Thankful for Steadfastness but Whose Steadfastness is it? by Pr. Rossow

I checked out the “Treasury of Prayer” this morning for devotional material for a day of national thanksgiving. Even though it is not a “church” commemoration I thought I might find something. The best I could find is a prayer of thanksgiving to God in the intercessions section (p. 1,316). What caught my eye however, is the prayer just above it “for steadfast faith.”

 

Ever since the inception of the Brothers of John the Steadfast last spring, Cantor Magness and I have been noticing how often the word “steadfast” shows up in scripture and liturgy, and this is another fine example. I did a word search this morning in the ESV and found 224 instances of the word “steadfast” in God’s holy word. (BTW – a great internet resource for word searches is the ESV website. I use it all the time.)

 

Included in those 224 citations are examples of faith being described as “steadfast.” Most protestants, and this includes practitioners of the church growth movement within the LCMS, typically speak of faith as growing or increasing but far more prominent is the teaching that faith is to be steadfast and immovable. “Growing” faith puts the emphasis on us but a “steadfast” faith puts the emphasis on the object of faith – Christ and his blood atonement. There are a few references to “growing” faith in scripture but far more prominent is faith described as steadfast and among those numerous entries there is a surprising and wonderful truth.

 

Guess who the steadfast one is? We have formed a new Lutheran men’s group focusing on the brothers being steadfast but the more profound and wonderful truth is that God is the steadfast one. (Thank you Dr. Nagel for training me to notice things like this.) The ESV translates the Hebrew word chesedh as steadfast love and most of the 224 references are to God’s chesedh or his loyal, undying love for us his children. If the Brothers are going to be steadfast, we best look to God and his loyal love for us in Christ.

 

Focusing on the steadfastness of faith has another benefit. It puts the emphasis of faith on the objective set of doctrines that we are to keep pure rather than on the subjective side of faith which those doctrines create in us. In this day and age of emphasis on emotion and relevance, it is the latter that gets stressed over the former, even though the faith “in” us is derived from and dependent on the faith “given” to us from the outside and residing in God’s holy teachings.

 

Spending a few days out in the great Northwest reminds me that the loyal love of God is found across the globe. In a few minutes we will leave to worship at Messiah Lutheran in Seattle and meet up with Brother of John the Steadfast Jim Pierce and receive the ministrations from God through his faithful shepherd, Pastor Lassman. As I think about what I am thankful for, beyond God, family and the congregation I serve, the steadfast Brothers and all the other readers of this website come to mind.

 

By the way, we highly recommend “The Treasury of Daily Prayer” for the brothers and all of our readers. The material put out by CPH ever since Paul McCain arrived a few years ago, has been outstanding and this latest entry is another great tool to sustain steadfast faith in a steadfast God. Here is the text of the prayer for steadfast faith.

 

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

Thankful for Steadfastness but Whose Steadfastness is it? by Pr. Rossow — 4 Comments

  1. God Grant It, the Walther sermon devotional published by CPH two years ago, has one for Thankgsiving in its appendix, if anyone is using that one.

    I know TDP begins with Advent but I probably won’t get it until early next year.

  2. Pr. Rossow,

    It was a treat to have met you and your wife, and to worship with you this morning. Have a happy thanksgiving! We have so much to thank God for.

    P.S. Don’t forget to take a trip down to Fred’s Ale House in Snohomish. It is downtown on the main road along the river… where all the antique shops are located. Here is a link with address information. It is cigar and scotch friendly. 🙂

  3. Pastor Rossow,
    Even though you are a pastor and I am a cabinetmaker it is funny how we share so many similar experiences. We have both been noticing the word “steadfast” a lot lately including on Thanksgiving while praying from the TDP. We both know the joys and sorrows of being Hawkeye fans, and we have both been blessed by the teaching of Dr. Nagel.

    When I saw this blog and started reading it I thought about Dr. Nagel even before you mentioned his name. I too remember him teaching that we Christians focus on the object of our faith rather than our faith itself. He taught me that we don’t ask if we have enough faith or if our faith is strong enough to save us, because that would be as silly as asking if we have enough Jesus or if our Jesus is strong enough to save us. Of course Jesus is enough and is strong enough to give us eternal life.

  4. I am honored to have so much in common with a cabinet maker, I only wish I could measure carefully enough to build a cabinet (and so does my wife).

    All of us students of Dr. Nagel are continually amazed at the simple principles that he taught us that bring so much sense to theology. Dr. Nagel came to the seminary while my class was on vicarage. A few of us took a class with him in the fall of fourth year, not really knowing who this guy Nagel was. After two weeks of the class, we would walk out of class, shaking our heads in amazement and wondering if we were even Lutheran up to that point. As you know Ross, he has that sort of effect on students.

    Pastor Rossow

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