestioning, self­denying trust. To stop the tears of Christ, we must go back to the Bible, back to the blessed Savior, back to the blood of His atonement, back to justification by faith, and faith alone.

From Olivet the Savior could likewise see the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. He wore the sacred robes and the breastplate inscribed, “Holiness to the Lord.” He occupied the highest position in Old Testament worship. He alone could enter the Holy of Holies on the solemn Day of Atonement. Yet that high priest, who should have been closest to God, was an unbeliever, a murderer at heart, a sworn enemy of Jesus, and long ago he had begun to plot the crucifixion. He was surrounded by many Sadducees, who openly attacked Scripture, denied the hope of the resurrection, claimed that life was ruled by chance, that death ended everything. These men, politicians, perjurers, bold unbelievers in priestly apparel, were responsible for their country’s downfall. It was true, then, as now, that

When nations are to perish in their sins,

‘Tis in the Church the leprosy begins.

Would not the same Savior who broke into sobs over the treachery of these priestly traitors raise His voice in lament if He were with us today to behold the unbelief in the ranks of the American clergy? The war has not yet brought a real revival of true Christian faith in America. Modernists, deniers of the free and final atonement by the Lord Jesus, are still in control of many congregations and of some denominations. Twentieth-century Sadducees sit securely in high places. Pulpit politicians, who heedlessly step over the line separating Church and State, are on the increase. For political reasons, ministers of the Gospel, in direct contradiction to Christ’s Spirit, have decried the sending of food to Europe’s starving children. The number of those who teach and preach that Jesus, God’s Son and Mary’s, our Lord and Savior, our Ransom and Redeemer, our Atonement and Reconciliation to the Father, is the only but heaven-blessed Hope for every sinner, does not increase with rapid strides. Yet, because an unbelieving, Christ-debasing, Bible-ridiculing clergy can bring disaster on the nation, the appeal in this crisis to every servant of God must be: “Preach the Word!” “Call . . . sinners to repentance!” Proclaim the Gospel with all its comforting and sustaining love!—Believing American homes must help in safeguarding the Savior’s truth. A national magazine presents a survey, taken among “a faithfully balanced cross section of high school students,” which reveals that almost half of the young people do not attend church regularly. Is there any connection between this startling fact and the F.B.I. report which showed an increase last year of more than 55 percent in the arrests of girls under twenty-one? Ask yourself pointedly, “Would Jesus weep over conditions in my home?” If you know that He would, implore Him to enter your household now and bring your entire family to His unfailing grace!

Prominent on Jerusalem’s skyline were the palaces of the governing officials, imposing structures with high towers: the castle of King Herod, the residence of Pontius Pilate, the other government buildings; and Jesus could detect the corruption, deceit, iniquity, practiced within their pretentious walls. He wept as He contrasted with the hideous doom soon to break over the city the happy, blessed days its people might have enjoyed, had God-fearing, honest men conducted public affairs.—While we ought to thank the Almighty daily for the marvelous benediction He has given us in a free, representative government, no one should be blind to the fact that graft, bribery, corruption, have sometimes flourished in the high government places; that public officials, judges, federal officers, have at times been convicted of dishonesty. The fault for much of this is on your shoulders, Christians of America. You have not prayed hard enough for your country. You have not worked zealously enough. You have refused to vote and spurned every opportunity to run for office.

From the crest of Mount Olivet Christ could behold the fortress of Antonia, headquarters of the Roman army that held Jerusalem in control. Not far from the barracks was the amusement zone, the pleasure areas, the dark comers of vice, the taverns with their cursing, slobbering drunkards, all the enticements to evil which the sensual ancient world knew. As the Savior’s eyes swept over that lofty-towered fortress, He could have thought of the young legionaries who went on day after day without knowing God, living in the cold cruelty and the sin which marked military life. His tears may well have dropped for those soldiers, as for all the sorrows and heartaches that war, the result of sin and unbelief, had brought upon the royal capital. If Jesus today would stand on a high hill overlooking American cities, His eyes would overflow as He would think of the spiritual dangers confronting our soldiers and sailors—multitudes without Christ—still unprepared for eternity, all of them facing insistent and repeated temptations, deliberately created for them. To you men in the nation’s armed forces I express this public regret that we have not more vigorously helped you fight profanity, which according to plain Scripture statements, incurs God’s wrath. I deplore the type of entertainment offered you by some communities, where nastiness and filth systematically attack you, where unprincipled, avaricious individuals try to make money from you, our defenders. A mother who is certainly entitled to be heard, because her only son lies buried on Guadalcanal, writes to protest against the amusements offered our soldiers. I join her. With all our power and resources we should stand by these young men spiritually and help them prepare to meet their God. This is not the hour for carnival, when American blood daily trickles into the Tunisian sands, when American lives are crushed out in air disasters, when the sons and support of American families are drowned on the high seas.

Again, as the Savior’s eyes scanned Jerusalem, they would have alighted on its cultural quarters, the residences of its intellectuals, the scribes, the teachers of the people, those too proud to accept the lowly Christ, perverted minds which used their God-given talents to blaspheme the Lord. His tears were shed for them, and today they would fall, too, for the American intelligentsia that can only sneer at Jesus. Most of you churchgoers have absolutely no idea of the shocking depths to which their scurrilous insults can descend. Listen to these lines, spawned by hell itself, entitled, “Good-by, Christ!”:

Listen, Christ,

You did all right in your day, I reckon—

But that day’s gone now.

They ghosted you up a swell story, too.

Called it the Bible—

But it’s dead now.

Good-by,

Christ Jesus Lord God Jehovah;

Beat it on away from here now.

Make way for a new guy with no religion at all—

A real guy named

Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker Me—

I thought long and prayerfully before deciding to read these lines publicly; but most of you must be stirred into action. Remember, these are the words not of an amateur writer but of a man who won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, the Guggenheim Award for Creative Literary Work, and the Rosenwald Fellowship!

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He knew the appalling price it would pay for rebelling against God. He predicts, “Thine enemies . . . shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children with thee, and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” The disaster Jesus foresaw came within less than fifty years, when in the siege and capture of the city, which makes some of the massacres in this World War seem small, 1,100,000 men perished and 97,000 people (the children and grandchildren of those to whom the Savior spoke) were led away captive, and so many of the citizens sold into servitude that no one would buy any more slaves. It was a shocking devastation; yet incomparably worse was the eternal destruction of souls which could have been saved through faith in Christ.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked,” is the warning America should read in Jerusalem’s ruins. If up to this time you have insolently risen up against your Redeemer, turned your back on His arms nailed to the cross but stretched wide in invitation to welcome you, then, with all the life-and-death earnestness of this warning, I tell you that on Olivet Jesus was weeping for you, shedding divine tears because, if you continue to reject His ransom for your sin, you must pay in eternity for every unforgiven wrong, every unremoved transgression! Look at the Christ of sorrows once morel He weeps for you, knowing the peace, pardon, hope, and happiness you have lost without Him; the heavenly home, the seeing Him face to face in the blessed eternity you have spurned, the pain and horror of hell which you, sin-blinded, have chosen. Is your heart stone, that you are not moved by your sorrowing Savior, the Lord of heaven and earth, the God of all might, mourning over your preciously bought but carelessly lost soul? It was too late for masses in Jerusalem to repent and return to God. But, thanks to the Savior’s marvelous mercy, it is not too late for you to throw off your stubborn resistance to Jesus and fall on your knees in contrite sorrow over your sins. You unbelieving husbands, unfaithful wives, ungrateful children, you blasphemers and scoffers; you, the self-satisfied and self-righteous; you who are sending your souls to hell by living in sin, helping destroy the morals and the faith of others—there is still time for you to kneel before the compassionate Christ and say: “What a fool I have been to reject my sours salvation! Now I have found You at last, my all-forgiving Redeemer. You do not need to weep any more for me! O Jesus, dry your tears! Wash me! Cleanse me! Purify me through faith!” When you come to the Lord of limitless love with that faith, His face, once stained with tears, will be wreathed in heavenly happiness. The lips which once pronounced the woe over Jerusalem will tell you, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

There is time for every one of you, but not so much time that you dare continue to postpone and delay accepting grace. “Now is the day of salvation.” You may not be with us next Sunday to hear another appeal for return to your heavenly Father. A week ago, while speaking to the men in the United States Naval Air Station at Lambert Field, Saint Louis, I warned the cadets against the “speed and suddenness with which adversity may overtake us in these darkened days of war,” and I asked them, in these very words, “Who knows what message of sorrow may come into our homes before this day draws to its close?” A few hours later two of those young fliers met sudden death in the first air collision at the training station. So quickly and unexpectedly, by God’s inscrutable will, was the truth of that warning proved! Some of you may never have another opportunity to hear that Christ loved you despite your sins, died on the cross as your Substitute. Now, while heaven is still open for you, while Jesus pleads with you, while the Spirit urges you, wherever you are, accept Him! Say, “He is mine, and I am His for time and eternity!” The nation needs men and women with that trust.

The first line of America’s defense is faith in the Savior. The strongest weapon against enemies from within and without is the power of God through Christ. To have the promise of that strength, millions in America must repent. They must return to God. They must acclaim their crucified Lord of love!

II

THEY ARE TEARS OF DIVINE LOVE AND SYMPATHY

Besides the stem warning we must find in Christ’s tears heavenly comfort, the consolation we need particularly during times of war and upheaval. The Savior sees our afflictions and is deeply moved by our sorrows. The Redeemer is not like the sleeping Buddha in one of China’s famous temples, a monstrous figure lying on his side with closed eyes, slumbering on, indifferent to his people’s woes. Jesus is not like the Modernists’ god, a vague, indefinite force, so far removed that He is not concerned with this world. Our precious Lord is not so majestic and omnipotent that He does not stoop or stop to help us. By the miracle of His mercy, none can be too lowly, unnoticed, poor, for His gracious interest. On the journey to Jerusalem, when He was so weighted by His suffering that even the disciples dared not disturb Him, He stopped to heal a blind beggar, enter the home of a despised publican, instruct His disciples, weep over Jerusalem.

The newspapers tell us that King George, ruler of the British Empire, daily goes to work for a few hours in a defense factory. What a remarkable example of service, when a monarch allies himself with his workers! But can you imagine any ruler going to Germany and offering his life for his enemies? The Savior did much more when He, in the words of Saint Paul, “took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Because He lived as a true man, save for sin, among men stained with sin, no one else in the world knows human needs as personally as Christ. No affliction with which you may be tormented was foreign to Him. Every hard, bitter road along which you drag yourself He has trodden. Whatever your path of grief, you are always following in the footsteps of the agonized Redeemer, and in comparison with the suffering He endured, yours, even in its worst and crushing torture, is only trivial. Are you poor? Jesus felt the pangs of poverty. He had not “where to lay His head.” Are you overworked and worn out? Jesus can feel for you, because He was often at the point of exhaustion, overweary in fulfilling His ministry of love. Do you parents whose only sons have been called to the colors complain that you are lonely and forsaken? Are some of you men and women in the service depressed by grim loneliness? Think of your Lord suffering in the Garden, alone in His heartbreaking agony! Picture Him on the cross, forsaken by God and man, and realize that He knows more deeply than you the pangs of lingering loneliness! Are you maliciously attacked and slandered? Recall the false witnesses, the perjurers, the paid spies, who sought to destroy Christ, and believe that His heart beats in sympathy for you! Are you ministers loyal to the Redeemer, suffering the disfavor of the higher-ups in your church organization? You need not explain this persecution to Christ. He knows from His own bleeding experience what it means to be cursed and condemned by the highest religious authorities. Are you sick, an invalid of many years, gripped by increasing pain? You can have unfailing consolation in Jesus, who knows anguish inestimably greater than the worst you can stand; for in His own body He bore “our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Are you at death’s door? Has the doctor said that your days are not only numbered, but that soon—perhaps within a week, even before nightfall—they will be over? Then during these last moments of your earthly suffering I tell you in the name of our blessed Redeemer who died at Calvary and whose body was laid into the grave that He knows more definitely what death means than anyone can ever explain. The tears which Christ wept at Jerusalem are a proof of His sympathizing love in every grief you must endure, any pressing burden you must carry. When life seems too hard, when you feel too depressed to face another day, think of the tears flowing down your Savior’s cheeks; believe with all your heart that He was suffering in tender devotion to you—and then sing:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer!

These tears, however, are also evidence of the Redeemer’s divine yearning to help and deliver you. You have not only a weeping Christ, but a bleeding Christ, a dying Christ, a crucified Christ. Human tears often mean little; some people can cry for the slightest cause; but Jesus proved His sacred earnestness when in the highest and holiest example of self-sacrifice He, the mighty and majestic God, bowed His head into death’s death at Calvary. My fellow sinners and fellow redeemed, behold Him suspended between earth and heaven; and as you see those tears of love give way to the suffering of love, ask God’s Spirit for the repentant faith by which you proclaim: This Christ of nail-crushed hands and feet, the Christ of wounded brow and riven side, the Christ of bleeding back and buffeted face, the Christ of anguish and thirst, the Christ of derision and Godforsakenness is my loving, compassionate, all-merciful Savior!

When we thus discover the sympathy in His tears, we have Heaven’s own assurance that we need not weep endlessly and disconsolately over the sins and sorrows crowded into our lives. Then we have the inner conviction that because Jesus loves us with this tear-filled devotion, He will not only forgive us, but He will help us meet adversity, triumph over temptation, find strength in weakness, and turn the gloom of affliction into inner glory, the storms and turbulence of life into the calm and quiet of assured faith. The years before us may test us severely. Despite the cruel promises that America is on the threshold of a postwar period filled with prosperity and advantage such as our people have never known, we must not lose sight of the decisive fact that war has always burdened the succeeding generations and that, the wider the conflict, the heavier the sufferings in the aftermath. This is the most destructive struggle in all history. The price we must pay for it will be higher than for any previous conflict. We may witness terrifying upheavals in our own country. Our own liberties may be drastically restricted. Men with un-American and unchristian principles may seize control of this land, but whatever comes—and believers of all denominations, children and parents in every believing household, should daily be on their knees, asking God to avert these tragedies!—we will find comfort, sympathy, guidance, when we think of the Savior’s tears and His blood drops at Golgotha. With this vision constantly before our eyes, we shall be prepared for hardship or, what may prove far more difficult, the ease and warmth of luxury and artificial prosperity.

You can see, then, that Jesus, weeping in warning and wondrous love, is the Savior for whom our sin-racked age cries with special pleading. The Christ who could mourn for His enemies should be the Example and the Power for America today. It took Madame Chiang Kai-shek, whose husband is generalissimo of a heathen nation, to remind us that in the Savior’s spirit we must be ready to forgive our foes. I ask all real, confessing Christians throughout the land to pray regularly and repeatedly not only for victory and a quick end to this war, if it be God’s will, but with the same determination to intercede for the people of Germany, Italy, and Japan, pleading especially that the cause of His Son’s kingdom may be advanced among them, that they may learn to know and cherish the memory of Jesus, weeping for the men who would soon condemn Him to the cross. Is not this the Redeemer whom with all our resources and energies we must bring to the ends of the earth, also through the challenging, penetrating means of the radio?

Our only hope is in Him. Human methods to save the world from itself are doomed to defeat, if they banish Christ. Some time ago Count Alfred D. Pierre Court left $2,000,000 to his native city, Rouen, France, for the express purpose of propagating giants. He wanted to raise a physically superior race that could lift humanity out of its woes. The trustees of his fund searched all over the world to secure men and women of large stature and unusual strength. The effort failed. The only people who can ever help mankind are the spiritual giants, the reborn children of God, whose love mirrors the devotion of that weeping Savior. Therefore listen closely as the Lenten invitation resounds, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles, to mock and to scourge and to crucify Him; and the third day He shall rise again”! That Lenten call comes in a crisis such as this nation has never seen, and in a personal appeal to every one of you, telling you now that for your soul it is either Christ or chaos, either heaven or hell, either life everlasting or death never-ending. As you see the tears of sorrow and sympathy stream down the Savior’s face for you, will you, can you, dare you turn away from the only Redeemer you can ever have and say, “These tears mean nothing to me”? God forbid! May you rather feel the tears of deep repentance and joyful faith well into your eyes as you, a weeping sinner, come to the weeping Redeemer for pardon, purity, and peace! The holy angels will swell the anthems of heavenly praise if now in your innermost heart you accept God’s Son. Rededicate yourself to Him! The Savior’s tears for you will give way to gladness. My beloved, preciously redeemed, will you not make the compassionate Christ your own now and forever? Our heavenly Father grant above all else that in this moment thousands of you may say with inner conviction, “God helping me, I will!” Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: February 28, 1943

There arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He [Jesus] was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; and they awake Him and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish? And He arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace, be still! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.Mark 4:37-39

O Christ, Who Didst Quiet the Raging Sea:

Bring the calm of Thy forgiving love into our storm-tossed lives by removing our sins—many, repeated, grievous though they are! We ask this humbly, but confidently, because we believe in the cleansing power of Thy blood shed for us at Calvary. As once Thou didst still the wind and waves at Galilee, so, we earnestly beseech Thee, say: “Peace! Be Still!” to the turbulence of fear and worry in our hearts! Bid the tumult and terror of this war-racked world cease! Show us in every affliction that Thou, as our God and Savior, canst give us peace and joy! Bless our beloved nation and draw it closer to Thee in repentant trust! Shield our dear ones in the armed forces! They have left all to defend our country and need Thy constant presence. Turn the unconverted to faith in Thee and keep Thy followers Thy divine protection! Particularly do we intercede today for the United States Navy and all those in peril on the sea. O Christ, let them be strong in body, clean in word, pure in mind, fervent in faith, and unswerving in loyalty to Thee! Send them home to us soon, O Jesus, with peace and a righteous victory! We ask this according to Thy will. Amen.

ABOUT eighty years ago an English clergyman named Whiting was sailing through the Mediterranean when a terrifying storm broke. With a fury the passengers had never before witnessed, the winds became a shrieking hurricane, and the towering waves threatened to crush the helpless craft. Since it was impossible to launch life boats, the passengers felt doomed, for no ship, not even the strongest, could withstand such wind or weather. Whiting, however, continued in heart-deep prayer, and by divine mercy the storm lost its power, and the ship was able to make port. This remarkable rescue might have been forgotten, had not Whiting, deeply grateful to God, penned the hymn, “For Those in Peril on the Sea,” also called, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.” American naval men regard this as their most beloved hymn. At the close of each divine service in the Annapolis Naval Academy, the entire congregation kneels to sing this sacred song, and the custom of concluding worship with this prayer has spread to many ships at sea. Few other fighting forces show the deep devotion to the Lord Jesus contained in this second stanza:

O Savior, whose almighty word

The winds and waves submissive heard,

Who walked’st on the foaming deep

And calm amidst its rage didst sleep:

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea!

As I thank Commander Green and Chaplain Calhoun for the privilege of originating this broadcast here in the United States Naval Air Station at Lambert Field, Missouri, I tell you men and women of our armed forces, especially in the Navy, that you need the guidance and encouragement these stanzas can bring you. If daily, with humble, trusting reliance on Jesus, you sincerely repeat the words of “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” He can give you calm and quiet for every storm-tossed moment.

All of us—soldiers, sailors, civilians, defense workers, parents, children, young and old—should realize that in perilous times like these, surrounded as we are by the worries of war and burdened by uncertainty concerning tomorrow, the course of many lives may well be pictured as an ocean journey. We begin with great hopes; but in a flash the storm clouds gather, the smooth sea is tossed into angry, destructive waves. Before we are aware of it, we find ourselves close to disaster, physically or spiritually. In these survive-or-perish moments, when we are beyond human help, may we be given the grace to behold our Savior and pray,

JESUS, STILL THE STORMS OF LIFE!

As our merciful, majestic God He can grant us calm and quiet even during life’s most turbulent tempest. To prove His mighty power, our text for this Sunday (Saint Mark, chapter four, verses thirty-seven to thirty-nine) declares: “There arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He [Jesus] was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; and they awake Him and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish? And He arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace, be still! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

I

STORMS WILL BREAK UPON US: WE CANNOT CONQUER THEM ALONE

The scene of this miracle is the Sea of Galilee; and the time, our Lord’s first ministry to the forsaken, despised people in that northern territory. Jesus had come through a crowded but blessed day. In the morning He had spoken the first of His parables and, standing on the prow of a boat, had taught the multitudes precious truths concerning the kingdom of heaven. All that afternoon He continued His divine instruction as the eager throng remained to hear this unparalleled Teacher. What a wonderful privilege for these underprivileged, oppressed Galileans to see Christ and catch every word of divine wisdom that fell from His lips! Yet what a task even for our Savior to preach hour after hour all through the sultry afternoon with the intense, personally directed appeal which marked His instruction! No effort was too arduous for Him if only it would kindle faith within the heart of a single hearer! In His tireless, self-sacrificing energy, servants of Christ should find an example and a challenge. More than ever Gospel messengers should be ready, if necessary, to wear themselves out in bringing the promises of His mercy to sin-stricken souls.

When evening came, Jesus asked His disciples to sail across to the eastern shores of Galilee. Probably He needed complete rest away from the pressing throng, just as you should have quiet moments with your God in sweet hours of prayer, when you appear alone in your Redeemer’s name before the Lord of heaven and earth. The reason some of you have gone backward in your zeal for Christ may be traced to the fact that you have been so overbusy with cares and worries, so overcrowded with your business and social contacts that you have not been able to follow the Savior’s instructions, “Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret!”

In connection with this journey across the lake, Matthew tells us that three men stepped out of the throng, desiring to become Christ’s disciples. Although their motives were wrong and their understanding faulty, our Lord took time to hear and correct them. The one, a scribe, exclaimed with overconfidence, “Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest,” only to hear Jesus, emphasizing that discipleship would bring neither money nor position nor authority, declare pointedly, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.” In His name I am pledged to tell you who write me of your wish to enter the ministry, and you older folks who inquire about joining the Church: while I rejoice and thank God for your good intentions, never before in this country has discipleship brought with it the necessity of bearing the cross as in these years, when despite all outward emphasis on religion there is a deep-rooted, growing hatred for the message of His cleansing blood and life-giving death at Calvary. The second would-be disciple was a man who wanted to bury his father before casting his lot with Christ; and probably because Jesus knew that, if he went home, he would never become a real believer, the Lord warned him against going back and directed, “Follow Me!” Today the Son of God repeats these words to you who feel you should confess Him your Lord, yet are continually postponing the most blessed privilege a man can ever have. Who knows in this uncertain age whether you will not hesitate and excuse yourself once too often and never have another chance of accepting your royal Redeemer? Now, while the Spirit pleads with you to be reconciled with God, is the best time for you to say: “O Jesus, I will turn away no longer. With the help of Thy Spirit I will follow Thee through life and death itself into eternal glory.”

The third inquirer, impressed with the Savior’s message, seemed eager to join Him; but first of all he, too, wanted to return to bid his friends farewell. Pointedly our Lord told him, “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Today He would send many of you that same warning, because you are turning back to the attractions and enticements of your old life. For the sake of your blood­bought souls go forward with Jesus! Forget the allurement and enticement of the past and “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”!

Finally, after these delays, the ship got under way; and only a few moments later, it seems, the Savior, weary and worn after an exhausting day, was fast asleep in the stern, His head, which could have worn the crown of all earthly authority, resting on the helmsman’s bench, His tired body stretched out on the bottom of the boat. As we pause to behold Him before whom angels in their glory shield their faces, what marvelous love we are privileged to witness! He whose heavy eyes have quickly closed is more than a self-sacrificing leader, preacher, teacher. He is our God; Sovereign of the air, land, sea; Ruler of the universe; Lord of lords, eternal, all-knowing, omnipotent.

Do you object: “Explain how Jesus can be the Sovereign of heaven and still be overcome by this deep sleep. Prove that He is our God.” I cannot explain the superhuman mystery of this marvelous truth that Christ is both divine and human; but I do not need to prove it, for in a few moments it was demonstrated beyond all question, when even the forces of nature obeyed Him. Throughout His ministry, by stupendous miracles which only He could perform; by His atoning death, in which He offered Himself as the Ransom for all human sin; by His resurrection from the dead, our Lord gave convincing evidence that, far more than a great man, even the greatest of men, He was—believe it for your soul’s salvation!—very God of very God.

While we cannot analyze this mystery which even angels do not fully fathom, in the slumbering Jesus we see the Savior, the evidence of Heaven’s strongest love. Why, we ask ourselves, did He whose throne is in the celestial realms condescend to become one of us? Why did He leave His eternal glories to live among men who hated and persecuted Him, to die on the cross between two criminals? The answer can be found only in that endless compassion for your soul by which He took upon Himself the reality, the penalty, the totality, of all your sins, fully paid their guilt, and at Calvary completely earned the ransom by which you can be forever freed from sin and Satan, death and damnation.

It was not long after Jesus closed His eyes in much needed rest, when suddenly a terrifying tempest broke over the Sea of Galilee. This was an inland lake, 600 feet below sea level; and as the cold winds from nearby mountains swooped down to its surface, they churned its waters into seething madness. Breaking high over the sides, “the waves beat into the ship, so that it was . . . full” of water. A few moments before, the disciples had been serene, secure; now they were frightened for their lives—so quickly did disaster descend upon them.

With the same speed adversity can overtake us. Who knows what message of sorrow may come into our homes before this day draws to its close? With American armed forces in many comers of the earth, confronting trained and desperate enemies, death is close to millions of our countrymen. Let us face the facts and understand that hard, crushing grief may come to us, entirely unheralded! Not an alarmist, but a member of Congress, asserts that the United States will suffer at least 1,000,000 casualties this year. If this be true—though we pray: “O God, stop this war! Save these young lives!”—almost 1,000,000 American homes will endure bitter afflictions. Because our Secretary of War has predicted that the struggle will end, not this year, but one or two years hence, will you not agree with me when I say that we must be prepared for distressing reports of disaster?

Where, then, can we find courage, guidance, strength? If we look only to ourselves, our own resources, scientific progress, and widely applauded programs, which have no room for the Almighty, then indeed we shall be like those disciples on Galilee. They were seasoned fishermen, acquainted with the treachery of the lake; yet the storm was too much for them; they were pitifully powerless against the raging elements. Today, too, we pride ourselves on knowing all the answers to our multiplied problems; yet, when a crisis comes, how weak and weary we often are! As we listen to the boasting of warlords—and regrettably some of this taunting bravado is heard within our borders—we realize that altogether too many would banish God and win this war without Him or even against Him. What is human strength compared with God’s? How puny is our brain power when at the height of man’s intelligence we have not been able to prevent nations from attacking each other in history’s most widespread war! How unreliable our scientific power when even mechanical wonders sometimes fail to function! A few days ago in Seattle a giant bomber, the final word in aircraft thus far, driven by a reputable test pilot, crashed, causing a score of deaths; and no one knows why.—Above all, however, how frail and fragile, hopeless and helpless, are our souls apart from God! How utterly impossible for us to purchase peace of mind, courage and contentment! How completely helpless we all are when the storms of sorrow break over us and our homes; when sickness, accident, suffering, knock at our doors; when disaster and bereavement cross our thresholds!

II

ONLY CHRIST CAN CALM OUR STORM-TOSSED LIFE

With the cry recorded in Saint Matthew, “Lord, save us; we perish!” the disciples turned to Jesus for help. Where in this upside-down world can we discover deliverance if not in the same Savior whose invitation remains unchanged through the centuries, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”? The one spiritual blessing which can accrue from years of bloodshed may be this, that the losses of war finally make many Americans understand that they cannot carry on successfully without Christ. Some of you are so overconfident that the Almighty has to take away every human prop, remove all earthly means of your rescue, to show you that without God life cannot be worth the living nor death worth the dying. How blessed, then, after you have been crushed and humbled, to have the Holy Spirit capture your cold heart, direct you to Christ as your only Hope, and make you kneel before Him to cry out, “Lord, save us; we perish!” If you have been overtaken by soul sorrow and mental anguish too deep for human consolation; if in all the world you can discover no escape from your misery; if you feel that another heartache added to your burden will make you collapse, then cling to Jesus, and find in Him Heaven’s unfailing help.

At first the desperate disciples were shocked to learn that our Lord continued to sleep soundly; for they could not understand how, with destruction close at hand, the Savior would slumber on. As Saint Mark tells the story, “they awake Him and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” They made a grave mistake: they forgot that the Almighty was in their ship, that without His permission no disaster could overwhelm them.

Before they blame these followers of the Savior too severely, people should confess how frequently they think Jesus is asleep; how readily they conclude that He is absolutely unconcerned about the tragedies of the present age. The war spreads, more soldiers are killed on its widely separated battlefields; and in their small faith, men charge the Savior with slumbering! They see evil throughout the world, as atheism and blatant blasphemy persecute Christ’s humble followers. The open denial of His atonement, the rejection of His redeeming, cleansing blood, secure control of churches, often entire denominations, and people lament: “God must be sleeping! He does not care what happens.”

In the narrower spheres of your lives, particularly during heavy hours of affliction, you, too, assert all too hastily that the Lord’s eyes are closed to the welfare of His own. Cutting cruelties are heaped on you; you are slandered; you suffer unjustly; and in this misery you complain that God knows nothing of your affliction. Your plans for the future collapse although you are God’s children; yet boasting infidels are crowned with increasing success. You have cried yourself hoarse, pleading with God to make your husband stop drinking, breaking his marriage vows, blaspheming; yet there seems to be no answer.—After thirteen years of married life your heavenly Father gives you a beautiful, healthy child; but in a terror-filled moment it accidentally falls and dies—a personal tragedy one of your letters described. As one blow follows the other, your faith wavers; you complain that Christ must be asleep, otherwise He would be aware of your anguish and offer His help.

Just as Jesus could not have slept on and permitted His disciples to perish, so He will never slumber when perils threaten to destroy your soul. Because He gave Himself for you into Calvary’s bitter bleeding and dark dying, you, purchased by the highest price recorded in history—His own blood—are so precious in His sight that every moment, waking and sleeping, you are under His constant, vigilant protection, by which, if necessary, angel guards will always defend you. I cannot promise, nor can anyone else (no matter how loudly self-appointed false prophets, preachers of lies, contradict this), that, when you accept the Lord Jesus, you will be showered with earthly advantages, material blessings, better business, larger incomes, the assurance of safety during this war. In the Redeemer’s name and by His own pledge I can, however, promise you, by day and night, in prosperity and adversity, during peace and war, at home and abroad, the Savior will never close His eyes to your real needs as long as you remain faithful to Him, He will ceaselessly protect you in every danger, marvelously turn your afflictions into inner strengthening, and finally change your sorrow into joy. Here is the truth for the battle front and the home front: When you are utterly weak and helpless, if you but acclaim Christ your own Redeemer, the full brilliance of His grace will break upon you. As you become nothing, Jesus will be everything. My fellow redeemed, lock this promise in your heart, and with the Savior’s help keep it safe and secure forever! The time will come—it is close at hand for many of you—when you will want this pledge of His power more than all else on earth.

See how mightily our Lord proved His faithfulness and His divine strength on turbulent Galilee! Hardly had He been awakened, when “He arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace, be still”; and because He is God, because wind and wave follow His command, the surging of the sea subsided, the mountainous billows disappeared, the howling storm vanished, the crisis was safely past. Another miracle, stupendous beyond description, had been enacted before the disciples’ eyes. If this marvel was witnessed and attested by the men in the ship who exclaimed, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” certainly modern unbelief, at a distance of 1900 years, has no right to question this full, final truth. Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world, quieted those angry waves.

Instead of doubting, we should rather find comfort in His ability to still present-day storms of life. Be clear on this: the Lord of the Galilean Sea can quiet the uproar and turbulence of our bleeding age! In His unlimited strength, as our glorious God, Jesus, facing the storm of world strife and the raging floods of hatred, could repeat those three words, “Peace, be still!” and we would have peace today. One word from Him and our enemies would be defeated forever. One command from His all-conquering might, and the slaughter of the world’s strongest and healthiest young men would cease. One rebuke from His omnipotence, and there would be no more bombing and blasting, no more submarine sinkings and torpedo destruction, no more death and drowning in this war. One divine decree by Him, and our American youth could prepare to return to their homes and the occupations of blessed peace.

Why, then, does Christ not stop this conflict? Because He knows that the world is not ready for peace! Iniquity has not been punished enough; Christians have not been sufficiently chastened and purified. Too many people in the United States still doubt His power, still reject His redeeming love. Last Monday night President Roosevelt told us that we have no Joshua in this struggle, before whom our enemies’ walls will miraculously crumble. The President was right. We must fight this war the hard way, pay the full price. America has no Joshua today, and the enemy resistance is not broken, because we have refused to do what God’s people did in Joshua’s age. We have not gone back to the faith of our fathers. We have not humbled ourselves before the Almighty. We have not repented as did the Israelites under Joshua. Yet we can have more than a Joshua in Jesus. Every day of this war, could the full story be told, witnesses the absolute proof of the Savior’s unlimited might. A book just published tells the thrilling rescue of Mrs. Alice Bell, missionary to Africa, and her four children, whose ship was torpedoed in the South Atlantic and who, together with fourteen men, was adrift twenty days on a raft, eight by ten feet, so small and crowded that they could not lie down for rest. They were never dry. The sun scorched them by day, and the cold chilled them by night. Huge sharks continually followed them. They had little food and less water. Some of the men died and were buried at sea, but during those three weeks of torture Jesus sustained that Christian worker and her children. When they reached the hospital in Barbados, the nurses and doctors declared their rescue “as great a miracle as the feeding of the five thousand in the New Testament.” After the war thousands will thankfully recall that in life-or-death moments, when all hope in human help had vanished, God marvelously brought deliverance.

Storm-tossed Galilee was stilled when the disciples prayed and their pleading was answered. Storm-tossed America can be stilled if, according to God’s will, we employ the power of faith-filled intercession. Millions in the United States are neglecting that secret but successful weapon. For the sake of a God-pleasing victory, to save the lives of our youth, who will be spared if this war is stopped soon, let believers everywhere pray as never before! Every church throughout the land should be open constantly to welcome multitudes who would plead personally and persistently for peace. Every family in the land should be united in fervent intercession. Every Christian should follow the Apostle’s injunction and be found “praying always with all prayer.” Every American, no matter how he may have laughed at the thought of kneeling before God, should use this emergency to learn the lessons of prayer—and that means first to confess the Lord Jesus Christ his Savior.

The disciples in that tempest-tossed boat show skeptics and unbelievers how to pray. As those men on storm­gripped Galilee turned to Christ, so your only hope is in His loving willingness and His power to answer every true petition. As they went directly to Jesus, without anyone else to plead for them, so, despite your total sins and weaknesses, you can have free access to the Throne of Mercy. As they counted themselves nothing, doomed without the Savior, so you, too, must confess that, since the best you can offer is worthless in God’s sight, you should come humbly, trusting in Christ’s merit. As the disciples’ intercession was heard, so every supplication you speak in Jesus’ name will be answered in His chosen manner and time, if it be for your soul’s salvation.—What better can we do, then, while the nation’s defenders prepare to sacrifice themselves, if necessary, than to maintain a prayer front and to make this our cry: “Pray, America, pray! Pray repeatedly! Pray earnestly! Pray penitently! Pray in Christ’s name, relying on His promise!”

We are told that, after the winds stopped, “there was a great calm”; and if you hear and heed the Savior, the peace and consolation of an even more marvelous calm will bless you. How we thrilled a few days ago when we read of a serious operation performed not by a surgeon in a sterilized hospital room but by a pharmacist’s mate in the crowded quarters of a submarine, beneath the ocean off the Japanese shore! What gave the young afflicted sailor calm and confidence in that critical period when his life hung on a slender thread? An officer on the submarine reports, “He got the most consolation out of the first verse of the Forty-sixth Psalm, ‘God is our Refuge and Strength.’” One of the Navy fliers at Guadalcanal, whose exploits were recently featured in a nationwide news broadcast, is a member of our Church. This young lieutenant, attacking a Japanese Zero squadron, was forced down when his motors failed at 10,000 feet. He hit the water with a terrific impact that left him unconscious. He would have drowned, for he had not unfastened the safety belt which tied him to the sinking plane; yet, regaining consciousness, he found himself afloat. “The hand of God must have unfastened the safety belt,” he later wrote his parents. There he was in shark-infested waters, about a mile and a half from a Japanese battleship and five destroyers, and another mile and a half from a little island which, he thought, had been captured by the enemy. He was marvelously rescued, however, by friendly natives. Thanking God for his deliverance, he sent word home: “Let me tell you, Mom and Dad, I pray plenty over here. So does everyone else, for that matter. While I am taking off and flying to interception, I sing, ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,’ and among other things the Twenty­third Psalm and the Ninety-first Psalm. It helps a lot. I think I will come out of this O.K. However, if I should meet some mishap, you may be confident of the fact that I went as a child of God.”

Every one of you can have the same calm confidence with which to face danger, even death itself, if only you take Christ into the ship of your life and pray,

Jesus, Savior, pilot me

Over life’s tempestuous seal

If that Redeemer is at the helm to direct your course, He will bring you safely through every storm into the haven of heaven. As we repeat the prayer of our message, “O Jesus, still the storms of life!” may every one of us—you men of the sea and the air, you soldiers who cross the ocean to distant battle fronts, we who stay at home—add to that appeal this plea to Christ and this assurance of our faith:

As a mother stills her child,

Thou canst hush the ocean wild;

Boist’rous waves obey Thy will

When Thou say’st to them, “Be still!”

Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,

Jesus, Savior, pilot me!

When at last I near the shore

And the fearful breakers roar

‘Twixt me and the peaceful rest,

Then, while leaning on Thy breast,

May I hear Thee say to me,

“Fear not, I will pilot thee!” Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: February 21, 1943

A great and strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entering in of the cave.1 Kings 19:11-13

O God, Our Faithful Father:

Send us Thy holy, enlightening, purifying Spirit, through whom we may now hear Christ’s gentle voice pleading that we accept Him as our only Savior, spurn temptation, find comfort and courage in Scripture’s promises! Show us again that because we have cleansing in Jesus’ blood, salvation in His atonement, life in His death, we can trust Him wholly in every need of soul or body; that the Holy Spirit’s voice within our Bibles and within us, through faith, is the only guide we need for earth and heaven! In their danger and loneliness speak comfortingly to our men and women in the armed forces, and above the roar of battle let them hear the pledge of the Redeemer’s presence for all who believe! Spread Thy Gospel mightily throughout the world and use it as a divine means for ending this conflict, granting us the triumph of truth and all men on earth the blessings of a righteous peace! Hear us, O Father, as in Jesus’ name we pledge ourselves anew to hear and heed the Spirit’s voice within us! Amen.

As the nation pauses to honor George Washington’s memory, Americans should recall our first President not only as a soldier, a statesman, an executive of outstanding achievement, but, above all, as a humble follower of Jesus. Washington’s loyalty to his Redeemer was greater even than his heroic devotion to his country. He recognized how completely the welfare of the colonies required divine blessing and understood in a personal, powerful way that the only true God, without whom we could never win, but with whom we could never lose, was the God of the Bible, revealed to men in the Lord Jesus, the Redeemer of the world. Openly Washington confessed that faith. As a young man of twenty he copied reverent prayers centering in Christ’s atonement. Until his death he did not shrink from giving loyal testimony. It was not flattery but absolute truth when his funeral orator proclaimed: “Let the deist reflect on this and realize that Washington, the savior of his country, did not disdain to adore and acknowledge the great Savior, whom deists and infidels affect to disdain and despise.”

Christ-centered faith sustained our country’s father in the dark hours of the Revolution, when American men in arms, paid in paper money, could hardly buy a full meal with a month’s wages; when 1,300 soldiers set out to secure their rights from Congress at the point of the bayonet; when bloody footprints at Valley Forge marked the pathway of suffering. Washington had to contend with the personal ambition of his officers, the divided interests of the colonies, the menace of mutiny in his armies, the lack of financial support. Yet whenever he became disheartened, he took his heavy problems to God. Alone, far from his headquarters, he knelt humbly to implore guidance in Jesus’ name. The Lord answered him. The quiet, but unmistakable voice of the Almighty gave him both the assurance of his own salvation and the pledge of power for his cause.

Thank God, the same Savior who spoke to Washington in those difficult days will speak to every one of us, especially the discouraged or distracted, and call us to faith and fortitude. Though we sin frequently, the merciful, compassionate Redeemer will speak to every penitent heart. For Scripture gives us this blessed assurance:

SOFTLY THE SAVIOR CALLS

To appreciate this grace more fully and to understand that our Lord comes to us not in loud and mighty movements, but gently, personally, in His Word and through His Spirit, let us learn and apply the lesson presented by our text (First Kings, chapter nineteen, verses eleven to thirteen): “A great and strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entering in of the cave.”

I

CHRIST CALLS AND COMFORTS US—NOT IN A TERRIFYING, DESTRUCTIVE VOICE

Even stalwart heroes of faith can become discouraged and disheartened, as the story of Elijah’s flight shows. After God had answered his prayer on Mount Carmel by sending fire to consume his sacrifice, together with the altar, the zealous prophet thought that Israel would penitently return to Jehovah, that the tyranny of Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel would be destroyed forever. He soon learned the discouraging fact that the masses in one moment can cry, as they did at Carmel, “The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God!” yet in the next bow at heathen shrines. He also experienced the fearful attempts at vengeance by a spurned, frustrated woman; for Jezebel had sworn with a heavy oath that she would kill Elijah. Because her agents were stationed throughout the country, he had to escape quickly, secretly. He hurried across the border from Samaria into Judah, and still he was not safe. Hardly resting to regain his strength, he sped on to Beersheba, the southern edge of civilization; but he dared not stop even here. Headlong he plunged into the stony wilderness, constantly assailed by bitterness, reproaching the Almighty for the persecution now heaped on him. So this was the pay for his loyalty to Jehovah! This was the reward for the unflinching defense of his God! He told himself that his work had failed completely, that nobody besides himself believed in the Lord of hosts. Banished from his homeland like a hunted, haunted creature there in the desert, he wanted to die on the spot and end the disgrace, the despair of it all. The Almighty spurned his plea for death; instead, He miraculously strengthened the prophet; and as soon as his strength revived, he resumed his flight. If he must live, so he concluded, he would remain exiled from his fellow men to endure his persecution alone, unseen. Farther he plunged into the rocky, waterless waste, through the heat and blister of forty days, through the cold and darkness of forty nights, until he made his uncharted way down death-filled ravines and over dizzy heights to Horeb, where 550 years before Jehovah had appeared to Moses. There on the lonely boulder-strewn mountain he found a cave and hid himself in its dark recesses. As we see his form disappear into the shadows of that rocky dungeon, we ask ourselves: “Is this fugitive from God and man the same Elijah who on Mount Carmel challenged powerful enemies without flinching? Can this be the hero who in other crisis moments readily faced death in championing God’s cause? ‘How are the mighty fallen!’”

We might doubt that men of Elijah’s fearlessness could run away and surrender to bitterness, were it not for the fact that the same tragedy is repeated, in principle, today. The only difference is that now many people do not wait until their lives are threatened before they become discouraged; they lose heart at the first ruffling of their feelings. Men and women in this audience, I am sure, have left their church because they felt God had failed them when they lost their business, their home, their health; and all the while the Lord was planning to strengthen their faith. Some of you, your letters reveal, are staying away from divine services, leading resentful, secluded lives, because of a petty slight, a personal rebuff you think you received in the ladies’ aid society, the choir, or the congregational meeting. You are going to show that you can get along quite well without them, though the selfish, revengeful hatred within you is shriveling your spirit every day you live, increasing the eternal danger to your soul. Before we criticize Elijah, hidden in Horeb’s cave, let us be honest enough to admit: if we American Christians had to suffer only a small portion of the hatred heaped against that man of God, most of us would be far more resentful, louder in accusing our heavenly Father!

In the marvel of His compassion the Lord approached disheartened Elijah. The Creator who strewed the stars and planets across the expanse of space, the God who directed the course of the centuries through history’s mighty upheavals, that supreme Ruler of the nations shows His love for an impatient, fear-weighted prophet. Build your hope on this truth that our heavenly Father, before whom angels shield their faces, still deals with individual, sinful men! Because Jesus Christ, true Lord and true Savior, came to “seek and to save that which was lost,” believe that He will come to you, whoever and wherever you are! You, too, may be far out on life’s barest desert; you may shun your friends or be shunned by them; you may have outlived your beloved one, even your children, and exist friendless, alone; but through faith in the Redeemer the same God who found and comforted His bewildered prophet in the cave at Horeb will bring you hope and consolation. No one is beyond His reach, because no one is beyond His love. As this broadcast comes to you, the lonely, separated from your families by stubborn sin and selfishness; as the miracle of radio sends this message through heavy granite walls and steel bars to you in prison cells, may it show you that the Lord has found you, that His message of comfort in this moment is directed individually, pointedly to you! A few years ago a foreign correspondent told how the Prince of Wales inspected a small British hospital for hopelessly disabled victims of the First World War. He went from one cot to the other, shook hands with the men who had given more for their country than you and I can realize. Before leaving, the Prince asked the head nurse: “I was informed that there were thirty-six men here, but I have met only twenty-nine. Where are the rest?” He was told the others were so hideously disfigured that most visitors were unable to stand the shock of seeing them. He insisted on visiting them and was led into a small room to behold the wrecked bodies of men, some with features so ghastly and shocking that they had to be veiled. To them likewise the royal visitor gave what comfort he could. As he turned to leave, he counted the beds and said to the nurse, “I have seen only six men here. Where is the seventh?” Falteringly she explained: the seventh man’s disfigurement was so horrifying that absolutely no one except a few hospital authorities ever went near his bed. He had a room for himself and would not leave it until carried out a corpse. “Your Highness,” the nurse concluded, “please don’t ask to see him!” The Prince did ask, and a few moments later he stood beside the maimed, misshapen form of what had once been a man, but now was an indescribable, living horror. For a moment the heir to Britain’s throne paused to take hold of himself; his face was white and grim; his eyes twitched; tears rolled down his cheeks; suddenly he bent over and kissed that shunned, broken body.—Rarely do earthly rulers show this interest in sufferers and outcasts, but such seeking of the utterly destitute is the Savior’s exceptionless mission of mercy. “They that be whole,” He says, “need not a physician,” as He comforts the sick and sorrowful, the disheartened and distressed, the lonely and forsaken. While the visit from the Prince of Wales could momentarily cheer those sufferers, Christ, the Prince of Peace, offers forgiveness, light, strength, salvation, eternal life. No worldly power, human might, influence of wealth or position can grant the sinner the rich blessing God gives him through the Savior.

How did the Lord come to Elijah? We read in the text that after he had entered the cave “a great and strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord.” A screaming, devastating hurricane, such as the prophet or any other man had never seen before, lifted huge granite boulders and sent them flying through space, as though they were grains of dust. Yet we read, “The Lord was not in the wind.” Almost immediately after the wind subsided, the earth began to tremble, the fastnesses of the mountain shook, the ground rose and fell as the billows of the sea; but “the Lord was not in the earthquake.” Hardly had these tremors stopped, when the hiss and the roar of fire swept over the heights; yet when the red flames died out, the prophet knew that “the Lord was not in the fire.” All nature had been tremendously convulsed, overwhelming forces loosed; still God had not spoken to him by these powerful demonstrations. Elijah’s bitterness and discouragement were not removed; his soul remained untouched; he went back into his cave.

Millions in our day see a world filled with hurricanes of horror. They feel the foundations of civilization shaking, and they retreat farther into the darkness of their doubts. What will bring them out? War? Dictators build grandiose schemes, entice their fellow men into the bleeding and brutality by which empires are to be created; but God is not in their plans. The Almighty is no war lord who revels in slaughter and delights in anguish. He is the Lord of love in Christ. Do not listen to the people who tell you that the heavenly Father uses this conflict to make a better earth with bloodshed banished! The dream of a strifeless world is ruled out by God’s inerrant Word. In our twentieth enlightened century, “war has reached a total eight times greater than in all previous centuries,” says Harvard’s Professor Sorokin. What reason is there to hope for improvement in the future? We should defend our country with all possible energy and resources, working and praying for an early, righteous victory. But let us be clear on this: war itself cannot save a single soul!

Some want to lead mankind out of its darkness by establishing an entirely new postwar world. We hear of mighty international movements by which America is to help hold the other countries in check. Before we police the world, we ought to evangelize the world. Before we tell others what they are to do, we ought first of all put our own house in order. The control of the world by the United States, a League of Nations, an entirely new social order—these mighty programs alone will never lead mankind out of its darkness. We will thank heaven if men all over the earth enjoy the four freedoms: freedom of speech and worship, freedom from want and fear. First of all, however, they need the four spiritual freedoms: freedom of conscience, freedom from sin, hell, and death.

Others maintain that the world must be saved by social upheavals, the fire and hurricane of godless Communism. It is claimed by a Congressional committee that even officials in responsible positions at Washington advocate this overthrow of Americanism and Christianity. If this is true, they ought to be removed from office at once; for God is not in this atheistic destruction.

Still others demand a tremendous spiritual movement, a return to religion; but they do not specify which religion. Any kind of creed is certainly not enough. We like the positive conviction by which Sir George Hume, member of the British Parliament, declares: “What is needed above everything is a return to the Lord Jesus Christ, not merely as the example of a perfect man, but as the Savior, the only means by which we may be pleasing to God.” The cry of this hour is not for powerful religious federations and superorganizations; not for large, wealthy, socially important churches; not for intellectually brilliant pulpit orators; not for costly vestment and ecclesiastical parade; above all, not for recourse to the sword, lighting the fires of persecution, drafting the powers of the State to punish those of a different religious persuasion. As we recall the streams of martyr blood that have flowed throughout these nineteen centuries, all the cruelty imposed by so-called Christian nations on people of the black race, the horrors suffered by the Jews under Nazi rule, we ought to understand clearly that God is not in any movement, no matter how large, which is built on persecution and oppression, that He is doubly against all tyranny operating in the name of His Son, the loving Savior.

II

CHRIST CALLS US IN “THE STILL SMALL VOICE”

After the three convulsions of nature had subsided, the prophet heard a “still small voice.” To many it would have been merely a passing sound, a whisper; but to that man of God it was, at last, the assurance that the Lord Himself had come. As soon as Elijah heard it, “he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entering in of the cave.” That “still small voice” produced such reverence that he shielded his countenance from beholding his Lord, such obedience and comfort that it took him from the black recesses of the cave to its entrance, ready to hear and follow divine instruction. Throughout the centuries the Almighty has led men out of sin’s night through the astonishing “still small voice.” When in the fullness of time the climax of history dawned, and God sent His only-begotten Son to become the Mediator between heaven and earth, the Atonement for the sins of all the world, Jesus appeared, not as a resplendent conqueror with armored battalions, but as a helpless, outcast Baby. He was born not in a world capital but in a humble town of a few hundred souls. He lived not in a stately palace but in a laborer’s hut. He worked not particularly with the high and mighty but among the lowly and exploited outcast. He spoke without pomp and circumstance, without fanfare or flourish. Only once is it recorded that He cried with a loud voice—when He hung suspended on the cross, suffering in His own holy body the punishment for the iniquities of the whole hostile race, paying with His own life for His enemies’ transgressions. After they had crucified Him, they thought that the “still small voice” had been silenced forever. During the entire first century not a single Latin writer even mentions Jesus. When His name begins to appear in the second century, the heathen authors refer to Him grudgingly, sarcastically. Yet by the miracle of God’s grace that “still small voice” becomes the means of drawing men from darkness to light, from sin to salvation, from social misery to the liberties which are ours in the United States today. Write this down as one of the assured facts of history: the Savior’s quiet voice that the ancient world despised and modern skeptics reject has brought humanity the blessings it enjoys!

Inestimably more important, however, is the truth that Jesus’ “still small voice” offers the sinner His salvation, the lost soul its way to life and heaven. Every time you hear the story of your redemption through Christ’s substitutionary self-sacrifice; every time you behold Christ nailed to that instrument of death, suffering in your stead and in your behalf, that “still small voice” pleads within you. God Himself speaks to you, beseeching you to be reconciled with Him by accepting the Savior’s love. Every time you are led by that Spirit to tune in our message—and remember, no man hears the Gospel simply by chance—Christ Himself appeals to you through the Holy Spirit, entreating you to believe in Him, so that the blood which dripped from His lacerated head, His pierced hand, His riven side, may not be shed in vain for you. The “still small voice” of God’s Son, the Redeemer of your soul, now, in these moments, comes to you with the highest and holiest message that can ever make its way into your soul. You may try to ignore it; you may stamp your feet, clench your hands, grit your teeth in stubborn unbelief; your hand may be ready to dial another station, but all the while the Savior is speaking to you. To avoid rejection by God, banishment from heaven and punishment in hell itself, for your own salvation, listen: “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling”!

Pleadingly He would say to you: “Why have you so often pushed away My outstretched arms? Why are you crucifying Me anew with your willful wickedness? Why do you doubt and deny? Why do you delay and postpone? Come to Me, My dearly redeemed, for whom I shed My lifeblood, for whom I died the death of all deaths! Come to Me, for I have loved you ‘with an everlasting love.’ I have pardon and peace, redemption and rest, for your weary, sin-sick souls. I have joy and life, heaven and eternity, for you! O come, come now, come trustingly, come triumphantly!”

Drop everything when that voice pleads! Thousands are now praying with me that the Spirit will help you. Answer: “O Christ of Calvary’s cross, I have heard Thy ‘still small voice’ of heavenly love and power speak to my soul. And because Thou didst give Thyself for me, I give myself to Thee.”—That is all you must do to become a child of God. No initiation, no ceremony, no fee! No possibility of discrimination or rejection, for He promises, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out!” But you ask, “How can I come?” How did the jailer at Philippi come? The Apostle Paul told him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!” He believed and by his faith came to the Savior. How did Cornelius, the soldier at Caesarea, come to Christ? He heard Peter say, “Whosoever believeth in Him [Jesus] shall receive remission of sins.” How has anyone accepted the Redeemer since that first Good Friday when the crucified thief looked up to behold Jesus, his King and the Lord of the heavenly paradise? How did the “ten thousand times ten thousand,” the ransomed saints in white, accept the Savior? By joining a congregation? By signing their names to the church roster? By raising their hand at a revival? By stepping forward to shake the preacher’s hand? You can do all that and yet remain far from Christ. First of all you must answer the “still small voice” by declaring: “Lord, I believe with all my heart that I am saved not by my own good works or good intentions, not by the virtues and merits of parents or pastor, saints or angels—but by grace, through faith in Thy sin-destroying self-sacrifice on the cross. O Jesus, I trust Thee wholly.” If today, before your radio in your own home, on the train, in an automobile, or wherever these words reach you, you hear the Savior’s soft and tender voice and answer it in this way, you are Christ’s.

Then, of course, you will want to learn more of His marvelous mercy. You will hear Him say, “Be baptized,” and you will want this “washing of regeneration.” You will hear Him say, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them,” and you will be eager to stand shoulder to shoulder with other believers in the true Church. Our broadcast and a nationwide system of Gospel-preaching congregations behind it offer you this help, freely, gladly, thankfully. Will you not, while this “still small voice” speaks within you, write to tell us that you want to come closer to Jesus?

To hear and heed Christ’s gentle voice, you must meet Him in the words of Spirit, truth, and life found in your Bible, the passages of golden promise penned for all the world, but written particularly for you. More than ever Scripture must assume a decisive position in American lives. The Government is placing a New Testament into lifeboats and rubber rafts, because the experiences of this war have shown that men from torpedoed ships want God’s unfailing Word. Why wait for crushing catastrophes to read the Scriptures? The Bible should occupy an honored, prominent place in each home. It should be the Book of all books in every American life; for it is through this sacred, errorless, divinely inspired, eternal Volume that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit speak to us in the “still small voice.” Therefore read and revere your Bible! Ponder and memorize its pledges! Hear it expounded by true teachers who can rightly divide the divine Word! Don’t waste your time on human and fallible theories of prophecy! Don’t become involved in any side issues, but delve deeply and directly into the heart of the sacred Book to find Him to whom the inspired writers, from Moses to Saint John, testify with one accord: Jesus Christ, the gracious God, the incarnate Son of the Highest, the Atonement for sin, your Friend in the needs of soul and body!

The gentle voice of Jesus will help you resist temptation. When you have grasped your Savior in faith and made Him your own in soul-deep trust, you not only have the highest Example of perfection, sinless and stainless, but you are also “born again” into a new, pure, clean, noble life in which you begin to hate evil, to love good. When temptations arise, as they will, this “still small voice” guides you to say, “Get thee behind me, Satan, in the name of the Lord Jesus!” The reason some of you have fallen into heavy sin, denied your Savior, even allied yourselves with the enemies of His cross is plainly this, that, though your Lord’s “still small voice” pleaded: “Fight the good fight of faith!” “Keep thyself pure!” “Resist the devil!” “Watch and pray!” you spurned His appeal. You listened to the world rather than Christ. You followed the devil instead of your Redeemer.

When the Almighty’s “still small voice” spoke to Elijah at the opening of that cave, He granted him heavenly assurance. The Prophet had thought that he was the only believer left in Israel, but God declared, “I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal.” When you follow Christ’s direction, you, too, will have 7,000 times as much help as you had without Him. The victory will be yours. By the Savior’s promise you can count on the resources of heaven, the vigilance of angel guardians, the protection of the Savior-Companion, no matter where you may be. Through Christ, you can face emergency, opposition, danger, death itself, with confidence in your heart because the “still small voice” whispers to your soul, “Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine!”

Is not this the spiritual strength we need for our distracted day? Christians who follow the “still small voice” have no room for pessimism and cannot be defeated. Whenever they feel that the forces of unbelief have gained the upper hand, let them read these chapters in First Kings again to learn that finally Elijah was victorious; Ahab and Jezebel, destroyed. Translating this truth into the practical issues of our modern life we can confidently face the hardest trials and deepest sorrow these problem years may bring if we meet them in Christ. With joy in our hearts and a song on our lips we should repel the conspiracy of wicked men and hell’s agents by this cry of confidence: “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” We need no earthly weapons with which to fight the Spirit’s battle, for every Christian has “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Bibles can win greater battles than armored divisions. Every Christian home has the power of family prayer in the Redeemer’s name, and American households on their knees in prayer can help win more startling victories than air armadas. Every Christian church has the glorious Gospel, and when this is preached fearlessly, without human addition or restriction, it is mightier in our nation’s defense than motorized battalions. Every true disciple of the Lord has the example of his Savior’s self­denial and service of love, even for those who persecute him. Because God has promised His aid “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” Christian meekness can triumph over human brutality. When a brawny Highland sergeant in an Egyptian garrison was asked how he came to Jesus, he explained that his company had one outstanding Christian soldier who was humility itself. One night, after the company returned wet, tired, and muddy, that young disciple knelt in prayer. Filled with the sort of cruelty we can hardly grasp, the sergeant took off his boots, heavy with mud, and threw them at the kneeling man, striking him on the head. The soldier rose and retired. The next morning the sergeant found his shoes beautifully polished at the foot of his bed. “That was his reply to me,” he said, “and it just broke my heart. I was saved that day.” How true the Savior’s words, “The meek,” the Christians of the “still small voice,” “shall inherit the earth”! The victory is always theirs.

Forward, onward, upward, then, you, God’s children, who love the Lord Jesus and are guided by His pleading grace, His sustaining love, His deathless devotion, His strengthening power! The eternal triumph, the salvation of your souls, is yours in Christ; for as sure as He is your great and glorious God, your resurrected Redeemer, your living Intercessor at the Father’s right hand, and the coming Judge of the quick and the dead, just so surely His “still small voice,” fatally ignored and spurned by many, will become the hallowed voice of eternity, to grant those loyal unto death the welcome and blessing, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” O God, keep us all for that glory, through Christ! Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: February 14, 1943

Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.Hebrews 12:6

O God, Triune, True, and Eternal:

Amid the sorrows of this heavy hour, teach us by Thy Spirit to approach our blessed Savior with all our burdens and worries, assured that He can and will help us! So increase our confidence in Christ, His power to save us to the uttermost and His divine love for our sin-bound souls, that we accept adversity without protest or despair, convinced that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” when we come home to Thee in heaven! Comfort especially all Thy children suffering from the agonies of war: the imprisoned, the starving, the oppressed, the wounded, the dying! In their darkest hours help them believe that through Jesus, the sin-atoning Redeemer, their sorrow shall be turned to joy! Fervently we beseech Thee, O God of wisdom, power, and love: turn this war into peace; direct the course of the nation’s leaders along the pathways of righteousness, guard our armed forces, bring many in this broad land to repentance and faith! Hear us for Jesus’ sake, since our only help is in Him! Amen.

WHY does God permit this war to continue? How can He see millions killed or crippled for life without calling a halt to worldwide bloodshed and brutality? Where is the power—if the Lord is almighty—that can stop all the misery and cruelty with which our age has been cursed? Who can explain why, on the one hand, God is good, merciful, gracious, compassionate and, why on the other hand, every day men and women are crushed by agonies almost beyond their endurance?

These are the questions of our disturbed day, asked not only by atheists and enemies of religion who contend that human suffering proves there can be no loving Deity, but also by bewildered believers, who, staggering under the burden of anguish, cry out, “Why must I bear this misery? How can God lay all this suffering on me?”

Do not imagine for a moment, my afflicted friends, that you alone are troubled by the mystery of suffering. One of the earliest books in the Bible, the record of Job, deals with this difficulty. You feel the war’s hardships; but has anyone in our audience sustained losses as large as Job’s, when treacherous enemies captured his men, all his herds and flocks? Perhaps you have received a notification from Washington that your son was killed in action; Job lost seven sons and three daughters in a single day. Others among you are stricken by sickness, groaning in pain; Job suffered from a form of leprosy that made his body a mass of boils and sores—the worst torture in this life Satan himself could devise. Family trouble has crossed many of your thresholds; misunderstanding between husband and wife may have marred your home happiness; yet, when Job, lying on an ash heap, scratching the inflamed, ulcerous surfaces of his body with a potsherd, cries desperately for help, his wife, who above all people should have brought comfort, taunted him for his trust in the Lord and cruelly sneered, “Curse God and die!” Then, when he found no human explanation of his agonies, Job turned to his Maker, asking, “Show me wherefore Thou contendest with me!” (chapter ten, verse two). That old, but ever new question,

WHY MUST WE SUFFER?

Why this war? Why our personal pains? Why this great grief in our hearts? we shall answer with a word from Holy Scripture, the strengthening assurance in Hebrews, chapter twelve, verse six, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.”

I

CHRISTIANS, UNLIKE UNBELIEVERS, DO NOT SUFFER BECAUSE GOD IS ANGRY WITH THEM

When Job sought the reason for his torture, he approached God. Only through the Almighty and His revealed truth can we, too, solve the enigma of pain. Our schools, our highly praised culture, our scientific research, are unable to explain sorrow. If godless education fails dismally—as it often does—in producing even outwardly good, clean, constructive lives; if a college president is imprisoned because of a serious crime; if a Chicago psychologist reveals that intelligence does not help avoid lawbreaking, how can we expect human reason to solve this inner problem of suffering?

Yet, in their blindness, men reject divine guidance to insist that everything in life comes from chance, cruel or kind. Fate, they declare, smiles on some people, and they have an easy, rich, untroubled existence. Fate frowns on others, and they are beset with unnumbered difficulties. It is all a matter of luck. A man has no more control over his career, they tell us, than a blade of grass that may be trodden down in a moment, a leaf blown by the wind, a twig thrown into the river. Since we are only creatures of accident, they conclude, why not press every drop out of pleasure while we can and have our full fling before tomorrow comes—and death with it? What a shocking mistake! How completely it fails in every crisis! We read recently of a marine en route to the Pacific battle front who talked atheism all the way from the United States to the Solomon Islands. No God could regulate human affairs, he told his shipmates; there was no hereafter which they should fear, no Savior, no inspired Bible, no Judgment to keep them from following their lusts and desires. Under fire in Guadalcanal, however, that boisterous denier of Christ meekly told his chaplain, “If this keeps up, I will be thinking the way you do.” The rejection of the Almighty, the ridicule of Jesus, when put to the test of trial and affliction, always collapse. No matter how loudly scoffers may boast that they have defeated sorrow, when confronted by death, they are often overcome by terror. They know there is a God. Their conscience gives them no rest. They realize that they must stand before the bar of eternal justice. It was to help such men in their last hours that a prisoner in the Ohio State Penitentiary at Columbus requested our “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee!” wall motto, for the room where murderers, condemned to the electric chair, eat their last meal.

Other skeptics have gone to the opposite extreme and declared that men suffer because they are weak. Learn to be hard, cruel, ruthless, they urge us. Smash all opposition! Away with sympathy, kindness, and mercy! Down with love! Might makes right! Don’t be a weakling, be a superman! That is the delusion of Europe’s dictators and the cause of immeasurable misery. May it be totally wiped off the earth!

If we now turn with Job from human failure to sacred truth and ask God in His Word why we endure pain, we must recognize that our text, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,” implies a difference in the suffering inflicted on Christ’s disciples and on God’s enemies. You need not search long or deeply in the Scriptures to learn why unbelievers meet reverses and anguish. They are under divine wrath; their sorrow is the punishment for their sins.

If you put the question, What is the reason for this world war? I answer, This conflict is a punishment for every unbeliever. If you continue, Why does God not stop this bloodshed today? the explanation again is this: In the sight of our almighty and all-holy Lord men have not yet paid sufficient penalty for their wickedness. Divine wisdom has permitted our country to be attacked because too many Americans have been Godless, Christ-less, faithless. God gave us more churches than most other nations. Yet more than 55 per cent of our citizens have no membership in any congregation. On an average Sunday more than half of those who call themselves believers are not found in their houses of worship. Many who do attend hear a denial of God’s truth, the rejection of our Savior’s atonement, an attack on the hope of the resurrection. God gave the United States stalwart Christian schools founded on firm faith with loyalty to Jesus, their Cornerstone; but human reason has dethroned sacred revelation in many of these classrooms. The Lord gave us homes, the best history has known; but we have gone further than most other nations in permitting them to be broken. Can you not see, therefore, that the visitation of this struggle cries out with bleeding emphasis to every unbeliever in the country: “Repent! Get right with God!”? Before winning the war and winning the peace, we must win divine favor.

Some of you may be smiling in a superior, cynical way at this plea for a return to the Almighty; many of our soldiers in the fields do not favor such ridicule. A chaplain in the Aleutians told me that his men read God’s Word and give themselves to prayer, since they realize how quickly they may face death. A young lieutenant who has met the enemy face to face writes: “I plead: Tell America to pray! This war will not end until nations and peoples have paid in blood and tears for thrusting Christ out of their hearts and countries. Tell them to send Bibles and more Bibles!” He continues, “You complacent, bridge­playing, cocktail-drinking mothers, why don’t you teach your son about God instead of handing him a cigarette and dance program? Get down on your knees and ask God to forgive your sins and then pray for the Army! Pray! Pray! Pray! And you preachers” (he refers to the Christ-denying moralists, book reviewers, news commentators, Modernists and Sadducees, in the American pulpits), “why don’t you teach the people to pray? Only repentance for sins can stop the shellings and the killing.” He adds, “I would like to have this letter broadcast over every radio in America.” We have done our part in complying with his request, because we are completely convinced that the Church’s mission for our land in this hour must be the continued appeal for contrition and return to God.

Therefore to every unbeliever I say pointedly: If you have met reverses more crushing than you have ever known; if you must endure grief and hardship heavier than you have ever been forced to carry, do not try to console yourself with the vain hope that your fortune will change and your difficulties will soon disappear! Why clench your fist against the Almighty and boast that you will conquer your calamities? Without the Lord Jesus you are beaten before you start, doomed to perpetual defeat. Stop resigning yourself to bitterness or despair; rather be honest, fair, open enough to hear what God says about the sorrows encircling your life! Admit that you are paying for your own stubborn rebellion against the Lord, that even now you are beginning to experience the tenor of God’s everlasting wrath! If everything has gone wrong in your life, do not attack God, blame luck or chance, censure your family or your friends! Accuse yourself; and as the Spirit now urges you to cease your resistance, approach Christ, plead fervently, “O ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner,’ an unbeliever, a blasphemer, a scoffer! Forgive me for Jesus’ sake!”

That prayer and the faith behind it will help give you the second, the strengthening answer to our question “Why must we suffer?”—the assurance which only those blessed by Christ can ever have. When you believe that the Son of God is your Redeemer and realize that without the Savior you are hopelessly, eternally, irrevocably lost, rejected by the great and glorious Lord of eternal justice, damned to hell, and then, when you take these glorious passages, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”; or, Christ “loved” us “and gave Himself for” us; or, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities,” and you apply their comfort so completely to yourself that you can say, “‘God so loved’ me ‘that He gave His only begotten Son’”; and, again, “Christ ‘loved’ me, ‘and gave Himself for’ me”; and again, “‘He was wounded for’ my ‘transgressions, He was bruised for’ my ‘iniquities’”; when you find the central power of the Christian faith in the Savior’s becoming your Substitute, suffering for your sins, paying their penalty, serving the sentence of their guilt—then, by the joy of this inner conviction you know you are God’s. Christ has removed every barrier between you and your heavenly Father; All the dark-red stains of many sins which could send your soul to hell have been washed away by His holy, precious blood. You are convinced that notwithstanding the accusing voice of conscience, the fears of your own doubtings, the contradictions of unbelieving men, you are saved completely, eternally.

When I assure you that God loves you and because you are Christ’s He will not punish you in His anger, this does not mean, of course, that Christians will not suffer. Indeed, as a group, they have always endured much more of the world’s hostility and carried a larger burden of agony than most unbelievers. The Apostle’s ultimatum, once addressed to the believers, still holds true, “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” In the years ahead Christians may be tried as never before. But when God’s Word strengthens believers with the pledge, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” it also tells them that they will no longer be punished for their sins, since our Lord—praise be His matchless mercy!—paid the full penalty, completely atoned for every transgression, removed the curse of all evil from our lives. Jesus (and you can find His name in the New Testament more than seven hundred times, to give you more than seven hundred assurances of your salvation) Christ (and you can find that name likewise more than 350 times, to give you more than 350 promises that He is your anointed, long­promised Redeemer from ruin), the blessed Savior, promises you in His unbreakable Word that, because you are His, the changing events which crowd into your life come from your heavenly Father’s love, His mercy, His all­seeing wisdom, His tender devotion to your soul’s salvation. Beneath the cross you are persuaded—although you can never fully understand and this contradicts everything men may try to tell you—that God permits sickness, loss, sorrow, pain, a hundred kinds of suffering, to overtake you because He loves you. “All things”—and we must refuse to restrict Scripture—“all things”: sickbeds and sorrow, loneliness and opposition, accident and mental anguish, disaster and even death itself, “work together for good to them that love God.” Therefore our text assures us, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.”

II

CHRISTIANS, THROUGH CHRIST, SUFFER BECAUSE GOD LOVES THEM

See how this promise proves itself in the individual Christian’s life! Here is a man, for instance, who, like many of you, enjoyed the blessing of a pious home and the guidance of devout parents. Years ago life was a struggle for him; but the Lord was good, granted him success and a comfortable income. Hardly had the first rays of prosperity begun to shine on Him, when he made the mistake of which every one of us in our proud self­ esteem is guilty: he began to think that he himself was responsible for these blessings, that the little church where he had worshiped was too small and unnoticed, too narrow and strict, because it proclaimed the old Gospel of grace, insisted that besides Jesus Christ “there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Gradually he neglected his private prayer; his family no longer found time to join in reading the Bible and in winging their petitions to the Throne of Mercy. Now, because God loved that man and had chosen him as His own, the Almighty had to prevent him from ruining his soul. You ought to see clearly, then, that when this man, in deadly danger of forfeiting heaven, began to lose his money, health, family happiness, this visitation came from divine grace, not anger, from the Lord who says, “I chasten you because I love you.”

The hardships of this war have come to many of you who are Christ’s for the same remedial purpose: to call you closer to God. When the Nazis bombed Coventry, the local cathedral was demolished. Yet the bombs which fell on the ancient structure tore the plaster from its walls, revealing two pictures of Jesus, more than four hundred years old. They had been painted on the original cathedral walls but had been covered with plaster at the time the building was enlarged and improved, thus remaining concealed until the raid. Similarly in our lives it often requires disaster to blast away the covering with which, particularly when financial success enlarges and improves our prosperity, we shut out the Savior.

Again, when the Bible declares, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,” we are assured that through the present conflict our heavenly Father speaks earnestly to His Christians, urging them to recognize His love even more deeply, to cling more closely to Jesus, to redeem the time more carefully. The war, by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, is bringing thousands of our fighting men nearer to God. A veteran marine sergeant from Cleveland, who fought through to the victory at Guadalcanal, asks, “Do the marines pray?” and then answers, “They pray unashamedly, and often aloud.” He tells of one boy in his outfit who wrote home to his parents: “You had a hard time making me go to church when I was at home. Well, you won’t when I get back.”

It is to be regretted deeply, however, that masses in the United States stubbornly, willfully, continuously, reject the lesson this war would teach. Unlike our fighting men, they have not seen bloody battles. Instead of risk, danger and loss, the conflict has brought them unequalled income, undreamed-of prosperity. In the month remaining before March 15 they are much concerned about what they owe the Government; yet in their narrow, selfish, ungrateful way they do not even consider the tremendous debt of gratitude they owe the Lord for permitting them to enjoy these blessings and the Christ for giving Himself as their redemption. I shudder to think of the penalty to be paid by those who, when God speaks to them, shut their eyes, close their ears, and refuse to heed the correcting, warning appeal for repentance. I pray that the Almighty will use this World War as a purging fire and send His cleansing Spirit into the souls of heroic Christian men and women who with new and undaunted courage will proclaim the Gospel, “the power of God unto salvation.”

A celebrated physicist has said that if 2 percent of the people in any country believe in a project completely, cling to it despite all opposition, work for it without interruption, insist on it without compromise, they will eventually win the whole country for their program. While we realize from Scripture that also in our country “many are called, but few are chosen,” we know just as assuredly that, if 2 percent of our Christians—that means about 2,600,000—would throw themselves body and soul into the task and sacred privilege of evangelizing America; if they would demand that their pulpits resound with messages of courage and faith in the Savior’s redemption; if they would live Christ and preach Christ; if with the restless zeal and tireless energy men show for political and social projects; they would give up all for Jesus, with the glorious conviction of ultimate victory, then an electrifying religious awakening would begin in the United States, and the sufferings of war, by the miracle of divine mercy, could be turned into the profit of spiritual peace. Only a small, salt-of-the-earth group, under divine grace, is required to bring multitudes of troubled hearts and lives this amazing message of the Savior’s love: “Your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” Fellow worshipers, I ask now in that Redeemer’s name: Will you who know “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” be among those who with the Spirit’s blessing can help build the faith triumphant over trials in the hearts of your countrymen? God grant that here and now you resolve, “I will!”

We find comfort in this truth, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,” when we also believe that the Almighty permits suffering in order to make us realize His power and prepare us through affliction for higher responsibilities, increased blessings. One day Nathaniel Hawthorne came home with the sad news that he had been discharged from his position at the Salem Custom House. It seemed that his life was ruined. However, this loss was a disguised blessing. For now, with his wife’s help, he could devote himself entirely to writing. He might have stayed at the Custom House for the rest of his life and remained an obscure official. But through that loss he gained international renown. Trust God in your own life, convinced that He who takes away what you regard as necessary for happiness can compensate you a hundredfold!

Perhaps by the marvels of Jesus’ mercy you are being prepared for triumph through trials. Some supposed treasure to which your heart was firmly attached has been torn from your tight grasp, only to grant you superior boon and blessing. Job experienced that truth. The Lord gave him ten children to take the place of those who had been killed; and He restored doubly everything else the afflicted patriarch had lost in war.—The Almighty’s helping hand is not shortened today. He is the same God with whom “nothing shall be impossible” to those who call Him Father in Christ.

Again, we know that “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” to create sympathy and increase brotherly love. Even Christians who have received Jesus’ “new commandment,” “Love one another!” and who should reflect their Savior’s devotion still have so much of the old Adam, the selfish, human nature within them, that they are not always considerate of their suffering fellow men and grumble too easily over life’s small inconveniences. Some people are deeply dissatisfied with the rationing of shoes although they have more than an adequate supply. I wish they could hear the story of Mama Tumpwa in the Belgian Congo, a leper, but a firm believer in the Lord Jesus. The dread disease has already eaten away her toes and is fast destroying her feet. She has no shoes at all, and in her poverty she uses scraps of discarded rubber as knee pads, with which she literally crawls each Sunday to the mission to hear her Savior’s promises. When they ask her, “Mama Tumpwa, how do you feel today?” she answers with the optimism of Christian courage, “A little bit well.” God often permits us to endure agonies which others also bear so that we will know the intensity of their pain and comfort them in their misery. And what can more directly help heal war’s wounds and promote a feeling of brotherhood among all sufferers, despite their differences in race and nationality, than this feeling of Christian sympathy which flows from the love of Jesus?

Because the believer finds in trial and tribulation proof positive of his Father’s love, you should ask the Holy Spirit for a faith which bows submissively before the divine will and refuses to charge God with cruelty! The Seminary gardener this week began his spring pruning on our campus, and huge piles of branches have already been cut off. The shrubs and trees thus thinned out seem to shiver in the February cold. Not thoughtlessness or cruelty, but a deep interest in the proper growth and spread of the foliage prompts this pruning. In a similar way, Jesus says, we must be purged by critical, contrary forces, so that we may bring forth more and better fruit. Tens of thousands of operations were performed in this country alone during the last week, but can the surgeons who removed diseased parts of the body and performed amputations reasonably be branded as heartless because their patients suffered pain? Why, then, accuse God of cruelty, when He cuts from our lives everything that endangers our souls?

Trust the Lord even though you wonder why particularly those who are Christ’s seem to suffer the most! Henri Neil Reichelt, the son of a pastor in New Milford, New Jersey, was a seaman on the cruiser Juneau. In one of his last letters to his parents Henri wrote, “When the decks are cleared and the Juneau swings into action, every man from Captain Swenson down to the youngest blue-jacket prays, and, if he can, reads a Bible verse or glances into his book of prayer.” Yet the Juneau, with its praying captain and praying crew, was sunk off Guadalcanal in November; and Henri Reichelt, that God­fearing young man, was one of those whom it carried to their death. We ask, ‘Why?” and Jesus tells us, “What I do thou knowest not now: but thou shalt know hereafter”; His Word assures us: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts!” Someday, in the radiance of that higher, fuller, better knowledge, we shall receive the answer to the repeated why’s. I can promise you on the basis of God’s unbreakable truth that we shall discover divine healing in every hurt, spiritual remedy in each reverse; that, if we suffered with Christ on earth, we shall reign with Him in heaven. Wait “patiently for the Lord”! Wait joyfully even amid heartbreaking sorrows! His deliverance is sure. No sorrow can ever overshadow you which will not end in God’s right time and in His good way.

Men and women of mighty faith who found advantage in affliction have been able to join the Apostle Paul and rejoice in their infirmities. It takes the highest trust to enjoy that triumph over suffering. I read recently of a woman left alone by her husband in the heart of the Zulu country many miles from the nearest white settler. One day she saw a hideously painted savage peeping in the window. With a scream she bolted the door, locked the shutters, reached for her rifle and threatened to shoot him. He refused to go; after a while he managed to thrust a white envelope under the door. Suspicious, the woman grasped it only to find a letter entrusted by her husband to this Zulu messenger, whom he had selected to bring her word from him. You can understand, then, how, during the lonely weeks that followed, the pioneer woman, though terrorized by that fiercely marked savage, would still look eagerly for his return, since he would bring loving greetings from her beloved husband. In much the same way we recoil at the approach of affliction; yet, as soon as we rise to the heights of victorious faith and know that this is the way our Father chooses in expressing His devotion to us, we can welcome the hardest blows as evidences of His deepest affection.

Is not this the answer you need for the age-old question, “Why must we suffer?”—the assurance that once you have Jesus, you are chastened because God loves you as His preciously redeemed, protects you as the apple of His eye? Is not this Savior the help you need with increasing urgency during these turmoil days, when some of you have already faced the fierce fires of affliction, disaster, even death in your family circles, and when all of you must be prepared to meet tremendous personal and national issues?

May God give you Christ and lead you to give yourselves, wholly, contritely, trustingly to Him! As the Redeemer now appeals to you, the burdened, the afflicted, the sick, the lonely, the bereaved, the helpless, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!” may the Holy Spirit fill your heart with that victorious faith by which, contrite yet confident, you join in this answer:

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

Sight, riches, healing of the mind,

Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Amen.

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: February 7, 1943

Benhadad, king of Syria, gathered all his host and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria. . . . And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate. . . . And when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host. . . . Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight. . . . When these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver and gold and raiment and went and hid it; and came again and entered into another tent, and carried thence also and went and hid it. Then they said one to another . . . Come that we may go and tell the king’s household.2 Kings 6:24-25; 7:3, 5-9

Gracious, Glorious God:

May Thy Spirit strengthen us to realize at all times that through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Thou art close to us with Thy love, Thy strength, Thy blessing! When life’s sorrows are heaped on us; when doubt of the Savior’s mercy assails us or temptations assault us, fortify our faith, so that with absolute certainty we know how Jesus defeated every enemy of our soul! By His atoning death He conquered sin, hell, and the grave. Grant that our trust in the atoning Savior increase daily and, O Father of all truth, bring us constantly closer to our ever-blessed Redeemer! Show our men and women on the far-flung battle lines how near Christ can be to them in each harassed hour, if only with unquestioning faith they cling to His promise “Lo, I am with you alway”! Graciously protect our country! Lead America to repentance and trust! Bless us according to Thy will with a true victory that can soon stop war’s horrors! Hear us for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

AN Ontario friend sends us the remarkable story of a settler in Western Canada who had purchased a new farm, much of which was still covered with swamp and brush. Soon after he took over the property, he went hunting and was rambling through the wilderness, when nightfall overtook him. Confident that he could find his way home, he started out, despite the darkness, through treacherous marshlands and untracked forests. Morning came. His clothes were soaked and torn, his face and bands scratched and bleeding; worst of all, he was lost. That entire day and the following night he continued to battle his way frantically through the undergrowth. Aching, exhausted, half starved, be was seized by the desperate fear that he would die in the wilderness. Resting on a log for a few agonized moments, he suddenly heard a rooster crow; and rarely, I suppose, has that barnyard song been more welcome. He knew that he was close to a farm, and with new courage be headed in the direction from which the sound had come. Before long he stumbled from the thicket into a large clearing—which proved to be his own property. Only a few hundred rods from his own farmland, he had concluded that he was lost, beyond hope of rescue.

Most of you have read similar stories, accounts of fugitives in hiding for years even though they had been pardoned; battles fought by armies unaware that peace had been declared; sailors in the South Atlantic who almost died of thirst, not realizing that their rafts were floating in the fresh water the Amazon River sends far out into the ocean; soldiers hiding in fear of the enemy when in reality they were safe behind their own lines; families living in poverty while an immense pool of oil remained untapped beneath their scrubby acres. Yet of all instances in which terror-stricken men have overlooked the help close beside them, the Bible story chosen as our text is the most startling; for it shows an entire army, a capital, famished when food almost beyond measure was within easy reach. Because too many of you similarly suffer in spiritual weakness when God’s strength is heaped high around you, because your faith is starved though He has placed soul nourishment right before you, I pray God that in the battle of life you will make

FAITH’S GLORIOUS DISCOVERY: VICTORY CLOSE AT HAND!

For this assurance we turn to the words of Second Kings, chapters six and seven, and read in selected verses: “Benhadad, king of Syria, gathered all his host and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria. . . . And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate. . . . And when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host. . . . Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight. . . . When these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver and gold and raiment and went and hid it; and came again and entered into another tent, and carried thence also and went and hid it. Then they said one to another . . . Come that we may go and tell the king’s household.”

I

DISCOVER THE GLORIOUS VICTORY CHRIST HAS WON!

The powerful Syrian army under Benhadad, their king, had besieged the city of Samaria. So tightly were the Israelites locked in their capital that their food supply was completely cut off. Before long a horrifying famine began. An ass’s head sold for eighty pieces of silver—a fortune in those days. Garbage was literally worth its weight in precious metal. A mother cooked her own child and ate it.

I hope that none of you will object: “This is ancient history; it could not happen here!” Are you positive? Ten years ago who would have believed that horse meat would be sold on open markets in America and food restricted in a country as productive as ours? While every one of us would willingly have two, three, four meatless days each week, provided our armed forces are well supplied, it may not be out of place now to recall that only a few years ago 6,200,000 pigs were destroyed in the United States in a few months under a false philosophy of scarcity that stands condemned by God’s Word. In 1935 7,750,000 bags of coffee—over a billion pounds—were destroyed within a single month. Can there be any connection between this and the fact that bacon and coffee are at a premium today? In the light of what we now know, would it not have been a hundred times better to follow the Savior’s own example in conserving food, to have processed pork and coffee instead of wasting it? Two million tons of corn—enough to keep thousands of starving children alive in Greece—were destroyed. In Los Angeles alone 200,000 quarts of milk regularly were dumped into the water; yet in China baby girls are being sold because their parents have no milk to give them. Mountains of oranges were piled up to decay; apples, cherries, strawberries, remained unpicked; vast acreages of vegetables rotted in the ground. We systematically deprived ourselves of the divine bounty; and now we are driven to rationing, as though God Himself would say, “O America, I blessed you as no other nation on the face of the earth, but you spurned My bounty, you wasted My gifts; so I have permitted some of My blessings to be withdrawn, and instead of lavish overflow, your food will be measured to you.”

Now, though the siege in our text was so dreadful that it left the capital half crazed with hunger, actually there was food in abundance for all. While the Syrian armies, haughty in their assurance of victory, were securely encamped about the city, the Lord came out against them; and so almighty is He that the multiplied battalions of Benhadad’s trained warriors could not resist Him. We read that God “made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host.” In their dismay the besieging Syrians thought, “Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to come upon us.” Panic spread through the regiments; such fear and confusion reigned that they “arose and fled in the twilight and left their tents and their horses and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.” The Almighty required no men, armies, battle strategy, to put those formidable foes to flight—only a few sounds: the noise of chariots and armies that never existed.

Similarly the Lord can end this war today. His power in nature can liquidate the strongest armies. His ocean kept Xerxes back and defeated that proud tyrant; His winds blew the haughty Spanish Armada to its doom; His cold and ice routed Napoleon; His snowflakes, drift upon drift, pushed Hitler’s shock troops back from the Volga. Will you not believe that the Lord of hosts could destroy the whole Japanese fleet from the Aleutians to New Guinea with a single blast of His hurricane or that a single earthquake could level Tokyo? Again and again in the Old Testament records we read accounts of such majestic triumphs over the opponents of God’s people. His power is not weakened since those days; but to secure His blessing, we must come contritely before Him, confessing all our sins, national and individual. The Nazis and Nipponese are not the only enemies of the United States. Within our own borders we have America’s inner adversaries, for whose rejection of the Almighty, repudiation of Christ, and ridicule of the Bible this war may be prolonged. The Lord is not blind, that He cannot behold the entrenched godlessness on our shores. He is not indifferent, that He closes His eyes to wickedness in high or low places. He is not deaf, that He fails to hear the taunting attacks on His Son, His Church, His Word. License and lust, carnival and carousal, cursing and swearing, perjury and scandal, luxury and indulgence, nudity and nastiness, half-filled church buildings but overcrowded dance halls, card playing in parish houses and little praying in the members’ homes—these lamentable conditions can extend the war beyond the coming summer, fall, winter, into the next year, and even beyond.

As we see this remarkable contrast—on the one hand, the people of Samaria cowering in fear, dying of starvation, and on the other hand, the Syrian armies running in reckless flight, leaving the deserted camp filled with food—let us find a far more serious parallel in the lives of those besieged by worries and fears, the distressed and desperate who are spiritually starved even though food for their soul is placed right before them. Masses of discouraged men and women feel that they have been defeated at every turn; yet the Bible, God’s help particularly for the downcast and downtrodden, often remains unread, its counsel neglected. Here are the unhappy, strife­torn homes; and while the power of Christ-centered prayer is within immediate reach of every family in the United States, yet most of these families never kneel to implore inner peace and blessing. Here are souls burdened with loneliness, lack of love and companionship, and though the Savior is close at hand with the promise “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” still He is never acknowledged and welcomed. Here are the legions of men and women tortured by shadowy specters of the future; but most of them daily pass true churches of God where the Redeemer’s blood­bought promises could put confidence and assurance into their hearts. Here are the doubting, disturbed minds, groping for light and truth, whose questions believing teachers are ready to answer; yet too often preference is given to Christ-denying counselors. Here, in the largest group of all, are those who are enslaved by sin and driven by their conscience; every time they hear a message like this, centered on the Lord Jesus, every time they see a cross, every time their thoughts revert to the crucifixion at Golgotha, their heavenly Father, who is “a God at hand . . . and not a God afar off,” wants to be close to them, through His Holy Spirit, as He offers complete cleansing from their transgressions. However, in their blindness they turn away from the atoning blood and begin the hopeless treadmill task of trying to earn their admission into heaven.

For your peace of mind, joy of life, assurance of heaven, stop this overlooking Christ, passing Him by, neglecting Him! He is your God, and nothing is too hard for Him. He is your Redeemer, and no sin is too vile or vicious to be removed by His pardoning love. He is your Friend, and if you remain faithful to Him, no power can destroy His love of you. He is your Guide, and no way that you take is unknown to Him. Any opposing leader must direct you to destruction, but Jesus always chooses the right road, the right destination. He is your King, and He can protect you in every danger. Earthly rulers are often so distant or secluded that their subjects can rarely approach them; but our Savior—O marvelous mercy!—is so close that every one of His faithful finds His help at hand for every need.

If you have never known the full heavenly blessing He offers you; if you hardly hear or use His holy name except in profanity and have only a vague, uncertain notion as to who Jesus really is; if you once acknowledged Him, but have forgotten Him in your poverty or wealth; if you now ask, “What can Jesus do for me?” listen carefully, listen prayerfully: Christ, God’s Son and the Virgin’s, was defeated at Calvary to give you victory, nailed to the cross to assure you of the crown, crucified to give you life! By accepting, believing, trusting Him as your Redeemer the enemies of your soul will be put to flight, as were the Syrian armies besieging Samaria. In Jesus you have victory over your sins, since you are washed and cleansed by His purifying blood. Through faith you will reject temptation, since the Holy Spirit will strengthen you to resist. You are above surrendering in despair to sorrow and suffering, because you can thank God for afflictions, which come from His mercy. You can defeat your all too human flesh and blood, with its unholy desires and cowardly fears, since by accepting Jesus you are “born again” with a new determination to subdue evil. You can successfully repel this cruel, hostile world of war and hatred that continually opposes Him, for the Bible definitely pledges, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” You can put hell and its power to flight, for by His crucifixion and resurrection Jesus broke Satan’s dominion forever. You can conquer death, “the last enemy,” for at the Savior’s open grave, assured of your own resurrection, you can exult: “O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? . . . Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

In short, when you place yourself at Calvary beneath the Redeemer’s cross and raise your hand in an oath of allegiance, proclaiming valiantly: “Thou, O Christ, art mine, and I am Thine. With Thy help I will serve Thee in soul, mind, and body,” the super victory of the ages is yours. You can join Saint Paul in challenging: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? . . . Nay; in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him that loved us.”—This, dearly redeemed fellow sinners, the guarantee of God’s guidance for this life, the assurance of everything you need for heaven, is close at hand. I plead with you in the Savior’s name, “Claim your victory!”

II

DISCOVER THE GLORIOUS VICTORY CHRIST HAS WON FOR YOU!

The besieged people of Samaria were to learn of their rescue in a most remarkable way. Our text tells us of four lepers outside the gate, who because of their dread disease were banned from the city and, since they were Israelites, could expect nothing but death from the encircling Syrians. In the torment of hunger they argued that, if they had no hope of escaping death, they could lose little by entering the enemies’ camp and appealing for a few crusts of bread. Stealthily they make their way toward the Syrian encampment. They come to the sentry’s outpost, but these frontline guards are missing. They advance to the outer tent rows; these are empty. They hurry past the supply houses, the officers’ quarters; not a sound is to be heard. They rush to the center of the camp; not a soul is in sight. Instead, on all sides, marks of confusion and flight! It soon dawns on the bewildered minds of these four lepers that the enemy has been thrown into panic-stricken retreat.

As the first Israelites to discover the victory were lepers, social outcasts, living in vile, isolated places and crying, “Unclean! Unclean!” when anyone approached them, so by God’s grace the promise of eternal triumph is often first revealed and most joyfully accepted by the lowly, oppressed, persecuted. This emphasizes the truth that there is room in God’s kingdom for everyone, especially the burdened and underprivileged. A man wrote me last week to ask why American churches are not more interested in poor people, and I want to answer by saying that true churches of Christ have always been vitally concerned about the destitute. In fact, the early Church was made up of poor people, slaves, outcasts, and, thank God, a sprinkling of the mighty, the wealthy, the learned. Since those beginnings Scriptural churches have always been eager to reach the suffering masses. The danger hour arrives when congregations become rich and socially influential; when, as some of you write from your own experiences, they look askance at the cheaper clothes, the lower financial rating, the humbler social position. Such discrimination is as contrary to Jesus as black midnight to brightest noon and can lend support to the Communist charges (and, make no mistake about it, these will be raised with increasing hatred during the adjustment of the postwar period!) claiming that Christianity is capitalistic, opposed to the workingman.

When the starved lepers discover that the camp is deserted, a scene of intense interest follows. First of all they find food beyond measure and imagination—good food, fresh food, clean food, life-saving food. These sufferers who had eked out a miserable existence, living almost literally from the garbage dumps of the city; now have their choice of meat, fruit, and vegetables. Hardly is their hunger satisfied, when they begin to discover silver, gold, jewels, more than they can collect. The text pictures them as running from one tent to the other. They spy a large chest left behind in the flight. They break the lock and there, wide-eyed and amazed, behold gold bars, silver chains, a handful of rubies, a box of pearls, an ornament studded with emeralds, engraved bracelets, heavy onyx seal rings. Swiftly they bury these treasures and rush to another tent, to find an even larger chest, perhaps the paymaster’s, filled with Syrian shekels of gold and silver; and these lepers who had lost everything in life—health, money, happiness—now fill their hands with coins and let them trickle through their fingers. This money they also carry away to a secret hiding place. They speed into another tent, uncover a complete wardrobe of costly garments—crimson and purple, silk and wool, woven with gold, studded with jewels; they tear the filthy rags from their bodies and clothe themselves in resplendent robes, such as they have never worn before. What a startling change! On the morning of that day the lepers are destitute, in dirty rags and starving. In the evening the choicest Syrian foods are heaped before them; they are fabulously rich; they are robed in the best cloth Damascus weavers can produce.

An even more amazing change awaits you when you discover the glorious victory that is yours by faith in the Lord Jesus. You find a joy you never before could believe possible. Your sins are forgiven, your conscience quieted; you have peace with God through the blood of His Son, peace with your fellow men, peace with your own heart. That is why some of you have written me, as an Illinois listener did last week: “You cannot imagine the happiness which has come into our home since my husband has become a Christian and joined the Church. Ours is a new family. We have a joy and a closeness to Jesus we never knew before.” That is why many of you have sent letters to explain you are really reborn creatures in Christ, that “old things are passed away,” since you have accepted Him. Like the lepers, you were hunted and haunted, desperate and downcast, doomed to spiritual death—until you discovered the glorious Gospel grace; and then a new existence, with hope, blessing, and the pledge of salvation, really began. You, the children of God, who have this victory in Christ, will join with me as I ask every unconverted sinner in this audience to give himself wholly to his Savior and in return enjoy the best, truest, happiest life.

Recall the overflowing measure of food, precious metal, and treasures those lepers discovered, since you may well find in this a picture, weak and insufficient, of course, of the overabundant soul blessings daily assured you through the Lord Jesus! Even if we have transgressed the divine Law frequently; if we have repeated the same sin against better knowledge, the supply of His saving grace is so boundless that, when we truly repent, He will remove all our iniquities. You may think, in short-sighted misunderstanding of the full Gospel grace, that you have suffered too many, deep, and permanent sorrows ever again to experience real joy; yet, if you will stop limiting His mercy, you will not only discover, “Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal”; you will also experience the fulfillment of His promise “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

Find a pointed parallel also in the glorious truth that, as those lepers obtained an overflowing measure of gold, silver, jewels, costly clothing, without earning or paying for their abundance, so the Bread of Life and the Living Water are yours by mercy, not merit. The Evangelist of the Old Testament cries out, “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money. come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price!” The robes of righteousness in which you must stand before the all-holy Judge of Eternity are beyond purchase; yet, because they are given you by grace, through faith, you can exult:

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress!

The lepers found the whole camp cleared of the Syrians; for God had given Israel a final, complete triumph. In a vastly greater victory Christ has vanquished our enemies, now and for eternity. His Gospel does not teach us that Jesus only partially overcame our adversaries and we must finish the task. The Bible knows of no fractional freedom by which our Lord went only a portion of the way in securing our deliverance and we must go the rest. We are not told, “‘Behold the Lamb of God,’ which has begun to take ‘away the sin of the world,’” so that we must now carry on, earning our own pardon or having someone else, living or dead, secure it for us. This destructive error contradicts the heart and essence of our Christian faith. When the Son of God, crucified at Calvary, moaned out into the darkness enshrouding that scene of murder, “It is finished,” the divine plan for the emancipation of the race was indeed completed, so that no man, saint, angel, or archangel can add anything to the redemption by Jesus. Sin, hell, and death are forever vanquished in His eternal victory. For this reason the Bible assures us, “There is . . . now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Therefore it promises the believers, “Sin shall not have dominion over you.”

Once more, then, I lay before you in Jesus’ name this alternative: On the one hand, reject Christ, who is close beside you; refuse to believe the Gospel which you have now heard; turn away from the Lord’s mercy which this message brings into your home, placed, as it were, right in front of you—and you spurn the Son of God; you forfeit His guarantee of joy in this life and of everlasting radiance in heaven! On the other hand, accept Jesus; trust Him humbly but wholly as your own all-powerful Redeemer; return to Him in contrite repentance if you have willfully strayed from His outstretched arms—and as those lepers found vast supplies, immeasurable riches, so your soul will discover in the Savior, before you in this vital moment of glorious deliverance, that every hostile force assailing your soul is defeated forever by His sure, blood-bought salvation! God grant that you will not make the tragic mistake of refusing His magnificent mercies which are nearer to you even than the radio bringing this plea! Are you sure—and I am asking not only the men and women under arms, but also you civilians in the uncertainty of present-day life—are you sure that the Lord of love will ever again be as close to you as He is now, that this personal appeal to accept Him will ever be repeated? If you do not come to Jesus in this world, you cannot approach Him in the next. There is no second chance.

Many of you are the Lord’s, and I remind you that, after those lepers had made sure that some of the treasure was theirs, they ran back to the besieged city to bring the famished and dying the news of the victorious deliverance. In a much higher degree, you, grateful for your blessings in Christ, deeply desirous of showing your thanks to Him who endured the shame and unspeakable agony of the cross, will likewise want to hasten out into this baffled, besieged world to bring men, famished for the truth, dying in spiritual ignorance, the message: “Your foes are in flight! Victory now is yours in Jesus!” Testify to the Savior who has broken the siege of evil in your life!

Will you not help this mighty mission of the air, spreading the message of Christ’s mercy to all men, by giving us the pledge of your prayers and your gifts? During the past weeks God’s grace has permitted us to add sixteen new stations in the Argentine, a chain of seven powerful outlets in Chile, a strong network of nine transmitters in Cuba and nine in Peru—forty-one new or replaced stations in Latin America—a mighty step forward in our spiritual Good Neighbor Policy. As amazing as this increase seems when we compare it with the small start we made ten seasons ago, it is hardly more than the beginning. It is our purpose to secure every available and suitable station throughout the world for the spread of the eternal Gospel. With your help and by our heavenly Father’s promise we will succeed, because we have the sacred objective to proclaim the redeeming Christ, the atoning Lord of love, the resurrected Son of God; to help men and women come out from the siege imposed by their sins and sorrows, discover Jesus, and declare that He is theirs by faith, theirs freely, theirs completely, theirs assuredly. God help us in this privilege and task for our Savior’s sake! Amen!

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.

Date: January 31, 1943

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian Band, a devout man and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed to God alway. . . . Then Peter opened his mouth and said, . . . Whosoever believeth in Him [Christ] shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word.”Acts 10:1-2, 34, 43-44

God, Our Creator and Sustainer:

For the homes and families of this nation we ask not wealth, luxury, comforts, but a firm trust in the sure mercies of the Lord Jesus, Thy Son, our God and Savior. Strengthen parents and children, entire households, with His abiding presence! Enlighten them by Thy Spirit individually to believe that through Christ all their sins have been washed away; that, as in the days of His flesh He entered the homes of His country­men bringing help and courage, so today He is eager to come into every home with His unfailing promise of peace. Support our American families with this trust when many forces arise to destroy the sanctity of the Christian household! Mercifully protect the homeless and the distressed! Guard our fighting men and women, far from their families, close to danger and death! O God of all power, as we ask in every broadcast, so we plead today: May they soon return to their homes and loved ones, with the triumph of truth and the pledge of honest peace! We ask this according to Thy gracious will and in the Redeemer’s precious name. Amen.

MOST of you are familiar with the fact that of our forty-eight States Nevada has the laxest divorce laws. The indifference to the sacredness of marriage which its statutes have helped produce may be seen in the attitude of a Reno judge—during twelve years he granted 20,000 divorces—who invites: “Come to Reno! Get a divorce! Try again for the prize in the matrimonial lottery and keep on trying until you find true love!”

People who cannot have their nuptial vows legally broken in their own communities because of stricter laws may travel to any Nevada city, establish residence in a hotel, tourist camp, or boarding house, and after six weeks secure a divorce in hearings which sometimes last only two minutes. Now the question repeatedly asked, “Are Nevada decrees legal outside its borders?” was recently answered by the Supreme Court of the United States in a six-to-two verdict which ruled that the whole country must recognize Nevada divorces. This is one of the most dangerous decisions the high tribunal has ever made. We agree entirely with a dissenting justice who warned that the Supreme Court action “repeals the divorce law of all the States and substitutes that of Nevada.” Today American home life should be most firmly founded, with husband and wife completely devoted to each other, children zealously safeguarded, wedded life “for better or for worse” “until death do you part” exalted as the ideal of every young couple. It is therefore disheartening to see that our highest judicial authority can give an opinion which will be construed as official approval of easy, quick divorce. If the Vichy government put an end to lax marriage laws in France; if the divorce orgy has been drastically reduced in Soviet Russia, should not our nation, which has ranked notoriously with these two countries as leaders in this scandalous home-breaking, strain every effort to protect the solidarity of the family and the sanctity of wedlock, particularly during emergencies like these? Because America’s welfare calls for saner, stricter domestic laws; because God’s Word protests against the present debauch; because the family is one of the foundation units in our national defense and victory, it is indeed overtragic that a single State can drag down the marriage standards of the whole land. On the same principle which the Supreme Court has now recognized, any other State, driven by the lure of making money through marital misfortunes, may pass legislation granting a divorce after six days’ residence and have this made binding for the entire country!

It is vitally important now that uniform marriage laws be enacted for the whole United States. A bill to this end, soon to be introduced in Congress, deserves every citizen’s support, provided, of course, it does not contradict God’s law. But new legislation will not solve America’s home difficulties. We need the “clean heart” and the “right spirit” for which David prayed, and which comes through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the renewing power of His Holy Spirit. The most potent antidote to the poison of domestic trouble is Christian home life, which welcomes Christ’s sustaining presence and seeks His guidance in household worship, Scripture reading, prayer.

To impress on everyone of you, married or unmarried, believing or unbelieving, happy or unhappy, that this Savior is the one divine Source of help and hope for you and your home, I ask you pointedly in His name,

IS YOURS A FAITH-FILLED FAMILY?

This question is suggested by the remarkable story in the tenth chapter of Acts [verses one, two, thirty-four, forty­three, and forty-four], from which these words have been chosen as our text: “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian Band, a devout man and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed to God alway. . . . Then Peter opened his mouth and said, . . . Whosoever believeth in Him [Christ] shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word.”

I

YOUR FAMILY SHOULD BE FILLED WITH FAITH IN CHRIST

The text takes us to Caesarea, a heathen city on the Mediterranean coast north of Judea. It was a thriving, modern community with palaces and theaters, commercial concerns and banks, markets and industries, yet with all the corruption and vice crowded into every ancient metropolis under Roman rule. Self-respecting Israelites generally stayed away from Caesarea; it was among the last localities in which one would look for the startling miracle of divine mercy which this tenth chapter of Acts records. God often chooses unpretentious places to demonstrate His power or manifest His love. Some of history’s leaders grew up in remote, unassuming localities. Luther, God-blessed Reformer of the Church, was born in a mining town; George Washington, fearless father of this country, in a Virginia hamlet; Abraham Lincoln, liberator of an enslaved race, near a Kentucky crossroads. If God wants you for His glorious purposes, no spot is too distant or notorious to prevent Him from finding, using, and exalting you. Even in this moment the Almighty, who sees and knows all, is beholding you, wherever you are, however unfavorable or discouraging your surroundings may be. Lord of love that He is, His thoughts for you are plans of mercy.

In that pagan metropolis God chose one house to be marvelously honored by His grace—the home of Cornelius. We know nothing of his nationality or personal history up to this time except that he was not an Israelite, but a Gentile who was the leader of Italian troops stationed in Caesarea. We do know that in the godless, sin-filled city he was “devout, . . . one that feared God.” Here was a man not a member of the chosen race, far from the Temple at Jerusalem, and in the service of the hated Roman conqueror. Yet somehow, perhaps through a friend’s urging—and on the great Judgment Day the person who helped bring Cornelius to the Lord will be received with exceeding joy—he had learned to know the one true God and to spurn the heathen idols.—Christians of America, with similar mission opportunities before everyone of you, put these questions to yourselves: “Am I helping to bring people to Christ? Are my life and my testimony drawing men to their Savior?” A Memphis woman telephoned four thousand people urging them to tune to our broadcast; a Chicago friend mails hundreds of letters for the same purpose. Have you ever invited anyone to listen in? Will you not make it your objective personally to direct at least one soul to this Gospel message every week? We shall gladly send you announcement leaflets and helpful literature upon request. Keep clearly in mind what the Bible says of those who lead others to faith, “They that turn many to righteousness,” shall shine “as the stars forever and ever”! Can you think of a greater glory than this heavenly radiance?

We should also find a timely lesson in the fact that Cornelius, a reverent, God-fearing man, was a soldier, a commander of one hundred troops. Some believe it impossible to remain a Christian while serving under arms. They emphasize the cursing, unbelief, blasphemy, cruelty, which often mark army life, and God knows how true this indictment sometimes is. You men in the armed forces who write me of the temptations confronting you or the obstacles besetting you if you want to keep your radio tuned to our mission of the air, realize fully how easy it is to forget God while on military duty, how close the danger of disregarding your parents’ instruction, rejecting Bible truth, and taking a fling at what some call “life,” but what actually may be spiritual death! Yet many military men, like Cornelius, have a strong faith. I think of a Pacific Coast commanding officer who for years has set aside the time of this radio mission for regular communion with God; a colonel in the Carolinas who prays fervently for the Holy Spirit’s blessing on our message; a Kansas private who writes, “I have my dial turned to your hour, and I am sure that before long the entire barracks will be listening to your ‘Bringing Christ to the Nations’ services.” There must be sincere Christians in our armed forces, if a young soldier from London instructs his parents in Iowa to contribute twenty-five dollars of his salary each month to our mission of the air; if officers and privates in the American and Canadian forces, with a generosity proportionately greater than that of civilians, regularly send a large part of their pay for the maintenance of this radio crusade. The best morale-building agency for America’s Army and Navy is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this I ask your prayers, interest, and support. The most we can do in bringing Christ’s message to our military camps throughout the world will fall far short of paying our debt to these soldiers who risk their lives for us.

Our text also records that Cornelius “prayed to God alway.” How many men are there in the United States today of whom it can likewise be said that they pray “to God alway”? How many within the churches who pray “to God alway”? Most people, even in Christian circles, rush through their petitions in the morning and the evening and think their prayer duties are thus fulfilled. Masses are too preoccupied, self-sufficient, or indifferent to know the real blessing of fervent intercession. Before this war is over, some of you who haughtily claim that kneeling before the Almighty is weak and womanish will be driven to your knees when you realize your utter helplessness without Him. You business executives need the guiding, sustaining power of communion with God. You are making more money than you thought possible a few years ago, but some of you likewise are more disturbed and distracted than ever before. A successful sales director told me that he had stacks of unfilled orders and had to avoid buyers, who were eager to purchase anything he could sell and in any amount he could supply. Yet he confessed that he was not happy. Only closeness to Christ can put real joy into life.

Especially noteworthy is the interest Cornelius took in his home. We read that he “feared God with all his house.” He knew that as a father, despite his military affairs, he had a definite responsibility toward his family. His wife, his children, the servants in the household, all were under his spiritual guidance. Contrariwise, some of you fathers do not care where your boys or girls were fast night, where they will be tonight. You have never spoken to them about their souls. You have given them money, education, protection, and a certain kind of love, but you have withheld the most important gift a father can bestow—direction and guidance to heaven. I should think you would be afraid to face eternity, because you have not only steadfastly refused to bring your children to Jesus, but you have constantly kept them from their Savior by your own bad example of unbelief. Your little ones have looked up to you; yet by your disinterestedness in Church, their minds were molded against the Christian faith. What will you say on that great day of appearing before the Lord, when Christ will ask, “Where are the sons and daughters I gave you?” What will you answer when your children, your own flesh and blood, point an accusing finger at you and declare: “Father, you never told us of God’s truth; you never took us to church; you never went yourself. You led us astray.” Fathers of America, recall the terrifying sentence of woe Jesus pronounced on all who give such offense; and before it is too late, turn to Christ! Give up everything which keeps you from serving as God’s representative in your own home! Keep first things forever first! The foremost of your responsibilities, after you yourself have come to your Savior, is not, as blessed as this is, that you help evangelize dark Africa, support missions among the Eskimos, but that you bring your own household to the Redeemer. Scripture declares; “Learn first to show piety at home!”

Cornelius also knew how vital it was that the whole family share this faith. The text reminds us that “ALL his house” feared God. There was no mixture of belief and unbelief in that home. It was no house divided against itself; parents, children, servants—all could plead together, give thanks together, sing hymns together, worship together, adore one God in the same trust. Such singleness of faith is the strongest pledge of home happiness; yet often in the excitement of today’s war, young people after overhasty courtships have a quick wedding ceremony performed by a justice of the peace (A bill before the Missouri legislature would enable every notary public to solemnize marriage. It ought to be crushed.) and in altogether too many instances completely disregard the questions of religion and the necessity of agreement in faith. Listening to some of these professional counselors on questions of love, marriage, and home life, you will gain the impression that religion plays no great part in marital happiness, while physical questions, social adjustments are the vital issues! Nevertheless experience, not theory, reminds us that the greatest inner blessings of family life rest on those households, rich or poor, highly cultured or simple, in which father, mother, sisters, brothers belong to the same true Christian Church and have one undying hope of salvation in the crucified, risen Savior. Because of the heartaches your letters reveal, I cannot let a broadcasting season pass without raising my voice to warn against the dangers lurking in marriages between children of God and unbelievers, Christians and Jews, Protestants and Catholics, members of opposing churches. Do not think you are an exception to the tragic results which frequently come from mixed marriages! For the most important earthly relationship you need the most powerful spiritual influence for good; and that, I tell you in Jesus’ name, is the unity of true faith shared by the whole family, as by the entire house of Cornelius.

li I could speak to you personally and ask, “Is yours a faith-filled family?” many would answer, “No; ours is a strife-filled home, crowded with quarreling and bickering, marked by hatred instead of self-sacrificing love.” This week I received a letter from an Illinois woman in which she told how she made life unbearable for her husband, brought discord into the home, and wished her husband dead. Now that he has died, she is tortured with remorse. Often that quarrelsome, contentious spirit goes farther. It resorts to brute force; husbands beat their wives, whom they have pledged to love and honor; at times—oh, the horror of this!—such hatred ends in murder.—Now, if you feel that love is vanishing from your home, as quarrels and nagging increase, follow Cornelius by turning to God in your family and by invoking His help through constant prayer! When you truly trust Christ and agree that He is to be the Head of your house, the deathless devotion with which He gave Himself for sin-burdened mankind will show itself in your family by a willingness to bear and forbear, to practice self-denial and self-sacrifice. Before the sin of selfishness strikes wounds which can never be healed on earth, before the separate lives some of you married folks are now living (you have your own amusements and pastimes; you share very few confidences; one goes this way and the other that) become permanently disrupted, give yourselves wholly to Christ! Bring your entire household to the Savior!

If I were to ask others among you, “Is yours a faith­filled home?” tears would come into your eyes as some of you would answer, “No; ours is a sorrow-filled home.” During the ten years of our broadcast I have never before received so many letters that start in this way: “My husband was a good man until about a year ago. Then he began to drink and go out with other women.” If you could read the stacks of letters—of course, they are kept strictly confidential—which deal with alcoholism, you would agree it is one of the worst scourges of present­day life. The modern tavern in many ways is certainly no improvement over the old saloon, for these drinking places which have sprung up in large numbers and attract many women can be far greater menaces. If it should be the burden of your family that the father, a grown son or daughter, or—may God forbid it!—even the mother comes home drunk, what should you do? What must you do, if not, following Cornelius, pray constantly, beseeching God for His almighty aid? Though slavery to alcohol is a strong curse, the Lord is far stronger. He has helped men who have listened to our program break the bonds of this terrible tyranny. Kneeling before their radios, they have pledged themselves to stop drinking, and they have kept that pledge. He can help you if this is your besetting weakness.

Other homes are marked by deep-rooted grief caused by pain, sickness, and suffering. A California listener writes that through a physician’s carelessness her baby was born a spastic, without control of its members, because a large part of its brain was torn. While repeated operations have shown some improvement, according to the verdict of specialists the child is doomed to a lifetime of abnormality. Yet that mother is learning to love Christ, and therefore she loves that poor, handicapped child, caring for it by day and night. The Lord will sustain her, just as He will support those families burdened with lifelong sickness, invalidism, and injury if only they put their whole trust in Him.

There is no domestic affliction in which God cannot aid. If your sons or daughters have disgraced your name, reliance on Christ can lead you to forgive and help them. If you are in danger of losing your home or your hard­earned savings, you can have the assurance of divine guidance; but to secure that blessing, let the spirit of Cornelius rule your household! You can face the cruelest personal anguish life can offer: broken marriage vows, desertion; you can meet the deepest sorrow known to the race: the death of a beloved one on the battle front or the home front; still you can defeat rankling resentment and despair. If you would have that benediction, it must be said of you and your family, as it is written of Cornelius, “He . . . feared God with all his house . . . and prayed to God alway.”

II

YOUR FAMILY CAN BE FAITH-FILLED THROUGH CHRIST

None of you should ever question the truth that the Christ of all compassion will come to bless your home, no matter how large or small, how approved or despised, how happy or sorrow-filled. Keep clearly in mind that Cornelius was a Gentile; and up to this time, months after Jesus had been crucified, had arisen and ascended into heaven, no messenger of His Gospel had ever crossed the threshold of a pagan home! That, it was thought, would make them unclean. The Apostles had reserved the message of salvation for their own countrymen. One day, however, Cornelius received a vision from the Lord, directing him to send for Peter. About the same time God instructed Peter to visit Cornelius, and in this way the Apostle for the first time in his life entered a Gentile dwelling. What a marvelous day that was! If only we knew its exact date, we ought to celebrate it each year! If only we knew the spot where Cornelius’ house stood in Caesarea, we ought to mark it with a tablet indicating that at this place began the promise of the Gospel’s reach into every home.

True, some churches deliberately teach that the Lord of love, limiting His mercy, offers it only to a select few, while He has damned the others in advance without giving them a chance to be saved. This is a shocking denial of the universal, worldwide compassion to which Scripture repeatedly testifies. It is likewise true that some congregations cater to the upper classes and show little interest in the common people and the underprivileged. How directly this contradicts our Lord, whose life constantly illustrates an opposite tendency! Again, it is equally evident that many people think themselves too poor, unnoticed, unlearned, sinful, to have and hold the promises of Gospel grace; yet the account of Peter’s visit to Cornelius’ home is God’s own restatement of His Son’s pledge, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me.” The high and mighty may never come to your door. The self­ righteous and self-esteeming may frequently pass your house by. Friends and relatives may keep their distance. Jesus, however, will never neglect or spurn you. The Savior who invited Himself into the despised home of the outcast publican Zacchaeus, who banished doubt when He abode with the Emmaus disciples, who brought comfort as He lingered with Mary and Martha at Bethany, who gave life when death entered another centurion’s household at Capernaum, who repeatedly came with healing into the rooms of the sick and suffering, is the Christ for everyone, the Redeemer for every home, the almighty God for every family.

See how easily yours can be a faith-filled home! Cornelius received the Lord’s command and obeyed it. If you follow God’s instructions, obey His Word in marriage regulations; if you refuse to reject parenthood and instead welcome your babies as the precious miracles of divine love; if you teach these children the heavenly truth and give them Christian education; if you let the Word of God “dwell in you richly” and make time, the most valuable moments in the whole day, for the whole family to approach God in prayer and praise; and if all this is based on personal faith in Jesus, no power on earth can keep the Savior from your household.

This trust in Christ is the keystone in the arch of home blessing and hope. Therefore Peter brought Cornelius the message which every Christian pastor should bring the families in his congregation—not a discussion of the war or the weather, but the appeal for the acceptance of the Redeemer’s love. The climax of that first sermon preached in a Gentile house was the whole Gospel in these nine Spirit-sent words, “Whosoever believeth in Him [Christ] shall receive remission of sins.” Put this truth into American family life; let parents and children learn to receive and revere Jesus—God and Man, God and Savior, God and Lord; let the full, unrestricted promise of the blood and the cross, the death and the atonement at Calvary, convert all within the household to the faith which I pray will be yours, namely, that by trusting Christ, your sins—your many, repeated, degrading, damning sins—are removed completely; let this victorious confidence fill every family, and the new day of inner joy, spiritual strength and moral power will dawn for the American home!

We read, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word.” If you will listen to the Lord, the same renewing, enlightening, purifying Spirit can fortify your families, so that, faith-filled, they also become Spirit-filled, endowed with God’s power. When Cornelius and those gathered with him heard the Apostle’s appeal (note that Cornelius did what you should do: he invited others to his home; he wanted the message to reach as many as possible), all of them, young and old, were baptized. And all of you should receive this “washing of regeneration,” for no one less than Christ Himself—remember, you who belittle the Sacrament!—declared, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

In that Savior’s name I beseech you to follow the plan and pattern which brought Cornelius such joy: First, pray to the Father continually for guidance! Pray with your whole family! Second, obey God’s Word unfailingly! Third, welcome the messenger of His mercy, the prophet of His peace! Be sure, however, that he brings the whole, genuine Gospel! Don’t criticize the Church! Don’t speak caustically of its work because you may have had some personal disappointment! Instead look to the Savior and His true Church for help and hope! Let us send you a servant of God who will do what Peter did for that family in Caesarea: show you the way to Jesus, bring you and yours to baptism and membership in the Church! What greater gift can God Himself give you on this earth than these blessings of a faith-filled family?

Such Christ-dedicated homes can be centers of earth’s highest happiness, the foundation for the nation’s strongest defense, the means of the Kingdom’s greatest growth, the source of strength and support during the troubled days ahead, when American home life may be attacked with a fury hitherto unknown. These faith-filled households, however, are more. They are the very foregleams of our eternal home, where the whole family that worshiped Christ on earth will be reunited to adore Him in the endless glories of heaven. Work and pray ceaselessly that everyone in your household will be saved for this glory! Constantly keep this hallowed, better country in mind! High on the dome of the Capitol in Washington is the figure of Liberty, symbolizing the freedom which reigns on our shores. That statue was made by Hiram Powers, who for thirty years lived in Europe, far away from America, his native land. When asked how he could produce this and other intensely American masterpieces, like the Massachusetts Puritan, the California Pioneer, although for many years he had not touched our shores, Powers answered: “I have never been out of touch with America. I have eaten and slept in Italy for thirty-odd years, but I have never been anywhere but in the United States.” As he lived physically in Europe, but mentally in America, so may we here on earth mold, carve, sculpture our family happiness by focusing our thoughts on the celestial homeland, its reunion with our loved ones in faith and—glory of glories!—with our blessed Savior. Above all else for which we may ever ask or hope, O Christ, bring every one of us into that heavenly home! Amen!

Published with the permission of The Maier Center, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105.