We are Different, by Kari Anderson (CLCC)

(The CLCC is one of the many confessional groups that regularly post here on BJS. CLCC does fine work around the country sponsoring workshops and managing regional internet discussion rooms. For more on the CLCC click here. For a complete list of all our regular columns click here.)

Lutherans are different. We look at faith in a different way. We look only to the cross and Christ crucified for sinners, and we appreciate so much what He did for us. When He said, “It is finished” from the cross, He meant it! He did it all! This affects the way we read God’s Word. We read it with Christ as the entire reason for the Scriptures. The Scriptures point us to God’s promise of salvation through Jesus Christ. We don’t add to it or subtract from it, but look for Jesus on every page even in the Old Testament. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” John 5:39(ESV) Of course, Jesus is referring to the Old Testament when He talks about the Scriptures witnessing about Him.

We are different because Christ comes to us in our worship through the Word and the Sacraments in the Divine Service. We worship with the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven. When we worship, we are the recipients, not the doers. God serves us in our worship with His saving gifts and we respond to Him with thanksgiving. That’s very special and different.

We are different because he makes us His chosen children when He adopts us through our baptism, in which we daily live. Most of us don’t remember our baptism, but we trust that God was the doer, and we the recipient of His grace when it was given to us. When our faith was created in our baptism, we hadn’t done anything at all to earn it. Some people claim babies can’t have faith. We know that with God all things are possible, so why can’t God work a miracle in an infant? After all, the Bible says in Acts 2:38-39(ESV): And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” The Bible also says that John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, when Mary entered the room carrying the Christ child within her. John had faith already then. We accept what the Bible says even when it doesn’t make sense to us. Even if we aren’t able to explain it well enough so others can understand it, we know it’s true, because God said so. Therefore, we can boldly say, “I am baptized!”

We are different because we believe that our Lord actually feeds us His True Body and His True Blood in the Lord’s Supper. He feeds Himself to us to strengthen our faith and forgive us our sins. In the same way that we need food to keep our bodies alive and healthy, we need His Body and Blood to strengthen and preserve us in the One True Faith. Again, we accept it, even if it sounds corny to others simply because Christ Himself tells us this in four different books of the Bible; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and I Corinthians. That doesn’t make sense to most Christians in America because they look at the Sacraments as things they do for God, not something He does for them. They do it because it’s something He says to do in remembrance of Him, not because it was given to us as a lasting testament from Him. I see this as a problem with what the word “is” means. Christ Himself says the words, “This is my body. This is my blood”. It is, because He says it is. We can’t understand how, or explain it, so we just accept it by faith. Faith that was freely given to us.

We are different because we know God’s grace is a gift, which He gives us sinners through the Gospel. We receive and live with His forgiveness through a faith that He created and preserves. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”Eph 2:8-9. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” Rom 10:17. However, that doesn’t mean we believe in once saved, always saved. We know we can fall away from the faith by the devil and our own sinful flesh. That is why being faithful in our church attendance is so very important. God feeds us and strengthens our faith through His Word and the Sacraments in the Divine Worship Service. By remaining steadfast in the Word, we won’t be led astray. We will have on the full armor of God.

We see ourselves as part of the new Israel, the chosen nation, chosen to be different. (See 1 Peter 2:9) We don’t always seem or look different to others on the outside. It’s the gifts that we receive that make us different. It’s the trust we have in what the Bible says that makes us different. People may not always see the evidence of our faith, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. We don’t look inward to ourselves to know how we are doing in our faith life. We look outside ourselves to the cross and Christ crucified on it, for us poor miserable sinners. We know we will never be able to measure up on our own merits or even by how we live. Our righteousness is like filthy rags! There is no one righteous, no not one! We are only counted as righteous through the blood of Jesus who redeemed us with His precious blood. We appreciate this very much. It’s a wonderful thing to realize that we don’t have to count on or trust in our self and what we do, because if we’re honest with ourselves, we realize we could never make it on our own. When we repent, it is also a gift worked in us through the Holy Spirit. God even works our sanctification in us by the Holy Spirit throughout our lives. He really and truly does it all. For that reason we can gladly say, “All glory and honor goes to God alone! Alleluia!”

Kari M Anderson
April 15, 2009

Posted in CLCC permalink

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.


We are Different, by Kari Anderson (CLCC) — 6 Comments

  1. Nicely said! (I’m not sure what’s up with the wacky font size changes). Also the law and gospel reading of scripture, which I didn’t catch if you included it.

    As one who came from outside Lutheranism, the Christocentric perspective and Law-and-Gospel reading of scripture are the lynchpins of Christianity. A bit like the Ethiopian eunuch, we can read the words, but how can we understand them without a guide? These two things make all the difference.

  2. This is an excellent summary. I would like to see it on a sub-page of every Lutheran church website. Short, sweet, and to the point–no need for mincing words or vague buzzwords like “Christ-seeking” or “attune to the needs of the emergent community”. Come to think of it, if I could program and code better I could probably come up with a pretty good “Emergent Church buzzword generator”. Shouldn’t be too hard at all.

  3. I know that there are many more ways that we Lutherans are different. You’re right, Bubbles,I never really brought up Law and Gospel distinctly, like our pastors preaching that way every Sunday. I also never mentioned the Confession and Absolution, but it would get way too long, and these are the things that came to me when I thought about it. We should start to list many more. Maybe I can try write a sequel 🙂

  4. Kari,
    What a great nutshell.
    May I pass this on to my Pastor, for possible publication in our church newsletter? I’ve already passed it, via email, to friends.
    Thanks for your consideration.

  5. Susan,

    I don’t mind a bit. I hope that it can be used in some way to help people realize that we are different, and that’s not a bad thing.

    You can get a printable copy from the version on The CLCC site.

  6. It could be edited down a bit to make room for comments on weekly law&Gospel preaching and for confession&Absolution in the same length, I think.

    Good job, Kari!

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