NEWS FROM THE CENTER FRIDAY DIGEST - December 16, 2022 - Exhortation

I'm not sure where it came from, this fear of what is often called the Law's third use. But woe to the preacher who offers a word of exhortation, to run the race, fight the fight, wait on the Lord, well, just about anything. Right away we hear, "Of course, we cannot run, fight, or wait, for we

are sinners." For that matter, we cannot even repent, for, we are told, God repents us.

Now, in this protest, there is a kernel of truth. We do the good that God has called us to do, and surely we stumble, fall, and rebel. We do the good that God has called us to do, and, in the end, we see it was God's doing all along. But still, in Christ, we are a new creation. The sinner remains. Original sin remains. To grow in Christ means to come to grips all the more with that sin that lurks in every fiber. And yet, we exhort one another to good works, to run, to fight, to wait, to show mercy, to help our neighbor, and, yes, to go to church.

Now, we may say that the Law always condemns, and this is true, but it does not only condemn. Exhortation actually is invigorating. St. Paul includes so much of it in his letters, and likewise, or we should say, primarily, so does our Lord. Watch, He says. Work while it is still day before the night comes and no man can work, He says. Now, we might point out that the first disciples fell asleep in the garden, and we may recall Peter's denial. But then we should also think of Peter's heroic sermon at Pentecost and that he eventually fulfilled his promise to go to prison, even death, for the Lord.

Yes, exhortation is invigorating, for it is an invitation into the life of Christ. It is the general's call to would be soldiers, who are grateful to play a part, ever so small, in the great cosmic drama of salvation. Exhortation is the natural call of the preacher to people redeemed. Exhortation is to say that your life matters, and that what you do, yes, what you do, matters.

All that we do, we well know, comes by the power of the Holy Spirit. And we know that our every good work is tainted by sin. And yet, think of all those Christians who have answered the call in your life, and in the life of the church militant. Think of martyrs and faithful witnesses. Think of loved ones who brought you into the Truth. The saints are for us witnesses, examples of lives well lived.

So, when the preacher says, "Fight the good fight," do not go into the corner and sit. Don't think it too burdensome, nor think of yourself, by virtue of your sin or weakness, incapable. Get out into the ring. Enter the arena of life, as our Lord has blessed you. And when you do, thank God that you have been given the opportunity, knowing that at life's end, you will not have wanted it any other way.

The Rev. Dr. Peter Scaer is chairman and professor of Exegetical Theology and director of the M.A. program at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Be Informed

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Be Equipped

Understand the why behind Mormonism’s endorsement of a bill protecting same-sex marriage with Bill McKeever of Mormonism Research Ministry.

Be Encouraged

“Regardless of the challenges, God has a perfect plan for each life that He brings into the world,

and His will for them is to out-sparkle and out-shine any ornament.” --Bradley Mattes, president of Life Issues Institute

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