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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






12 October 2005

Scripture Interpretation and Church Attendance


Q: Where does the Bible say anything about using the Scriptures to get closer to God?

A: The Bible is full of references to Christ and the Word of God. He told His hearers that the entire (Old Testament) Scriptures testified to Him (see John 5:39). Paul reminds Timothy (2 Timothy 3:16-17), “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

How this works out is not always so simple. Discernment and application are important. As Paul says in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” If you read the surrounding verses in Romans 10, you see that the “hearing” is that of sheep to shepherd or parishioner to pastor. Nothing replaces good, sin-condemning Law and sin-forgiving Gospel preaching or Christ’s Absolution spoken through the voices of His pastors.

In other words, being a member of — and a regular participant in — a solid Christian congregation, with a pastor who proclaims and teaches God’s Word in its truth and purity in his sermons and Bible classes, is essential. If forced to choose, opt for the sermon over the Bible class, since a true pastor of Christ’s Church will always let you leave knowing that your sins are forgiven. Thus, you get closer to God as His Word pours into your ears.

Yes, reading Scripture is also valuable, but receiving the proclaimed forgiveness of sins that is part of any true Biblical sermon has been the core of the Christian Church from its earliest days. That’s why, after Pentecost, the Christians banded together and remained in “the apostles’ teaching” (including the sermons of the disciples and their followers). They also remained in the “fellowship” (the Christian assembly or Church, not individuals struggling to interpret the Bible), the “breaking of bread” (Holy Communion, where the group is joined as one with Christ and each other), and in “the prayers” (since they are the prayers, these must be ones known to and used by the entire group), as Acts 2:42 states.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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