Date: March 24, 1940

As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.Romans 6:4

O Christ, our risen Redeemer:

Eternal, unbroken thanks to Thee that on the first, glorious Eater Thou didst mightily prove Thyself the Lord of life and of death itself! Help us all to stand gratefully before the empty tomb, there to acclaim Thee our mighty God, our merciful Savior! Grant us, through trusting faith, to know that, because Thou livest, we, too, shall live and that Thy resurrection is our pledge of life eternal! O Jesus, on this glorious Easter let us rise with Thee to the heights of soul happiness, casting off all gloom of despondency, conquering our sorrows and pains, defeating the fear of death, overcoming all doubt, and, beholding Thee as our resurrected Lord, find new faith, new courage, new holiness of living! Enrich us with this Easter gift, our risen Christ; for we pray these petitions in Thy holy name! Amen.

THE United States is one of the few countries in which the customary Easter-greetings contain no reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Throughout the Greek­speaking world, for example, Christians address one another in the same Easter salutation that rang through the early Church, “Christos anestee!” “Christ is risen!” and with the ancient response, “Aleethoos anestee,” “He is truly risen!” In the Latin Church of the first centuries the Easter-greeting was, “Vivit!” “He lives!” and the reply, “Vere vivit!” “He lives indeed!” In Spanish lands Christians say, “Cristo vive!” In Germany believers, no matter to which church they may belong, salute one another with exultant joy: “Der HErr ist auferstanden!” and the reply, “Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!” Even in Russia, where Communist slogans have not altogether banished the reverence for God’s truth, loyal followers of Christ, meeting their kindred in the faith, say, “Christos Voskres!” and receive the reply, “Voistinu Voskres!” All these expressions serve one thought and purpose: they glorify the risen Savior.

In our country, however, we say, “Happy Easter!” forgetting that the word “Easter” may have no connection with the open grave and in no way testifies to the resurrection miracle. Because the Savior’s triumph over the tomb, together with the crucifixion, which preceded it, are the most blessed of all truths, and Christians should follow the angel’s command, “Go quickly and tell His disciples!” instead of limiting their Easter conversation to the subjects of new clothes, spring hats, festive food, holiday programs, post-Lenten parties, we ask you who are the Lord’s to help inaugurate and maintain a Christ-exalting movement by which believers in all churches greet one another on this day with the salutation, “Christ is risen!” and respond, “He is risen indeed!”

On the first Easter only a few followers of the Savior could sound that triumphant note; but on this 1940 Easter, when over the 171 stations in our “Bringing-Christ-to-the­Nation” broadcasting system millions can hear the message of our Lord’s victory over death, multitudes should heed the plea to keep Jesus in Easter by greeting every one whom they meet before the close of this day with the faith-born declaration, “Christ is risen!” May God give every one of you the resolution to proclaim, “He is risen indeed!”

To strengthen our faith in the resurrection reality, let us—and I include especially the doubtful and uncertain, even the scoffers and atheists in this audience—stand once more in spirit before the rock-hewn grave in Joseph’s garden, where the broken seal, the removed stone, the prostrate Roman guard, the empty tomb, the discarded burial shroud, the white-robed angel with his announcement, “He is not here but is risen!” all combine to impress us with the holy, heavenly truth that Jesus, God’s Son and the world’s Savior, has eternally defeated death for Himself and for all men. With the Easter cry,

“CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!”

we invite you, rather, we urgently plead with you, to study and believe the inspired resurrection message of Saint Paul (Romans 6:4), “As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life,” and by the Spirit’s guidance to find the Easter truth and the Easter newness.

I

THE EASTER TRUTH

When the Apostle summarizes the triumph of this sacred day in the seven short words “Christ was raised up from the dead!” he regards the mysterious but magnificent bursting of the grave as an unquestionable, supreme truth. In the entire New Testament record the resurrection victory is never debated; no lengthy defenses of its facts are offered; no attempts are made to vindicate the details in the Easter narratives. Throughout the Scriptures and the early Church the declaration that “on the third day He rose again from the dead” is uncompromisingly accepted as the great climax truth of our faith, the necessary keystone in the arch of our hope. No resurrection, no redemption! No open grave, no opened heaven! No risen Christ, no risen Christians! This is the unavoidable alternative: “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God. . . . If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” Yet, as Paul triumphed, “Now IS Christ risen,” so I want your faith to ring, clear and unhesitating. Some of you doubt or deny the angelic proclamation, “He is risen!” because you have never taken the time to behold the Easter evangel with open eyes. You have had your mind poisoned by a destructive teacher, an atheist agitator or an applauded skeptic. Will you not be fair enough to read through the New Testament evidence for the Savior’s restoration to life?

If you submit to the Spirit’s guidance, you will experience the same startling reverse that challenged the life of Gilbert West. He thought that he had found confusion and contradiction in the four gospel accounts, and his exposure, he boasted, would reveal the complete impossibility of the open grave. When he had finished his investigations, however, he penned this remarkable confession: “As I have studied the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and have weighed it according to the laws of evidence, I have become satisfied that Jesus really rose from the dead, as recorded in the gospels, and I have written my book” (the book that was to destroy all faith in the resurrection) “on that side”—the side of Christ and His truth.

More recently we have witnessed a similar challenging change from wavering doubt to convicted faith. Frank Morison, acclaimed for his recent book on Pontius Pilate, tells us that, when as a young man he began seriously to study Christ’s life, he had the definite feeling that the New Testament Scriptures rested on very insecure foundation. Higher critics and professional enemies of the Bible had given him the impression that God’s Word was unreliable. The few things that these destructionists left standing the physical science courses in which he was enrolled proceeded to undermine. Scientific thought was obstinately opposed to every miracle. He had read the great Huxley’s verdict, “Miracles do not happen!” and had come to the conclusion that the laws of the universe could never be suspended. He could not, however, entirely subdue a reverent regard for our Lord acquired during his childhood; and in order to find peace of mind, he decided to study the Savior’s suffering and resurrection. He proposed to strip the Scriptural record “of its overgrowth of primitive beliefs and dogmatic suppositions.” He would see Jesus as He really was, not as the Christians believed Him to be. Hardly, however, had he plunged into the eternal Word, when his thoughts concerning Christ were revolutionized. What he calls “the irresistible logic” of the gospel narrative gripped his heart; he found that he could not write a book attacking the Savior’s death and resurrection; instead, he published a volume on the first Easter, a reverent defense of Bible truth.

You, too, will be able to overcome doubt and to exult with the Apostle, “Christ was raised up from the dead,” if you prayerfully approach the Easter-story, asking for the Spirit’s strength and light as you study its statements. The trouble with most people who reject the Easter Gospel is not to be found in any insurmountable opposition by their brain processes, but in their stubborn unwillingness to concede the truth. A brilliant New York attorney is quoted as admitting, “I am convinced that Jesus really did rise from the dead, but I am no nearer being a Christian than I was before. I thought that the difficulty was with my head. I find that it really is with my heart.”

How convincing, however, the Easter evidence is when both the head and the heart accept Christ! Thomas Arnold, beloved headmaster at Rugby, asserted that no fact of history is so well attested as the Savior’s resurrection; and assuredly an imposing array of witnesses declares its complete, eternal verity! Listen to their testimony! Mary Magdalene, who hastened to the tomb even before daybreak, the first in all the world to meet the resurrected Savior, asserted, “I have seen the Lord!” The other women who lingered long at the cross on Good Friday and who likewise came early on that Sunday morning to embalm the Savior’s body, found the stone rolled away and an angel of the Lord, clothed with raiment white as dazzling snow. “He is not here, He is risen,” was the cry that greeted them. They could explain how as they left the empty tomb they met Jesus, heard Him speak joy to their hearts, fell at His feet and worshiped Him. Simon Peter, restored by a glance of his Savior’s grace, knelt before his resurrected Lord, and though the Scriptures give us no details of the meeting, we may well believe Peter could testify that Jesus raised nail-scarred hands in benediction on him who was to become the rock disciple. James, one of our Lord’s brethren, who at first did not accept Him as God’s Son and the world’s Savior, likewise stood face to face with Jesus; and if he could give his testimony to our radio audience, he would assert that his whole life was rebuilt and purified through this contact. Thomas, the doubting, who would not believe unless he saw the print of the nails and put his own fingers into those scars, mounts the witness stand in behalf of Jesus to announce that he did behold the wounded hands and feet, the riven side, and that we shall be blessed if we believe even though we do not see. The two disciples on the Emmaus road who were filled with unspeakable joy when Christ “went in to tarry with them”; the entire company of disciples, who had hid themselves behind shut doors and suddenly saw that the glorified Savior was in their midst to declare, “Peace be unto you!” the seven followers who went fishing with the resurrected Christ and with Him ate breakfast on the shore; the five hundred believers who in one manifestation beheld the Lord, perhaps on Mount Tabor in Galilee; and the Eleven who were with Christ on Mount Olivet at His ascension—all these, together with the mighty missionary Saint Paul, who actually saw his glorified Savior on the Damascus road and then went out to start the conquest of the world for Him, are personal, competent witnesses to this miracle of the ages. If their testimony, combined and detailed as it is, does not convince the most skeptical of Christ’s resurrection, the difficulty lies not in the Easter truth but in the refusal to bow before that truth.

So convincing is the evidence that, when submitted to careful scrutiny by legal experts, it has been thoroughly vindicated. In a remarkable book by Simon Greenleaf a special section is devoted to the Resurrection, with the result that the Gospel narratives are completely endorsed. Some of you say, however, “Who is this Simon Greenleaf? Is his opinion recognized?” Let me answer not only that he was professor of law at Harvard and perhaps the most distinguished jurist ever connected with that eminent university, but also that the London Law Magazine called him one of the most highly esteemed legal authorities of his century, asserting that he has shed more light on the laws of evidence than all lawyers who adorn the courts of Europe. Now, if that distinguished authority unreservedly endorses the Resurrection, why does anyone in this audience hesitate to subscribe to its complete truth?

Every Sunday, the day of worship selected by the early Church because Christ rose on Sunday; every baptism, the sacred Christian rite instituted by the risen Christ; every church and mission preaching the glorious message that Jesus has conquered death for all men—these are the incontestable proofs of the Easter fact, proofs, however, which those who are Christ’s do not need, since they have the Spirit’s testimony in their hearts.

You see, Jesus had to rise from the grave. It was dearly foretold in the Old Testament and plainly predicted by the Savior Himself; and before God’s holy Word can be broken,—remember this, my discouraged friends who need a firm foundation for your hope,—everything on, under, and over this world will collapse into dust. The Scriptures cannot fail; and God’s guaranty for the Bible’s every promise of comfort and sustaining love is to be found at the open grave.—“Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Jesus had to be resurrected from the dead to prove that He is no mere mortal leader or human theorist but God Almighty, with power over life and death. No man can master the grave and defeat decay. During recent weeks worldwide attention has been focused on a remarkable discovery in Egypt. After years of plodding search scientists uncovered a secret, concealed tomb. When the debris of centuries was removed and the door, solemnly sealed 3,000 years ago, was opened with appropriate ceremonies, there, in an imposing burial chamber, amid gold ornaments and almost priceless jewels, lay a mysterious mummy case of granite. Beneath it was a second sarcophagus of silver and below that another covering of solid gold. Within lay the remains of Pharaoh Psou-Sennes. A thousand years before Christ he ruled Upper and Lower Egypt with an iron hand. Princes, priests, and people bowed abjectly before him, but finally he bowed before death. Despite his money and men he could not escape from the tomb; and within that mummy case, which will soon be a museum exhibit, his shriveled, blackened corpse testifies to the relentless grip of the grave.—How our hallelujahs should ring out today when the open grave testifies that Jesus Christ was very God of very God, the Ruler of life and of death itself!—“The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!”

No other explanation for the open tomb has ever been able to satisfy the human mind. Unbelievers used to say that Jesus had merely swooned when taken from the cross; only apparently dead, He was later revived in the grave. But the Roman soldiers knew better; they were so positive that He had breathed His last that they did not follow the usual custom of breaking His legs. Skeptics used to assert, repeating a first-century falsehood, that the Roman guards slept at their posts and Christ’s disciples, under the cover of darkness, stole His body. Yet even the bribery of the priests could not make this story plausible. It meant death for a Roman soldier to fall asleep on duty. Besides, it would tax anyone’s imagination to believe that the great stone could be rolled away, the official seal broken, and a company of men go in and out the grave to remove a corpse without being heard or seen. Infidels used to claim that the Resurrection rests on the fantasy of hallucinated women and suggestible followers; but even open critics have rejected this absurd theory. Thus you can bring one attempt after the other to take the supernatural out of the Easter miracle and to account for it on purely human premises, but each endeavor is doomed to abject failure. Only one explanation remains: Christ rose from the dead because He was the all-powerful God, with the divine omnipotence required to destroy death! “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Christ had to rise from the dead because His resurrection was the crowning climax of His love. Had He stayed in the grave, not only would His promises of new life have been unfulfilled and His claims for divine power disproved, but His entire suffering, the agony of the cross, the God­forsakenness, and the never-to-be-fathomed sorrow that crushed His soul, would have been in vain. The entire purpose of His incarnation would have remained unaccomplished. When, however, on that bright Easter morning, the power of earth and hell, the priestly craftiness, and the official guard, the rock-hewn grave and the impressive seal at its entrance, the winding linen and the burial shrouds, could not keep Jesus in the tomb, it was Heaven’s highest proof that Calvary’s one sacrifice for the sins of all ages had been accepted, that Jesus’ blood had not been shed in vain, that as Christ “was delivered for our offenses,” so He “was raised again for our justification.”

This trust is indicated in our text when it declares “Christ was raised up from the dead BY THE GLORY OF THE FATHER.” Easter is Heaven’s glorious seal, God’s glorious endorsement, the Father’s glorious acceptance of His Son’s self-sacrifice for the world’s sins. Easter is the promise of peace and pardon to everyone who believes. Therefore, in the name of the risen Christ, I ask you, whoever you are, do you subscribe to the seven simple words of our text, “Christ was raised up from the dead”? It matters little what your opinion may be on a thousand other issues, past, present, and future; but for the sake of your soul, believe the resurrection miracle! Stifle gainsaying doubts that demand, “How could Christ return to life?” Turn away from skeptical, sneering men of affairs to the resolute faith of the mighty leaders in science, culture, and progress who have joyfully accepted the Easter miracle! Today with unquestioning trust take God at His word! Ask Him for strength to overcome every uncertainty, and if you follow the promptings of the Spirit that now asks you to acclaim Christ, you, too, will be led, as doubting Thomas was, to behold the Savior with a confidence that says, “My Lord, my God, my ever-living Savior!” You, too, will gladly tell all whom you meet, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

II

EASTER NEWNESS

Without this radiant joy, life must lose its beauty and blessing. Herbert Spencer, England’s learned philosopher, did not accept the Easter victory; yet in his last hours he asked that only one word be chiseled on his tombstone, the Latin Infelicissimus, meaning “The most unhappy one.” The rejection of the Easter victory always leaves men without hope, while humble confidence in this truth bestows new assurance.

It is this newness for which our text appeals when it says, “As Christ was raised from the dead, . . . EVEN SO WE ALSO SHOULD WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE.” When Jesus rose from the tomb, an entirely new era dawned on the world; a New Testament was offered to men in which the most persistent and overpowering terror, the cringing before the grave, was removed for all who acclaim Jesus their Savior. What trembling the thoughts of death often provoke! Classify the fears and phobias of men in any way you will; add up the fright caused by sickness, age, loss, imprisonment, dishonor, and the sum total will be far below the heart-sinking despondency, the cold sweat of terror, the hysterical surrender to despair, which often marks life’s end.

Ask a soldier who has seen godless scoffers go over the top and face death in No Man’s Land how they chatter and quake; ask a sailor who has stood with infidels on the decks of a doomed ship how they fell on their knees in ghastly consternation; ask a doctor to describe the last moments of blasphemers, when the terrors of hell are written on their faces as shuddering curses leap from their lips, and you will understand that the most crushing of earth’s other burdens is not to be compared with what men often fear in their last moments. We hear of exceptions, it is true; a disillusioned woman writing “Exit smiling!” on the walls of her hotel room and then plunging from her high window to a splattering death on the sidewalk below; a convicted murderer approaching the gallows with swaggering unconcern; highly emotional sufferers wishing themselves dead. But unless the conscience is altogether destroyed, everyone who is without Christ shrinks from death. Men know, although they may glibly deny the existence of God and ridicule the mention of heaven and hell, that there is a judgment, a retribution, a punishment beyond the grave. We need not argue this fact with any one in our audience; the solemn warning voice tells you that you cannot live in sin and hope to escape punishment. But I do need to show many what Christ and the Easter resurrection can mean to them; for ignorance and superstition concerning the future existence are blighting the lives of millions. If the census enumerators, whose activities have been widely discussed in our newspapers, should ask the 130,000,000 Americans to express their hopes for the hereafter, the answers would be bewildering and contradictory; but on Easter, if we ask Christ concerning eternity, He points us both to the open grave and the open heaven to say: “Because I live, ye shall live also!” “I am the Resurrection and the Li/e: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live!” “In My Father’s house are many mansions: . . . I go to prepare a place for you.”

As you read these and scores of other passages promising a blessed eternity with Jesus, thank God that no hesitation or uncertainty lingers behind His pledges. They are the highest truths that even Heaven knows. With the Easter faith in your heart, you need not grovel in despair to ask, “What will become of me when life stops?” You, the mortally sick, the invalids whose existence hangs on a thin, shortened thread; you in the prime and strength of life who may be cut down by the sudden accidents that lurk closely and loom frequently on the pathways of our modern life—believe that Christ’s resurrection guarantees your resurrection! Easter is the divine warrant that God has forgiven the sins which bring eternal death as their wages. This holy day offers the surety that God has accepted the suffering and dying of His own Son as the payment for your sins and the ransom for their punishment. Knowing that your transgressions are nailed to the cross and that Christ is the living, divine Savior and not a dead deceiver, you can confidently believe that the grave does not end all; that you can escape the terrors of hell and be blessed in heaven, before the presence of Jesus. For here is that plain but powerful promise of life, “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

It is true that temporal death comes to every one of us, as it came to Christ; but it is only a passing instantaneous change from our earthly existence to that incomparably more blessed heavenly life. For at the open grave we learn through faith that we are more than creatures of accident, controlled by a cold, cruel fate, directed toward everlasting discard and decay; rather, that we are God’s children of holy destiny, who come from God and, through His Son, will return to Him.

With the fear of death removed—and how confidently Christians can long for eternity!—with heavenly bliss positively promised all believers, you can understand why our text beseeches us to “walk in newness of life.” Easter tells us that old fears, old weaknesses, old sorrows, old doubts, are all passed away in the newness of the Savior’s resurrection. Does anything keep you from this blessed newness? Do old, heavy problems lurk in your soul beneath new Easter garments? Analyze them in this day’s radiance, and their darkness will disappear. Are your troubles money difficulties, family quarrels, questions of health? Are you the victim of malicious plotting, crooked politics, and hateful revenge? Stand before the empty tomb to realize that the Christ who has the power over death can control these smaller issues in your life and turn your crosses to advantages, as the Good Friday defeat gave way to the Easter victory. Whatever your personal problems may be, the tragedy that your husband has lost his God and his love for you; the cutting blow that after years of faithful, unselfish service you have been cast aside; especially the recurrence of private sins, repeated concessions to wrong, worry over your salvation and spiritual condition—look to the heavens reopened by the resurrection and know that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”! Trust Christ implicitly! Trust Him even though it seems that He permits you to be crushed under the weight of affliction! For finally, in God’s good time and in His blessed way, the dawn of deliverance will break, and the new day will find you stronger because of your night of anguish.

Has the deepest sorrow, bereavement, darkened your home? Does it seem to you that the last glimmering joy of your life has disappeared with the death of a beloved one? Instead of questioning the Father’s love and goodness in allowing your husband, the mainstay of your home, or an only child, the center of your affections, to be snatched away by death, dry your tears, strengthen your heart through Christ, and remember that Easter proves that God’s way with His children is always the road to redemption and victory! Behold Jesus emerging from the tomb and take heart in the Easter comfort that all God’s beloved, through Christ, will come forth to life eternal!

Commit yourselves wholly to the risen Christ on Easter, the day especially appropriate for dedication to the Savior! Take your sins and weaknesses, lay them at the foot of the cross, hasten to the open grave, and there you will find newness of life, forgiveness of your transgressions, a fortifying of your faith, and the joy of assured salvation! For Easter, blessed Easter, is yours for life and death, with this triumph of trust: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” Amen.

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

Date: March 10, 1940

The veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.Mark 15:38

Ever-blessed Lord Jesus:

Let not the holy blood which on Thy cross flowed for our sim be shed in vain for any one of us! Bring us all to faith in Thee and trust in Thy death-bought mercies! To this end, O Savior of our souls, remove completely from us every thought of our own worthiness and help us, as we stand at Calvary, to know that we are lost without Thee but saved eternally with Thee! In this widespread worship send Thy Spirit into our hearts, particularly to those who once acclaimed Thee their Savior but who have since denied Thee! Plead with them, through Thy convincing power, to realize that, if they persist in rejecting Thy mercies, they have no hope!  Mightily endow our broadcasts with power from on high, strengthen all those who have prayed for our mission of the air to continue their intercession, comfort the sorrowing, and lead us all, O wounded, bleeding, dying Savior, ever closer to Thy matchless grace! Hear us as Thou hast promised! Amen.

SELDOM has the human hatred of Jesus Christ shown itself more vicious than in the repeated assaults on church-buildings dedicated to the Savior. In the year 303 the Roman Emperor Diocletian began the bloodiest campaign against Christ the world has known. He concentrated his efforts on demolishing every place in which our Lord was worshiped; and so sure was he of complete victory over the despised Son of God that he had a triumphal column erected with this inscription, “The name of the Christians has been destroyed.” That boast was soon disproved, however; for by an exhibition of divine power that should strengthen our modern defense of Jesus, only twenty-two years later, in 325, Constantine the Great, his successor, exalted the Bible throughout the Roman Empire as the supreme source of saving truth; and the ruined, desecrated churches were rebuilt and rededicated to Jesus.

During the French Revolution an actress of notorious morals was elevated to the high altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and introduced as the Goddess of Reason. Boastfully the leader of this blasphemy declared: “Mortals, cease to tremble before the powerless thunders of a god whom your fears have created! There is no god! Henceforth worship none but reason!” With enthusiastic approval that congregation of atheists bowed in adoration. But experience soon showed that a nation of godless citizens could not long continue; and within a few months the French National Assembly, the same men who had prostrated themselves before the Goddess of Reason, formally voted that belief in the existence of God was necessary. The actress stepped down from the altar; later she died amid poverty and filth. The cathedral was cleansed.

During our War of Independence British troops established a riding-school in the Old South Church at Boston and transformed it into a circus. Pulpit and pews were tom out and burned; hundreds of loads of gravel were spread over the floors; a bar was set up for alcoholic refreshment. The walls that had reechoed with God’s Word now rang with profanity and carousal. After only a few weeks, however, the British were forced to evacuate Boston, and the Old South Church was restored.

Often when men thus try to profane God’s house, they are mocked by their own defeat, just as the church-closing enemies of Christ will finally be set to naught in Europe. But when God Himself visits His righteous anger on any church, that building remains disavowed. Strikingly is this truth illustrated in an electrifying occurrence which marked the Savior’s crucifixion. The Temple curtain was suddenly ripped through its entire length—symbolical perhaps of the complete devastation that would soon raze the whole structure. Because this startling incident conveys much vital instruction. and blessed assurance, we shall stand in spirit before that torn veil to exclaim,

THE HOLY OF HOLIES—OPEN TO ALL!

devoting our thoughts to Saint Mark’s inspired record (chapter 15:38), “The veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”

I

THE OPENED SANCTUARY—A WARNING

Before we visit the Temple, let us linger a few moments under our Savior’s cross. Soon the Son of God, suspended on that accursed tree for six hours, suffering not only the agonizing pains that are racking His body but enduring infinitely more as He bears our sins, will breathe His last. The sun has darkened as though it would enshroud the whole earth in mourning; a hush begins to fall on the noisy, morbid crowd beneath the cross. Slowly the head of Jesus drops, and His face, a few hours before blanched white by the suffering for our sins and still streaked by the blood that flowed from His crown of thorns, suddenly seems lighted with new love. As His death-marked lips speak their farewell, listen closely! The apex of the ages has arrived! The climax of all the centuries is to be revealed in this moment! The divine plan for our redemption is being completed forever and the prophetic promises fulfilled to the letter as Jesus Christ bows His head into death, crying, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit!”

We can hardly be surprised that nature itself began a mighty protest when on the cross God died for man. An ominous, foreboding rumble was heard and felt, the tremors of an earth quaking in reproach. Men feared that the world’s foundations would collapse as granite rocks and boulders were irresistibly split. Even the dead were shaken from their graves.

These startling tremors were felt in the Jerusalem Temple. No sooner had Jesus breathed His last than the sound of ripping and tearing such as men had never heard before filled the place of worship. The costly curtain that completely veiled the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary’s most sacred part, was torn in the middle from top to bottom! No accident could suddenly cut that covering in two. Nor can unbelievers intelligently laugh this story out of the Bible; for Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that forty years before the Temple was destroyed (approximately the year of the crucifixion), mysterious occurrences were noted in the sanctuary. At that time, he reports, the chief light in the golden candlestick was suddenly extinguished. The Talmud joins him in revealing that the great Temple­gates, kept tightly closed, were abruptly jerked wide open. Even tradition preserves a recollection of disaster and tragedy which struck when Jesus died.

That torn drapery was evidence of divine displeasure. Century after century our Savior’s fellow-countrymen, the chosen people, had enjoyed close contact with their God. Of all nations they alone had the sacred Scriptures; to no other people did Jehovah delegate His prophets; to none other did He reveal Himself as He had in that Holy of Holies. As the crowning climax of His love for Israel He sent His own Son to be born of a Jewish mother in a Palestinian hamlet. Despite these unparalleled distinctions, Israel proved itself ungrateful, rebellious, unbelieving. It stoned the prophets, spurned the light-giving Scriptures; it rejected and now crucified the Son of God Himself. The Almighty’s patience is not without end nor His long­suffering without limit; and with the dead body of Christ nailed to the cross, the hands on Heaven’s clock marked the hour for destruction. God’s wrath now ripped this curtain into two separated parts and would soon strike the entire sanctuary with such devastating force that not one stone would be left standing on the other.

What a direct, unmistakable warning we can find for our country and ourselves in this torn veil overhanging the Holy of Holies! Many people regard as absurd the mere suggestion that our spiritual blessings can be restricted. They forget that God’s Word is not bound to one place, that His presence and mercy will finally depart from any people who willfully spurn His grace. The main course of Christianity has always been westward. As Eastern nations have fallen into spiritual lethargy, the path of the Gospel has steadily been toward the setting sun. If in America we are found wanting when weighed in future emergencies, who knows but what the Gospel’s vanguard may cross the Pacific to the unevangelized half of humanity in India and China, there to build up new churches, new and molding world forces?

Do you think that, as our great Lord looks at this land, rich, powerful, lavishly endowed, blessed in a hundred ways as no other nation, He sees widespread reverence for Christ, deep love of His Word, and complete trust in His mercy? More than half of our people belong to no church. More than two thirds did not attend services this morning. More than three fourths are not concerned about working for the Savior. Examine our literary tastes, and you will be shocked to hear that a bestseller is almost smothered with profanity and saturated with crude immorality! Study our home-life, and you will learn that divorce, assuming an accepted role in our leading families, is regarded by some as a social asset, a fashionable experience. The papers print as a bit of entertaining news the report that a group of women pledged themselves to marry only once. Survey the studied assault on childhood, and you will find one illegitimacy or abortion to almost every two normal births. When the Federal Bureau of Investigation releases figures to show that every three minutes an automobile is stolen and every two minutes a burglary committed, that one of every eighty-eight citizens is a major criminal, do you not agree that we could not complain should our heavenly Father withdraw the spiritual blessings that this nation as none other enjoys?

That question becomes the more pointed when we survey American church-life. What mighty things God could permit our people to accomplish if there were more courageous faith! Suppose we had the family altar in each Christian home, with children brought up in the nurture of the Lord and all churches seriously concerned about youth education. (Someone sent me a Sunday­school sheet for children of kindergarten age. The cover shows a picture of “Our Cat’s Supper.” The other pages deal with birds, bunnies, dogs, pussies, donkeys, and chickens. But in the whole pamphlet, published as a part of the graded course in the International Sunday-school System, the precious name of Jesus Christ is found not once.) Suppose we could keep our college-age young men and women from being subjected to the antimoral teachings of titled foreigners (like the leader of the away-from­Christian-marriage movement, invited to lecture at New York City College) and instead give these young folks Christ’s basis for home happiness! Suppose every one of the quarter million American churches would preach sin and its damning consequences, grace and its cross-gained forgiveness, banishing all modernist, Scripture-questioning, Christ-rejecting preachers, and removing politics, theatricals, dances, raffles, illegal money-making schemes, from their activities!—Do you not feel that a better day would then dawn on our country? However, the trend is not in this constructive direction; and because the churches are not growing closer to Christ nor the pulpit testimony becoming more loyal to the Cross nor the zeal of the home more definitely directed toward the Savior nor the fervor for soul-winning notably increased, we must be prepared for the tragic possibility that, unless God’s mercy prevails, many congregations will feel the wrath of God as the Jerusalem Temple did at the crucifixion. We are told that men of public affairs and international experience, like the late Ramsay MacDonald, signed a manifesto declaring: “It is our conviction that statesmanship will fail and that political programs will prove futile . . . until they embody the spirit and the practice of Christ. We proclaim our faith in the Gospel of Christ as the final truth concerning the relationships of one man with another”; but it is equally true that this same Christ and His Gospel are assailed ruthlessly in American pulpits, by radio chains and religious publications. We must, therefore, have a penitent back-to-the-cross movement in the nation, so that, please God, our country’s blessings and the Christian Church’s glory may not be taken from us and our children!

There is, however, a personal, individual message in the rent veil which, we pray, may penetrate particularly into the hearts of those who have rejected Jesus and who, like the enemies of Christ on that Good Friday, are crucifying Him anew with ungodly living. It is tragic enough, God knows, that millions of people in this country have never been Christians; but it is doubly tragic that vast multitudes of others who once belonged to the Savior have renounced Him for the world. As surely as that sanctuary was desecrated and later destroyed, so, you backsliders, no matter how prominent you have become since you left Jesus, your life will be desecrated and your hopes of a blessed eternity destroyed if you persist in opposing, denying, betraying Christ. That Redeemer, whose loving glance restored perfidious Peter, pleads with you from the cross, “O My poor, wayward, unfaithful followers, come back to Me! Regain the joy of faith that once was yours! Recapture the inner happiness you knew with your God­fearing parents, your Christian husband or wife; the calm you have lost now that you have turned away from Me to serve sin! O come back to the cross and by the holy blood you see dripping from these wounds I truly promise to forgive, restore, strengthen, and bless you even more than ever!” Answer that love! Follow that invitation! Professor Henry Drummond, a notable figure of the last generation, falsely sacrificed his faith in Christ to the interest of science. He made the mistake some of you have made. He believed that men know more than God, that the laboratory, not the Bible, is the decisive means of establishing the truth; but he was never satisfied with his unbelief, and during his last illness he confessed to Sir William Dawson, the Christian geologist: “I am going back to the Book to believe it and receive it as I did at first. I can no longer live on uncertainties. I am going back to the faith in the Word of God.”

May you go back, too! As your crucified Savior looks down from the cross to plead for your return, answer with repentance, faith, and trust! Follow Him now, without excuse or delay, knowing that, if you persist in disavowing Jesus, God’s hand that tore the Temple veil will finally tear into shreds any hope you may have of earning heaven by yourself! For, fight against this truth as you may, even though your consciences whisper, “He’s right! That’s the truth!” here is Christ’s final verdict, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

II

THE OPENED SANCTUARY—A BLESSING AND A PROMISE!

The torn veil, however, presents a marvelous promise of mercy. On that Friday, in the mid-afternoon when the priest arrived to prepare the evening sacrifice on the altar before the Holy of Holies and found the sacred drapery torn apart, he may not have realized that Jesus, whose lifeless body was being removed from the cross, had come to end all this Old Testament temple worship and to bring a New Testament in His blood. Many people today are similarly ignorant. They hear of the rent veil, but they fail to understand that on the death day of Jesus, God tore down that entire Old Covenant ceremonial. They speak of the Sabbath as though we were still under Old Testament dispensation. They mention the tithe as though it were still a rigorous command of God Himself. But they forget that these ancient sacrifices and rituals pointed to the Savior Himself; that the Sabbaths and festivals, the food laws and the fasting customs, were, as the Apostle puts it, only “a shadow of things to come.” When Jesus died His atoning death, these Mosaic ceremonies died with Him; for here is the clear verdict of His Word, “Christ is the end of the Law.” In the face of mistaken tendencies to put the Old Testament yoke on the Christian Church, we ought to think clearly and in harmony with the Scripture concerning blue-laws for Sabbath observance; we must protest against the preaching that makes people uncertain of their salvation if they do not give 10 per cent of their income or that leads them to feel they must still pay their way through the gates of eternity. The cross at Calvary and the torn veil at Jerusalem combine to repeat the Apostle’s urgent plea, “Stand fast . . . in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.”

The severed curtain permitted light to penetrate into the Holy of Holies and remove the mystery that lay behind the heavy drapery. So it is with Christ and His Gospel. He told His enemies, “In secret have I said nothing”; and true Christian churches have no hidden shrines, no mystic oaths, no clandestine rites, no private initiations, no cryptic rituals. Cults and sects multiply and bring to our shores the pagan mysteries of India, Persia, the Far Orient and the Near East; and the spirit of our age regards membership in secret societies as business distinctions and social advantages; but as the parted curtain reveals the hidden sanctuary, we remind ourselves: “There is nothing in our entire Christian faith that cannot be seen by everyone, young and old; nothing that even the most childlike mind cannot believe in this message from the cross, “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Especially, however, does the rent veil assure us of our free approach to God in Christ. The entire Temple area at Jerusalem was a forbidden place for many. In 1871 archeologists found an inscription with these words: “Let no Gentile enter inside the barrier gate and the fence around the sanctuary! Any one trespassing will bring death on himself as the penalty.” If it meant death for Gentiles to set foot in the Temple grounds, what would penetrating into the far more sacred Holy of Holies mean? Only one human being, God’s high priest, could enter that hallowed place, and that only once annually, the solemn Day of Atonement, when the nation’s sins were removed. Only in one way, by bringing the blood of animals slain as expiatory sacrifices, could he enter on that Yom Kippur. For every other person, even for Herod, the king, and Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor; on every one of the remaining 364 days in the year, including the momentous Passover and joyful Purim, the Holy of Holies was closed, dark, soundless. Through no other offering besides the purifying blood, not even gold and silver, could the threshold of this sacred spot be safely crossed. If these plain instructions were violated, the punishment was immediate death. With such fear did the high priest later regard that supersacred place that he never entered without having a cord tied to his foot, so that, if he perished in that innermost sanctuary, his corpse could be dragged out. That Holy of Holies, as far as history shows, was the most exclusive and restricted spot in the whole world, and rightly so; for here the almighty God, with His perfect sinlessness, condescended to meet sinful man. No wonder a heavy, closely woven curtain completely separated that sacrosanct enclosure from the rest of the Temple! No wonder darkness pervaded the place; for human eyes were not to witness the awe-filled mystery that man in his iniquity is permitted to approach his Maker in His holiness.

Good Friday, the Christians’ Day of Atonement, forever made all earthly priests’ sacrifices superfluous. Christ’s blood had a cleansing power which the blood of no rams or bullocks could ever exert. At Calvary He finished our salvation, and that completion made an earthly temple with an exclusive sanctuary unnecessary. We build no holy of holies into our church structures, because through Christ we can meet God anywhere we wish to approach Him in His Word. We can come before our Father any time we seek communion with Him in Jesus’ name. Through trusting faith your home, poor and shabby though it be, can have a holy of holies just as sacred as the mysteries in that inner Temple shrine! It is often difficult, sometimes impossible, to meet earthly rulers and men of affairs in business or politics. Do you remember how official society in Washington was thrown into turmoil by the failure of a large number to receive invitations for meeting the king and queen of England? But the King of kings is accessible to every one of you through faith. God has no favorites. The temple of heaven is open to all, regardless of race, color, position, who approach the Father in Christ’s name. With the world-moving events that receive God’s attention, He has time and love for, and takes interest in, your problems. How blessed to know that in every sorrow this invitation of solace reaches all who are Christ’s:

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,

Come to the mercy-seat, fervently kneel;

Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.

How reassuring to believe that you can approach Jesus yourself, without any minister or priest to introduce you! For as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of slain animals, so you enter heaven, not trusting in your own understanding or emotions, but relying on God’s love, finding your credentials in nothing less than Jesus’ cleansing, atoning, life-giving blood!

That faith—and here we have a magnificent New Testament declaration—makes every believer a priest of the Most High. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,” the apostle exults, “that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” In the practice of this universal priesthood we must find challenge and hope for Christ’s cause. Churches must outstrip Communism and reach the masses with the message of the Cross before they are poisoned by the appeal of Red destruction. “He died for all!” should be more than a pulpit platitude. It must be the impulse to an energetic program of an evangelizing Christianity. Too many of you will agree with everything I have said and affirm that Christ is the only Hope for sinful men and women; yet you do little to spread the glorious message that the Holy of Holies of heaven is not closed, but that there is full, free, and final salvation for every penitent, believing heart in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. May God in His mercy give us the deep-souled devotion to Christ and the red-blooded courage required to exercise the privileges of our priesthood!

Mightily has our Savior blessed this radio testimony to the open heavens. Thousands of letters, more each week than ever before! New stations continually added! The latest is in the frozen Hudson Bay district, not far from the Arctic Circle, and will, we hope, reach many Eskimos and isolated souls. Mightily will God bless you, too, if you, a priest and prince in the eternal kingdom, testify publicly and boldly to Christ, the crucified Savior!

The Book of Acts tells us that soon after Pentecost there was a momentous conversion of the Temple priests. God, whose hand ripped that curtain, touched their souls and taught them the meaning of this miracle. As we return for a last glance at the dying Christ and the torn veil, may the Father’s Spirit so guide our hearts that, convicted of our sins but also of Christ’s sin-destroying grace, we follow the Apostle in having “boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Let us here and now affirm our faith in the crucified Savior, resolving to meet sin, temptation, sorrow, reverses, with the inner, immovable confidence that joy of life and peace in death itself are granted us through the Cross and the free entrance into the eternal Holy of Holies which Christ promises those who are His!

Father, give every one of us this assurance for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

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

Date: March 3, 1940

When they were come unto a place called Golgotha, . . . they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall; and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink.Matthew 27:33-34

The soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him and offering Him vinegar and saying, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself.Luke 23:36-37

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now, there was set a vessel full of vinegar; and they filled a sponge with vinegar and put it upon hyssop and put it to His mouth. When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished.John 19:28-30

O Jesus, our crucified Savior:

How can we ever thank Thee sufficiently that in the depths of Thy Passion Thou didst drink the cup of agony to the last bitter drop, dying to free us from eternal death? By Thy Holy Spirit direct us, every day we live, to examine ourselves by the standard of Thy Word, to acknowledge contritely, unreservedly, the repeated wrong that stains our souls, and to find in Thee forgiveness, strength for every weak moment, courage for all afflictions! Give us thankful hearts that are not content to show their gratitude for Thy suffering only during a brief hour on Sunday, but bring us daily to our knees in prayer for a sin-driven world! Lead us to speak and act, O blessed Savior, so that under Thy grace sinners may be converted to Thee from their evil ways, the sorrowing comforted, the unbelieving rebuked, and the glorious light of Thine atonement brought into many darkened hearts! The cross at Calvary assures us that Thou wilt hear us! Amen.

WHAT a stark-mad, blood-crazed world this is! Events of the weekend seem to forebode that peace is far distant in the European conflict. Both sides appear sworn to a war of extermination, which will not cease until one of the belligerents, exhausted, begs mercy, but receives none. When the grass turns green again, unless God Almighty intervenes and peace endeavors succeed, we shall probably witness mass slaughter and brutal destruction that exceed the worst hitherto known.

The call to arms may resound far beyond the German­French border and the Baltic country, where the Russian giant’s fingers are slowly closing around Finland’s throat, and beyond China, where invading armies press irresistibly forward. We now read that India’s 350,000,000 seethe in unrest as a disobedience campaign plans independence of British rule. Ominous signs point to uprisings in the Arab world. Japanese writers are quoted as predicting that their country may be forced to fight the United States. How completely sin rules the world today! How savagely the lust for power seeks to destroy men’s lives and happiness!

If you have never prayed for peace, begin to implore God now; and if you have petitioned the Almighty to stop the horrors of warfare, if it be His will, redouble your appeals!  Christians know that intercessory prayer can succeed if diplomats fail, that only Christ holds permanent hope for our age. George Bernard Shaw, England’s most noteworthy man of letters, has been outspoken in his unbelief; yet even before the present crisis he was quoted as admitting: “I am not a Christian any more than Pilate was. . . . But I am ready to admit, after studying the world of human misery for more than sixty years, that I see no way out of the world’s troubles but the way which Jesus would have found.” If scoffers concede that Christ’s truth alone can extricate us from the maze of our own mistakes, how much more should we who love the Lord Jesus look to Him for soul help and spiritual guidance! How constantly we should follow Him to Calvary and there at the most sacred spot on the whole earth, in the holiest love men can witness, find through the crucified Savior, peace, perfect peace of soul, for a strife­torn age!

Not only do the seven words spoken by the Savior from the cross testify to His divine compassion for you and me, but even the apparently insignificant events on that Hill of the Skull emphasize the blessed Savior’s love for the world that had nailed Him to the cross. To learn that at Golgotha God grants overflowing heavenly grace, consider

THE THREE CUPS AT CALVARY

which the Lenten chapters of the gospels describe in these words: “When they were come unto a place called Golgotha, . . . they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall; and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink.” (Saint Matthew 27:33, 34.) “The soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him and offering Him vinegar and saying, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself.” (Saint Luke 23:36, 37.) “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now, there was set a vessel full of vinegar; and they filled a sponge with vinegar and put it upon hyssop and put it to His mouth. When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished.” (Saint John 19:28-30.)

I

THE CUP OF COMA

Last Sunday we left Jesus doomed to the cross through Pontius Pilate’s indifference and cowardice. Hardly had the Roman governor pronounced the sentence, when the soldiers tore the crown of thorns from Jesus’ bleeding head, removed the mocking robe of scarlet from His scourged back, and dressed Him in His own crimson-stained garments. In a few moments the cross was prepared; staggering under its burden and its curse, Jesus, His soul weary unto death, His body aching and bleeding, was forced to bear the rough timbers that soon would bear His broken body. Today much is done to lighten the suffering of criminals before their execution. Special meals are provided; all reasonable requests are fulfilled; death itself is made as quick as the advance of modern science permits. These final favors are willingly granted to degenerate murderers, fiendish killers, ruthless kidnappers; but the enemies of the sinless Christ, not satisfied with repeated torture and derision, crowded the hours before the crucifixion with piercing pain and deepened humiliation.

The death-march begins its winding course toward Golgotha: in front the calloused Roman soldiers, eager to be through with this bothersome duty; a small group of sympathizers, close to the Savior; a crowd of morbid spectators, following. Tradition has embellished these last miles. Stations have been invented at which Jesus is said to have stopped or performed a miracle. The Scriptures know nothing of this. The only events in that death journey which the New Testament recounts are the Savior’s collapse under the weight of the cross, the drafting of Simon of Cyrene as cross-bearer, and the last sermon Jesus preached, a warning addressed particularly to the women who lined the road or followed the procession: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

Finally—and how endless the way of sorrows must have seemed to Jesus!—the cortege of the cross reached Calvary. Today no one can definitely identify the scene of the Savior’s crucifixion. Perhaps God has kept the location of earth’s holiest sanctuary unknown; for if the site of Golgotha were common knowledge, how the hostility to Christ would seek to desecrate its ground! With equal insistence many so-called Christians would glorify the place of the cross instead of the Savior’s love. No last-hour pardon was granted, and no reprieve postponed the execution of Pilate’s sentence; but before the nails were hammered through Christ’s quivering flesh, we are told, “They gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall.”

This is the first cup at Calvary. We do not know whose hand reached out with that draught, a sedative, or narcotic, to ease pain and make death less excruciating. It may have been the last service of a friend or an ancient Jewish custom. Perhaps the soldiers offered Jesus this cup since it would make the work of crucifying smoother and easier. Whatever the motive, when we stop to behold the cross and its immeasurable anguish, the four wounds and their agony, the loss of blood and the sinking weakness, the tension of the body and the aching muscles, the racing fever and the raging thirst, we feel that, if we had been at Calvary, we would have cried: “O Jesus, drink this cup! Hast Thou not suffered enough? Why prolong this harrowing terror? O Jesus, drink this cup!” But the suffering Savior would have spurned that plea, for we read, “When He had tasted thereof, He would not drink.” His suffering was no accident. He was to be nailed to the cross by divine direction, and no prospect of relief from crushing pain nor the hope that consciousness would gradually become numbed could move Him to escape the full force of that penalty.

Men have sometimes taken on themselves the punishment that others have deserved. Near Palmyra, Missouri, one can find in a lonely cemetery a modest marble tablet on which is chiseled, “This monument is dedicated to the memory of Hiram Smith, who was shot at Palmyra, October 18, 1862, as a substitute for William T. Humphrey, my father.” During the Civil War William Humphrey and nine other Southern sympathizers from Palmyra were to be executed for the abduction of a Northern farmer. For some reason Humphrey was spared on condition that a substitute die for him. Hiram Smith, a young man of twenty-two, was shot in Humphrey’s stead. But there was no compulsion or last-minute selection in Christ’s taking our place. Only His indescribable love led Him to the cross; and because of that mercy Jesus was unwilling to die without full consciousness, without suffering completely the entire anguish for our sins.

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Jesus had accepted that first cup? Had His spirit been deadened into insensibility, He would never have spoken that most magnificent of all prayers for pardon, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Had He been unconscious, He would not have given us the holy example of concern for His mother which lives forever in these words from the cross, “Woman, behold thy son!” “Behold thy mother!” If He had drunk that cup of coma, perishing sinners would never have heard this merciful pledge to the penitent thief promising heaven immediately after death, without any intermediate purging, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.” If Jesus had left the world while under the influence of a narcotic, men would have asked, “Did Christ actually know what He was doing when He died?” But because He suffered “unto the end,” because in the depths of that ordeal Jesus did not lose His consciousness, even momentarily, we are convinced that He faced death for us knowingly, willingly.

We, too, must meet the miseries of life awake. Pampered minds will find it difficult to endure the reverses which the future may hold in store for them. We hear much of better days and a higher standard of living. Two expositions, one on each coast, will again portray for millions of summer visitors the World of Tomorrow with the breathtaking advances that present-day inventions promise. But what guarantee have we that tomorrow will bring the ease and comfort these world’s fairs exhibit? During certain eras in modern history all progress has been retarded, and we may be facing far-reaching readjustment in which America will be called on to suffer as millions in Europe and Asia have. If it be God’s will that we be subjected to undreamed-of hardship; if in our homes defeat and disaster should leave their devastating, deep-grooved marks; if our personal ambitions are to be dashed to pieces, let us not shriek in protest but learn of Jesus how to face afflictions. Last week we buried a beautiful child, scarcely a year and a half old, the only daughter of a pastor. Unexpectedly and too quickly death claimed the baby girl. Although sorrow cut deeply into her parents’ hearts and tears flowed freely as the little casket closed, the resignation and trust in God’s higher wisdom evidenced at this funeral showed that Jesus can teach us how to suffer.

What gave Jesus the strength to refuse the cup of coma and “endure unto the end”? At the beginning of His Gethsemane sufferings Christ had entrusted Himself to His Father’s love and guidance, and now, on Calvary, He steadfastly set His heart and mind on God. He would not take the easier way and drink the vinegar mixed with gall, for His actions repeat the resolution of Gethsemane, “The cup that My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?” If you want to face your sorrows courageously, turn away from human theories of self-trust that can drug you into forgetfulness, indifference, false hope, but which eventually lead you to despair! Rather cling to the truth of God! Fix your thoughts, your prayers, your desires, on your heavenly Father through Christ! Submit to His direction, resign yourself to His plan for life! Say, as Jesus did, “Not my will, but Thine be done,” and the Holy Spirit will sustain you in the hardest, cruelest, blackest moments.

Particularly do we ask you to avoid the sin of drunkenness, by which cowards habitually try to drown their sorrows in alcohol. The wide advertising of whisky, hard liquor displays in drug stores and restaurants, the constant cocktail-drinking, the increasing intoxication—all of which, we believe, will provoke the largest temperance movement the United States has ever seen, if the nation is finally awakened—are leading misguided people to think they can get rid of their difficulties by getting drunk. What about the aftermath—debauch, self-respect sacrificed, homes broken, good name and reputation lost? Above all, what about God’s sentence pronounced upon impenitent drunkards? As unnumbered tear-stained wives and mothers, uncounted suffering children, plead with us, we ask you whose sins have just been scored to fight the evil of drunkenness by looking steadfastly to God, by praying especially in moments of temptation for the constant presence of Christ.

Always keep a definite, unbridgeable distance from the narcotics, which play a hideous role in modern society: opium, morphine, cocaine, marijuana, the ancient drug our age has revived, particularly to destroy the purity and the conscience of our high-school boys and girls. It is a blot on our nation that at least a million Americans are drug addicts. While the Government has taken commendable steps in checking this vicious evil, we ask you to help any unfortunate victims you may know by directing them to the forgiving, sustaining Savior. He refused that stupefying cup; and through trusting faith even the most inveterate drug addict can find strength and hope.

II

THE CUP OF MOCKERY

The second cup offered Jesus at Calvary after He had been nailed to the cross was the cup of mockery. It seems that the Roman soldiers detailed to supervise the crucifixion had sat down to eat the noonday meal. Some of them, joining the cruel carnival beneath the cross, began to mock Jesus, “coming to Him,” as the text states, “and offering Him vinegar and saying, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself.” How gladly Jesus would have taken that sour wine! The last time any cup touched the Savior’s lips was probably Thursday night in the quiet of the upper chamber; and after hours of torture, exposed as He was, to the sun and the force of the elements, our Lord would have welcomed refreshment. Yet it was offered only in mockery, and He had to continue enduring His thirst.

The age of mockery has not passed. Today, in the press and on the radio, one meets repeated attacks on Christ and His sacred Word. A leading automobile company features an advertisement burlesquing God’s holy angels. The editorial page of a large Detroit newspaper brazenly calls one of the Bible-stories “a nursery tale.” An educational gathering in St. Louis is entertained with a joke centering about Peter and the pearly gates. Yet those who call themselves Christians often accept this mockery without protest. Now, you and I may belong to different church groups, and I would be the last to minimize the importance of doctrinal differences; but if we cannot work together, we can at least work toward the same end. Those who believe with us that Christ, Son of God and Son of man, the Savior of a world perishing in its sins, is the only Hope of the age and those who with us acclaim the Bible as God’s full and errorless revelation must protest every time a blasphemous voice is raised in public or private to speak that damnable “if” of the soldiers, “if Thou be the King of the Jews,” “if Thou be the Son of God.” The tragic truth that the Christian faith is often thus ridiculed and that unbelief is securely enthroned in American public life, must be explained by the grievous fact that many American churches, either through fear or disinterestedness or inability, have not protested against this derision. Give us your help in dashing that cup of sarcasm to pieces! By open, repeated, determined statements refute every utterance in the press, over the air, on the stage, and from the public platform that sneeringly refers to Christ and says, “‘If’ Thou be the King, the Savior, the almighty God.”

Even churches have joined in questioning Christ’s Word, denying His miraculous power, rejecting His deity. A radio friend sends an extract copied from a Sunday­school quarterly issued by a large Protestant denomination. The section dealt with our Lord’s miraculous feeding of the five thousand, that stupendous wonder which should mean more in the United States today, with its relief rolls and destitution, than in any previous age. Instead of acknowledging Christ’s divine power in multiplying the loaves and the fishes, this is how that paper—not a rationalistic sheet from the last century, not an atheistic publication, but an official church organ—explains away the miracle: Many among the five thousand in the desert had secretly brought food along, but were too selfish to share it with others. However, when they saw the lad open his lunch and distribute his store of food among those around him, they immediately concluded, “Well, if that boy can share his lunch, we can, too.” So they brought forth their secret provisions, apportioned them among those who had nothing, and, lo and behold, there was plenty for every one!—How long, do you suppose, would the business world tolerate such disloyalty? Yet churches endorse that unbelief by printing it in their Sunday-school leaflets! Do you not agree that we cannot continue to witness without stinging rebuke the blasphemy by which the hands of churchmen raise the cup of sarcasm before the crucified Savior, and taunt, “‘If’ Thou be the King, the Christ, the Savior”? Can you not see that in your own life problems you must turn your head, as the Savior did, away from everyone who suggests the ease of life but has the ridicule of your God on his lips?

III

THE CUP OF COMPLETION

The third cup at Calvary was only a sponge. We are told, “Jesus, knowing that all things were accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” This word from the cross is the shortest of the seven sacred utterances of Jesus, the only reference to His own physical suffering. Now “that all things were accomplished,” the divine plan for salvation was closing its deliberate, God­controlled program, the Savior found time to think of Himself. The burning fever, the inflamed wounds, the torment of thirst, one of the most terrifying agonies, made His parched lips speak this short pleading sentence, “I thirst!”

What stark reality rings from this cry at Calvary! Many people today teach and try to believe that pain, sickness, and suffering are imaginary; but when on the cross the perfect Son of God moans, “I thirst!” that delusion must vanish. We are confronted here with truth, emphasizing the real human nature of our Lord and Savior. When we behold the Lenten tragedy and witness Christ’s majestic serenity amid the never-to-be-measured torture and the hellish derision; when we hear His love pleading for sinners and promising Paradise to a murderer; when the sun is darkened before our eyes and the earth quakes beneath our feet, it is not hard to believe in the deity of Jesus, nor to confess with the centurion, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” At Calvary we may wonder more about the Savior’s humanity. How can any man endure what He did? How can any mortal show the mercy and forbearance He revealed? But as we hear that hoarse, pitiful, pleading “I thirst!” we know, though we cannot understand this mystery, that Jesus was a true man. He felt to the fullest Golgotha’s pain and thirst so that He could sympathize with our griefs and sorrows. Whenever the torment of life becomes unbearable, you can turn to the crucified Christ and say: “O Jesus, You suffered all this and much more for me! You know the torture of my body and the pangs of my mind.” How blessed to have this echo of sympathy come from the cross, “Yes, My beloved, I know your anguish, for I have felt in My own body every pain that can disturb you.”

Yet that cry, “I thirst!” pledges more than sympathy. It reveals Christ’s compassion in suffering for your atonement. Sir James Young Simpson, famous British physician, whose testimony is particularly significant this Sunday since he introduced the use of chloroform to alleviate human pain, described his faith in these words: “I looked and saw Jesus, my Substitute, scourged in my stead and dying on the cross for me. I looked, believed, and was forgiven.” If you, too, in the blessed all-inclusiveness of the Savior’s Gospel will behold the parched and thirsting Christ who once invited, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink,” but who now, instead of exerting His divine power, receives refreshment from a Roman soldier; if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is tortured by thirst so that you never need thirst in hell or plead as the rich man did, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue”; if that Savior suspended in midair between the world that crucified Him and the heavens that forsook Him, is enshrined in your heart as your personal Savior, how blessed His thirst, how charged with eternity’s highest love every racked moment at Calvary!

That sponge filled with sour wine becomes the cup of completion; we are told, “When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished!” In a few moments the suffering which changed the world and opened heaven would be over. His divine heart would cease beating, His pulse stop throbbing, His eyes close, and all the screaming horror would cease. The crowds would trickle back to Jerusalem; His dead body would be removed from the cross; darkness would fall over the scene; and His sorrows would have passed forever.

More than anguish was finished. The truth of God, foretold by ancient prophecy, had gone into fulfillment. The predictions of this parched thirst recorded in the Twenty-second and the Sixty-ninth Psalms, together with a dozen other Old Testament previsions of His agony and His atoning death, had become reality at Golgotha.

Chiefly, however, the last chapter in the plan of salvation was fulfilled. Every demand that even the holy God made for the payment of our sins was satisfied by the Savior’s self-sacrifice. When Jesus bowed His head in death, so far as our salvation was concerned, nothing remained for us to complete. He left no mistakes to be corrected, no uncertainties to be adjusted, no insufficiencies to be supplied. Everything that any soul in this audience needs for heaven is granted on the altar of the cross at Calvary. All else in life may be incomplete. A hundred tasks loom before us as unfinished. But when Jesus drank the third cup the end was at hand and with it completion—victory!

Three cups at Calvary! The first two, the cup of coma and the cup of mockery, Jesus did not drink. But the third, the sponge saturated with sour wine, the cup of completion, He drank and then cried, “It is finished!” Since the cups of our lives are filled from the overflow of His, may we spurn every act of spiritual cowardice and disloyalty, grasp the salvation concluded at the cross, and confidently exult: “I know whom I have believed.” “For I am persuaded 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!” Amen.

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

Date: February 25, 1940

They led Him away, and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate, the governor. . . . And when he had scourged Jesus, be delivered Him to be crucified.Matthew 27:2, 26

Lord Jesus, our all-sufficient Redeemer:

We need Thy Spirit’s help, beholding Thy cross, to find in Thee not only an innocent Victim of furious hatred, an unselfish Sufferer, a noble Martyr, but, above all, our Redeemer from sin, our God agonized for us, our Sovereign and King. By Thy victory over death Thou canst grant wt all we need for this life and bless us with eternal joy. Help us, therefore, ever to repent of our wrong, to trust Thee with unquestioning faith, and to find in Thy presence strength for each day’s sorrows and peace for our war-saddened age! Oh, give Thyself richly to us and to the millions who need Thee, our Savior of the cross, more than all else! Bless us with heaven by the promise of Thy love! Amen.

WE start by asking you a personal favor, which will cost only a little exertion, but by which you may help to direct some lost soul to heaven. If, as you hear this broadcast, there are in your own home relatives and friends who have not yet found their salvation in Christ, will you not now urgently invite them to sit down with you before the radio and listen to God’s counsel for their eternal redemption? If you have acquaintances living without the Savior, will you not now ask them by telephone to dial the station that carries this message? Your phone call will bring them Christ’s call. If you yourself have made the mistake of refusing to acknowledge Jesus as your own Redeemer and God’s marvelous ways have led you to select this station out of eight hundred others in the United States, then this broadcast is meant particularly for you, as though these words were winging their miraculous way over the two or three miles or the two or three thousand that may separate us, to bring you the claims of Jesus Christ on your soul!

What a difference a few minutes can sometimes make! Oil gushes from an impoverished farm, and paupers become men of wealth overnight. A governor signs pardon papers, and convicts suddenly leave the penitentiary—free men. The next half hour can completely change your life and enrich you with Heaven’s eternal treasures that neither reverse nor time can destroy. Stay with us during this broadcast. Help others join in this worship!

How we rejoiced at our headquarters last week when almost 12,000 letters were received, the largest number in our past radio history! Twelve thousand letters in five days means that millions are tuned to the 160 stations of our “Bringing-Christ-to-the-Nation” broadcasting system. Thank God for that; and then pray that we can reach the untouched masses in this country who have not yet said to Jesus, “O Christ, Thou art the Savior of my soul, the Substitute for my sins!” Help us speak to some of them this afternoon! They all need Christ. Many of them, as multitudes in this audience, resemble the man of whom our text treats, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, who, face to face with Jesus and convinced of that Savior’s innocence, sought to save Him from death but finally delivered Him to be crucified.

It is not by accident that Pontius Pilate is the only man mentioned by name in the Apostles’ Creed, the three articles of our faith all Christians accept, whether they be Protestant or Catholic, Lutheran or Reformed. This morning, in the Second Article and climax of the Creed, millions over the earth declared in hundreds of languages, “I believe in Jesus Christ,” God’s “only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,” and then not, “suffered under Caiaphas, the high priest”; not, “suffered under Herod, the tetrarch”; not, “suffered under the betrayal of Judas,” or “the denial of Peter,” but, “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” The weaknesses and dishonesties of Pilate are more common to the race, and that means more easily found in my life and yours, than the sins of many other figures in the Lenten tragedy. Therefore with prayer in our hearts and praise for Christ on our lips we shall study the lessons taught by these striking words of the Christian creed,

“SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE”

as we find this suffering described in the twenty-seventh chapter of Saint Matthew and summarized (verses 2 and 26) in these words: “They led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate, the governor. . . . And when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.”

I

THE SCREAMING INJUSTICE OF THAT SUFFERING

When that mockery of injustice, called the “trial” of Jesus before the council of His own countrymen, ended, the Savior was imprisoned at the high priest’s palace; and there, under the roof of that Old Testament church­leader, the Savior was subjected to the agony of indescribable torture. During these after-midnight hours the enmity and jealousy pent up during the three years of the Lord’s ministry were let loose against Him. The high priest’s servants, perhaps even some of the highly respected Sanhedrists, who had just condemned Jesus, began to spit on the Savior. With heavy rods they rained blow after blow on His defenseless body. While His own hands were tied, they amused themselves in hellish glee by striking Jesus with clenched fists or slapping His face with their open hands. They blindfolded Him, and one servant after the other brutally beat Him, demanding, “Prophesy, who is it that smote Thee?” If we did not know that according to the plan of divine mercy Jesus should be made the perfect Savior “through suffering,” we would wonder, reviewing the silent suffering of that first derision, why the heavens did not collapse on these fiendish torturers and the earth swallow them.

Christ was kept at the high priest’s palace until sunrise, for it was illegal to conduct a capital trial at night. Hardly had the earliest rays of that day of destiny, the first Good Friday, broken the darkness, when the Council reconvened to ratify its earlier verdict. This time the priests, the scribes, the Sadducees, the men of affairs in Jerusalem, made quick work of their unholy task. When Jesus once more acknowledged Himself the Son of God and the promised Redeemer, His doom was sealed; as one man the great Council shrieked its impassioned verdict, “He is guilty of death!”

For some undefined reason, perhaps because they had no power to execute the death-sentence, the priests led Jesus to the highest authority in Judea, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. We know something of this Roman official, from both the Bible and secular history. These sources agree in portraying him as a shrewd, scheming politician, to whom truth and justice could mean but little if they implied personal danger. That spirit of Pontius Pilate has not entirely disappeared from our officialdom. No party platform will admit it, but corruption in Federal, State, and local circles, with politicians swayed by mobs and the desire for votes, is a major menace to our American way of living. Before we think of entering Europe’s war to clean up sins across the seas, let us put our own political and official houses in order.

It was about six o’clock in the morning when the mob accompanying the priests, probably to impress the governor, stormed the gates of Pilate’s palace and demanded a hearing. Because Pilate was a Gentile and contact with his residence would have made them unclean, the leaders refused to enter but voiced their charges against Christ in the open. They indicted Him on three counts: perverting the nation, forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and making Himself a rival king. Need I tell you that each one of these accusations was an utter falsehood? When nationalistic fervor sought to make Jesus king of Israel, He spurned that proposal. Instead of leading a rebellion against the Roman rule or refusing to pay tribute, He firmly told the Pharisees, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

Christians have repeatedly been accused of perverting their fellow-men and of showing disloyalty to their governments. Why did streams of martyr blood flow through the first centuries? Because a Nero claimed that the Christians had burned Rome; because a dozen imperial fiends branded as traitors and state’s enemies all Christians who would not worship a pagan ruler. Why have Gospel missionaries been beheaded, burned at the stake, boiled alive, stoned to death? Because these men of God were charged with changing the old order and combating national interests. In our country, too, atheists and other radicals claim that Christianity must be banished from our shores because it is a brake on progress. But true disciples of Jesus are the strongest elements in the support of the nation’s welfare. If we were a real Christian nation; if the teachings of our Lord could impel and direct the actions of all our 130,000,000 Americans, we would witness an outpouring of unparalleled blessings. If trust in Christ instead of the craving for power were the watchword in modern Europe, this terrifying conflict, with millions sworn to exterminate their fellow-men, might never have started.

Perhaps because Pilate immediately saw through the priests’ scheming designs, or perhaps because there was about this Galilean Prisoner something utterly unusual and personally compelling, the Roman governor retired with Christ to the judgment-hall, only to return after a brief examination and tell the churchmen and the Jewish leaders, “I find in Him no fault at all!” What an amazing statement for this shrewd, worldly-wise Roman official! Fabulous amounts have been spent since that fatal Friday to find some mistake in Christ’s career. Men have devoted their misdirected lives to discover and publicize a single misstep on Jesus’ pathway. Every word our Lord spoke, every counsel He gave disquieted souls, every denunciation He hurled at impenitent unbelievers—all have been subjected, as in the case of no other man living or dead, to a minute examination and placed under the microscope of hostile criticism to find a single flaw.

Christ’s challenge, however, still rings in our modern world, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” We repeat this question to every unbelieving mind. We will not offer you $1,000 for any mistake you can discover in Jesus; for recent events have illustrated that such proposals may produce much harm. We will, however, make an even more startling challenge: If any of you infidels or skeptics who write us uncouth letters can produce from our Lord’s entire life one sinful word or action, we shall publicly tell the nation of your discovery in our broadcast. Unbelievers with intellects far deeper than yours have been honest enough, though refusing to accept Christ as their Savior, to acclaim His infinite holiness. Rousseau, the French philosopher, whose conduct and writings were a steady denial of Bible truth, had to admit, “The life and death of Jesus are those of a God!” The German unbeliever Strauss, notorious opponent of Christ’s atoning love, confessed: Jesus is “the highest object we can possibly imagine with respect to religion.” The skeptical historian Renan conceded, “The Christ of the gospels is the most beautiful incarnation of God in the most beautiful of forms.” As one tribute follows the other, each wrung from the unwilling lips of those who have attacked the Christian faith, you, too, should at least agree with Pilate, “I find no fault in Him at all!”

To picture the full Christ, however, we must know that He was more than sinless and stainless. The decisive question is this: “Is He our God and Savior?” Because only a few hours before He had emphatically declared that He was both Lord and Savior of the race, the churchmen refused to accept the government’s verdict of innocence. Pilate, weakening, sought to shift the responsibility of a decision regarding Christ. Because the Savior had lived in Galilee, he sent Him to Herod, the wretched prince, whose reign was marked by debauch and bloodshed; but Herod, in Jerusalem for the Passover, failing to take Christ seriously, returned Him to Pilate. Next, the governor proposed to release Christ by the customary pardon granted certain criminals during the high holidays; but bloodthirsty protests rent the air: “Away with Him!” “Give us Barabbas!” Resorting to compromise, Pilate offered to scourge Jesus publicly.

Then follow the worst agonies Jesus suffered except in the crucifixion itself: The Savior of mankind is stripped, tied to a pillar, and then subjected to a punishment so merciless that a modern world has barred its excruciating torture. No ordinary whip, but a scourge of rawhide, its thongs tipped with bone or lead, cuts its way into that quivering back and leaves its deep crimson furrows. Often, as the Roman soldiers, heartless rabble most of them, knew too well, the victims of that inhuman brutality soon fell into a dead faint or died before the scourging could be completed. But Jesus did not lose His consciousness even for a moment; it was as though He were to feel the pain of every agony that degenerate men could inflict.

This spirit of Pilate’s persecution has remained the heritage of our race. When the average American thinks of antireligious hatred and stifled consciences, he pictures to himself brave Pastor Niemoeller imprisoned in Germany or the closed Russian churches. Most people, however, are not aware that intolerance has spread far more widely over the globe. Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia, granted liberal permission to Protestant missions to carry out their evangelization programs in Ethiopia; but when the Italian Fascist troops stole the country, this work was all but wiped out. Protestant missions flourished in Albania under King Zog, a Mohammedan; but when Mussolini’s regiments drove him into exile, Protestant work in Albania stopped. During the bloody revolution in Spain the Reds permitted Protestants to worship unmolested; but now that General Franco is firmly entrenched, non-Catholic worship has been severely restricted.

When the last blow had descended and Pilate saw Jesus still gasping and trembling under the impact of the lash, he felt that the hatred of the priests and the populace would vanish at the sight of such suffering. Expecting an answer of sympathy that even savages sometimes show, he cried, “Behold the Man!”—as though he would say, “O look closely at this poor, beaten, bleeding Victim of your jealousy and stop this inhuman torture! What more do you want?” But the crowd was incited by priests—and how often have men with holy robes brought a curse on themselves and their followers when, as the brains of sinister plots, they made the common people the dupes in their unholy destruction! The only answer Pilate’s appeal for sympathy receives is the snarling, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”; and now at last the charge for which they demand death is urged: “He ought to die because He made Himself the Son of God.” That claim startles the calloused governor, and once more he retreats with Jesus to the quiet of the judgment-hall.

You recognize here the decisive issue in the modern trial of the Savior. No intelligent person will quarrel with you if you say that Jesus was a great man; but call Him the Son of God, insist on the fact that He is infinitely more than man ever was or ever can be, and you will find yourself in a minority, opposed not only by those who boast that they do not need Christ, but also by many representative leaders of churches who call themselves Christians. The modern pulpit has much to say about Christ as a just man, about God dwelling in our Lord, about Jesus as the incarnation of heaven’s virtues; when pressed, they will admit that to a certain degree other men can be described by the same deceptive words and phrases. Be clear on this point: Deny the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and you have pulled the cornerstone from our Christian faith and reduced it to shapeless ruins resembling the failure and despair of every manmade religion.

One more thought flashed through Pilate’s mind: Try ridicule, the strategy that has laughed many a case out of court! Jesus had called Himself a king. Well, let Him be a king! Who in all the world, he concluded, as the Savior faced him the last time, would ever seriously believe that this blanched and bleeding Galilean prisoner could rival the Roman rule? Still moved by the desire to save Jesus, he hushed the turmoil in the courtyard long enough to say, “Behold your king!” That sarcasm was the spark to explode new charges. “We have no king but Caesar!” the thunderous cry came back as in mock loyalty the unfortunate nation disavowed its true Messianic King. “If thou let this man go,” the mob threatened, “thou art not Caesar’s friend.” They knew Pilate’s weak spot, these worldly-minded priests. His administration had repeatedly been marked by questionable procedures and unnecessary cruelties. There had been too many uprisings against Rome, and Pilate could not run the political risk of being reported to Emperor Tiberius as an official who had not crushed every suggestion of rebellion. So the decision was reached. Christ, it was evident, could not be acquitted. Yet Pilate’s conscience, whatever was left of it, still uttered one feeble gasp. He ordered a basin of water, and there, before the sullen mob that had been milling and muttering for three hours, he went through a ceremonial act. He washed his hands, protesting, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person. See ye to it!” And they did! In blood­hungry protest the rumble of hell itself sounded throughout Pilate’s palace, the most shocking curse men have ever wished upon themselves, the scream of Satan himself, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then it was that Pilate, according to our text, “delivered Him to be crucified.”

Roman law, as later codified, definitely asserted, “The vain clamors of the people are not to be heeded.” Pilate, however, yielded to mob threats and transgressed his own empire’s basic law. How differently other judges, eminent Christians, have acted when threatened by force! Some authorities call Sir Edward Coke the greatest of all English jurists. He refused to shade the law even for King James. While his colleagues among England’s high justices cowered before the king, Sir Edward, asked to disregard the common law in the king’s interest, removed his judicial mantle and, with a gesture of contempt, hurled it in James’s face. With an unconcern over the truth that hardly seems possible, Pilate, not made of such loyalty to the law, condemned Jesus to the cross.

If we cast excuses aside and face truth, must we not admit that similar indifference to Christ has gripped masses in this country? Is there not in every one of us, even those who are Christ’s, a willingness to compromise and deny the Savior when an open confession of our faith would mean cutting opposition?

Remember the fate of Pilate! He was soon recalled to Rome on serious charges, and he never returned to Judea. Tradition differs concerning the rest of his life. Pious writers claim that before his death he sought escape from despair on Mount Pilatus in Switzerland, but that after wandering restlessly up and down its stony slopes, he finally plunged into Lake Lucerne—a suicide. To this day superstitious natives believe that periodically a gloomy form arises from the waters, washes its hands, and then disappears, only a few hours before a furious storm lashes the lake and the countryside.

This is pure legend, of course, but there is nothing fictitious in the assertion that all who see Christ as Pilate beheld Him—and that means everyone in this audience—can never find peace and heaven by following Pilate’s pathway. To meet the suffering Savior as you have in these moments; to hear Him say that He is come from God to testify to the truth; to have the conviction that He is blameless; to listen as Jesus says that He is a king, though His kingdom, holy and heavenly, is not of this earth, and then to turn away from Christ, deliver Him to His enemies, and finally consign Him to the cross,—and you do that in principle when you refuse to acknowledge Him your God and your Christ,—this is the surest way of bringing unspeakable sorrow eternally on your own soul!

II

THE MATCHLESS BLESSING OF THAT SUFFERING

On the other hand, innumerable blessings come to you if you behold with the eyes of faith Christ’s agony under Pontius Pilate. Everything he lost by rejecting Jesus you can gain by accepting Him. Believe the Savior when He says that He has come to testify to the truth! Kneel down before Him, not in mockery and derision, as the Roman legionaries did, but in a faith that says, “O Jesus, suffering Savior, I know that Thou art the Truth, that every promise Thou didst make and every warning Thy lips spoke is the divine and unchanging truth!” Little enough in this world remains unchanged. From the fastness of the Antarctic Admiral Byrd reports that the South Magnetic Pole has shifted its position; but here is the immovable spiritual lodestone of the ages, Jesus, the Christ of God, with His arms stretched wide over a world disfigured by horrifying sin. When He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” take Him at His word! Let His unchanging grace draw you to Him.

Beholding the suffering Christ, repeat Pilate’s question, “What hast Thou done?” But say it in faith and love! Put it this way, “O Lord Jesus, ‘what hast Thou done’ for me? Why does the blood stream from Thy furrowed back and trickle down Thy bleeding head and wounded?” When you know the true Christ,—and now I take you into the holy of holies, the heart of our Christian faith,—you can hear Christ, above His anguish and groaning, above the jeering rabble and the plotting priests, speak this grace to your soul, “I endured this for you. I stand here mocked and derided, scourged and beaten, in your stead.”

Despite our thanklessness, our worship of self, our service to fleshly lusts, lost as we were in trespasses, this ever-blessed Savior offered Himself, His own guiltless body, His own stainless mind, His own spotless soul, as a living sacrifice, to atone—not for some of the world’s iniquity or for a selected group of the morally respectable people—but to give Himself into death for the sins of all mankind,—first of all—each of us must say—“for my iniquities and the transgressions of my own heart and lips and hands.”

Ask the agonized Christ once more, “‘What hast Thou done,’ O precious Savior?” and, believing Him, you will find that Jesus did even more than give Himself for you. He not only puts salvation within your reach, He also gives you heaven as your assured blessing, since it is the gift of faith, not the reward of works. Beholding the Christ of the beaten back, we should never be in doubt as to the complete salvation granted by His atonement. A few days ago a couple came to me with the problem of their mixed marriage. (Again I saw the open danger of such unions, and again I warn you against a marriage in which husband and wife cannot worship in the same church and with the same spirit and truth.) Before they left my office, I asked the husband, an unusually intelligent man, how he hoped to be saved, and he answered, “By leading a moral life, fulfilling the Ten Commandments, and doing the will of God.” That sounds reverent and uplifting; but how many people lead a completely moral life? Have any of you fulfilled the Ten Commandments? Can anyone truthfully say, “I have always done God’s will”? My fellow-redeemed, when you see Jesus before Pilate, suffering the hatred of Jew and Gentile, deserted by His disciples, almost breaking down under the weight of His agony, do not think how good you are! Rather kneel before Christ with this one plea: “O Jesus, be merciful to me with all my sins! Break my stubborn pride! Take away my self-glorification! Show me my human heart with all its sinful cravings and its forbidden lusts! Then, blessed Savior, lead me by Thy promise to Thy pardon! Wash me, cleanse me, make me pure in Thy Father’s sight!” And in His name we promise you the redemption that has given myriads the new birth. Through faith in Christ a glorious life in grace will be yours.

How can anyone refuse Christ’s mercy? Do not make the fatal mistake of thinking that you can wash your hands of Christ, as Pilate did. You cannot push Jesus aside as easily as that. Do not lull yourself into the soul-destroying error of thinking that you can escape making a decision for or against Christ. You cannot remain neutral before the suffering Savior. You either damn yourself with the “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” or you bow before Him to say, “My Lord, my God, my Savior!” Do not think that anyone else can answer for you. Pilate tried to have Herod, the Jewish rabble, the priests, even Jesus Himself, remove the necessity of his accepting or rejecting Christ; but this is a matter of personal faith. Strive as you will, you must repeat Pilate’s pointed question, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus?” Because God is waiting for your reply, answer the Spirit’s pleading by praying with us now: “O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon me! Grant me Thy peace!” Write us, and we will tell you how Jesus can direct your life and give you the promise of heaven. Will you not, together with the multitudes of Christians in this vast audience, dedicating these closing moments now to Christ, join us in this prayer, “O Christ, before Pontius Pilate Thou wast wounded for my transgressions, Thou wast bruised for my iniquities, the chastisement of my peace was upon Thee, and by Thy stripes I am healed!”?

Heavenly Father, give this trust to Thy children now before Thee! Strengthen this faith in weak, wavering hearts and preserve it in us, our mighty God, until we stand with the redeemed before Thy throne! Hear us for the suffering Savior’s sake! Amen.

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

Date: February 18, 1940

The high priest arose and said unto Him, Answerest Thou nothing? What is it which these witness against Thee? But Jesus held His peace. And the high priest answered and said unto Him, I adjure Thee by the living God that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said.Matthew 26:62-64

Blessed Lord Jesus, who on the cross didst suffer agony and endure shame for us and our sins:

Help us by Thy Spirit not only to behold in Thy suffering and crucifixion the sorrow of Thine anguish, the hatred of mankind, Thy faithfulness unto that bitter end; give us also penitent, trusting hearts to find at Calvary the endless love that redeems us from sin, the limitless face that atones for our iniquities. By the contemplation of this cross may we daily draw nearer to Thee, to heaven and it, eternal life. Amid the swirling floods of our afflictions give us the courageous faith that builds its strength and stability on Thee, our everlasting Rock of Ages, the hope that clings the more resolutely to Thy grace the higher the waters of agony rise upon us! O Christ, hear us now and mightily prove Thy power for Thy mercy’s sake! Amen.

FRIENDS of a New Jersey detective who recently died in the penitentiary are urging the President of the United States to overrule the court verdict of “guilty” and restore the dead man’s good name. During his long career, they point out, he faithfully served the interests of law and order; and the misstep near the end of his life, his attempt to solve a kidnap case by kidnapping a suspect, should not forever brand him a criminal.

In reading of this proposal during these Lenten days, many Christians doubtless have recalled a real miscarriage of justice—the most shocking mistake in legal history, the sentence that sent Jesus Christ, the innocent Savior of all men, to the cross. One can understand why certain prominent Jews have suggested that their coreligionists throughout the world choose official representatives to declare the trial of Christ before the great Jewish Council completely illegal.

No doubt should linger in any modern mind that the account of this hearing before the churchmen of Jerusalem is faithfully described in our four gospels. Dr. Simon Greenleaf, former professor of law at Harvard University and the greatest authority on evidence the legal profession of any country or age has ever produced, has shown in a remarkable book that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John must be admitted as competent and true witnesses. Again, no one is justified in claiming that the verdict of “guilty” pronounced by Christ’s countrymen was not decisive, since Pilate was the ultimate authority. If the high priest and his henchmen had not conspired to brand Jesus a blasphemer, a criminal, who must be executed, there would have been no Roman trial. Humanly speaking, no Caiaphas, no Calvary; no high-priestly hatred, no high-priestly self­sacrifice by Jesus; no cross-examination after that first hearing by Annas, no cross-bearing after the final hearing by Pilate!

Because Jesus is still on trial before the modern world, every member of this far-flung radio audience, either for Christ or—may God forbid!—against Him, must find comfort or condemnation in this courtroom scene. Come, then, as we proceed in our Lenten meditation from the Garden of Gethsemane to the palace of Caiaphas! Behold with us for our warning and our comfort

JESUS CHRIST—CROSS-EXAMINED!

We take our text from Saint Matthew’s account (chapter 26, verses 62-64): “The high priest arose and said unto Him, Answerest Thou nothing? What is it which these witness against Thee? But Jesus held His peace. And the high priest answered and said unto Him, I adjure Thee by the living God that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said.”

I

THE CROSS-EXAMINERS

You may recall that it was about two o’clock on Friday morning when the Jewish Council was hastily convened at Caiaphas’ palace, where the Savior was to be reexamined, after the private hearing before the ex-high priest, Annas. Who constituted the court which was to pronounce the verdict that finally meant life or death for Jesus? If you picture this Council as a group of godless men, sworn enemies of religion, a “kangaroo court” impaneled by politicians and from city gangs, revise your opinion! This was a blue-ribbon jury, an assembly of Jerusalem’s noteworthy citizens: teachers, merchants, and professional men. Every one of the seventy who voted in that Sanhedrin was a respected community leader; and the seventy-first ballot was cast by the pinnacle of Jewish society, the high priest himself!

Nineteen centuries of Gospel history have not drastically changed the spirit of those who today sit in judgment on our Lord. The charge has always been raised that the Church’s roster contains “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” While we can never sufficiently thank God that among the public defenders of our Lord Jesus in this country we number some of the nation’s foremost physicians, business men, scientists, statesmen, industrialists, artists, the rank and file of Christian membership comes from the middle and lower classes. Write that down, you agitators who label the Church an institution for the wealthy! It is the ever-repeated tragedy that too many of the rich forget God and destroy themselves with their own money. No wonder Martin Luther thanked God that he had been born poor! Most men, basking in the warm rays of fame, begin to worship their own bloated bigness, despise the Almighty, and neglect their fellow-men. Only few show a humility like the Duke of Wellington’s. At a Communion service it happened that a poor old man knelt beside him to receive the Sacrament. When one of the church officers hastily urged the shabbily dressed communicant to move away from the Duke, the alert eye of the strategist who had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo immediately grasped the situation, and in an undertone Wellington whispered: “Do not move! We are all equal here.” Most men when they have climbed the highest rungs in the ladder of power, are poisoned by the same pride that in the end made Nebuchadnezzar crawl on his hands and feet to eat grass. True, one or two members of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, were at least secret disciples of Jesus; but why were they not heard in this special session? In charity we may assume with most commentators that they were elsewhere. What tragic absence! Had their voices been raised in our Lord’s defense, they would be honored as brave witnesses for the crucified Savior.

Who conducted the cross-examination after the previous, private trial? Again, do not think of a heartless, corrupt lawyer, who would sell his own soul if the price offered were high enough. As utterly incredible as this may seem, the prosecuting lawyer and at the same time the judge in this life-and-death case was supposed to be of the most blameless character, the most exemplary life in Israel, God’s high priest, the privileged mediator between Jehovah and His people, the chosen servant of the Most High who supervised the Temple, its sacrifices and treasures, the one priest who was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies. Yet this Caiaphas, who wore a triple crown of gold, bearing the inscription, “Holiness to Jehovah,” was anything but holy. It was he who, long before this trial, had foreshadowed his plan to kill Jesus by declaring publicly, “It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation perish not.” He, together with many ordinary priests, Sadducees, most of them, were the Modernists of that day, who denied not only the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting but also the sinfulness of man and his need of salvation. Well might the trial of Jesus before Caiaphas have borne the title, “Jesus Christ versus the Hierarchy,” “Christ against the Church Leaders.”

The hardest struggle in the Savior’s cause today is not the Church’s battle with the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, not the counter-attack against the Communist blasphemy, not the campaign of street-corner anarchists and parlor radicals, but the conflict within the churches themselves. The word “Christian” has become one of the most misused terms in the English language. Give a preacher a building with stained-glass windows, an organ, and perhaps an altar; let him, garbed in clerical robes, step into a pulpit, and no matter what he says or does, he can pass as a Christian. He may deny every fundamental truth and even hold Scriptural promises up to public ridicule, but in the minds of the masses he is a Christian. What is of more serious consequence, Modernists lay strenuous claim to this title. If the United States Government takes definite measures to copyright trade names and prohibit their abuse, it is certainly proper that the Biblical forces of this country should protest against the deceptive use of their Savior’s name.

What a deadly parallel often exists between the leading churchmen of the Savior’s time and the powers that be in some denominations today! Christ’s enemies rejected God’s Word; in our time ministers write imposing books to disprove Bible truth. The first-century Sadducees denied the Judgment and the life to come; our twentieth-century Sadducees teach the same delusion and try to hide its hopelessness under catch phrases of double meaning. The Savior’s opponents were the Jewish church-leaders; and now, too, it seems that the way to commanding positions in certain religious sectors is to put a question-mark behind every promise of God. Caiaphas was appointed high priest by the Roman governor who preceded Pontius Pilate; the 1940 Sadducees are often put into strategic positions by American wealth and elite society. The Council which examined Jesus enjoyed the support of public influence. Look at your daily newspapers to see whose sermons receive publicity, those of the consecrated pastor who preaches the cross and the blood and the new life, or of the Modernist who extols the goodness and greatness of man. That Jewish Council was so intolerant that it provided no attorney for Christ’s defense; and the same brand of bigotry is betrayed by certain present-day church councils which take deliberate steps to bar programs like ours from the air and to stifle the testimony to the saving Blood. These seventy Sanhedrists conspired to destroy Christ; there are seven times seventy with imposing official authority dedicated to the unholy task of substituting a counterfeit message for the Gospel of golden hope.

Consider also the despicable tactics employed by the Savior’s murderers and the complete violation of the legal codes that marked their hatred. “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” the Law of their God demands; but the priests, the very men who were to uphold truth, planned the perjury of bribed witnesses. “Be not a sole judge!” the Talmud declares; yet Christ was examined before Annas alone. “Let a capital offense be tried during the day but suspended at night!”—these are the very words of Jewish law; but so viciously did they hate Jesus that it was about two o’clock in the morning when He was summoned before His persecutors. “Thou shalt not judge on the eve of the Sabbath nor on that of any festival!” the Talmudic regulations require; yet Jesus was tried on a day that was both festival and pre-Sabbath. “If a sentence of death is to be pronounced, it cannot be concluded before the following day”—thus, literally, does Jewish procedure prohibit haste; but within hardly twelve hours Jesus was tried and crucified. “There must be at least two witnesses for the conviction of a crime,” Maimonides, Jewish authority, stipulates; but, as the Scripture reports, “though many bore false witness against Him, . . . their witness agreed not together.” The Old Testament prohibits the high priest from tearing his garment; but in his hatred of Christ, Caiaphas breaks this injunction and rips his own clothes. The Talmud asks judges to weigh each case “in the sincerity of their conscience”; but there was nothing sincere nor any voice of conscience expressed by that Council which, as other illegalities show, assailed Jesus by deliberate connivance. We talk of corruption in our courts, and God knows we have too much; yet with all this, how careful magistrates usually are to see that the prisoner receives full consideration! Do you remember the so-called “trial of the century,” when a New York politician was charged with receiving “protection” money from gangsters and gambling interests? One single sentence spoken by the district attorney caused the judge to declare a mistrial; but here, before Caiaphas, every utterance of magistrate, witnesses, jury, is a hate-filled attempt to convict Christ.

The same malice marks the modern trial of Jesus. Some of you condemn Christ without ever giving Him a chance to explain His blessed promise. You do not show Jesus the fairness ordinary courtesy demands even for your fellow-men. With a fatal prejudice that can send your soul to hell you sentence Jesus on the basis of perjured testimony found in the filthy writings of unbelievers or in the subtle lies of Christ-denying Modernists.

We cannot overlook the sequel to this fatal verdict. When that Council shouted its unanimous sentence, “He is guilty of death!” it really pronounced its own doom. Some of the seventy probably lived until the year 70, when the arm of divine justice gripped godless Jerusalem. In that year Titus placed his siege engines around the city walls, and the beleaguered city became an inferno of torture and death. Our age must likewise take heed lest the rejection of the Cross weaken our spiritual foundations. Americans dare not minimize this warning stressed by past history: No nation can prosper through rebellion against God, disregard of His Word, and willful rejection of Jesus. The present war, despite all the flag-waving, is a visitation from God for the repudiation of Christ. Do you think that the holiness and justice of the Almighty can see a nation like Germany prosper indefinitely when that country has thrust on the world so many gifted but destructive Bible critics and enemies of our Lord? Do you believe that a God who hates evil will continue to shower His rich blessings on an empire like the British where haughty churchmen publicly deny Scripture truth and reject the Savior’s atonement? Do you suppose His divine favor can rest forever on France, the nation that helped to start the hostile Bible criticism and that produced notorious infidels? Above all, how long can we in the United States expect continued divine benediction on our land when hundreds of churches have turned from the crucified Christ, some of the largest theological schools disavowed the redemption, and many colleges ridiculed faith in the saving blood?

You may have a score of different answers to the question, “What do the people of the United States need today?” And we will gratefully accept any reply that offers sound economic, industrial, social help. But much more than this, millions in our nation need repentant sorrow over their sins. The country must have the spirit of humility and contrition. The individual citizens—and now, with the Spirit’s help, I speak to the hearts of those who oppose the Lord Jesus—should learn from this cross­examination of Christ how tragic it is to see that suffering Savior faced by the fury of hate-filled men and to cry out, “He is guilty of death!” Caiaphas did not continue long as high priest after he helped send Jesus to His death. Others who rejected Christ—Pontius Pilate, Herod—were likewise doomed; for no matter how self-confident a man may be, if he allies himself with Jesus’ enemies, the time will come when he will shriek in terror; when not our Lord but he is cross-examined; when the courtroom is no earthly palace but the bar of eternity; when the judge is not Caiaphas, but the everlasting High Priest! Laugh at this truth if you will; some day you will weep the bitterest tears you ever have shed. While there is still time, as long as Christ’s mercy and His forgiveness are extended to you, turn from these cross-examiners to Him who for your sake was cross-examined, and pray that you may find in Him pardon, peace, and eternal blessing!

II

THE CROSS-EXAMINED

How impressively Jesus faces His accusers! Innocent of any charges malice can invent, He listens in silence as perjury follows perjury and old falsehoods give way to new. In His unbroken composure the bound Savior towers so infinitely above His persecutors that Caiaphas rises from his imposing seat in the center of that inquisition chamber to demand, “Answerest Thou nothing? What is it which these witness against Thee?” Still no reply comes over Jesus’ lips. Does He refuse to speak because He thinks words are useless and nothing can deter His bloodthirsty enemies? Or does He refuse to raise His voice in His own defense because something that He says may help to set Him free? We hardly know, but it has always seemed to me that Christ’s silence shows His complete innocence. He needs no lengthy, voluble defense against these accursed lies; He has the divine conviction that the truth of His cause and the fulfillment of His mission must eventually triumph over the worst that earth and hell together can devise against Him.

Behold that silent Savior once more! Turn back to the golden prophecies of Isaiah’s fifty-third chapter, where twice we read, “He opened not His mouth,” and where for the first time in the entire Scriptures Jesus is directly called the “Lamb”—sin-bearing, yet uncomplaining in His suffering. Turn forward from Calvary to the unfolding chapters of the Church’s growth, and you will see that in every dark age when the cause of Christ was attacked men have turned to Jesus, repeating the question of Caiaphas, “Answerest Thou nothing?” In these latter days it often appears to us, too, that Jesus never answers swaggering unbelief and boasting blasphemy. How is it, we ask ourselves, that Christ permits the foes of our faith, unchallenged and unrebuked, to shake their fists at Him? Why can atheists succeed in crushing Lutheran Finland? Why do Modernists acquire the largest churches, while the humble preacher of grace and truth is often relegated to the backwoods or put on the list of the unemployed? Why do the godless prosper, despite their adultery and vicious lies, while the godly, trying to walk in Christ’s footsteps, meet almost endless reverses?

God’s ways are not ours, for our heavenly Father is much more merciful and long-suffering than we are. If a soul can be saved, even a soul weighted down by terrifying sins, He often lets mercy prevail instead of justice. But Christ does hear, and finally He must answer. He may delay; He may postpone; but though His retribution is sometimes slow, it never fails. That inevitable reckoning may come in this life; but no matter how emphasized the prosperity of the wicked and their easy existence may be in this world, Christ always answers in the next world. Don’t speak lightly of sin because in your own eyes you may have escaped judgment. Don’t think for a moment that because you have emerged undetected from a series of secret transgressions, you can keep on safely pursuing your lusts. The Savior is too close to every life not to know the private vices that you like to believe concealed forever. When Lafayette, friend of Washington and our American Republic, was once imprisoned, a small hole was bored into the door of his gloomy cell; and through that opening a soldier ceaselessly watched Lafayette. Morning, noon, evening, night, midnight—it was terrifying, he recalled, to be confronted by that eye. The eye of God, which penetrates deeper than any X-ray, sees farther than any telescope, magnifies more times than any microscope, is even more relentlessly focused on our lives; and woe to us if, when God delays in punishing our wrongdoings, we think that He cannot see us and will not rebuke us!

What source of strength those of you who are Christ’s can find in His silence! When it seems that Jesus does not answer you as afflictions turn your joy into bitter ashes, take courage in knowing that your Savior’s voice was not perpetually hushed! God’s promise to you in Christ is, “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee!” Leave the hour and minute to the Father, for His time of help is always the best. Take steel prematurely from the molten furnace, and it is easily broken. Sometimes the longer God lets us wait for His relief, the more strengthening the trial, the more helpful the patience we learn in trusting Him completely.

It seems that Caiaphas, fearing His whole plan against Jesus might collapse if the Savior maintained His remarkable silence, quickly changed his tactics. In one pointed question, for which he dramatically put the Savior under special oath, he brought the trial to its climax. “I adjure Thee by the living God,” he cries, “that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Had the world stood still in that moment, we should hardly be surprised; for this was the question of the ages. Had Jesus been silent then, He probably would have been acquitted, but we should have been surrendered to doubt. If there were any question about Christ’s being God, any uncertainty attached to the fact that, as more than man, yes, as God Himself, He can do what He pledged, the Christian faith would hardly offer a better foundation than the uncertain delusions heathen call their religion.

In that tense moment Jesus, confronted by the world He loved, perishing in its sins, breaks His silence. Glorious Lord of all truth that He is, He answered, “Thou hast said!”—the striking way of replying with a firm and unconditional “Yes!”

Thank God for this testimony! The captive, cross­examined Christ is your God! Let me repeat, so that no suggestion of doubt remains in your heart: this broadcast and everyone whose voice is heard in our “Bringing-Christ-to-the-Nation” mission proclaims, and we pray that you believe, just as this Concordia Seminary, from the campus of which I broadcast, has for a century taught, and with blessing from above will continue to teach, that Jesus Christ is not merely a man nor the most noble and exalted of men; not an angel, even the most powerful of cherubim and seraphim; He is—O highest of all holy truths!—nothing less than the almighty God Himself!

Now, it were overflowing grace if Jesus had been only our God and if He had come into the world to show us some way, however hard, long, and exhausting it might be, on which we could return to the Father. But besides being our God, Jesus, as He solemnly testified before the high priest, is our “Christ.” Do you know the blessed import of this name “Christ”? It means the Messiah, the long­predicted Savior, our anointed Prophet, the King of our souls, and our everlasting High Priest, who with the dripping cross of Calvary as His altar and His own sinless body the sacrifice, gave Himself into the death that has atoned for all our sins and assures us eternal life. That pale Captive before Caiaphas loved every one of us with a soul devotion so divine and all-embracing; loved us—listen closely, my fellow-sinners and fellow-redeemed!—despite our sins, our rebellion against God, our continued ingratitude, loved us into that death by which He suffered the punishment we should have endured, paid the whole amount of our indebtedness to God, so that in His name we can offer every burdened soul complete redemption and the promise of heaven, through faith, and faith alone.

Are you a Christian according to the dictionary’s definition of the term, “one who believes in Jesus Christ . . . and the truth taught by Him”? Do you accept these two foundation facts emphasized in the cross-examination of Jesus, His deity and His atoning death on the cross? Give up everything in life that keeps you from this radiant conviction! Break down all resistance that blocks your way to Christ! Stifle each suggestion of self-righteousness and of earning heaven by your own merits or someone else’s virtues! Come, just as you are in your sins, to your Christ and your God, just as He is in all His mercy; and the same Savior who told the high priest, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven,” will grant you the pardon and peace by which you can look beyond Calvary to the opened heaven and acclaim Christ, no longer bound by the malice of His enemies, but now victoriously enthroned, your Redeemer and Helper, ready to deliver you in every hour of need. You have in Christ’s own testimony the assurance that He is “coming in the clouds of heaven,” not only for judgment on those who have rejected Him, but also to bring them who believe Him to their blood­bought and love-prepared places in the “many mansions.” O come, Lord Jesus, come to every one of us with Thy love! Come to this sin-darkened, unbelieving age with Thy light! Come to the churches with Thy strength! Come to our homes and our hearts with Thy grace! O Jesus, our Christ and our God, come now! Amen.

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

Date: February 11, 1940

He touched his ear and healed him.Luke 22:51

Blessed Jesus:

We come before Thee, our souls wounded by sin, to secure Thy healing benediction and Thy cleansing power. O Jesus, where can we find the cure for the selfishness and the sorrow that burden our lives, if not in Thee, our loving Savior, through a trusting approach to Thy cross? Let all else in life recede; but may the picture of the crucifixion which then Lenten weeks draw before our inner eye be irremovably etched on our heart, so that we may always look to Thee for help! Send Thy healing mercy to our bruised spirits and broken lives! Show them, as Thou hast shown us, what an all­gracious Redeemer, ever faithful Friend of sinner, Thou art to them that love Thee, our Christ and our God! Amen.

FOR millions in the United States eventually it must be either Christ and His redemption or chaos and its despair. More than a thousand people write us every day; and if you want to survey the reaches of sorrow, examine the towering files of our mail. Here are snatches from last week’s letters, sent by heart-broken, peace-robbed listeners. A theological student in Georgia, a young man who is to give others spiritual comfort, writes: “I have lost all hope and have been at the point of taking my own life.” An eighty-one-year-old mother in Virginia confides: “I am writing to tell you how fearful I am that I may drop into hell because of my wickedness. I can see no hope of salvation. God does not answer me.” A distracted wife in New Jersey fairly screams: “It is awful to live without hope. I have been tempted very often to take my own life.”

What can we tell these stricken souls? What assurance can we give those battered and broken by a thousand crushing sorrows? What comfort, indeed, if not the hope offered in this Lenten appeal:

TO CHRIST FOR HEALING LOVE!

May God’s Spirit richly bless this plea, based on Saint Luke’s inspired record (22:51), “He [Jesus] touched his ear and healed him”!

I

MALCHUS EXPERIENCED THAT HEALING LOVE

These words take us to the Garden of Gethsemane. Only a few days before this solemn Thursday, Jesus was welcomed to Jerusalem with enthusiastic acclaim; now a mob, armed with swords and staves, has come to kill Him! Only a few hours earlier the Savior held His final meeting with the disciples in the upper room and at that last supper instituted Holy Communion, with the blessed gift of His own body and blood. Now the time has arrived when that body, scourged and wounded, will be given into death for our sins and that blood will flow from His beaten back, His nail-pierced hands and feet. Only a few moments before, in the deepest loneliness history knows, Jesus threw Himself to the ground, pleading in never-to-be-measured anguish that, if it were His Father’s will, the cup of suffering might be lifted from His lips; so terrifying was the ordeal confronting Him, the Son of God, about to bear the world’s sins in His own sinless body. Now the silence in the garden of prayer is suddenly broken. From all sides, it seems, an armed mob thirsting for blood swarms into Gethsemane.

In this crisis it is a different Christ whom we behold in the revealing light of the full moon; no longer weak from that agonized wrestling; no longer terrorized into a blood­like sweat. With the courage imparted by the strengthening angel He steps before that mob of murderers to ask, “Whom seek ye?” When they answer, “Jesus of Nazareth,” the Savior unhesitatingly identifies Himself with the words, “I am He.” That declaration and the glance with which He pierced their hearts were so powerful that the whole throng was instantly hurled to the ground. The love of Christ was even stronger than His omnipotence. Though He could have avoided His arrest and the sequel of torture, uncomplaining Lamb of God that He is, He wanted to suffer for us!

He released the men who in a moment would take Him captive. After they had risen to their feet, their ranks seemed to part, and a sinister figure advanced toward Jesus. We recognize the form and features of that man whom all generations will despise because of His loathsome treachery—Judas, the disciple entrusted with the meager funds of the Twelve—Judas, the informer, the money­blinded wretch who, though repeatedly warned by Christ, sold His Savior and his own soul for thirty pieces of suicidal silver. His smirking kiss, it seems, fully aroused the disciples to their Lord’s danger, and the hand of one of them nervously gripped the hilt of a sword hidden beneath his garment. Neither Matthew nor Mark nor Luke mentions the sword-bearing disciple’s name; only John identifies him as Peter. What impressive example of Christian charity and forbearance in the silence of the first three evangelists! When their gospels were written, Peter was still alive, and with loving consideration they avoided mentioning his name, to spare him and the early Christian congregation much sorrow. But John wrote toward the close of the first century, long after Peter had died, and, both for our warning and comfort, he could well record the name of this impetuous disciple.

How sorely we need that spirit of Christian charity today in helping to protect the good name of friend and foe! Newspapers employ, and the public applauds, peep­hole columnists, who delight in publicizing private sins. We ourselves easily put the worst construction on the actions of others. Even nations can be goaded into warfare by propaganda later proved malicious falsehood. How the ministry suffers not only from front-page space devoted to its mistakes and from the motion-picture caricatures of the Protestant clergy as snooping hypocrites, but also through the unjustified attacks of scandal-mongers and tongue­waggers in some churches! We ask this audience to reject all unfounded attacks on the ministry. Instead, let us defend the clergy and by prayer and friendly help support these spiritual leaders, who, the most easily maligned of all men, have the hardest task the ministry ever faced in the United States.

In the heat of the excitement Peter, turning to Christ, asks, “Lord, shall we smite with the sword?” Without waiting for an answer, he unsheathes his saber and with that single weapon tries to start a holy war. An ill-aimed blow strikes his nearest enemy—it happens to be the servant of the high priest—and cuts off his ear.

That was the beginning of bloodshed in the mistaken defense of Jesus Christ, but it was not the end. Recall the ill-fated attempt to tear Palestine from the Turks, as though some special holiness attached to the country that rejected Jesus! Think of the persecutions of the Waldensians and the Albigensians, recorded in blood-dripping chapters! Someone has estimated that 50,000,000 Protestants were massacred in persecutions and religious wars. This figure may be too high, but if the exact number were known, the total still would be appalling. We have had the sword­bearing, inquisitorial type of Christianity on this continent, too. In this age of many monuments we should recognize the first religious martyrs within the boundaries of what is now the United States and place a towering shaft at the mouth of Saint John’s River in Florida. Sixty years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock a French Protestant colony was established there. But King Philip of Spain sent merciless Menendez to Florida to kill all the “Lutherans,” as the French Protestants were known. Here and in nearby places during ensuing massacres at least five hundred men, women, and children, including the aged, the sick, the helpless, were cut down in cold blood, as the record specifically states, not because they were Frenchmen but because they were “Lutherans.” The bloody horror was hardly over, when those killers held religious services, “a cross was raised, and a site for a church selected on ground still smoking from the blood of a peaceful colony.”

Why revive ancient history? some of you may object. Why erect a monument in Florida to commemorate a carnage that everyone admits was a mistake? We answer: Because that obsession of spreading Christianity with the sword, far from being labeled an error, is often applauded. Last week a United States Federal Court indicted seventeen men on the charge of conspiring to overthrow the Government of the United States. In their headquarters investigating agents found weapons, ammunition, and material for making bombs. Who were these men, organized, it is claimed, to overthrow our existing order by force of arms? Anarchists, radical agitators, atheistic Communists, agents of foreign nations? They called themselves the “Christian Front,” employing Christ’s holy name to justify a campaign of bloodshed. More significantly, they received encouragement from a publicized churchman. Instead of condemning their sword-bearing crusade, he declared, according to press reports: “I shall take my stand beside the Christian Fronters. I reaffirm every word I have ever said in support of their position.”

What does Jesus say about such sword-bearing? Hardly had fire-breathing Peter severed that ear, when the Savior raised His voice in warning, “Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” That stem rebuke forever takes the sword out of any church’s hand. It tells all Christian denominations to forget military power, political agitation, and lobbying for their special interests. It foretells that those who thus kill will themselves perish by violence. If only today this spirit of a militarized Christianity, this delusion of arms-bearing forces regimented to cut a bloody path for Christianity, were stopped in its tracks! How much more could be won by the love and the power of faith!

Jesus was not satisfied with rebuking His erring disciple. Even in the momentous hour of His own arrest and persecution He had a remedy for the wounded man and a lesson for Peter. There is plenty of negative preaching today with the repeated prohibitions: “Don’t do this!” “Stop doing that!” Pulpit harangues and moralizing orations thunder accusations right and left. But Christ is the constructive Savior. He leaves no problem unsolved, no essential question unanswered. Here, too—and in less than twelve hours He will be nailed to the cross—He helpfully performs a miracle, the last in His earthly life. He stretches out the hand that never grasped the sword, touches the wounded ear, and His life-giving contact brings immediate healing.

The New Testament accounts tell us little about the man who had the distinction of being blessed by the Savior’s last miracle. Three of the gospels do not even mention his name; the fourth simply calls him Malchus. What marvelous grace, however, that, though he was among Christ’s enemies and a servant to those who lusted for our Lord’s blood, the all-merciful Savior loved not only His friends, but also those who opposed Him! How bitterly we, like Peter, hate! How quickly we fan our prejudices into consuming anger and resentment! Love our enemies? Some people cannot even love their own husband or wife or their own flesh and blood. Even if our soul’s salvation were not involved in accepting Christ, we should follow Him, if only to learn how to love those who despise us and to do good to those who persecute us.

Malchus was a servant, a slave, of the high priest. When an acclaimed leader of men falls sick, every resource of healing is quickly drafted. Take the instance of Lord Tweedsmuir’s critical illness. Outstanding specialists were rushed to his bedside; carpenters quickly erected a special platform and approach at the depot; a private train was chartered to convey him to the best-equipped hospital in Canada; extraordinary traffic precautions were exercised throughout the trip. Everything humanly possible was done to help him, for Lord Tweedsmuir was a mighty man, the King of England’s representative to the Canadian Dominion. But here, in our text, is a slave, a social outcast, one whose body and life are not even his own; and as though the Lord would tell all men, no matter how despised they may be, that He is their Savior, Jesus closes the long list of His pre-Calvary miracles by restoring the ear of a bondman. Is not He, the condescending, all-loving Lord, the Redeemer whom you want? Is not His spirit the power we need to stifle the passionate hatreds that make people sneer at their fellow-men if their skin is of another hue, their families of another race, their worship of another creed?

Peter did not forget that rebuke and that miracle. Never again did he take recourse to the sword. After Pentecost and its outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the sword­wielding disciple became an apostle of patience. In his last days, when his enemies confronted him, as on that Maundy Thursday night they surrounded his Savior in the Garden, Peter did not start a second miniature holy war. Early records state that, when he was crucified for his loyalty, he asked that he be nailed to the cross head downward, since he did not regard himself worthy to die as his Lord had died. This is only tradition, but there can be no doubt that this humility agrees with Peter’s spirit. Read his letters! He commits the punishment of evil-doers to the government, not to the Church. He says it is a thankworthy thing “if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” He holds up the example of the persecuted Christ, who, “when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not.” “Rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s suffering!” he exults. Strengthened by the Spirit, fortified by faith’s victories, he had learned to apply Christ’s healing love.

II

WE, TOO, CAN FIND HEALING IN CHRIST

When we, too, know the healing power of Christ, we know the Savior aright. It was prophesied centuries before Gethsemane that the coming Deliverer of the race would be the Savior by “whose stripes we are healed.” The divine cure Jesus offers us today penetrates far deeper than physical pains and means much more than the healing of a lacerated ear or a wounded body. Christ, first of all, cures our souls of sin—that fatal illness for which men have no human help whatever, the inherited disease bequeathed to each of us at birth, and the contagion we contract during life. Only one cure can banish that soul­sickness—faith in the cleansing, life-transfusing blood of Jesus Christ. Only one contact can break the power of that soul- and body-destroying terror—the touch of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior. Only one prescription can present a permanent antidote for every form of this poison—the direction of the Master Physician’s apostle, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Only one hospital can offer a sure cure—the arms of Christ Himself and the restoring offered by the true Church here on earth.

As we enter this Lenten season with its clinic for our inner life, let none of you spurn Christ’s healing and claim self-confidently that you are of such spiritual health and moral perfection that you need no physician! Take inventory of your thoughts and impulses, your lusts and desires! Catalog the words that proceed from your lips—often hateful, malicious, dishonest, slanderous, untruthful! Recall each act that takes you away from God and perhaps brings injury or disgrace on yourself and others! See yourself as does God, whose eyes can penetrate your heart more completely than any X-rays, diagnosing your moral illness better than any corps of experts! And in honesty you must acknowledge yourself sick and sore, mortally afflicted by a poison inestimably more dangerous than the deadliest virus known to medical science.

Under the conviction of your sin listen to Christ as He repeats for you the first recorded sermon He ever preached, “Repent ye and believe the Gospel.” Stand before the Crucified in true contrition; that is far more than mere sorrow over your sins, much deeper than good intentions to stop drinking, swearing, cheating, lying, slandering, coveting, serving fleshly lusts. Find real repentance which moves your soul with deep-rooted grief, unreserved confession of all your sins, known or unknown, and the realization that the breaking of God’s Law is far more than a disobedience soon to be forgotten. As little as a cerebral hemorrhage can be stopped with a headache tablet, just so impossibly can the cure for sin be found without recognizing this divine decree, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

Thank God, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” In the darkness of any sin-blackened night you can see the rays of the cross pierce the gloom as, in fulfillment of the Old Testament promise, the “Sun of Righteousness” arises “with healing in His wings,” that is, with the reviving powers radiated from Christ and His cross. When you train your eyes to behold Jesus nailed to that accursed timber, all else in life recedes; when your heart, crushed by sin and sorrow, acclaims the crucified Son of God your Savior, a greater power than that which healed Malchus’s ear will cure your sin-sick soul forever. A score of diseases may baffle modern science, but Christ is stronger than any sin. Believe that, my young theological friend in Georgia distracted by the specter of suicide! Hundreds of thousands may die annually because they started treatment only when it was too late; but it is never too late for a penitent soul to come to Christ. Think of the promise of Paradise given to the malefactor on the cross, my eighty­one-year-old friend in Virginia! Vast multitudes in the United States are beyond the reach of proper medical care; but no one who believes the words I now proclaim across the country by the marvels of the radio, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin,” has reason to cry out, “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!” for that sin-destroying Savior now stands in spirit before you to heal and help. Remember that, you in New Jersey who are continually tortured by the thoughts of self-destruction and attempted murder. Pay close attention, every one of you, particularly those whom God in His gracious guidance may have led especially to this broadcast for a holy purpose: Here is hope for your sin-sick souls! Here is help and strength from heaven itself, in this resolution of faith, “To Jesus Christ for healing love!”

Can Jesus also heal the sickness of the mind and the weaknesses of the body? Banish every doubt from your heart; the unlimited power of the blessed Savior, whose outstretched hand restored Malchus’s ear in Gethsemane, can do today what He did in thousands of instances during His lifetime, when He drove out fevers, cured the palsy, healed the lepers, made the lame walk, restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and gave life to corpses. As definite proof of the healing power in Christian faith we have specific instances, unnumbered in this audience alone, in which, after medical science had exhausted its resources; after specialists had admitted, “As far as we can see, there is no hope”; after even the unmistakable signs of death had begun to show themselves, God suddenly exerted His quickening power. One of the leading surgeons here in Saint Louis, a physician who himself has performed thousands of major operations, expressly answered my question with this credo: “I believe that God Almighty can cure men and women today. I have repeatedly seen instances in which, after all human help had been tried without avail, the patient continued to live despite the prediction that he could not rally.”

We will defend with all our energy this truth that Jesus can cure today as He did on that memorable night in the garden. But the decisive question is not, “Can Jesus heal?” but, “Will Jesus heal?” And here we must think in harmony with the revealed truth of the Scriptures. In the first-century Church, we know, the apostles and others enjoyed a special gift of healing. They could lay their hands on diseased bodies, and health would flow from that contact. Such cures were extraordinary endowments to the early Church by which its power could be clearly manifested in those epochal days. But where in all the Scriptures is there a statement saying that today we must not bother about doctors? To the contrary, the Bible recognizes the necessity of physicians and of medicine, stating, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”

So much fraud and deceit have been attached to the delusion that certain people, once they touch a disease­ridden body, can always bring miraculous healing, and so much sorrow has come from the similar error of trying to think ourselves out of our sicknesses that we must say a word in protest. From our files we take this account of an Altoona, Pennsylvania, “healing.” In that city, on a recent May 13, a man who had been a bedfast invalid for seven months was carried to the platform of a “healer,” anointed, and there, before the eyes of all, walked four or five steps. The tabernacle was in an uproar. The case was pronounced an outstanding cure. Twelve days later the man died from overexertion. His physician, a reputable doctor, declared, “It is my professional opinion that his trips to the tabernacle, the exertion, and the excitement . . . hastened his death.” Here is the case of a twenty-eight­year-old Kansas City young man who, seriously injured, refused medical aid and preferred the help of a so-called “miracle woman.” Because he was badly crushed, his strength kept ebbing away as he sat upright in his chair, praying for hours. After resisting twenty-four hours longer, he died. The family doctor, a registered physician, wrote, “Had that man received medical attention immediately, he would have had a good chance to get better.” Thus have money-grabbing, falsehood, and despair often followed this misplaced trust.

Believe, however, that, if you pray to God for health or for the lifting of any other burden—the unpaid bills after the funeral of your deceased husband; the increasing mortgage charges of 1939, 1938, 1937 and longer, for which you see no source of payment; the sorrow in your family that seems beyond remedy—God can help you provided you are Christ’s; and He will help you if this healing be according to His will. If our Lord prayed in that garden of agony, “Not My will, but Thine, be done!” should we not go to dark Gethsemane and learn of Jesus to pray submissively for earthly blessings? God grants requests for the restoration of health, money, and happiness, for the removal of family friction and the lightening of all earthly burdens only when those petitions are in harmony with His good and gracious will, which—whether we understand it or not—always directs a Christian’s life to a blessed end.

If you, my peace-robbed friends, tell me that though you are Christ’s the Savior has not healed you, let me ask in reply whether you have that trusting, victorious faith which says, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed!” Pray on your knees and with all your soul for a deeper, stronger, truer faith! Turn to the basic textbook on the curing of wounded hearts, the Bible! Daily, constantly, reverently, study the Word! Read it aloud! Have it explained to you! With this confident faith, all else may pass away; but the promise of God’s healing grace positively must, through Christ, be fulfilled in your life. Perhaps, too, you have been dictatorial in asking for this healing love. You forget that sometimes God’s will and wisdom must purify, refine, and strengthen your faith by repeated contact with the fires of adversity. Perhaps you have been too sure of yourself in the past, and therefore God sends no immediate help so that you may become truly humble, fully penitent, and completely reliant on Him. It may be that God has already helped you and you do not realize it because He has adopted a new and unexpected healing process.

Particularly do we ask you, our fellow-redeemed, who have not found help for your sins and cure for your affliction in Jesus, to approach the cross and there to find your Savior and Substitute, your Ransom and Atonement. Keep His cross before your mind during the day and at night, when your eyes close or when they open in sleeplessness; cling to the Crucified! Then you will have not only a cure for every sin, a healing for every sorrow, but, day by day walking more closely with the crucified, now victoriously risen Savior, you can also look to the heavenly homeland with the confidence, “Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal!”

O Christ, grant every one of us Thy healing love! Amen.

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

Date: February 4, 1940

Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.1 John 5:4

O Holy Spirit, our transforming, soul-cleansing Lord:

May we be filled with power to behold ourselves defeated by our sins without Christ, but with Christ—O glorious grace!—redeemed through faith in His atonement, reborn by the new birth in Thee, restored to the Father’s waiting arms! Give us all, particularly those who disconsolately seek pardon for their transgression, and help for their sorrows, the pledge of eternal triumph that can be ours, through humble, sincere trust in the Savior! Grant us all this world-conquering, self-vanquishing, sin-destroying, death­defying faith as our greatest necessity and Thy most blessed gift; through Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen.

TODAY’S broadcast is of particular interest since these words now spoken are being recorded on durable disks for the far-distant year 8113. Oglethorpe University in Georgia has established a Crypt of Civilization, in which the evidences of our present age’s culture and achievement are to be locked and scientifically protected against decay for 187 generations. By special invitation of the university an electrical transcription of this broadcast is to be deposited in a huge vault, where, together with other samples of our twentieth-century activities, it will remain untouched until its sealed doors are opened in 8113. It is recognized, of course, that Oglethorpe University and even the United States may be destroyed long before that remote day; so metal plates are being sent to China, India, Tibet, and many other foreign countries to keep future generations informed concerning the crypt.

Personally I do not believe this sin-burdened world will exist for sixty-two additional centuries. That international suicide, the bloodshed across the seas, with Europe’s most advanced nations bent on killing each other, seems to indicate a sort of final failure. Besides, we cannot read the Biblical statements concerning the last times without realizing that these days are upon us. Wars and rumors of wars, false Christs and antichrists, seducing spirits and the doctrines of devils, forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats, lying and hypocrisy, deceiving and being deceived, self-love and covetousness, boasting and pride, blasphemies and disobedience, ingratitude and unholiness, sex perversions and family trouble, truce-breaking and false accusations, incontinence and fierceness, despising of God and betrayal, love of pleasure more than the love of truth—these Scriptural signs of the end are so strikingly fulfilled before our eyes that we should believe in the Lord Jesus Christ’s imminent and personal return to judge the quick and the dead. Yet, if God’s patient love permits the world to stand until 8113 and some distant generation discovers the disks on which this message is recorded, one glorious truth will prevail although in the eighty-second century the United States and every other modern nation may have ceased to exist; the eternal Gospel will have proved itself what we know it to be in our twentieth century: God’s triumphant power unto salvation. So we exult across this nation as this transcription record may proclaim to a future age in the Crypt of Civilization:

VICTORY FOR THE SONS OF GOD!

For the pledge of this triumph hear Saint John’s words, First Epistle, 5:4, “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

I

VICTORY IN THE CHURCH

Saint John here tells the first Christians that their conquest consists in overcoming “the world”—all hostile forces that seek to retard and destroy the Gospel’s progress. That “world” still is, and always will remain, the Church’s greatest enemy. In different lands and ages its opposition assumes various forms. Today, in our country, “the world” has mobilized seven formidable foes. The first is the sinister agitation that seeks to involve this nation in Europe’s battles. We leave it to others to describe the horror, the sacrifice of human lives, the loss of money, and the bankruptcies that would follow through our entanglement; for we are particularly concerned about war as an enemy of the Church and a destructive force that retards the Gospel’s free course. Although the present conflict is only a few months old, it has already produced serious losses in foreign mission fields where natives ask, “If white Christians cannot maintain peace among themselves, why do they send us missionaries?” Multiplied millions of dollars that should be contributed for the extension of the Savior’s kingdom are consumed, instead, by war’s cost and its taxes. Besides, every hostility produces a letdown in morals, a spirit of religious indifference, an age of materialism, and an organized opposition to Christ.

The second foe of the faith is the twin menace of Fascism, with its state control of religion, and the immeasurably more destructive atheistic Communism. Within the last seven years the number of officially enrolled Reds in the United States has increased and is now estimated at 100,000.—Need we wonder that radical influences have crept into the Government itself, that experts claim to have listed almost 3,000 known Communists in Federal positions? Despite their frequent smiles and declarations of innocence, thousands of American Reds have diabolically pledged themselves to close our churches and banish loyal ministers of Jesus Christ.

The third enemy of the Christian Church is atheistic education, the growing danger in our public schools, by which the minds of our children, the attitudes of our high­school youth, and the ideals of our college students are poisoned against Christ by godless teachers, who betray their trust.

The Church’s fourth foe is the rampant immorality that threatens to overflow our land. Immeasurable dishonesty in business and financial circles; graft and connivance in our city, State and Federal governments; perjury and corruption in the courts; illegitimate births, abortions, adulteries; broken marriage vows, disrupted homes, and divorces; printed filth and applauded impurity; arson and robbery, murder and suicide—these reach new records as crime rides on its high crest.

Now we come to the most dangerous opposition, the assaults on the Christian cause that arise from within the churches. The fifth enemy, one of these internal dangers, is the menace of Modernism, the smooth, perfidious denial of Jesus Christ as the world’s Savior, the rejection of the Bible as God’s inspired, errorless Word, the unbelief that has captured many American pulpits and found lavish supporters especially in certain millionaires. Within the memory of thousands in this audience entire denominations, once loyal to Scriptural truth and Christ’s atonement, have disavowed these two pillar doctrines.

The sixth menace to modern Christianity is doctrinal indifference, the delusion that the churches can compromise their sacred truth, follow a policy of pretty diplomacy, and agree to disagree even in the vital teachings of Christ. Far too many clergymen today preach the easy and convenient delusion that it does not matter what you believe as long as you sincerely follow some creed, though Jesus Himself says, “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” It is this indifference—and indifference ultimately means denial—that permits Jewish Rabbis, Hindu philosophers, and atheistic lawyers to speak from Christian pulpits.

The last of the seven foes is worldliness in the churches, the constant erasing of the sharp line which separates the Church of Christ from the world of sin. I mean specifically the tactics that bring reproach on the Savior’s name, vulgar, sometimes indecent theatricals, sensational stunts, games of chance.

Now, if the churches are to defeat these formidable enemies and emerge from our problem-weighted years stronger, purer, healthier, what do they require for that victory? What does American Christianity need if it is to be preserved as long as this world stands, even until the Crypt of Civilization be opened, should Christ tarry that long in His coming? We may think in first instance of external needs. The churches must discard political ambitions. They must not tolerate any governmental policies in Washington that would tell our congregations what they must do or suggest to the ministers what they should preach. American Christians must not permit the usurpation of power by any Church which claims that its sovereign should control public affairs and direct legislative programs. Church discipline should be revived and the congregations ban from membership those—no matter how wealthy and imposing they may be—whose lives are a public disgrace to the Savior’s creed. Followers of Christ must take a firm stand against the gambling, raffling, and money-raising schemes outlawed by divine regulations and civil laws. We must remove the theater, the modern dance, the commercial amusements, from the churches and make these sanctuaries what they should be, temples of the living God, houses of prayer for all people. Christianity must not become a religion exclusively for the middle and upper classes. History demonstrates that spiritual power declines when churchmen are allied with the wealthy to the neglect of the everlasting poor. The victorious Church of tomorrow will not be built of deadening formalism, the pomp and ceremony of exaggerated ritualism, that leaves men’s hearts untouched. The churches which will prevail should give to their youth a penetrating program of spiritual training, not limited to a weekly hour of haphazard Sunday-school instruction. But before and beyond this, American Christianity needs an inner reformation, the deeper conviction indicated in the text, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

What is this world-conquering trust? Many would answer that the churches must have confidence in joint endeavors, State and Federal councils, amalgamations, interdenominational programs, since strength lies in united effort. Because Christ says, “Without Me ye can do nothing,” we can predict that any future age in which this message now being recorded may be heard will have witnessed the complete defeat of many merely human plans for strengthening the Church. Since 1900 ambitious, expensive programs have been undertaken to promote religious work; but every one that gave room and support to Modernism failed completely. Nor is the trust the Church needs a reliance on modern methods, organizations, office machinery, twentieth-century equipment, new styles of architecture, new orders of service, new Bible translations, or anything new. Above every advantage God permits us to use in spreading His kingdom we must have—and now I sound the battle-cry of the true Christian Church—faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world; reliance on His Gospel as the message of full, free, and final salvation for every sinner; confidence in the merciful assurance that we are saved by grace; the trust that takes each promise of Christ at its face value and refuses to doubt or detract from it; the faith, in short, which asks us despite our sins to approach the cross, believing in the eternal mercies Jesus showed there when His suffering secured our forgiveness, His bleeding our cleansing, His dying our living eternally. Men may have a dozen different definitions for faith, but to every Christian faith means particularly this sincere, personal, trusting declaration which we shall be happy to send you so that you can memorize it and repeat it every day, Luther’s glorious explanation of the Second Article of our Christian Creed: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.”

This faith gave the first Church its power. Had it been foretold that twelve men, practically all workers from the lower classes, would defeat the wisdom of pagan philosophers, remove the gods and temples of the heathen kingdoms, defy the rulers of Rome, and finally destroy their vast empire, this prediction would have been laughed to scorn; yet these and much greater victories were recorded by the early Christians, who had few outstanding men, little money, no buildings in the beginning, no helpful machinery or appliances—practically nothing of the equipment and assets that many people today regard as absolutely necessary for success. But they had faith in Jesus Christ, unwavering, uncompromising, unconditional trust, and there was not enough ingenuity in the fiendishness of Nero, the brutality of his bloodthirsty successors, plus their armies and their imperial treasuries, to withhold the victory. Those first-century Christians were often tried beyond endurance. It is recorded that 6,600 Christian soldiers of Emperor Maximinus were ordered to sacrifice to heathen gods and then persecute their own fellow­Christians in Gaul. They refused both commands, preferring to obey God rather than men. Three times the enraged emperor selected every tenth soldier in that legion and sent him to a horrible death. When even this failed to move the remainder of the Christian legion to deny the Savior and attack their brothers in faith, Maximinus, the tyrant, sent his army against these loyal believers. Instead of fighting, they threw away their arms, and within a few hours the entire legion had been cut down by the sword, bored through by arrows, trampled by horses, until not one of the 6,600 was left alive. Yet despite royal fiends, executioners’ blocks, flaming fires, and man-eating beasts, despite torture and dungeon, faith proved itself God’s victorious power.

Today, too, when men write books to show that Christianity is in its last stages; when scurrilous attacks charge that our creed is hysteria and superstition, the same triumph is pledged those who maintain their loyalty to Christ. This triumph is not always evident to the human eye, and it may be that for its purifying and strengthening God permits His Church to suffer reverses and affliction. Some of you write that because of denominational politics and modernist boards you have lost your congregational property and must worship, as the early Christians did, in your own homes. But spiritually the Church is often strongest when it is poorest, more loyal in the darkness of oppression than in the spotlight of public approval. The sorrows that God sends the followers of Christ are for their own upbuilding. In the reign of Bloody Mary, Bernard Gilpin, loyal witness to Christ, would constantly repeat his favorite maxim, “All things are for the best.” During the persecution he was charged with heresy and ordered to stand trial in London. On the way he broke his leg, and a scornful companion demanded, “Is all for the best now?” Yet Gilpin’s faith was not misplaced, for before he could resume his journey, Queen Mary died, and instead of proceeding to his death at London, he went home in triumph.—Give us Christian pastors in the pulpit who, with Saint Paul, will “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus”—ministers who strive and pray to help save the world for our Lord, and the invincible power of God Himself will work through them! Give us men and women in the pews whose souls have been enriched by a holy earnestness for Jesus, who will protest against every attack on the truth; put this faith into the family, with the home entirely dedicated to Christ; inject this trust into the congregational activities, let it produce greater personal testimony, deeper prayer-life, sincerer love for the Sacraments, nobler missionary zeal, and, under God, the Church will continue to make its way from victory to victory!

It may happen that the worship of Christ will be banned from certain countries, as events in our own day show. We may lose Christianity here in the United States if unbelief and uprising against God become too blatant and blasphemous. But at some place on this earth of sin God will have kept His Church in every age, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” If, against our firm expectation, the world still stands in 8113, those who find this record and are able to decipher its message will say, “These words spoken in the ancient days of 1940 are the truth! The Christian religion has not been destroyed! Christian faith has victoriously maintained its power!”

II

THE VICTORY IN OUR INDIVIDUAL LIVES

Most of you, however, are more interested in the twentieth than in the eighty-second century, more concerned about your own problems than in issues confronting the Church. You have personal opposition to meet now, and you want to know where you can find victory. From Pennsylvania, for example, a distracted woman writes: “I am a Catholic. By birth my parents were good people, but I am a terrible sinner. . . . I have had trials and tribulations more than I can stand. Twice I have tried to kill myself, and once I almost committed a murder. After that my husband drove me out, and now I am living with a man for the past five years who has caused me much heartache and misery. Now he is tired of me and wants to cast me out also. I have pleaded with God not to let me destroy myself and send my soul to hell. I have repented and repented of my sins. I have cried bitter tears, pleading with God to forgive me my sins and show me the path to another way of living. My nerves are so bad I’m afraid something may snap in my mind at any moment. Oh, why did I have to turn out to be a bad woman? I’ve helped the poor, and I’ve never turned any one away from my door, and still I have to fall into this destruction. Please help me to save my soul and keep me from suicide.”

That woman is listening in this afternoon; and I want to discuss this problem both for her and for all who see in her appeal the burden of their afflicted soul. First of all, I fail to find in this letter a single reference to the Lord Jesus. To have forgiveness of your sins, assurance both for this life and the next, you must know Christ in a personal, trusting faith. He must be everything to you. Then, this plea for help states that the burdened woman is a church-member, protests that she has always treated the poor well, and never sent any one empty-handed from her door. But you need much more than outward church-membership and acts of charity to be blessed by our Lord Jesus’ promise and the guiding strength of His love. You must be a child of God, for our text reminds us, “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” As the Savior Himself plainly stated, “Ye must be born again!”

For the assurance of His victory it is not enough that your name is written in the church register; that you attend services regularly; that you subscribe for a religious paper and pay your congregational dues. For the victorious life it is not sufficient that you belong to a young people’s society, a ladies’ aid, or a men’s club. You cannot say, “I am a Christian” simply because you attend church suppers and entertainments. You need far more than the mere fact that you are an officer in the congregation, a teacher in the Sunday-school, or a soloist in the choir. The assurance of triumph over your sins and sorrows cannot be purchased with contribution envelopes, three- and four-figure checks, tithes and generous donations to missions and charities. You cannot rely solely on the fact that you have been baptized, confirmed, and accepted as a member in a Christian church. God is pleased with all this only when it is found with a regenerated soul, a new heart, and a twice-born life. The question your heavenly Father first asks is not, “What church do you attend?” “Of what congregation are you a member?” “What are your annual contributions for mission purposes?” but, “Are you My child through Christ?” A mere mechanical faith cannot meet God’s demands. Don’t be satisfied with emotional religion, a holding up of hands or a singing of hallelujahs that has no foundation in true knowledge and that therefore can be swayed by every wind of adversity! Don’t drug yourself into a false security and say, “Once a Christian, always a Christian!” Look at the examples of the high and mighty who have fallen from faith and ended in unbelief. The plain ultimatum of Jesus remains, “Ye must be born again!”

To the distracted woman in Pennsylvania and her co­sufferers we say that their chief concern must be: “Am I a child of God?” “Have I really been born again?” For unless these questions can be answered with a clear, ringing “Yes”; unless you have been reborn a new creature in Christ, all talk of strength and confidence in religion is only wishful thinking. And now to answer the question that has been lingering on your lips, “How can I become a child of God?” You are not the first to put that question; near the beginning of the Savior’s ministry a teacher in Israel, Nicodemus, directed the same inquiry to Jesus, and even if you do not understand it, if men contradict it, if unbelief ridicules it, Christ’s reply is the holy, unbreakable truth: We are born again, we become God’s children with the promise of victory, our Lord says, through “water and the Spirit.” This means that, when God’s Spirit brings us as sinners to the Savior, through this faith our whole inner life is changed; we become new creatures; for the old things of sin are passed away, and the new glory of grace has dawned upon us.

As a special gift, God’s enlightening, renewing Spirit comes to us through water, that is, through Baptism. For when we take Christ at His word, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”; and again, “Baptism doth also now save us,” we understand that by no mere mechanical pouring of water but by the living, trusting faith which unconditionally accepts God’s promise, we have been washed of our sins and made heirs to heaven. Since this glorious blessing is given in Baptism, we can understand that the Savior in His last commission to His disciples declared, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost!” No wonder the apostles immediately followed His instruction, so that throughout the Book of Acts we read how entire households, old and young, were brought to Christ through Baptism and how sorrow and despair were turned to joy and assurance! But great wonder that despite these baptismal blessings 40,000,000, 50,000,000, 60,000,000 and more people in the United States have never received this “washing of regeneration”!

If only God will now lend divine power to my words, so that many unbaptized will be moved to accept the pledge of this grace! People are glued to their radios on certain nights when broadcasts offer large sums to those selected by the spin of a wheel. Today I promise you in Christ’s name the victory over your sins and afflictions—a wealth of soul glory incomparably more magnificent both for time and eternity than the glitter of earthly gold, a heavenly blessing won not by lottery, but by the age-old plan of salvation that ended at Calvary, when the holy Son of God died for the unholy children of sin.

Chance plays no part when Christ addresses Himself to you. Half an hour ago you would have thought few things farther removed from your life than this, that an invitation to be baptized would come directly to you. Yet here it is. Across hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles a person whom you have never seen is pleading in Christ’s name that you, convicted by sin’s guilt and weight, yet assured by God’s mercy, resolve now to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, with the instruction you require. Thousands of pastors throughout the breadth of this country, in Canada, and many foreign countries are eager to be God’s agents in bringing you and your family this blessing. Will you not give us the opportunity of helping you, of explaining the rebirth through “water and the Spirit,” by which you become children of God? That promise grants you mastery over sin, hell, and death itself; the conquest of your fears and weaknesses; the defeat of men’s hatred and opposition; the relief from anguish that crushes your soul; the complete, eternal, unchanging triumph for every soul in 1940 and, if this record in the Crypt of Civilization is deciphered, the victory for every future generation.

Heavenly Father, above everything else that we in this country and others in later generations may ask of Thee, give us—even though it may mean earthly loss and opposition—Christ! With faith in that precious Redeemer, grant us all the rebirth by which we become Thy children for eternity! Amen.

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

Date: January 28, 1940

My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19

Christ, Thou Lord of Life and Death:

Help us through constant repentance and purer faith to trust Thee with the firm reliance that casts our cares on Thy mercy! Strengthen us, especially in the dark hour of every affliction, with the assurance that, if we ask the Father in Thy holy, redeeming name, He will supply all our needs! By Thy Spirit put this faith into burdened hearts and sorrow-swept lives! Prove Thyself the Helper of those who suffer by war, the heavenly Physician for the victims of scourges and diseases, the Provider for the destitute masses in our country, the Friend of all the friendless! Hear us and bless us, Savior of our souls, as Thou hast promised! Amen.

DURING the World War I was asked to hold services for enemy sailors in the Massachusetts War Prison Camp. When I arrived at the prisoners’ quarters, an unmistakable hostility could be felt immediately. None of the men in the entire stockade appeared at the appointed hour of worship. Instead, they shouted that they would have no contact whatever with American churches. Had they not been under guard, I might have been thrown out bodily, so deep-rooted was their antagonism. Later, when the Lord granted calmer moments, the sailors explained their angry resentment by producing a scrapbook of clippings, many of them hymns of hatred written by American ministers. One of these inflammatory clerical utterances I shall never forget. It ran something like this: “After God had made the snakes, the toads, the worms, and the slimy creatures, a little oozy mud was left; and out of that He made the German people.”

Can you not see how that preacher helped to keep these men from Christ? Can you not also understand that every time pulpit propaganda sidesteps the Cross of Christ and fans the flames of war, the churches must lose? So when a few days ago thirty-two Protestant ministers and laymen, including three university presidents, issued a formal statement declaring that American churches cannot remain neutral but in effect must support the ideals of England and France, these ecclesiastics—many of them Modernists—took dangerous paths by involving the churches in war issues. The Christian clergy of our land has one first-line duty, to preach the Gospel of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross; and when Christ is all in all to us, we as a Church will remember His admonition, “Put up thy sword!” and not fail to teach the Biblical instruction, “Seek the peace of the city!”

But, these thirty-two church-leaders maintain, tremendous questions of right and wrong are at stake in the European conflict. Think of the debate they provoke! The reply is hurled at them, “Have any of the nations embroiled in this conflict preserved unimpeachable standards of righteousness? Have any of the European belligerents clean hands?” We do not condone some of the things that have occurred in Germany; but have not its enemies built up their empires by conquest? Thousands of Boer women and children died in Lord Kitchener’s concentration camps. In the “Opium War” the British controlled the sale of this destructive narcotic and, refusing the Chinese plea for a high duty, kept the price of opium cheap to increase sales and profits. One of the most pathetic statements in missionary history can be found in the word of the Chinese prince, a pagan, to the British minister, a Christian, “Take away your opium, and . . . your missionaries will be welcome.”

Pointedly critics ask in this debate, has our own United States a clean record with our racial prejudices, our conquests by force, and the corruption in our political life? The Nazi treatment of the Jew is repulsive, but how did we treat the American Indians? We fed them whisky, cheated them, took their lands away, and locked them on reservations! What have we done to the American Negro? Try to have a colored boy enrolled in some of our upper schools, and you will find part of the answer. We despise conquest and invasion, but how did we get Texas and California? If we are honest, we shall see that guilt is international and knows few geographical bounds.

Suppose, however, that as church-leaders continue to appeal for war, the power of propaganda succeeds, where can we find strength and guidance? If we are thrown into the conflict and, as a result, the menace of atheism, the threat of radical upheaval, and the uprising against God continue,—and we believe that history will show these to be the consequences of another protracted World War,—where are we to find assurance and safety?

How I thank God that we have an answer of joy and strength for all of you! In the name of Christ we can promise that in every need of body and soul

GOD WILL PROVIDE!

For this is the glorious pledge of Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

I

HE PROVIDES “BY CHRIST JESUS”

Only heroic faith could express this conviction, since the Apostle, when he wrote these words, was a prisoner, paying the hard penalty for his loyalty to Jesus. It was a terrifying hatred, this persecution that started with the beginning of Saint Paul’s ministry and that was to end outside the walls of Rome when his head was severed from his body. Someone has estimated that through the centuries a total of 50,000,000 Protestants have been cut down in cold blood because of their faith. Add to this the appalling number of martyrs in the first Christian centuries and those within the last years who have been murdered by atheistic terror, and you have a picture of the price paid for unswerving devotion to Christ.

Where has the world seen stronger courage than the faith of these Christian martyrs? Here is Saint Paul, despised, persecuted, imprisoned, suffering unspeakable cruelty for Christ; and in the face of certain death he not only says of himself in the verse preceding our text, “I have all and abound,” but he writes to his congregation in Philippi, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches.”

What gave the Apostle this firm confidence that God would provide for all His children as He had provided for him? It was not Paul’s training and education. Voltaire found no assurance in his literary genius when he exclaimed, “I wish I had never been born!” David Hume was one of Europe’s best-read men; yet when he reviewed his own mistakes, his fears and frailties, he burst out: “I seem afrighted and confounded with the solitude in which I am placed by my philosophy. When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. Where am I? Or what am I? From what cause do I derive my existence? To what condition shall I return? I am confounded with questions. I begin to fancy myself in a very deplorable condition, environed with darkness on every side.”

Neither was the Apostle a carefree, happy-go-lucky spirit, who could take whatever each day might offer and make the best of it. On the contrary, life to him was real, earnest, problem-weighted, question-marked. Nor was it simply religion that gave Saint Paul his confident outlook. He had had plenty of theology before he met Christ on the Damascus road, but all his pharisaical zeal could not quiet his soul. He found contentment, and we, too, can discover the reassuring faith required to declare, “God will provide,” only “by Christ Jesus.”

It is of life-and-death importance that you realize today what these three words, “by Christ Jesus,” mean for you and your future. You may never know anything about the mighty figures of history, science, and art; you may silently pass the claims of your fellow-men and ignore, if you must, their accomplishments; but if you want courageous faith and assured salvation, you must know who the Lord Jesus Christ is and what He has done for humanity, particularly for you. You must believe with your whole heart that He was more than man, infinitely higher than the greatest of men; that He was, by His own declaration, by the proof of His divine power, and the public acknowledgment of His heavenly Father, the Son of the living God, made man with us and for us. His career on earth was dedicated not to a single race, a limited age, or a restricted area. His influence and blessing have been for all men, for eternal ages, for the ends of the world. His task was not simply to change human affairs, to bring better working conditions and improved family relations, to spread progress and culture; but He, the great God, became one of us, so that He might save our souls, restore us to God, and bring us, every one of us, to heaven. He died on the cross, not merely as a pattern of heroic self-sacrifice or as a victim of prejudices, but as the sin­bearing, sin-removing Lamb of God, our Savior and Substitute, our Redeemer and Ransom. He rose again from the dead on the third day, not merely in the thoughts and wishes of His disciples nor in the sagas and legends of the early Church, but in the positive truth of actual history, to give to those who believe in Him—and may you be numbered among His followers!—eternal life, with Him, the Father, and the Spirit, in the glory of heaven. To that heaven He Himself ascended, where He now rules, not as a distant King who forgets His lowly subjects, but as the loving Sovereign of our souls, who regulates the lives of His redeemed with mercy, wisdom, might, and as the heavenly Intercessor who still pleads our cause and assures us that, “if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.”

If you come to Christ through this humble, penitent faith and say: “O my Savior, Thou art everything, and I am nothing. I was lost, but Thy grace found and restored me. I was full of shame, but Thy blood has cleansed me. I was at war with God, but being justified by faith in Thee, I have peace with my Father; I was dead in trespasses and sins, but by Thy resurrection I have life, now and forever!”—if you live in this faith, by constant contrition, and continued, Christ-exalting trust in your Lord, you, too, can calmly face the most terrifying ordeals that a mercifully veiled future may have in store for you. You can meet the threat of want and suffering with the assurance that “by Christ Jesus” God will provide for you.

With Jesus you spurn the very thought of taking recourse to fortune-tellers, astrologers, spiritist mediums and frauds, whose activities would be completely outlawed by every civilized government if the deep-grooved tragedy they produce were fully realized. Under the Savior’s blessing you know that whatever tomorrow may bring, it comes to you as a child of God from your heavenly Father and must therefore serve your best interests. With Jesus you understand that life is never a gamble; that your course is not decided by the dice of destiny or the cards of chance but that your career was planned by the Savior’s love before you were born. When we come to Jesus as God’s elect, our names are written in the Book of Life, and from that moment we have eternal life. This means that as Christ’s nothing happens to us by accident; luck, good or bad, plays no part in our experience. God’s angels constantly guard us, God’s wisdom daily directs us, God’s love continuously strengthens us, God’s power always provides for us. For if our gracious Maker loved us with such a depth of devotion that He did not stop short of that marvelously merciful sacrifice, do you think that His grace can leave those who come to Jesus the helpless victims of cruel afflictions? As the Apostle exults, “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”—everything we require for our soul and body?

II

GOD PROVIDES FOR “EVERY NEED”

So when Saint Paul promises, “My God shall supply ALL your need,” he means just what he says. “All” you really need to carry out God’s good purpose in your life will be granted through Christ. Be clear on this, however, God provides, not everything you think you need, not everything others say you need, but everything you actually require to complete His holy design.

What are our actual needs? A generation ago the average American had some seventy-two wants, of which sixteen were classified as needs. Today the level of our life has become so much higher and more complicated that we have 484 wants, with some 94 necessities. If many of you were asked to list your own needs, your catalog would contain items like these: fur coats, new autos, jewelry, stylish clothing, automatic heaters, trips to Florida or California, new furniture, large homes and, in general, bigger bank accounts, larger financial reserves. But these and a hundred other luxuries, as desirable as they may be otherwise, are not necessities; and in the stress of many crises money has often proved a hindrance rather than a help. During Cortez’s conquest of Mexico the Spaniards, confronted by disaster, had to choose defeat with their glittering gold and sparkling jewels or safety without that heavy booty. Wisely most of the troops spurned the gold; the few who insisted on loading themselves with its weight were either killed or soon threw the treasure away. Only by the grace of God have some of you remained poor and unburdened by wealth; for if the Lord gave us all the money we wanted, many of us would selfishly spend our way to hell. America is living far beyond its means, not only as a nation but in millions of individual lives. Multitudes in this country must be prepared for a simpler life and a lower standard of living. This week the Secretary of the Treasury informed us that Congress will be asked to raise the legal debt limit of the United States from $45,000,000,000 to $50,000,000,000. You do not have to be a financial expert to foretell that even this increase will not meet the new demands, and that there are no other avenues of escape besides inflation with its suffering, repudiation with its bankruptcies, or a long uphill pull throughout this entire generation. The many millions in Europe repeatedly limited by food cards, the swarming multitudes of China, where a recent famine took 5,000,000 lives, have accustomed themselves to a simpler mode of existence; but I wonder what will happen in this country when the adjustment comes, as it must come. Shall we be able to stand the real restrictions and the rigors of emergencies that the future may bring?

To know life’s true values and to understand our basic needs, we must have the Savior’s guidance; and here, as always, Jesus gives us definite directions. Surveying human ambitions, He says, “Thy faith hath saved thee,” the unshaken confidence that we are redeemed through Jesus Christ for eternity. When the Apostle promises, “My God shall supply all your need,” he declares that everything we may require for salvation is freely supplied by God. The text speaks of His “riches,” and you cannot exhaust the store of His mercy. Generation after generation, century after century, turns to it for pardon and peace; yet the reservoir of His atoning love is no more drained than the ocean would be if a single drop of its salty water were removed. Here in the treasury of divine love you can always find more than enough to pay the indebtedness to God incurred by your repeated sins. At the cross your faith can discover the power to remove doubt and to conquer fear. In the blood of Christ you have unfailing, purifying soul health. Human blood is often transfused to sustain physical existence; yet some rare types can hardly be matched, and often the donors lose their blood in vain; but the “blood of Jesus Christ,” God’s “Son,” always “cleanseth us”—every one of us—“from all sin” and gives us the spiritual transfusion necessary for the Christian life.

Accept this magnificent mercy! Trust Christ fully! If you ask, “I wonder if I can be saved,” His Word assures you, “By grace ARE ye saved!” Christ has redeemed the whole world, and it is only unbelief and the rejection of His mercy that keep the sinner from the Savior. If you hardly dare lift up your eyes to ask, “Are my sins too red, too lurid?” Christ answers, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” If someone tells you, “Jesus will not accept you, you have fallen too often, transgressed too repeatedly,” listen to the blessed Savior’s assurance, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Don’t let anything or anyone come between you and your Christ but take every burden of your soul, bring it to Him, and say: “O blessed Jesus, Thou canst supply my every need. Help me now!” and the merciful Savior, who never left a plea for His grace unheard, will always strengthen you.

I hope that you realize in a practical, everyday faith how gloriously this promise of supplying our soul’s wants can enrich each passing moment. All of us need a closer walk with Jesus, a more godly life, cleaner thoughts, purer emotions, and the victory over unholy desires. You young folks, constantly assailed by the lure of the flesh; you husbands and wives, only too frequently thrown into situations that may lead to unfaithfulness and its destructive vices, take your plea for firmer trust, stronger resistance, directly to Christ, and the longer you stay with Him, the more frequently you meet Him in prayer, the more valiant your spiritual courage will become as He creates a clean heart and renews a right spirit within you!

But how about bodily needs? Can Christ grant us health and happiness, money and material prosperity, food and fuel—the advantages that engross the human mind? The Communist answers, “No; God cannot provide for the needs of the masses. Abolish private ownership! Make everything common property! Then we shall have enough to go around.” The Fascist explains, “Give the state control, and then everyone will have plenty.” The capitalist cries, “If business and the banks assume leadership, the happy day of abundance will arrive!” The politician urges, “Follow my platform, and your worries will be over.” The economist promises, “Accept this proposal, and your financial hardships will be solved.” But is it not significant, for example, that multitudes have starved to death in a land where Communism has found its greatest support; that in our own country during the last ten years, a decade devoted to social questions with an intensity previously unknown, the number of people dependent on Government aid has increased six times and now totals more than 20,000,000?

Of course, the Lord wants us to employ the resources of human reason in solving the problems of food and clothing, health and shelter; but sometimes, when individuals and nations forget to praise the God from whom all blessings flow, place themselves in the Almighty’s place, and think they can manage their affairs without His benediction, they meet difficulties too staggering for the best human minds. At such times especially the Christian holds trustingly to his Savior’s assurance that He can provide us richly and daily with all that we need for this body and life. For, while it is true that God in His unmeasured goodness “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” there is indisputable evidence that the riches of His grace have rested particularly on those parts of the globe where men revere Jesus Christ and believe His Gospel of salvation.

Our plea to many in this audience thus urges: If you are worried about your rent, your unpaid bills, your decreased income, your money losses, your work; if the coal bin is almost empty and the cupboard supply is scant; if your children are not dressed warmly enough for this biting cold, don’t clench your fist against God! Don’t give up in despair! Don’t stoop to sin! Approach your heavenly Father in Christ! Ask Him, “Provide for me! Help me! Give me what I must have!” And if you pray for real necessities, the promise of our text will be fulfilled: “God shall supply all your need.” Trust Him with your whole heart, work with all your might, and He will provide!

The Savior, who miraculously fed the multitudes, can similarly draft His omnipotence to provide for His redeemed. During the Reformation John Brenz, faithful Gospel witness, pursued by men who sought to kill him, found refuge in a barn hay-loft. For ten days he remained safely concealed there, although inspecting soldiers thrust their swords within a few inches of his body. On each of those ten days a hen laid an egg within his easy grasp and thus helped to sustain him.—Many in this audience can likewise testify that, when all seemed lost, support came from God through entirely unexpected sources.

For every problem that embitters your life pray to your heavenly Father in Jesus’ name, that is, in firm reliance on His atoning mercy! Pray humbly, without dictating the time, place, or manner of His answer! Pray trustingly, never doubting that the Lord is able to keep His Word to the very letter! Pray insistently! If it seems that God does not hear, redouble your petitions! Force your way through to the Throne of Mercy! Pray without malice toward your fellow-men, remembering that you cannot pray, “Forgive us our trespasses,” unless you yourself are ready to forgive and forget! Pray that the Father’s will be done, not yours, since His gracious will is always the best!

Prayer like that must be answered! Melanchthon, the gifted coworker of Martin Luther in the stupendous task of the Reformation, once fell deadly sick, and by the time Luther arrived, the symptoms of the end appeared unmistakable. Nevertheless the Great Reformer knelt more than an hour, beseeching God for the recovery of his assistant. As if by a miracle Melanchthon was spared for many years of additional service in Christ’s kingdom. When Thomas Charles, who in the last century started the mighty British and Foreign Bible Society, was at death’s door, his friends met to intercede for his life. One aged man in the group earnestly pleaded that, if it were the divine will, their leader might be spared, at least for fifteen years more, so that the mission of spreading the printed Word might succeed. Hardly had these words been spoken when Thomas Charles began to regain his health, and he was given an extension of life which, as remarkable as it seems, lasted the fifteen years the believers had requested of God.

Can you not see, also, that for the needs of our nation we must have Christian prayer from coast to coast? People often write to ask us why we do not urge this audience to send telegrams to Washington on this question or that. The answer simply is this, that ours is not a political broadcast but a Christian message of trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the legislators give us good and wise laws if they can; and if they cannot, as citizens you have the ballot and should know what to do. But as followers of the Savior we can invoke mighty, miraculous blessings from God on our country. Give us prayer in the heart of every American who is Christ’s; prayer in every home dedicated to Christ; prayer in every true Christian church from shore to shore; earnest prayer, penitent, pleading, persistent prayer, all in the name of Jesus, and we shall have God’s help for our multiplied perplexities, war difficulties, labor troubles, financial problems, moral issues, and every danger before us!

Fathers and mothers of the land, for the fulfillment of this promise we beseech you: Don’t let your children grow up without knowing Christ, without being able to speak to Him in confident prayer! Don’t destroy their trust in God by the example of your own prayerless life and home! These boys and girls may have to face adversities that make our present troubles seem petty annoyances. For the salvation of their souls, for their peace of mind, and for the assurance that their needs, whatever they may be, will be supplied, bring them to Christ! Teach them the power of triumphant pleading to God! Pray, America, pray, and all necessary help will be granted!

III

HE PROVIDES FOR US “IN GLORY”

Do not overlook the truth of the text that our heavenly Father promises to supply all our needs “IN GLORY by Christ Jesus.” Bible students have debated the exact meaning of these words, but does it not seem that the Lord here offers to grant us every requirement in a glorious manner? What comfort and sustaining power we all can find in this thought! God’s glorious providing helps solve the mystery of sorrow in the Christian’s suffering and answers the “why” that surges within our hearts when we seek an explanation for our afflictions.

A few months ago one of our most experienced missionaries, a man in the prime of life, returned to his field in China. Before his furlough he had repeatedly preached in cities bombed by the Japanese invaders. He had witnessed the multiplied horrors of that conquest in personal experience; yet, because the love of Christ constrained him and the thought of China’s perishing millions haunted him, he could not remain longer in this country, but leaving his wife and children here, he returned to face the perils of the field alone, yet with Christ. Last week a cable brought the sad news that Missionary Zschiegner died while on an inland missionary trip. How can we say that God granted his needs when He permitted His own missionary servant to be cut off in the strength of his life? How can we say that God provided for his widow and the fatherless children when he took away the one on whom, humanly speaking, they depended most?

It takes faith to know and believe the answer, and we pray God that this trust may be given particularly to all those burdened by the humanly unexplainable sorrows and life’s apparently cruel reverses. Above and below this heart-crushing anguish we must still discern God’s unfathomable love. Sometimes there may be a clash between what we think we need and what God knows we need, and when our Father prevails, we should say not only, “How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” but, though in tears of sorrow, we must also declare, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”

Because that missionary in China and his family are Christ’s, even this shattering sorrow must become a blessing. Somehow and in an unseen way his home-going is an answer to some spiritual need, and by God’s providence, fragments of happiness in the bereaved family that seem disjointed and contradictory to us will be realigned and put together in a glorious, heavenly design. We do not know why that witness to Christ had to die a sudden, lonely death in far-off pagan China, but God knows, and therefore all will be well. Try to believe Jesus and to realize that for those who are His, the deeper the sorrow, the greater the blessing, the hotter the fires of affliction, the purer the refining; the more bitter the grief, the more glorious the divine purpose! If our loving Father lets you suffer, look to Jesus, and as the resurrection came after the cross of shame, so, by the sorrows of your life, you are having an unknown need provided, an unseen protection bestowed.

God grant that today many of you will come to Jesus, so that the multitudes of this vast audience, all sins removed, all needs supplied, may be saved for eternity, there to behold Him face to face and to exult, “O my Christ, my Savior and my God, Thou hast truly supplied all my needs, according to Thy riches here in glory!” Amen.

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

Date: January 21, 1940

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.John 14:6

Cleansing, strengthening Spirit of God:

We are weak and sinful, but Thou art holy and almighty. Give us, then, a trusting faith in the Lord Jesus, our sin-atoning Savior, and help us through daily contrition and sincere faith to come ever closer to Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, without whom we cannot approach the Father! Strengthen us to show the spirit of the Savior’s mercy in our love toward all suffering fellow-men! Make us humble and Christlike in word and action, outspoken in our testimony to the Cross, courageous—through Jesus—even in the darkened hours of affliction! Use these broadcasts toward convicting many of their sins, bringing them to Christ, and keeping them—with us—in the faith forever! We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

DO you know what it would mean to lose your way in a desolate country during the bitter cold that for days has swept our nation? “How terrifying,” you declare, “to stagger blindly against the icy gale and face death in forsaken horror!” Yet that tragedy has been repeatedly enacted within the last weeks. Soviet troops marching against screaming blizzards frequently lose their road, wander in circles for a few hours in that fifty-four-degree­-below-zero cold and then collapse in fatal drowsiness. Frozen death grips them so rigidly that their fingers fall off when enemy scouts take the rifles from their icy grasp.

Yet many of you in the warmth and comfort of your homes can lose the way and meet disaster incalculably greater than the anguish of exposure. You have a soul that will live after the body dies. There is a hereafter in which you will be eternally blessed or eternally rejected. You must face a judgment in which you will be either acquitted or condemned. With no intermediary stage known to the Bible and no second chance after death, since the Scriptures clearly warn, “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the Judgment,” every one of us—and who you are or what you think you are makes no difference—is even now on the road to heaven or—may God forbid!—to hell. And terrifying beyond all measure it is to lose the way to a blessed eternity.

Too often men think lightly of heaven. A recent political gathering in Washington rocked with laughter when one of the speakers, a high authority in this nation, told a joke which had a celestial scene as its background. The public is so accustomed to this procedure on the stage, the screen, the radio, and in the press, that there was no protest whatever. Personally we feel that with all the crooked practices which mark American political life today, it comes with doubly ill grace when the sacred truths of our Christian faith are used to produce derisive laughter at $100-a-plate party dinners. Heaven is no joke. Neither is hell!

People like to postpone thoughts of the hereafter; but how suddenly they often face their Maker! Last Monday the veteran member of the United States Senate went to his physician for an examination. “You’re as sound as a dollar,” the specialist declared; but within less than twenty­four hours that widely respected statesman slipped, struck his head, and sank into a coma from which he never awoke. With the same swiftness eternity can approach you. What guarantee have you and I that tomorrow we may still be numbered among the living?

If you have not heard a Christian broadcast before, listen to this message now; for in your whole life you have never been addressed on any subject more important to you individually than that which I now direct to you in the name of Christ Himself. Think of these words not as being broadcast over a huge system of 145 different stations, with uncounted multitudes tuned in, but as an appeal especially to you, because your salvation is of such tremendous importance that God Almighty is concentrating His pleading love on your soul. Here is the truth for which many of you, I hope, will thank God in eternity,

THE ONE WAY TO HEAVEN

as outlined by the Savior Himself in the deathless words of Saint John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”

I

JESUS TEACHES THAT THERE IS A HEAVEN

When Christ on the last night of His earthly life here speaks of going “unto the Father” and, only a few hours before His death, promises “life,” He, the holy, perfect Son of God, teaches that existence does not stop with the grave; that as He, after the blackest of deaths on Calvary, rose again and returned to His Father, so we, too, rising from the grave, can follow Jesus to heaven.

Unbelief has ridiculed this promise as it has attacked every pledge of Christ’s mercy. They tell us that a man dies just as a dog, a horse, a cow, or any other animal dies; that his flesh and bones, rotting away, finally become dust and nothing more. Heaven? A blessed hereafter? A glorious eternity? “Why,” they answer with undisguised scorn, “tell it to the children. The only heaven men will ever get is the one they make for themselves on earth.” “We want our pie now,” the Communist sneers, “not by and by up in the sky.” Yet have you ever noticed how quickly this bubble is pricked? Volney was one of Europe’s loudest scoffers. But once on a journey his ship was overtaken by a heavy storm, and he ran about shrieking, “O my God, O my God, what shall I do?” When the tempest subsided, he was so ashamed of himself that for the rest of the voyage he hid from the passengers who had heard his braggart blasphemies. His fellow-countryman Mirabeau boasted that there would be nothing craven about his death; he even wrote these instructions for his last moments: “Crown me with flowers; intoxicate me with perfume; let me die to the sound of delicious music.” Yet when he actually faced death, he gasped, “I have within me a hundred years of life, but not a moment’s courage!” Cringing coward that he was, he demanded, not flowers, perfume, music, but a dose of opium, and under the stupor of that narcotic he died. Last week a gruesome book was published—the life story of a man employed by Sing Sing to pull the electric-chair switch. Again and again, he reveals, when condemned criminals leave the death cell and face the chair, they are terrorized into silence by the presence of death, no matter how unconcerned and godless they may have been before.

If you, rejecting Jesus’ promise of “life” and a return “unto the Father,” have not been impressed by the fact that unbelief fails in the greatest emergency of human experience, the hour of death, then remember that denial exposes its weakness under every burden. What comfort can the afflicted and sorrow-weighted have in a world that offers no compensation for the future? Some of you have been helplessly sick during twenty, thirty, and even more years. How desperate you would be if all we could say through this microphone would be: “Well, you won’t have to suffer much longer. When death comes, everything ends”! One out of six of you, on the average, lives by federal aid grants; and you would find little sustaining power in the thought that because life is unfair, fate blind, destiny cruel, death with its annihilation will stop your troubles since it destroys you forever. You, felled by the body-blows of adversity, staggering under the impact of new sorrows, do not want death to end it all. You ask for a new life that can compensate for earth’s sorrows and offset your sufferings. The promise that makes life with its unfairness and cruelties bearable for multitudes who exist only through Government support—and last week we were officially told that their number is now more than 20,000,000—the assurance which prevents this world from becoming a complete madhouse, is the teaching of Jesus that there is a future existence, a blessed eternity, with the Father. Tear that out of human hearts—and we have too many among our modern writers, scientists, and teachers who would do just this—and you have kicked the crutches from the arms of a crippled race. If you want this world to show evidence of international dementia in comparison with which the present bloodshed and hatred are only trivial annoyances; if you wish to witness the collapse of all that still makes life worth living and have every man live ruthlessly, frantically pursue forbidden lusts, and selfishly gratify bestial desires; if you are eager to see the collapse of civilization and a reign of black terror such as not even the most degenerate ages of modern history have known, then spread the damnable delusion that there is no hereafter, no heaven or hell, no eternal judgment seat before which you must appear!

I hope that none of you questions this future blessed existence when Jesus Himself strongly testifies to its truth. Is our God who created us when our life started not powerful enough to recreate us when life ends? At a Rockefeller Institute laboratory in New York City you can see in a test tube the segment of a chicken’s heart which Dr. Alexis Carrel has kept alive for twenty-seven years and which he hopes to maintain indefinitely. Now, if a scientist can extend the existence of chicken tissue to three times its normal length, cannot God Almighty, whose laboratory is the universe and whose test-tubes the mighty oceans, stretch the span of our existence far beyond everything we know? We see much of God’s omnipotence; yet even more is concealed from our knowledge. We look to the heavens and see Sirius, one of the nearest fixed stars, and it seems very bright; but when Sir William Herschel beheld it with his great telescope, he reported that it appeared as a gigantic mass much larger than the Sun, and lit up the whole surrounding heavens with a splendor so brilliant that Herschel had to protect his eyes with a colored glass. Now, do you not think that the Creator, who spoke one word and all these overpowering heavenly bodies came into instantaneous existence, has the power to give us life after death? Even if you do not agree, here is Christ’s promise of “life” and a return “unto the Father”! Here is Christ’s power to keep His promise, His miraculous resurrecting of the widow’s son at Nain, the young maid at Capernaum, and Lazarus, His friend, at Bethany. Here is Jesus’ own Easter Day example, His breaking the seal on the guarded rock-hewn grave.

Instead of arguing about heaven, let us try to picture its magnificence! But in this effort human thought fails and men’s words lose their power. The glory Christ has won for us is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond imagination. Its splendor cannot be measured or even estimated. We can only peer through the heavenly gates left slightly ajar by the writers of Sacred Scripture and exclaim, “What unspeakable radiance!” When Dr. Kane, polar explorer, was close to the north pole, he wrote: “The intense beauty of the Arctic firmament can hardly be imagined, . . . with its stars magnified in glory. I am afraid to speak of some of the night scenes.” If God made such glory on earth, what must the splendor of heaven be? If He gives the brilliance of beauty here below, even to His enemies, what magnificence awaits His redeemed above in the hereafter? May this be a source of unfailing comfort to you, our friends who, but for your faith in Christ, have little of loveliness and beauty in life, as day after day you see sordid, ugly sins!

Think of the peace in that Paradise, with all the differences removed which array men against one another, send armies into the trenches, and fill human hearts with black hatred! On earth we have no lasting peace. But in heaven ours shall be a never-broken, never-weakened, never­ending peace with all, regardless of race or religion, who have worshiped the Lord Jesus Christ as their only Savior, joined in complete harmony! What an anchor of hope for those who continually face hatred, even in their family circles!

What can I say of the enraptured joy? Take the supreme happiness that can come into any Christian life; multiply it as much as you will or can, and you are still far from the eternal pleasure at God’s right hand. No grief or graves, no hearses or cemeteries, no blistering heat, or freezing cold, no hunger or thirst, no falling sick or growing old, no terror for the past or fears of the future! Only perfect joy and full bliss Christ offers in the prepared mansions.

Heaven will also marvelously strengthen our knowledge! “Now,” we say with the apostle, “we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know even as also I am known.” In that brighter light much before which our limited reason balks will be explained and understood. We will know how fully God has kept His promises and how truly all things have worked together for good to us who love God. There in that superior knowledge, life’s afflictions will appear in their true nature, as evidences of divine grace. Take comfort in that, you of God’s children who stand before unsolved mysteries and wonder why God’s ways often seem to take you down to the deepest depths. Some day through Christ you will understand and praise God’s all-knowing mercy.

Particularly blissful will be the associations of heaven. The poet Southey liked to say that he anticipated eternity because he there hoped to converse with Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and other great men of letters. While most of us look forward to the presence of the saints and the mighty Christian heroes, we think especially of the reunion with our loved ones who have preceded us in the faith. What rejoicing there when orphans are brought together with their parents, widows united with their husbands! Let this be the balm of healing for the deep wounds of bereavement!

Above all, however, heaven offers one supreme privilege—the unutterable glory of beholding Jesus face to face. To worship the everlasting God in His majesty; to bow before the redeeming Christ as His lips speak wondrous words of truth and power; to acclaim the Holy Spirit our God and direct our praise to His enlightening love—that adoration which even now forms the highest occupation of God’s holy angels will be the supreme radiance of the New Jerusalem, the ever sacred truth that has made the Church of the ages joyfully confess, “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

II

JESUS TEACHES THAT HE IS THE TRUE AND ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN

God’s mercy is not exhausted by the marvelous promise that there is a heaven; Jesus plainly shows the way to glory. From the very earliest days of the race, men have sought the pathway to a blessed eternity. One of the world’s first great poems, recorded on Mesopotamian clay, tells of a legendary hero who tied immense stones to his feet, descended far into the ocean’s depths, and there in a submarine garden found the magical plant that reputedly could bestow everlasting life. But when he brought the plant to shore and knelt beside a spring to drink, a snake slithered out of the grass and devoured the plant before his eyes. Since those early days, men have similarly gone to depths and heights to find assurance for the hereafter; but as in the case of the Babylonian seeker, it has always escaped their grasp. Towering eternally over these failures is the divine promise of Jesus Himself in our text, “I am the Way”; in four one-syllable words He tells His disciples, simple working-men from the laboring classes, what mighty minds have often sought in vain: To escape eternal death and find the path to Paradise, men must trust not in themselves and their own ability to discover the road to redemption; they must rely not on their fellow­men, not even the most godly, learned, and powerful; they must come to Christ, hear Him say, “I am the Way,” and trust Him with all their heart.

To understand how Jesus can be the Road from earth to heaven, the Bridge from death to life, we must believe that He broke the power of sin which separated us from God; the evil in our hearts and lives that pays its wages in death; the transgressions responsible for every casket, funeral, and cemetery; the wrong inherent in us from our birth and increased in us during our lives; the iniquity that sends every one of us, with a sweep that knows no exception, down to the decay of the grave. That sin—and once again we stand before the glorious climax of our Christian faith—Jesus took from us. It was ours in its complete hideousness and destruction, but it became His when on the cross He, as the Lamb of God, took away the world’s sin, removed our guilt forever, washed and purified us in His blood, so that in God’s sight we have no sin. With our iniquities canceled, our pardon sealed, the broken Law fulfilled for us, Christ’s atonement accepted for our transgressions, we can have life—eternal, blessed life through Him!

What immeasurable love God has shown us in making Christ the Way! Do you know what it cost the Lord to have His Son, Jesus, substitute for a world of sinners? Out in Kansas a father unknowingly ran over and killed his own son, who had been coasting; but there was nothing accidental about God’s love for us in Christ. It had been decreed before the foundations of the world. Across the water millions of parents are forced to send their sons to the battlefields, where thousands are destined to die for their country; but our heavenly Father was not forced to give Christ into death. It was pure, unconstrained love that sent Jesus to the cross. God loved us, every one of us, with such devotion, and so intensely desired that we should be with Him in glory, that He sent His Only­begotten to blood-marked Calvary in our stead.

Now, if Christ, as our Road, would direct us to His homeland along the hardest paths man has ever trod, we would still sing His praise. If His highway to heaven meant fighting snows higher than the Himalayas or dragging ourselves across the heat and blister of deserts far wider than the Sahara, cutting our paths step by step through swamps and jungles a thousand times more impenetrable than the Upper Amazon Valley, we would still thank him eternally. But—praise be to His ever-blessed name!—He made the road for us, filled up the deadly ravines, tore down the impassable heights, and gave us the smooth-flowing highway of faith to His Father’s arms. You, the disquieted of spirit, who continually ask yourselves, “How can I earn my way to heaven?” believe that Jesus is the entire Way. Your salvation is not partly His mercy and partly your work; every inch of the trail from time to eternity has been made and blazed by the Savior Himself, your all-sufficient Redeemer, your complete Atonement.

Christ’s pathway to heaven is never uncertain; you have a guidebook to explain the road—the sacred, errorless Scriptures. When John Jay, first Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, was brought down on his deathbed, he was urged to tell his children from what source he drew his remarkable consolation for the last hours. His reply was brief, “They have the Book!” You, too, have the Book; but how often do you read it? Many of you are experienced travelers and know the shortest and best auto highways from one part of the country to the other; but before God I ask you, “Do you know the most important road of all, the way to heaven?” Thousands of you fathers and mothers do not find time to study Christ’s road in your own homes and with your own children. The church historian Eusebius records that one of the early Christians whose eyes had been burned out during the persecutions by Diocletian repeated the Holy Scriptures from memory before a large assembly. Bereft of his sight, he could see more than many of you can with open eyes. Read the Bible; believe it; make it yours in mind and soul, and that Book will bless you forever!

This appeal becomes the more necessary when we realize that today willful men are building byways that lead away from this royal highway. See how even churches, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes willfully, are coaxing people off the road to redemption on to the side lanes. We have a current copy of a Christian young people’s magazine in which much is said about vocational guidance, race relations, international peace, labor conditions, and a dozen other timely questions, but in which there is not a single clear pronouncement in answer to the query, “Where is the road to heaven?” The first question for the modern pulpit to answer is, “What must I do to be saved?” not, “What must I do to save democracy?” Too many of our churches have sidetracked the ministry to the soul and the search for heaven in favor of social discussions. Preachers have always failed when they turned politicians, and the churches have always sacrificed their vital influence when they substituted popular catch phrases for the eternal promises of Christ’s Gospel. At a time when spiritual ignorance prevails among the masses, including particularly our children, as the President of the United States recently emphasized, when even church-members cannot give a clear, straightforward definition of the Christian faith, our activities must concentrate on helping to save men’s souls. The fundamental question which ultimately confronts every person is, “What happens to me when I die?” The church which fails to offer the positive hope given by Christ in the Scriptures will eventually destroy itself. In directing men to Jesus Christ as “the Resurrection and the Life,” we have the pledge of continued blessing.

As if in protest to the modern attacks on Christianity, Jesus pointedly says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Rebuking those who claim that the Christian, the Jew, the Ethical Culturist, the Mohammedan, the Brahman, the Confucianist, are all bound for heaven and that these various creeds are merely taking different roads to the same goal, Jesus says, “There is only one way, and ‘I am the Way!’” Christianity is not just another religion; it is the religion; not one of many creeds, but the one true creed. Since the Bible specifically warns, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ”; since the Scriptures declare, “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” but the name of Jesus Christ, and our text emphatically says, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me,” neither you nor I nor anyone else should say that there are many ways to heaven.

If we had two-way radio communications now, many of you would raise charges of bigotry and of a narrow creed. But can the truth ever be bigoted and narrow? When a competent physician says there is one way to cure a disease, do you object and say: “O Doctor, why be so narrow? There must be a dozen ways!”? If a specialist for malaria says that medical science knows one cure for that disease, quinine and its derivatives; when an expert on rabies pointblank maintains that the medical world knows no other help for infection from a mad dog than the antirabies vaccine, do you not accept this, as most people do? Why, then, listen to religious quacks when Jesus Christ, the Good Physician, has given the one remedy that can heal us from our iniquities? If you were steering a ship through the North Sea and the charted route showed a single path free from enemy mines, would you say, “Oh, let’s take a chance; let’s try another course”? Why, then, are you ready to risk your eternal destiny by neglecting and forsaking Christ’s truths? Suppose you were a general and your troops were surrounded by the enemy; if your maps showed one and only one way of escape, would you sacrifice the lives of your men by going in an opposite direction? Why, then, in the battle of life do you run contrary to Christ?

Instead of charging the Christian creed with bigotry, thank God that for your soul’s salvation you do not have to worry which road is the right road. Christ shows you the way today, and His assertion that He is “the Truth” has been proved in the hearts and lives of so many millions that we plead with you in His stead to take the Christ road to glory. You can always tell His way by the cross. When Von Humboldt traveled through tropical America, journeying by night to avoid the day’s heat, his guides directed their course by the stars in the well-known Southern Cross. Frequently, he records, when wearied during a long night of travel, they would look up to that starry cross and cry, “Courage, comrades! The cross begins to bend.” They thought that the constellation was beckoning to them. In the dark and hard-fought journeys of your life, your eyes of faith can behold Him who died on the cross as He seeks to bend more closely to you and say: “Take courage, My child, for this pathway of the cross is the right road, the true road, the only road.”

Fellow-sinners, take that road today! Start now! Tomorrow may be too late! God help you for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

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

Date: January 14, 1940

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.Psalm 111:10

Almighty and all-merciful God, our Father in Christ:

Our prayers are raised to Thee, together with Thy Son and Thy Holy Spirit, in behalf of this nation’s youth. Guard the rising generation during these perilous days, and if it be according to Thy will and for our best, O God, keep our sons off the battlefields of Europe! Enlist them in Christ’s service and for His holy warfare against sin! Bless our homes with the Savior’s presence and the strengthening power of family worship! For His sake forgive us all our sins, especially those committed against our youth, our failure to give them Christian example, Christian training, and Christian power! Bless all who hear these words with the sincere resolution to acquire that wisdom which starts with the reverence of Thy name and the love of the Savior! Come to us with Thy Spirit and help us to build better homes, more consecrated churches, a more godly nation!  We ask it by our Redeemer’s precious promise! Amen.

CRIME keeps marching on, and too often American colleges are the leaders in its procession. During the past one week, for example,—and these were seven average days,—campus criminals and academic lawbreakers, as usual, made heavy headlines. A University of Pittsburgh senior held up a telegraph office and deliberately shot a guard to death. A Harvard graduate, prominent athlete, socialite, and industrialist, first fired a bullet into the head of his dog and then blew his own brains out. A Dartmouth College professor, an internationally known poet, closed the doors of his garage, started his automobile, and took his life by carbon monoxide. A University of Missouri junior died under circumstances which made the coroner suggest suicide, and a University of Michigan department head similarly plunged four stories to his death. A graduate of Fordham Law School was charged with embezzling large sums of money from a mentally incapable woman. A Yale graduate, head of a gigantic public utilities concern, paid an annual $60,000 salary, was threatened with Federal investigation on the charge of illegal political influence and tax evasion. Pictures were reprinted showing the former president of Louisiana University not in his academic robes but in a convict’s striped garb,—a condemned fraud and thief. A University of Wisconsin graduate wrote a magazine article and, describing his own college experiences, brazenly declared: “Many of us got dead drunk about twice a week. . . . Free love on the campus was a familiar practice.”—All this and much more in a single typical week!

American education has often failed in building character. Too frequently our schools have produced brain power but not moral power. They have specialized in graduating nimble-minded but not noble-minded students. Too often they have given information but no inspiration, cleverness but not cleanness.

Now, why this frequent failure? Why do some of our penitentiaries list enough college graduates to supply a teaching force for a moderate-sized college? Not because we have neglected education and refused to provide adequate funds for our schools. No other age and no other land has received as many hundreds of millions of dollars every year for public education. Nor are the modern teaching methods responsible for the crime wave. Too often, of course, the schools fail to equip youth for the opportunities and responsibilities of life, since frills and fads and fancies push solid learning aside; but the reason modern education has helped produce lists of criminals lies deeper. This appalling condition can be explained only by the fact that many American children and young people receive a daily schooling which is either unreligious, irreligious, antireligious, or even atheistic. We are training the mind, appealing to the senses but are too often perverting the spirit, heart, and soul.

Because no single issue is of more vital importance for this nation, its churches, and the world of tomorrow, we protest against the dangerous tendencies in our modern Christless culture and urge:

FIRST OF ALL—CHRISTIAN EDUCATION!

And for this appeal we find Scriptural endorsement in the words of Psalm 111, verse 10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

I

WHY WE NEED CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

This “fear of the Lord” which the psalmist mentions as “the beginning of wisdom” is no cringing terror. When we realize how deeply God loved us despite our unholiness and His complete holiness; when we know in positive assurance that God grants us forgiveness, free salvation, eternal life, not through a mere decree, but by accepting as the atonement for our sins the holy, precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; when our faith tells us that the almighty God swings the gate of heaven wide to welcome us, not if we come with any human admission price or the credentials of our own faulty righteousness, but if we approach trusting in the Savior’s mercies; when we summarize these divine riches of grace in Christ, we cannot fear God with an animal, slavish terror. Indeed, it is the glory of our faith that “perfect love casteth out fear.”

So when the text speaks of “the fear of the Lord” as “the beginning of wisdom,” this means the reverence of God, the humble worship of the Almighty, the unreserved honor of a contrite heart confidently offered to the Lord Jesus. On such reverent fear of the Almighty as “the beginning of wisdom” we are to build the training of our children and young people in their search for wisdom. We are to bow down before the Lord in Jesus’ name and say: “O God, mighty and magnificent beyond all measure and understanding, Thou art the Potter, and we are the clay. The truth is in Thee, but we behold error all around us, and therefore we will believe, accept, and teach nothing that contradicts Thy Word; Because we know that before Thee the stars and the planets and the gigantic bodies of the heavens are but as glittering dust strewn across the firmament; that the oceans, unfathomed and overwhelming to us, are to Thee but drops in an immeasurably vast universe; and that all the strength of men in Thy sight is but as the weakness of the worm to us, we bow submissively before Thy Word, knowing that ‘heaven and earth shall pass away’ before Thy Gospel passes away. If men’s scientific claims ridicule Thy truth; if their evidence seems to contradict it, we know no wisdom except that which begins with the reverential awe of Thy majesty. And though we cannot always understand Thy ways nor explain the unnumbered mysteries that surround us, we repeat: We will believe, accept, and teach for ourselves and for our children, in the churches and the schools, nothing contrary to Thy Word and eternal revelation.”

This fundamental principle of our faith that education must not be atheistic, skeptical, antichristian, but that real culture starts with Biblical truth, has been endorsed by great leaders whose names have made scientific history. The desire for Christian education has led to the establishment of our greatest universities, for example, Harvard, with its motto: “For Christ and the Church!”; Yale, with its seal recalling the high priest of the Old Testament; Princeton, with its love for Jesus that made John Witherspoon, its first president, formally declare: “Cursed be all learning that is contrary to the Cross of Christ! Cursed be all learning that is not coincident with the Cross of Christ! Cursed be all learning that is not subservient to the Cross of Christ!”; Wellesley, founded by a successful attorney, who, as a lay preacher of the Gospel of the Savior, devoted his fortune to establish a college for the Christian training of young women.

Each of these schools, however, as well as scores of other American colleges and universities, which were originally built by Christian founders, now employs teachers who deliberately reject the Bible, question or even deny the very existence of God. Indeed, the entire system of public education, to a greater or lesser degree, is similarly marked by indifference or hostility to the claims of Christ. Take the average American child and survey his educational career,—your own boys and girls, as they leave your homes every morning. They start at the kindergarten, but with all its commendable features, the public kindergarten cannot give your children Christian instruction, because a wise law prohibits crossing the line of demarcation between Church and State. So Hallowe’en comes, and the little tots cut out witches, ghosts, and skeletons; Thanksgiving comes, and they paste synthetic turkeys together; Christmas comes, and the teacher pictures on the blackboard a jolly Santa Claus squeezing through a brick chimney; Easter comes, and the children bring home papers pasted with pussy-willows and decorated with rabbits. But where, fathers and mothers of America, is the knowledge of the Savior, who declares: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”?

In the grammar school these tots become lads and lassies; and not only does the Christless education continue, as it must, since we cannot use public funds for religious purposes, but as the child advances, he often faces a rejection of Biblical truth. That was my own experience. At home in Boston my father read the Bible to us night after night, and then on weekday mornings I went to a public school that bore the name of a great Puritan divine—to hear parts of the Bible truth rejected, to have the teacher say, for example, that millions of years ago this globe of ours was a fiery ball, which through successive ages cooled down, assumed the shape it now has, and accidentally produced life. The home teaching the Bible, the public school rejecting it! Do you know what that can do to plastic, suggestible young minds? Many of your children are subjected to the same conflict. Some of the textbooks, purchased by public officials with public funds for public schools, openly picture the world as an accident instead of the masterpiece of divine creation and man as the product of evolution from the lower animals instead of the handiwork of God Almighty. These children come home from school in the afternoon and turn on the radio to hear an unbelievable array of juvenile broadcasts with criminals and gangsters. The few moments left before supper are devoted to the comic strips, which again show the details of lawbreaking and may leave an indelible imprint on their young lives. After supper, in how many homes is there not insistent begging for the price of a movie ticket? Even worse, how often is this wish not granted by parents who do not even know what the picture will be, yet who ought to know that sections of the motion­picture industry are rotten! And when that crowded, emotion-filled day is over and the youngster tumbles into bed, sometimes too tired to say his prayers, if he knows any, how has Jesus Christ found opportunity to purify that young heart, to strengthen that young mind, to build that young life with spiritual power and glory?

Then follow the high school years of adolescence, when questions of sex begin to assume absorbing interest, the practical everyday dangers of Christless or antichristian culture become evident. I certainly do not want to be a pessimist or indulge in that easy but often unwarranted comparison with “the good old days”; but I have received altogether too many letters from distracted parents, and this nation has been rocked by too many high-school scandals for the Church to maintain silence. Now don’t concentrate the blame on these young people. Our age has made it easy and safe for them to reject entirely the Scriptural command “Keep thyself pure!” by encouraging the birth-control industry and its clutching grasp for profit. We have put the worst books and magazines within easy reach of these young people. A false example of their elders has often made them think lightly of profanity and regard gin, highballs, cocktails, as fashionable. Yet how little is done to bring the renewing, strengthening power of Jesus Christ into their lives! We have more than forty different periods broadcasting dance music on an average night here in Saint Louis, and if it were not for the station from which I speak to you now, our Gospel Voice, there might not be a single religious broadcast here and particularly no young people’s message.

When the college years come,—and more than a million and a quarter of our young people are college students,—the antichristian influences reach their climax. Some teachers serve notice right at the outset of their courses that the students must “park” their religion outside the classroom. If they do not insist that there is no God, many are unwilling to go farther than to concede that there may be one. They teach that man is just another animal. He has no immortal soul. His religion is superstition. His language, the “bow-wow,” “pooh-pooh,” “ding­dong” theories are said to prove, is evolved from animal sounds and grunts. Everything in life is ruled by chance. No hereafter awaits man, for he dies like the beast that he is. What all this means for daily life may be seen in a recent article entitled “Bohemia on the Campus,” the confession of a Madison, Wisconsin, student. That ought to make every Christian parent examine the moral conditions at any college to which he entrusts his children. The tragedy of American higher learning is this, that with millions of dollars devoted to athletic programs for the body, hundreds of millions endowed for the advancement of the mind, our present-day culture has not only left the soul untouched but has often aligned itself against the cause of Christianity.

Who can measure the startling results? Voices outside the Church are constantly raised charging that the schools have given room to un-American, radical Red movements and are become hotbeds of immorality. Now, I am not here to discuss issues of Americanism and chastity, but I am before this microphone to say with all the power God gives me that antichristian education will help send many souls to hell unless there is a reawakening to the truth of our text that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” As a consequence of this soul ignorance, which now extends its handicap to the third generation in the United States, almost 75 per cent of the country’s population do not attend church on an average Sunday. Since at least three of every four children are growing up without adequate religious instruction (although some churches devote more time to the religious instruction in their foreign mission fields than to American youth), we ought to realize now that for the salvation of the souls of America’s youth, for the continued blessing upon our land, and for the upbuilding of the truly Christian churches we must have—and, O God, grant this to us!—Christian training and Christian schools, Christ-exalting education, and Christ­centered colleges. We must realize personally that “the fear of the Lord”—the reverence for God the Father as our Creator, the love of God the Son as our Redeemer, the praise of the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier, the acceptance of the divine Word, the trust in the divine truth—“is the beginning of wisdom” and also its glorious end.

II

HOW WE MAINTAIN CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

How, you may ask, can we help to promote this training that starts with the fear and the love of God? We can do very little unless we ourselves revere our heavenly Father and love the Savior. It is therefore doubly important that you fathers and mothers come to Christ; for remember, your unbelief not only helps keep you from the greatest blessing God Himself can give you, but your bad example may be a fatal stumbling-block to your own children. Even if heaven or hell were not involved for you, I would still plead: Accept Christ so that He can help you strengthen your children through Christian faith and saving knowledge.

When Christ is yours, you must become an advocate of Christian education. I have already explained that we do not ask for religious instruction in the public schools. On the other hand, as Christian citizens we should help build our public schools. Especially must we insist, however, that no institution supported by public tax money tolerate an antichristian teaching. If your children come home with books that contain pictorial and printed attacks on the Bible, go first of all to the teacher, then to the principal, the school board, and, if still necessary, to higher authorities and demand that such un-American activities be discontinued immediately.

The churches, particularly, must lay new emphasis on Christian culture. With all due respect to the Sunday­schools and with my thanks to those of you in this audience who are Sunday-school teachers, let me say that to strengthen the immortal souls of our youth we need more than the brief Sunday-school hour. Every year we call attention to the Christian day-schools, thousands of them from coast to coast, maintained by my Church. Let me summarize for you a typical day in one of these schools. First of all, the children start the morning with reverent hymns, prayers, and the confession of their faith. Next their teachers, about 85 per cent of them men and 15 per cent women, who have been trained at Christian normal schools, employ the first and best hour of the day to instruct them thoroughly and systematically in the Word of God, in Bible History, in the Christian doctrine according to Luther’s Small Catechism, in the Bible itself. Gems from Holy Scripture, Christian hymnology, and other materials are committed to memory as a lasting treasure. Then follows the instruction in the common school branches, reading, arithmetic, history, and the rest; and a thorough instruction it is, equal in efficiency to that of any other school, often superior because of the children’s character. It never places a question-mark behind the Word of God but always stresses the joy and truth in our Christian faith and the application of the Christian and Biblical viewpoint to secular affairs. When the classes are over, hymns and prayers close a school-day in which instruction was supported by a consistent Christian school discipline. This Church-controlled education is receiving wide recognition and unexpected support in many Protestant circles. We believe it to be the hope of America. Don’t you, too, honestly think that the child thus trained, with the love of Christ in his heart and the reverence of God in his mind, is best prepared for the struggle of life? Even if you are not ready to answer, it can be demonstrated statistically that children with this training do not frequent the courts of juvenile delinquency.

We extend a personal invitation to you: These schools, more than 1,300 of them, are open to your children, in practically all cases free of charge. They may not in every instance have large and pretentious buildings, but they are splendid schools when measured by their educational achievement and particularly by the spiritual power they radiate. Give your children the greatest blessing of life! “Come thou with us, and we will do thee good!”

Likewise open to your sons and daughters are Christian colleges, founded for the specific purpose of affording to our young people a cultural training free from all attacks on their faith. A college of this kind, which I mention particularly since I am intimately acquainted with its work, is Valparaiso University in Indiana. Fully accredited, it offers a thorough academic training; but it offers more: the environment of Christian young people, classroom instruction that never questions God’s Word, instructors who bow submissively before the eternal truth. Again, this school and many other Christian colleges may not have the legislative endowments that State universities enjoy, but the heart of a real, character-building university is the Christian faith of its leaders, the Christian work of its instructors, the Christian spirit of its students.

Remember, however, that the Church with its schools and colleges cannot fight the battle alone. This education that starts with “the fear of the Lord”—and now pay close attention—must come also from the home. In the family life that has promise for the future and that, in turn, will receive divine guidance, father and mother should both be devoted followers of Christ. So we have prayed God repeatedly that He would bless this broadcast for many homes by crystallizing in your hearts the resolution now to give yourselves to Jesus for time and eternity. Nothing else that you can ever do, all the money you bequeath to your children, can ever mean as much to them as the realization that you lived and died in the Lord. In the truly blessed home husband and wife will be of one faith, and the true faith. No house divided against itself, no tragedy of a husband worshiping in one church and his wife in another, until indifference creeps in, and when children come, they often attend no church at all! I wish that every broadcasting chain in our country would give us a half hour each week to show the spiritual danger, not to mention the unhappiness, that often follows these mixed marriages. Few other appeals can be as definitely in keeping with this objective of all broadcasting, “the public interest, convenience, and necessity.” In the home that will build the Church and the nation the father must have time and love and interest to teach his own children the truths of our faith. Men like to push these responsibilities on the mothers’ shoulders, but God holds you husbands primarily responsible. And if you are Christ’s, you ought to be the spiritual heads of the home. How terrifying this must seem to some of you men in this audience when, instead of bringing your children to Christ, you realize that your repeated sins are helping to keep your own flesh and blood away from the Savior! What a terrible thought it must be for you to know that on the day of Judgment God Himself will charge the souls of your children to your account! I must speak plainly because some of you may never hear me again; and if deep in your heart a voice pleads: “Oh, get right with God now!”; if you want forgiveness and pardon for the distress and sorrow of every sin; if you really love your children and want to stand with them on that Great Day face to face with Jesus to say: “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me!” then come before God now in Jesus’ name! Let us send a pastor to help direct and guide you! Let us send you Christian literature, anything you may need to help make your home what it should be, a church of the living God, a school for the spiritual instruction of your children!

You mothers, to whom God has given more power for the establishment of a better tomorrow than He has to many legislators, what a blessed privilege you have in promoting Christian education! We know that the endless workaday duties in many of your homes hardly leave some of you exhausted mothers the time and thought required to watch over the souls of your children. But let Christ help you! Let prayers sustain you! Let faith fortify you! When a busy mother who has been remarkably successful in bringing up her children was asked for the secret of her success, she answered: “While my children were infants upon my lap, as I washed them, I raised my heart to God that He would wash them in the blood that cleanses from all sin. As I clothed them in the morning, I asked my heavenly Father to clothe them with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. As I provided them food, I prayed that God would feed their souls with the bread from heaven and give them to drink of the Water of Life. When I prepared them for the house of God, I pleaded that their bodies might be fit temples for the Holy Ghost. When they left me for weekday school, I followed their infant footsteps with the prayer that their path through life might be like that of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. And as I committed them to rest for the night, the silent breathing of my soul has been that the heavenly Father would take them to His embrace.” Mothers of America, push everything else aside that keeps you from devoting your time, your prayers, your love, to the eternal welfare of your own children! “Learn first to show piety at home,” Saint Paul told certain women of his day; and in that spirit we repeat: If anything takes your attention away from your children; if it be pleasure or recreation, business or social obligations, women’s clubs or political meetings, charity collections or relief drives, even certain forms of church work itself, drop it all and with God’s help give your children the wisdom that starts with “the fear of the Lord” and leads to His everlasting adoration in heaven!

Sometimes we hear parents complain about the cost of rearing their children. You say: “My son cost me $200 in doctor’s bills last year.” “My daughter cost me more than $1,000 during her first year at college.” But you forget what your sons and daughters, even as you and I, cost the Lord Jesus: that never-to-be-fathomed suffering, that seeming eternity of anguish, that God-forsakenness on the cross. Now, if Christ so loved your child, will you not help your child to come to the Savior?

God grant that all of you may have Christ in your homes, Christ in the lives of fathers and mothers, Christ in the obedience and love of the children, Christ as the eternal, never-failing, all-glorious Savior for the entire family—and with Him heavenly wisdom, power, and blessing! Amen!

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