Recent Questions

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What is the Bible's position on adultery? Is it against one of the commandments? Where are the commandments in our NIV Bibles?

God forbids adultery. That subject matter is one of the commandments listed in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:5-21. Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18 specifically prohibit adultery.

How would a pastor from another Synod go about coming to the WELS?

The Bylaws of WELS address your question.

“Section 4.60 Colloquium Committee (a) Pastors and male teachers from church bodies not in fellowship with the synod shall apply for membership by written application to the president of the district within which the applicant resides. Notice of such application shall be published by the district president at least twice in Forward in Christ and/or on the WELS website and/or by other electronic means. (b) A Colloquium Committee shall be appointed by the president. The committee shall be composed of the district president of the district in which the applicant resides, a professor from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary for the colloquy of a pastor, or a professor from Martin Luther College educational track for the colloquy of a teacher, and a vice president of the synod. The vice-president shall be chairman of the committee. (c) If the applicant is approved by the Colloquium Committee, he shall be eligible for a call, and notice of such approval shall be published by the chairman of the Colloquium Committee in Forward in Christ and/or on the WELS website and/or by other electronic means.”

A portion of a Together newsletter described one pastor’s colloquy experience.

The pastor who is interested in joining WELS would first determine in which district of WELS he resides and then contact the appropriate district president. I could provide that contact information in a private response.

Does Satan have to abide by any rules, here on earth, and what, if any, are there?

Satan has to abide by God’s rules in that he is under God’s control. Satan’s interactions with God, described in Job 1 and 2, demonstrate that he cannot do whatever he wants to do. Satan can do only what God, in his wisdom, allows.

Revelation 20:3 provides more detail on God’s control of Satan in the “short time” before the Last Day. Revelation 20:10 previews what finally awaits Satan.

Hello! I had a question about laymen ordaining pastors in an emergency. For example, in the Soviet Union, many Lutheran pastors were killed, and laymen were left with no pastor. So, because they did not have access to one, and since the need for one was huge, they ordained their own leaders. Was this a valid ordination? If so, why? Are there verses from Scripture (or Early Church writings) that show this to be valid (either by example or by implication)? Thank you for your time.

With your question on ordination, we need to back up one step. It is a divine call that enables a person to serve in the public ministry, to serve on behalf of others (1 Corinthians 9:14; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:1-10). Ordination is “public recognition or confirmation of the validity and legitimacy of the call that was sent and accepted.” (The Shepherd Under Christ, page 49). Ordination and installation are matters of adiaphora in that Scripture does not expressly command them nor forbid them. They are certainly meaningful, significant and historic customs that include the laying on of hands (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:4; 5:22; 2 Timothy 1:6).

If Christians, in times of emergency as your question illustrated, call a non-theologically trained man to serve as their pastor temporarily, that is a valid call. Any ordination that followed would validate the issuance and acceptance of the call.

What should I do if I was confirmed in a WELS church and my stepmom won't let me go? She insists on taking me to another church that is nothing like I learned. I have tried talking to her but I am now to afraid to say what I believe.

There is information I am lacking as I try to respond to your question. If you were confirmed in one of our congregations, that means you established communicant membership there. Are you still a member of that congregation? If so, you will want to speak to your pastor about your situation. He would also want to speak to your stepmother.

Your age is another piece of information I do not have. I do not know if you are dependent on your stepmother for a ride to church or if you have other ways of getting to church (while speaking to your stepmother about this of course).

I also do not know if your father is in the picture and if he belongs to one of our congregations. Input from him would be valuable.

With the limited information I do have, all I can suggest is that you overcome your fear of speaking to your stepmother and have another conversation with her about this subject. Perhaps you could list the teachings of her church that go against what you learned and confessed to be true at your confirmation. Use a Bible in your conversation, asking your stepmother to explain her church’s teachings while you explain your faith. God bless such a conversation.

Hello! I had a question about the consecration of the bread and wine. I noticed that the WELS churches that I go to consecrate the bread and wine with the Words of Institution. But I do not see anywhere in Scripture directly saying it should be done that way, and the Early Church Fathers seem to say that it must be done by a Eucharistic Prayer instead (for example, Saint Ambrose; De fide ad Gratianum 4.10.125). So, what is the proper way to consecrate it? Is it the Words of Institution that Christ said? Is it when Christ had given thanks over it before He distributed it (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24)? And does this matter? Thank you for your time!

The Shepherd Under Christ, a pastoral theology textbook used at our seminary for many years, provides this explanation for the consecration of the elements.

“Essentially the consecration consists in speaking the words of institution over the visible elements. Its purpose is, first of all, to show that it is the pastor’s intention to carry out Jesus’ institution and to set the visible elements apart for use in the sacrament. It furthermore serves as a prayer that the Lord may do what He has promised, as a confession that the body and blood of Christ are present in the sacrament, and as an invitation to the communicants to appropriate Jesus’ promise by faith.

“Such a use of the words of institution in consecrating the visible elements is an ancient custom (cf 1 Cor 10:16), but the words are not to be considered a magic formula that affects a change in the elements. The presence of the body and blood does not depend on the simple repeating of the words but comes about through the gracious working of the Lord, whose promise is connected with the words. The real presence is therefore also not dependent on the faith of the man who speaks the words.”

If you would like to pursue the topic further, I would recommend reading The History and Use of the Eucharistic Prayer. It is available free from the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File. One of the points of the paper is the following: “Luther’s liturgical reform of the Canon of the Mass was radical. Because the Canon strongly inculcates the view of the Mass as sacrifice, Luther in both his Formula Missae of 1523 and his Deutsche Messe of 1526 eliminated the entire Canon (Anaphora, Eucharistic Prayer) from the service with the exception of the bare Words of Institution which he retained. This practice has generally prevailed in Lutheranism to this present day.”

Does God's word speak of judgment on a nation whose people disobey his word, as in abortion, where it has been made legal but is contrary to God's Word to murder?

The Bible provides examples of nations that experienced God’s judgment for their godlessness. The worldwide flood in Noah’s day comes to mind first; all nations were destroyed. Other examples include the northern tribes of Israel, and all the nations in Isaiah 10 – 34 that faced God’s judgment.

The Bible makes it clear that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Also, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). Psalm 2 offers an interesting picture of the relationship between God and the nations of the world and their rulers.

All this is reason why, in the context of your question, it is important for us to offer a prayer like this: “Almighty and eternal God, who created this world and all of us in it, we thank you for the blessing of our life. And we thank You that You created us wonderfully. Lead all people everywhere to see Your work in the creation of life and to consider human life as sacred. Help us to stop the wanton destruction of newly created life in the mother’s womb. Protect and defend all to whom you give life until that day when you take their life from them again. Lead people everywhere to see the sin of abortion and all other sins and to recognize that they are under your wrath and punishment because of them. And then bring them to the precious knowledge of Your Son Jesus, so that they may have eternal life in His name. We ask this so that Your will may be done on this earth and that Your kingdom may come to all people. Amen.”

I have a question about the keeping of inner vows and promises made to God. Before I become a WELS church member, I attended very fundamentalist churches. During this time, I vowed to God that I would not play cards. The fundamentalist churches look down on all card playing due to its past associations with gambling. I made this vow because I really enjoyed card games, but was made to feel that it was an evil activity. Now, I have come to realize this was a legalistic understanding that I had, kind of like the Pharisees who added extra rules not found in the Scriptures. I would like to be able to enjoy non-gambling card games with my family as a way to build our family relationships. My question is, am I bound under this vow I made to God, or may I confess it as sinful and foolish, made in an incorrect understanding, and be at liberty to enjoy playing cards with my family? I feel that Jesus' teaching in Mathew 5 indicates we should avoid vows, and I feel that this vow was foolish. Can I be released from it? Thank you for your counsel.

It sounds like you made a promise to refrain from an activity that you called sinful but God did not. Now that you see things differently, and correctly, it is not wrong for you to engage in that activity.

Christian freedom is precious (Galatians 5:1). We do not want others to take away our freedom, nor do we want to deprive it of ourselves.

Since prayer is conversation with God, share your thoughts with God about your former and present thoughts regarding card playing. Then, live in the peace and freedom Christ won for you.

What does it mean that Jesus was justified in the Spirit? Is that a forensic justification?

I am understanding that your question addresses 1 Timothy 3:16: “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,[d]
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.
d. Or vindicated in spirit”

Jesus lived the perfect life we cannot (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15). Jesus then suffered the punishment people deserved for their sins (Isaiah 53:4-12). 1 Corinthians 15:17 explains that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, there would be no forgiveness of sins. Without his resurrection from the dead, Jesus’ mission would have ended in failure.

The message of the Bible is that Jesus’ resurrection delivered a “not guilty” declaration from God (Romans 4:25). 1 Timothy 3:16 teaches that Jesus’ resurrection vindicated him as the Holy One of God, the sinless Son of God. While the sins of the world were laid on Jesus, his resurrection was a clear signal to all the world that his sacrifice for sin was complete and accepted, and that he remains holy and pure.

In heaven, is the soul of the believer who dies before Judgment Day conscious of the joys of heaven or is the soul asleep in heaven, protected by God, but unconscious of the joys of heaven that we will eventually enjoy when our souls are reunited with our body (glorified body) after Judgment Day?

The Bible provides little specific information regarding what souls in heaven or hell are experiencing prior to the Last Day.

The information we do have points to the souls of believers enjoying the perfection and glory of heaven, while the souls of unbelievers are experiencing the horror and torments of hell (Luke 16:19-31).

Matthew 22:32 speaks of believers living with God in heaven. Luke 23:43 states that the penitent thief would be with Jesus in Paradise when he died. 1 Peter 3:19-20 describes unbelievers in hell who witnessed Jesus’ descent into hell. Revelation 6:9-10 provides an account of believers in heaven conversing with the Lord.

All this says that people who have died—and their souls have gone to heaven or hell—are very much aware of their existence.

When death takes place, body and soul separate. Any biblical references to sleep pertain to the body, which is motionless.

What are the WELS' views on Q Anon? My pastor's wife is very active on social media and seems to retweet many conspiracies that seem to be unfounded. I've read articles and listen to podcasts that all of this is a disinformation campaign that has taken root among evangelicals and tends to distract them for actual worldly events.

There are no official church statements on a subject like this. Individuals are free to form opinions, and our church body does not direct people how to think about news items. You may want to contact your pastor’s wife to seek clarification of her views.

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