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Faith in Jesus

John A. Braun

I believe. I say those words regularly with others as we confess what we believe. I believe in a specific God who has stepped into history for all humanity. 

When hearing that I believe, some suggest that I am hostile to investigation, critical thinking, and rational thought. I can understand why some would make that assertion about people of faith. All too often “faith” is so vague that it loses its object and becomes just faith in faith—a kind of dream without substance. 

For that kind of faith, there is no proof; its just a feeling no one can verify. To make matters worse, thousands of faiths like that exist and new ones arise every day. But I believe in some important historical facts about Jesus and what he came to do. These facts can be verified just like other facts of history. 

The first question is whether or not there was a Jesus in history. In a court of law, witnesses testify to what they have seen. In the case for Jesus, the eyewitnesses say there was someone called Jesus. John’s gospel begins with the note, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). Luke begins, “I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning” (l:3) which included talking with “eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (v. 2). Matthew and Mark confirm the testimony. Mark was Peter’s secretary, and Peter himself wrote in his second letter, We did not follow cleverly devised stories . . . but we were eyewitnesses” (1:16). The testimony is remarkably accurate. 

An opposing attorney would attempt to challenge their testimony with a host of arguments. He might suggest that the documents containing their eyewitness accounts were written long after the events took place. We’ve all heard that, but it did not happen. The words of the eyewitnesses have been verified as genuine historical documents written shortly after the events they relate. The challenges to their truthfulness have all proven to be without merit. 

The attorney might suggest that the original handwritten documents of these witnesses do not exist, and therefore, they might have been doctored by others afterward. But over five thousand copies of their handwritten documents do exist, some of them coming almost a century after the events. That’s not a problem for ancient texts. Scholars of Latin and Greek writers like Caesar, Herodotus, and Aristotle do not have the originals of these writers either. The copies they study are relatively few and occur in some cases one thousand years after those writers died. 

Then we also investigate what these eyewitnesses claim about Jesus. Why is he so important even today? Is he a teacher? A philosopher? A charismatic leader? Something else? Jesus claims to have come from his heavenly Father to tell us what comes directly from heaven: “I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence” (John 8:38). Amazing! Even astounding! Jesus makes that claim often. C.S. Lewis said what has so often been repeated: Either Jesus is a lunatic with a god complex or he is who he claims to be: God himself entering human history. 

And why did he step into history? After Jesus came into the house of Zacchaeus, he said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). 

My few words here are not enough to explore all the arguments for the Christian faith and the counterarguments against it. But I can confess that I believe. I believe, that is, I trust what the eyewitnesses tell me about Jesus.    


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 9
Issue: September 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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God’s policy of love

John A. Braun

The song “Jesus Loves Me” has come from the voices of little children for as long as I can remember. Their voices move us to smile and to appreciate the lesson they are beginning to learn: Jesus loves them and all of us. So says the Bible, as the children remind us.  

A few years later, wlearned of his love as children too: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s love is sacrificial and gives the best gift—his one and only Sonfor the world.  

“Jesus Loves Me is a worthy theme. Love is God’s guiding principle. We notice his love for all humanity in so many ways. God gives us life and breath. He sends rain and sunshine—and not just for those who believe in him (Matthew 5:45)Other regular blessings also flow from his love. People fall in love, marry, have children, work to support their families, and enjoy food, clothing, and shelter. 

When little children grow older, they sometimes wonder about God’s love. Moses wrote that no matter how old we become life is still filled with “trouble and sorrow” (Psalm 90:10). As children we may have been sheltered from some of those troubles, but later we often question God’s loveJob had questions. So did Jeremiah, and troubling questions have also burst into our thoughts. 

The Lord’s policy of love doesn’t mean a troublefree life here. He sends troubles. Yet we confess that his love endures forever (Psalm 118:1-4). He helps us when we have questions.  

  • First, he promises never to forsake us.We all have favorite passages to cling to in our difficulties.  
  • Second, he has also revealed that he will guide all things for our good (Roman 8:28). 
  • Third, he is our loving Father who at times uses difficulties not to punish us but to discipline us (Hebrews 12:7) 
  • Fourth, he reminds us that this life and all we experience here are temporary. “Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). Our coming deaths and the deaths of those we love point us to the salvation his Son has accomplished for us. We are reminded, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31,32). Eternal peace and joy await all believers. 

God in love wants all to be with him. (1 Timothy 2:4). He will dry our tears and soothe our pain. But God does not enable unbelief. And for those who do not know Jesus, God exercises a tough love. He challenges them with the sorrows and troubles of life so they might realize that this life is often filled with troubles. In those trials, he lovingly invites them, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mathew 11:28).  

When we suffer, we find one more reason why God in his love sends such troubles. As we suffer and live with others who suffer, we have opportunity to share the hope we have in Christ—to witness and to show compassion and to point others to the glory that awaits all those who trust in Christ. The troubles of life often open doors that in other times remain closed.  

Yes, Jesus loves me, this I knoweven in difficult times.  


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 8
Issue: August 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Lord, have mercy!

John A. Braun

On most Sundays, after we are reminded that we begin worship in the name of the almighty holy and majestic Triune God, we confess our sins. Together we begin, “Holy and merciful Father, I confess that I am by nature sinful and that I have disobeyed you . . . 

I admit to having a variety of thoughts when speaking those words. Sometimes I recite them without thinking much at all. They are routine words that tumble from my lips in the same way the Lord’s Prayer sometimes becomes a series of words spoken so often I don’t think about them. Another sin to add to my list. 

My list of “thoughts, words, and actions” also comes to mind. I can’t recall all that I have done wrong. There simply are too many of them. They are all lumped together and confessed as the sins I have done and the good I left undone. For them I pray, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” 

Another series of thoughts comes when I say that I am “by nature sinful.” I remember David’s confession, “Surely I was sinful at birth” (Psalm 51:5). I think of Isaiah who stood in the presence of God and said, “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5), or the words from the book of Job describing a human being as “only a worm” (Job 25:6). I confess that I am worse than the enumeration of wrongs I have committed against God and others. I am thoroughly corrupt by nature. 

I think, perhaps, there should be another series of thoughts because I stand with others who say the same words. I don’t know their thoughts, but we all stand before God as we are—sinners with our imperfections and acknowledging that we are flawed and defective—not at all as God created our first parents. We come knowing that we have no business standing before a righteous, almighty God. 

I wonder if this last thought is important for another reason. We invite visitors to worship with us. When we confess our sins publicly, are we telling these visitors that we aren’t better than others as so many imagine? We come before God with our faults, sins, fears, doubts, trials, troubles, mistakes, guilt, and fears. We challenge visitors to see us that way and invite them to join uwith their lists and the simple prayer, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” No pretenses, no pride, just recognizing ware all sinners in this condition together. 

But then. Then we hear the answer to our humble prayer. We hear that “God . . . has given his only Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” I have come into God’s house just to hear this news again: My sins are forgiven because of Jesus. I remember that Jesus was like me—and all of us—except without sin. In prophecy he even claimed to be like us. David has the Messiah say, “I am a worm and not a man. . . . All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” (Psalm 22:6,7). He took our place. His blood cleanses us (cf. 1 John 1:7). I hear Jesus say to me the words he spoke to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2). 

Why do these thoughts come to my mind now? I have been reading some authors who do not share the treasure we all possess. They believe they can keep the commandments, be holy, and earn an audience with God. I choose simply to pray, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner and receive the undeserved gift of forgiveness. 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 7
Issue: July 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Light in the darkness

John A. Braun

The longest day of this year will be June 21—the day of the summer solstice. In the United States, we will have about 15 hours of light. The sad realization is that from June 21 onward each day will get shorter. The winter solstice is Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, with 9 hours of daylight. Darkness creeps into the daylight, which loses its intensity as the sun drops in the sky and heads closer to the horizon.  

This year Pentecost occurs on June 9, and we celebrate the rise of the gospel light and the birth of the Christian church. Jesus told his disciples that the Counselor would come and they should wait in Jerusalem (John 15:26,27; Acts 1:1-11). Of course, the Holy Spirit called people out of the darkness into the light of God’s grace long before Pentecost. But on that day, the Holy Spirit demonstrated his work with tongues of fire and the miracle of languages. When Peter proclaimed the gospel, the Holy Spirit called three thousand people out of the darkness and into the light.  

The light of the gospel does not rise and set like the light of the sun each day. And since both the light of the gospel and the opposite darkness are spiritual, neither the light nor the darkness is evident to everyone.  

Many who came to Jerusalem for the Jewish festival had no idea that they were in the dark. They did not know Jesus. Peter and the other apostles let their light shine to chase the darkness from the hearts of the three thousand. Pentecost is a reminder that we are to let our light shine so the Holy Spirit can enlighten darkened hearts and minds. 

As believers in Christ, we will always live surrounded by darkness. Those still in the darkness do not recognize it as darkness, but we who live in the light become aware of the darkness when we see murder, child abuse, domestic abuse, theft, robberies, anger, and discord. Others see these things too but do not understand the source of them all. Jesus said they all flow out of the darkened sinful heart (Matthew 15:19)—a concept those in the dark resist.  

The darkness within the human heart rebels against God and resists the truth that Jesus came to rescue humanity from itself—the sin within and the result of sin, death. Alternative ideas about God and spiritual issues arise in the darkness. Those ideas have no foundation except the optimistic imagination and opinions of humans. Those opinions refuse to accept the reality of sin. They flatter the human spirit by minimizing the sin within and suggesting that anyone can earn heaven if only they do enough good.  

But the devastating darkness becomes profound when death comes and those who greet its icy stare have nothing but their human ideas and dreams. A final desperate alternative is to believe that in the end there is no heaven or hell. Those in the darkness have chosen to resist the light of Jesus’ victory over death and his promise: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25). 

We are to share the light of Jesus into the darkness that surrounds us. The hearts bound by the darkness and imprisoned by its false hopes and dreams need the light we possess by faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). We share the gospel, knowing he has the power to awaken and enlighten others 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 6
Issue: June 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Why?

John A. Braun

From the beginning of his life, Jesus was the focus of opposition. Herod wanted to rid his little part of the world of this child whose birth had been announced by a star. Later crowds flocked to him with their diseases. They also came longing to hear the good news for their weary soulsThey recognized that Jesus spoke with the voice of authority. Yet opposition persisted throughout his ministry. And we know his opponents orchestrated his crucifixion and unwittingly fulfilled God’s plans for the world’s salvation. 

Jesus told his disciples they would experience the same kind of opposition because of their allegiance to him. He said that he was called a devil and told his disciples that they should not expect anything different (Matthew 10:25). He pointedly said, “You will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9). So it is. 

Around the world each month, 255 Christians are killed, 104 abducted, 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned, and 66 churches are attacked (Open Doors USA). The organization Open Doors ranks countries in the world that are the most hostile to Christians. North Korea has topped the list for 17 years, and countries dominated by Islam fill out much of the top ten list. These figures verify the warning of Jesus that the world will hate us because of him. 

Why? Do we promote violence and unrest in our society or in the world? Do we teach hatred? Do we refuse to work or pay taxes? Are we diseased and require quarantine so others will not be infected? Are we somehow not human like other people? We bleed, laugh, cry, work, play, and feel emotions like everyone else. 

Yet our Christian faith often creates anger, intimidation, and ridicule. Sometimes Christian students at universities are shamed for their beliefs. Many have felt tension and conflict from friends and family members because they trust in the promises of Jesus.  

Why the hostility on the part of some?  

First, we should expect it. Jesus told us it would be our experience in this world just as it was his experience. Of course, that doesn’t make it easier to endure. We are his disciples here and now, living where Jesus has placed us. So many Christians have come before us, and many will come after us. Some suffered more than we suffer, but they endured. Opposition persists. 

Second, we have a message that the world does not consider important. We think it is. We treasure the message of God’s love, Jesus, forgiveness, and eternal life. But the gospel is not friendly to the human heart that prefers to create its own gods and theology. The Christian message challenges the sin within the human heart and dashes the hope that some god accepts everyone no matter what they believe or how they live. The gospel pits God’s good against human evilGod’s way against human dreams. The result is conflict.  

Why persist with this message of God’s grace in Jesus? Because Jesus sent his disciples out as his witnesses. As his witnesses, they told what they saw and learned. They could not change what they shared. To change it would be to distort the truth. It might resolve some of the conflict and opposition, but they would be unreliable and unfaithful witnesses. 

And why would they change their witness? Why indeed? It was and still is the Word of Life found nowhere else. We believe as those disciples on Ascension Day did—that Christian hope, joy, and peace transcend the understanding of the world (Philippians 4:7). Like them, we are his witnesses. May he help us remain faithful witnesses 



John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.



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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 5
Issue: May 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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The shroud

John A. Braun

On more than one occasion we have been delayed by a serious accident on the freeway.  At some of those scenes, emergency personnel erected canvas tarps to prevent us from seeing the damaged vehicles and, in some cases, the dead. The tarps also prevent gawkers from causing additional accidents. But, of course, it is customary to cover the dead, even at accident scenes. Those who are covered need no medical help. The living—those still uncovered—are rushed to hospitals. 

Battle fields are different. I walked the “Bloody Lane” at the Civil War battleground in Antietam. The dead were long gone, but old pictures of the scene were taken when the bloody bodies were still there, uncoveredThe pictures are difficult to forget. I remember some of photographer Mathew Brady’s other pictures: one uncovered dead sharpshooter at Gettysburg and another of the dead at Vicksburg who were covered with shrouds, awaiting burial. 

I walked the graveyard at Gettysburg and have seen photos of Civil War graveyards made in haste with stones crooked and leaning. I also walked the neat rows of white gravestones marking the Americans dead in Luxembourg. The dead are not visible in those places—only stones to mark their remains. At the burial, the coffins wore American flags as shrouds on the final steps to their final resting places. 

The war dead continue to come home to rest, draped with American flags—their returning shroud. From before the Civil War to long after the most recent war, the dead do not stop coming.  

But death does not take lives only in war. Closer to our personal lives, our families are not immune to death’s infection. We have laid to rest many we called dear. Their bodies were covered and, out of sight, transported to the funeral home to be prepared for burialWe saw their lifeless bodies again as we said good-bye and consoled each other with family and friends.   

We have all been infected. I have known some who are in the habit of reading obituaries so they don’t miss the passing of a friend or relative.  

This is not the way God intended things to be. He created us to live. When death became our heritage because of sin, he stepped in and provided an alternative. He sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus’ body was wrapped in a shroud and laid to rest like most of the dead, but Jesus promised he would not remain in the tomb. On Easter morning he arose. The grief and sorrow that still come with death are not permanent. Life has triumphed. Jesus has triumphed, and he promised, “I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).  

The shroud Jesus wore is worthless now. If it exists, it’s only a curiosity. He doesn’t need it to cover his dead body. He’s not dead.  

When I hear that the body of Jesus was “wrapped in linen,” I remember a beautiful passage from Isaiah that pictures what happened on the raised ground of Golgotha and the adjacent tomb in Joseph’s garden. Isaiah wrote, “On this mountain  [the LORD Almighty] will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples; the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:7,8).   

Death has been swallowed up in victory as Paul wrote, as Christians throughout the centuries confessed, and as we sing, “I know that my Redeemer lives; what comfort this sweet sentence gives! (Christian Worship 152:1). We don’t need shrouds. We will live.  



John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.



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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 4
Issue: April 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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A Lutheran Lent

John A. Braun

On Ash Wednesday in some churches—some Lutheran churches too—ashes are placed on foreheads as sign of repentance. For many, Lent is giving up some indulgencelike candy, greasy food, or even red meatfor 40 days. Conversations often start with the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Sadly the emphasis too often becomes a distortion of Lent.  

Lent is a valuable time for God’s people to focus on Christ and his suffering and death. That’s the essential element of Lent. Lent sharpens our focus on what God has given to us through the cross of Christ.  

For Lutherans that starts when the law of God brings into stark view what has caused his bloody death: our sins. We bow our heads as the publican in the temple did and pray, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).  

But Lent does not leave us in anguish and hopeless fear. The gospel raises our eyes to the cross where we see that Jesus has paid fully for our sins. Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Like the publican we go home with the comfort that we are justified—loved and forgiven by God because of Jesus. We offer God our praise and are filled with a renewed desire to serve him as dear children. 

But sin does not disappear from our lives. Like children we find the law accuses us daily for careless failures as well as for unloving and defiant disobedience. We discover that once we hear the gospel we struggle to be obedient children. Sin still lives within us. Like Paul we know, “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). We are forgiven children but still disobedientsaints and sinners at the same time. So we return to the gospel—the Savior’s cross—for forgiveness and strength to renew our efforts to be the children God has made us. 

We cannot earn his love and acceptance. Peter stumbled miserably, and so did all the other disciples as they fled into the night. But Jesus embraced them in forgiveness. That forgiveness made them ready to serve. Reminders of his forgiveness sustained them in the years ahead as they, like us, struggled to live as disciples and children of God. Each Lenten season, we come to the cross, humbled by our sins but then rejoicing that God has done what we could not do even after we know Jesus. Only the cross brings forgiveness and strength to live as God’s children. 

Here’s where the distortion of Lent comes into view. “What are you giving up for Lent?” If you give something up for Lent so that you can think more often and more clearly about what Christ has done, there is no distortion. But if you think that giving up something for Lent makes you worthy of forgiveness and God’s approval, your picture is blurredYour vision shifts from the cross and God’s undeserved gift. 

Lent is a human practice; it’s not an ordinance from God. When we think that we can offer God anything for the gift of the cross, it is like trying to buy gold with play money. No matter how much we have, it will never be enough. Lent helps us focus not on what we can do for God but on the gold of forgiveness, life, and salvation that God freely gives to all sinners. 

That’s a Lutheran emphasis. When we understand this, we come back to the cross for comfort and strength, not just at Lent, but regularly in our worship throughout the church year.  



John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.



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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 3
Issue: March 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Where is God?

John A. Braun

We were at a restaurant for breakfast with family after church. As we talked and waited for our food, I noticed two women in a booth nearby. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but their conversation appeared intense. From their gestures, low voices, and facial expressions, I concluded that they were discussing some problem, family conflict, or heartache. 

Of course, I may have misread the entire situation, and they might have been sharing some secret, but joyful, personal news. They were too far away, and I was too busy with family to be sure.  

But I thought of them afterward. It’s not unusual to sense the personal problems and personal joys of others. They surround us. They are behind the awkward smiles of the strangers we meet or in the conversations that are just out of earshot. 

Remembering the two women, I thought more of the woes we all carry than the joys. Perhaps that’s because I sense we all carry woes behind the everyday facade. But I also wondered if these women had been in church that morning to hear of God’s love. Then I wondered how that love could make a difference if their conversation was about personal unhappiness, loneliness, or pain. 

People are quick to complain about God when they carry heavy burdens. He’s powerless to help, they conclude. And he doesn’t seem to care because they hurt so much. “Where is God when you need him?” is a question asked so often that it’s no surprise to hear it even from Christians. 

So, where is God when hushed conversations reveal pain and misery? He’s there as a quiet listener, just as he promised. He’s there also as a powerful ally to give strength, comfort, healing, and solutions that will serve for our good. 

But to some that seems to be only so much wishful thinking. We often cannot make the problems disappear, and God doesn’t always make the problems disappear either. Whether we are Christian or not, we all have private conversations about the troubles we bear. That’s what life here is. The days of our lives—no matter how short or long—are trouble and sorrow and then we fly away (cf. Psalm 90:10). 

Well, if that’s your answer, they say, then what good is God? I have an answer. God saw and still sees all the pain and misery of all people here. He knows the evil, the heartache, the loneliness, and the tears. He’s known it long before any conversation in a restaurant booth. He did not want things to be that way, and he took steps to change it all. 

He planned our rescue. He sent his Son to earth to change our future. The people Jesus knew while he was here faced problems, woes, and pain just as we do—but without smartphones and television. He healed some and had compassion on all. He showed himself to be God, come to earth to do what none of us could do. He gives eternal life—but not an eternal life filled with the same kind of troubles we face every day. Instead, we have the hope of a life free of all that. 

That has practical everyday benefits. Because of Jesus we have peace with God—a peace that transforms us and gives us hope. The pledge that God cares for us is assured by the blood he shed to change our futures. If he so loved us, whatever woes we experience are not devastating dead ends. His love gives us the strength and hope to rise from our hushed and painful conversations to endure and grow (Romans 5:1-5). 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 2
Issue: February 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Turning pages

John A. Braun

Our lives are a succession of pages filled with many events and people. At the beginning of each year we turn to a blank page and stare at it, wondering what might fill in the space when it’s time to turn once more to a new blank page.  

We also look at the page that is filled with yesterdays. A review of our photos can help us remember happy events with family and friends. The smiles on their faces bring a smile to our own faces as we remember. Yet a pause to linger over a few of those photos can bring back heartaches too. 

Looking back is easy but perhaps not always pleasant. Life’s joys are on those past pages—births, weddings, the hugs, and happy times—but so are the dark times Depression and weariness cloud some of those joys. Tears that ran silently down our cheeks are not in the photos but are in our memories. The dark, sleepless worries are there too. And it’s not only that the worries kept us awake in the dark, but they sometimes didn’t sleep or go away even in the sunshine.  

Tracing a finger down the events of the past, we may pause at the long winter, the summer storms, and the fall leaves announcing the return of winter. Hurricanes, fires, floods may not have visited nearby, but we still can see the troubles and hardships they brought for others far away. We have recorded personal trials on the page at odd angles because they did not come neatly according to our plans. Instead they unexpectedly interrupted routines and charted oblique changes of direction for our lives. 

Some can touch the outline of a trial by running a hand over the scar left behind. But for others the scar is much deeper and hides inside where no one but they can still sense what it left behind. We hope turning the page will be successful at sending the unfriendly events into hiding. We anticipate that as a new page opens, new pleasant events will fill the empty page, leaving no room for the unpleasant.  

There is one thing we should not miss on the old, messy page. Somewhere you should see a promise. I’ll describe it as a small little boat in the corner of the page. The boat appears, almost overcome by a storm, and a single figure stands in it. He has his arms outstretched, and he says, “Quiet! Be still!” (Mark 4:39). Christians have included many of his promises on the pages of their lives. Those promises matter because they come from the One who loved us enough to suffer and die so we could be his children. He promises to care for us when we are weary and when we are joyful. 

I think sometimes we can’t see the promises so clearly. The storms—and the joys and accomplishments too—distract us. We may even miss them when we review past events. But the promises are there. We sometimes ignore them and just turn them into fine print on the page.  

A new page awaits. We have all added a few lines to the page already. I suggest we add a promise at the top: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). You may prefer another promise. There are so many. The cross of Jesus assures us of his boundless love no matter what we must enter on the pages of our lives.  


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 1
Issue: January 2019

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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No need?

John A. Braun

Ads for the Christmas shopping season appear early. I think I got the first one in September. If someone would suggest that we have no need for Christmas, retailers would get in line to object. Perhaps the only people who would eliminate Christmas are those opposed to the reason for Christmas—the birth of Jesus. Maybe it would be Hindus, Muslims, atheists, and others around the world who see no need for Jesus. 

Most who experience Christmas would retain the lights, the tree, the family gatherings, the presents, and perhaps even the solemn quiet of “Silent Night” or the warmth of little children singing “Away in a Manger.” Many would retain those pleasures as their personal annual celebration. Yes, there’s a need for such a Christmas. Just ask almost anyone. 

Dig a little deeper and ask if they have found a need for Jesus in their lives, not just a need to celebrate his birth. Perhaps they might understand the need to keep Jesus in Christmas, although they might think more about Santa, Frosty, or Rudolph. And yet Jesus would disappear for another year as fast as Rudolph.  

We love to celebrate the birth of a newborn. Jesus is no exception. He’s a special child. But what about Jesus, the Savior, the full-grown man who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3)? Do we need him? Absolutely! 

Look at the news any day of the year—shootings, drunkenness, perversion, fraud, greed, and so much more. I’m guilty of walking away from the television when the news is bad—which is all to frequently—but it’s only a temporary journey. The bad news will find me, or I will be drawn back to it after my brief protest. I can’t change any of it. Do we need Jesus? Yes.  

The bad news reminds me that God cared enough—loved enough—to send his Son Jesus here. Jesus did not live in a quaint, nostalgic world without trouble. Drunkenness, perversion, fraud, greed, and bloodshed—although not by automatic weapons—are as old as history. This disturbing world with all its faults is not what God wanted; it’s what we have made it. Jesus has come that we should not perish in the mire and muck but have everlasting life in his Father’s house (John 14:2). 

In the daily schedules of life, we concentrate on what is close and familiar—the job, the family, the finances, the house. All those things demand our attention every day. We busy ourselves with these things and consider ourselves fortunate to avoid trouble and often stop there. Our everyday life is like a little castle with walls of ordinary concerns that keep out the bad stuff, most of the time. We conclude we don’t need Jesus in our personal castles. 

Perhaps that’s because we don’t notice how things change. The children slowly grow older and move away to start their own families. We see them less because they live in their own castles now. And slowly our own lives change. Our parents first had difficulty coming to family gatherings at Christmas, then they can’t come, and finally they are gone. The pattern repeats in each generation, and we can’t change it. Do we need Jesus?  

But I shouldn’t look at everyone else. My own life is not free from faults and mistakes either. No one’s is. I am not, nor is anyone I know, innocent. I deserve to be abandoned by a holy God. Everyone deserves the same verdict.  

Do we need Jesus? God thought so and sent Jesus. His love and forgiveness give us hope, joy, and peace.  


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 12
Issue: December 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Sorrow and outrage

John A. Braun

My heart sinks at recent headlines. The news from Pennsylvania has shaken the Roman Catholic Church. Sexual abuse—pedophilia by high ranking clergy and ordinary priests—has become public. These allegations have also surfaced in the Philippines, Austria, South America, and India.  

My heart sinks because of the victims whose lives have been altered. What frustration and anger fill their lives! But the abuse stretches into the lives of those who love them and have tried to help them. Yet the help for the wounds and scars left by trusted religious leaders was inadequate. A wall of secrecy blocked efforts to heal and comfort. Those who inflicted the abuse on these boys “weaponized faith” to maintain secrecy.  

My heart also sinks because of the pain many people beyond the victims and their families must now endure. They have been betrayed by their clergy. I’ve seen some turn their backs on the explanations provided, some walk out so filled with rage they cannot listen, and some protest the handling of the abuse. Still others call for the pope’s resignation.  

I have no joy in what I see and how it has affected and will affect so many. But I also will not adopt the pose of a Pharisee. I cannot stand in the house of God and say, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people” (Luke 18:11). I know that our church has its own dirty laundry. I know that as long as we live in this world our sinful flesh remains. The darkness of sin and the paralysis of weakness lurk within each of us. 

My heart is heavy for those who hurt. Yet I find room for outrage. Men of power and influence preyed on the young they trained to respect them. My outrage extends to a systematic shell game used to hide the offenders and a structure that is built on the ordinance of celibacy. Celibacy and Holy Orders contribute to the problem. Those teaching are not biblical teaching, but human rules (Matthew 15:9). 

Such tragedies have no silver lining. They are deep and dark miasmas from which there is no exit except Jesus. Indictments, trials, and exposure of sin are only the first steps toward the light of forgiveness and cleansing through Jesus’ blood (1 John 1:7). I can only advise all those broken and abused souls—victims and all others touched by this evil—to move toward the healing of Jesus. When others abuse us in this life, Jesus stands firm in his love and compassion for all of us. We should pray for them all. 

Perhaps the deepest sadness I feel is that, for many, the healing power of the cross of Jesus may be difficult to find. Jesus made one complete and full sacrifice for sin, “once for all when he offered himself” (Hebrews 7:27). “It is finished,” Jesus said. That’s the great testimony of his deep love for us—a reminder that God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). That love does not disappear in the abuse of others or in the great sins from which we recoil in outrage. It embraces the victims with healing and calls evildoers to repentance and renewal (Romans 2:4). 

What can we all learn? Pray! The days are evil (Ephesians 5:16), and that evil is real, perverse, and relentless in its efforts to corrupt every Christian no matter what denomination. Be vigilant in preserving the Lord’s truth for its power against evil. Then also demand godly behavior from those who lead us and our congregations (1 Timothy 3).  


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 11
Issue: November 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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A better way

John A. Braun

Sensitivity and consideration for another’s point of view have taken a back seat. They are rendered powerless by strong emotion, shouting, and personal attacks. Expressing an opinion on social media sometimes invites vicious personal attacks or even threats of violence. It’s guerilla warfare in most relationships that often waits for the “gotcha” moment and then pounces with malicious bitterness.  

Even a mention of Jesus’ words, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39), holds little force. One might see a slight nod of agreement, but the volume of conflicting voices does not diminish. And besides, so it is said, such ancient wisdom is just that— ancient—and it flows from an old-fashioned and outmoded Christian morality.  

Those who object to such morality demonize, marginalize, and even violently oppose other viewpoints. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. These things happened to Jesus while he was here on earth. Demonized? “It is only by . . . the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons” (Matthew 12:24). Marginalized? How many times did the leaders of the Jews challenge his words? And finally they plotted to kill him. They concluded, “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50). 

The attitudes of conflict and anger stretch beyond conversation. Domestic violence and sexual abuse persist in spite of all the voices condemning both. A man shoots another because of a disagreement over a parking place. Another throws flares out a car window, starting a fire that destroys homes and lives. Still another shoots a police officer because he won’t return to prison after breaking his parole. Drive-by shootings kill children and adults not involved in the conflict. Mothers abandon their children for sex, drugs, or gambling.  

God has a clear indictment: the Ten Commandments. In order to live together in a community with others, each of us should respect life, authority, marriage and sex, the property of others, and the good name of others. These are God’s directions for loving others.  

There’s more to it, of course. Jesus also gave us the First Commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37,38). For us, the second command to love others simply flows out of our faith in a God who has purchased and won us through the perfect suffering and death of his Son. But for some, personal opinion and agendas trump those principles. Their priority is what is right for them and not what is right for us all together under the care of our heavenly Father.  

We live in a society that has marginalized and demonized our message—not only the message of God’s grace in Christ but also the message that flows from that grace: love for others. We have all experienced the temptation to join the shrill voices on one side or the other. At times we have found it easier—at least according to our sinful nature—to yield to anger and frustration in order to retaliate or make our point. 

Jesus asks us to enthrone two principles in our hearts: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart. . . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). I don’t think that either commandment has grown old-fashioned or obsolete.  

Because we understand them, we listen when he directs, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). It may be difficult to follow his directions, “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3,4). But consider Jesus before the high priest or Pilate. He showed us how.  


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 10
Issue: October 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Pain

John A. Braun

Christians often confront this question: How can a God of love allow so much pain in this world? It’s a natural question in the face of violence and shootings as well as the repetition of earthquakes, storms, personal trials, and health problems.  

Pain is a reality, and so is death. Some say that God is powerless to do anything about either. Their conclusion is that we don’t need God. We simply need to make the best of our lives, and that’s all anyone can do. 

From the perspective of all we see in this world, pain is persistent and death is not preventable. Some of death’s causes may be preventable, but worldwide, about two people die every second from accident, heart trouble, cancer, stroke, gun violence, or some other cause. We might lengthen our lives, but that does not change the inevitability of death. 

Some pain can be prevented, eased, cured, and even eliminated. We recover after surgery or an accident—sometimes pain free. At other times we have chronic enduring pain. Sometimes pain is only the first paragraph of a story that ends with death. It’s the tragedies that cause us to ask, “God, can’t you take away the pain? The anguish, the hardships, the tragic losses seem so out of place with your story of love.” 

So what do we say as Christians to the indictment of God’s helplessness to prevent pain and death? In each issue of Forward in Christ, I find some answers in the stories of Christians who have encountered both death and pain. They are stories of trust in God’s promises. Even when pain was the harbinger of death, God’s promises gave comfort, strength, and hope. Jesus has risen and promises that we too will overcome death (John 11:25,26).

My heart goes out to all those whose journey through life includes pain. Compassion for others is one of the reasons God allows pain. He provides opportunities for us to help others endure pain and offer prayers for their relief and endurance. I commend the doctors, nurses, caregivers, and researchers who seek to ease pain. We should not be absent from those who offer prayers, comfort, and compassion. 

God gives relief in his own time and in his own way, whether or not we understand. But we must not mistake the relief he gives for the peace and joy of our final destination. God grants relief along the way to assure us of his care. If he grants no relief, he supplies the power to endure. And then after this life’s troubles and toils, we have something much better in store for us. 

Believers have heard the calm, soothing whisper of God’s promises on our troubled journeys. We have forgiveness and eternal life. Some have not listened and even refused or opposed his promises, but God has not written them off. Everyone knows something is wrong when it hurts. God leaves pain and disaster here to underline that reality. With pain, he turns the volume of his message up. God shouts, “This life with all its troubles is not what I want for any of you.”  

If they miss this message imbedded in pain and misery, God leaves one more invitation. Death inevitably stands at the end of all journeys through life. Remember two people die every second. Our Lord stands at death’s door, ready to accept those who turn to him like the thief on the cross. He longs to say at life’s end, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 9
Issue: September 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Unlocked by God’s power

John A. Braun

C.S. Lewis wrote that he believed the damned are “rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside” (“Hell” from The Problem of Pain). Jesus tells us in the parable of the beggar Lazarus (Luke chapter 16) that the rich man wanted to warn his five brothers so they would not “come to this place of torment” (v. 28). The rich man was told that there was “a great chasm” so that no one could cross over from hell to heaven. 

I don’t think that C. S. Lewis would disagree with the description of hell by Jesus, but Lewis makes a different point. He suggests that those who are in hell are rebels who have opposed God and always oppose God. Satan is the prime example. We don’t have to think too long for other examples. We know others who, at least in this life, have opposed Jesus, Christianity, and Christians without remorse. They have hearts locked from inside. The familiar painting of Jesus knocking at the door comes to mind. For them, the door is locked to prevent Jesus from entering. 

Think about that a moment. David says that he was “sinful from birth” (Psalm 51:5). Paul describes us as “dead” (Ephesians 2:1). But what we have by birth is not just a passive defect. It’s an active opposition and rebellion against God. Paul also wrote, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Romans 8:7). Hostile and rebellious. So in reality, our hearts were locked from the inside too. All hearts are by nature. 

In the first chapter of Corinthians Paul writes of those whose hearts are locked. He suggests that the Gentiles think that the gospel is so much foolishness and the Jews think it is a stumbling block. His experiences remind us that culture does not matter. He experiences reveal opposition, imprisonment, and beatings from Jews and Gentiles. (See his summary in 2 Corinthians 11:24-26.) 

Paul’s experiences are not just ancient oppositions to a new idea, oppositions that disappeared in the modern era. We also experience opposition. Some Christians in the world we know today have been shunned, beaten, imprisoned, and killed. Hearts are still locked. They are rebels, hostile to the God who has graciously provided forgiveness and eternal life through his Son Jesus and wants all to be saved.  

But Paul was different, David was different, and so are we. Why? What happened to cause us to unlock our hearts? We have not decided to open our hearts to Jesus. By nature we, like everyone else, want the door to remain locked. Did we find some power within us to open our hearts? No! 

Only one key can unlock a human heart. Paul clearly identified that key, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it the power of God that brings salvation” (Romans 1:16). The gospel is the key. It doesn’t come from inside of any of our hearts. It comes from outside when we are baptized or when we hear and read about Christ crucified. Then the Holy Spirit gives us the power to unbolt the lock of our rebellious and hostile hearts. His power unlocks our hearts, not ours. Once our hearts are unlocked, we understand that the message of Christ crucified is the wisdom of God.  

Amazingly God entrusts that key to us to trust it, live it, and share it. In our experience that key won’t open every locked heart. Hostility will persist. But by his grace some will open their hearts to the message of Jesus. 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 8
Issue: August 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Trees

John A. Braun

Warm weather and more sunshine draw the leaves of the trees out from their winter nap. They soon soak up the sunlight, allowing the trees to grow wider and taller. The tree we want so desperately will get larger, but we must wait for the slow process of growth. In a world where we want everything instantaneously, impatience nibbles away at our resolve to wait. 

Yet we know about the slow process of growth in our own families. Children enter our lives as little babies and slowly grow to adults. I think we sometimes become impatient with their growth, especially when they do not grow spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually as we want. But growth does not happen quickly or even in a straight line. Ups and downs, advances and retreats, become chapters in any kind of growth. It takes time to grow.  

The pictures of the graduates of Martin Luther College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary are part of this issue (pp. ??-??). Like the trees, they did not suddenly appear as graduates ready to serve our churches and schools. Once they were little saplings—perhaps a little awkward and weak—babes who were baptized and brought to faith and life by the Holy Spirit. God placed them in Christian families, and they grew. Yes, by Word and sacrament, they learned to treasure their Lord Jesus.  

I remember my own early growth—a little sapling in grade school always interested in my studies and especially what I was learning about Jesus. I grew to appreciate my pastors and sought ways to imitate them. I remember “playing” church. I was part of a junior choir, and we had choir gowns we brought home until we needed them in church. I made use of mine at home by pretending to be a pastor and leading a church service with my family. My mother always announced at the end of our little game that there would be an ice cream social after the service.  

My pastors encouraged me to grow, and he bent this young sapling in the direction of becoming a pastor. The journey wasn’t a straight line to the seminary any more than it is for almost anyone else. Ups, downs, doubts, and certainty—often repeated over the years—became the rings of growth one can see in any tree. Turning from the little sapling to a mature tree took time. Grade school, high school, college, and seminary are measured in years, not hours, days, or months. 

As you look at the pictures of the graduates this year, thank God for their growth. They are ready to serve. And remember they will not stop growing at graduation and after their assignments to their first years of service. The next years will bring experiences that become additional rings of growth for them as trees that provide the shade of the gospel for young and old.  

Remember also that the need for full-time workers in the Lord’s church does not end with these graduates. Jesus reminded us, “ ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’ ” (Matthew 9:37,38). 

So we all have a task: pray for workers. In addition, we can encourage those we think have the gifts and inclination to be pastors and teachers. Parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, and every member of God’s church can look for and encourage the little trees. Then depend on the Lord to grow them to serve him in public ministry. It takes time to grow pastors and teachers, but it starts early with prayer and encouragement. 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 7
Issue: July 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Bondage and freedom

John A. Braun

“Prove that there is a God!” We all have heard the challenge. After all the data measured by the first Soviet satellites, some boasted that the satellites discovered no evidence of God. Since then we have sent men to the moon and probes all over our solar system. Still no proof of God in all that data. 

So some claim such probing is clear evidence that there is no God. Richard Dawkins and other atheists build their concepts without God and aggressively proclaim that all who believe in God are weak; superstitious; and, to put it mildly, stupid. Stephen Hawking* may have been a little more tolerant of those who believe in God, but he also said, “The laws [of science] may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.”  

I thought about this as I listened to the sermon on Easter Sunday. It struck me that the scientists who abandon God are bound and confined by their own self-imposed principles. They are slaves of scientific thinking that can only observe the world and understand it based on the evidence that human senses can provide. I understand that and accept the value of science and the advances made in all the sciences. I even await new advances. Yet all these advances are based on observation, experimentation, and evidence measured and verified by instruments. 

That thinking not only does not see anything beyond the physical world, but it also refuses to assume that something more exists. It will not allow the idea that something exists that cannot be measured or observed. In their view, belief in God is a foolish crutch without any scientific evidence or proof. That’s true if you only accept proofs verified by the scientific method. Yet scientists who abandon God are in bondage, and they fail to see their own bondage. They are limited to the one vision of life without anything more or beyond the horizon of human observation. Their worldview has a hard ceiling that science cannot penetrate because they refuse to entertain any ideas beyond their own. 

While listening to the Easter sermon, I heard again that Jesus has defied the natural laws. He arose from the dead, and he even predicted that resurrection before it happened. I have no scientific evidence of these events. But the Holy Spirit has smashed the ceiling of limited human thought and allowed me to think beyond such physical evidence. God is above this physical world, and he is superior to all human thinking and speculation. He has revealed his love for me through Jesus (Hebrews 1:2). He intervened to break not only the ceiling of my thinking, but he also allowed me to think beyond the natural laws that govern earthly life and death.  

But we must be careful here. I can’t simply imagine anything and claim it is true. The only reliable guidebook I can depend on is the Scriptures.  

With that guidebook, I soar to explore God’s grace. I circle around it as I read the Scriptures, and by its words I marvel at the majesty of his love and his limitless power. The Holy Spirit has given me wings. I glide on those wings and depend on his power in dark and difficult days, as he promises in the Scriptures. Like an eagle, I have a clear vision of Christ crucified and risen again. That vision provides hope for another life in a world no one can yet see except on the pages of God’s Word. I am free because in Christ I can see beyond death and beyond this physical world.  

*Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018.


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 6
Issue: June 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Amen.

John A. Braun

Amen is a word we say so often we don’t even realize we say it. At the end of every prayer it’s a kind of a spoken period. When we worship, we sing or say it in response to the worship leader said. If we use it outside of church and our prayers, it’s simply something like, “Amen to that.” We agree with what someone has just said. It often simply means, “Yes, I certainly agree.”

The word, of course, has roots in both Old and New Testament. Actually it’s a Hebrew word emphasizing certainty, assurance, and dependability. For example, Psalm 89 ends, ”Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen”. (v. 52). The Psalms have other examples of Amen used to assert and confirm praise to God (Psalm 41:13, Psalm 72:19).

The apostles Paul, Peter and John also use the word to emphasize their praise. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (4:20), Peter used the word in the same way, ”To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:11). And John’s Revelation ends with two uses of amen. Both are part of his concluding prayer, “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Revelation 22:20,21).

The word also comes from the mouth of Jesus, but it’s not translated as “Amen.” Instead it becomes “Verily” (KJV) and “Truly” (ESV and NIV). When the gospels quote Jesus using the word “Amen” they write, Jesus said, “Truly (amen). I say to you.” The word emphasizes the truth of what Jesus said. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “ Truly (amen) I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). When John quotes Jesus he often doubles the amen. For example Jesus said, “Very truly (amen, amen) I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life” (John 5:47). John’s double use of amen doesn’t mean that Jesus words are “really, really” true and the other sayings of Jesus are only “really” true. Whether there is one amen, two amens, or none. All of the Scripture is equally true and sure.

So what does this all mean to us in our worship and our spiritual lives. First, I think it means that we are following the example of believers throughout the history of the world. Amen was on the lips of God’s people in the Old Testament and the New. We are connected with them all by faith in Jesus, and the little word amen is one of those connections. What a amazing blessing that is! Then also remember that we say it together with our brothers and sisters here and now. We are also connected to each other whether we say the word in worship or at home with our loved ones. Our amen affirms we are all of the same mind. It is a word of faith and trust in God.

And that’s the second thing. Amen is a word of faith. When we speak it, we say we trust in the God who gives us forgiveness, life, and salvation. Amen! Like little children we come to our heavenly Father with our prayers and praise. He scoops us up in his arms and soothes us with his love. Confident in his arms, he invites us to praise and pray. “Amen” is our word of confident faith in all the promises God makes and a word of assurance that the Lord’s Prayer and every prayer ascends to our heavenly Father where it will receive his attention. Amen! Amen!


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 5
Issue: May 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever

John A. Braun

Kingdom? So often we think in such narrow terms about the word kingdom. We consider it defined by our personal experiences and activities. Even if we consider kingdom as Christ’s kingdom, we still see its shape and contours by what we know. 

That perspective is good and healthy as far as it goes. We praise God for finding us in the span of history, calling us by the gospel, and making us part of a kingdom. We—most often we think and say I, using the singular—are chosen, royal, holy people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9). We have all that by grace through faith. We are—I am—called by the gospel, enlightened, and incorporated into his church. 

But then that enlightened heart expands our vision. I am not alone; others belong to that kingdom. We are together—his. But that still becomes too narrow. We are here at this time and this place. Even time and place confine Christ’s kingdom. His kingdom stretches over all time to include those who have gone before us and those who will come after us. Place is just as limiting. Place might imply culture, social, racial, and economic similarities, but those are also gone—one kingdom, one head, Jesus and all who believe in him together. 

Our vision of his kingdom can come into focus when we say his prayer together in our worship. For two thousand years Christians have prayed to their heavenly Father using the words Jesus taught us. And they haven’t all spoken his prayer in English or in churches with pews.  

Yours is the kingdom! We simply find ourselves citizens now with so many others over time and geography. His power sustains that church. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). That power made us believers and still sustains us. It is the means by which God keeps us in his kingdom and converts new hearts to marvel at his grace.  

But I think we most often think of Christ’s almighty power. That’s okay, for he rules all things for the benefit of those in his kingdom. He controls the stars and still sees our struggles as well as our joys. He knows the number of hairs on our heads and tells us that not one sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge (Matthew 10:29,30). We depend on his power for daily breath, for strength, for care, and for the ability to use our talents for him and for others. He even invites us to pray that he will use that power for us in our needs. Yours is the power, Lord. 

Naturally we conclude, “Yours is the glory!” What else could we possibly say or think? We are not worthy of anything, but God has made us recipients of so much. But now our hymn of praise is imperfect. We are still tied to life here with its trials, troubles, and traumas. At times it is not easy to give him glory, but we do, even while we anguish over some pain or problem. But at other times, when the Holy Spirit helps us see clearly all that God has done for us, we praise him without complaint.  

We look forward to the time when our praise will be perfect and we will join those in heaven to sing, “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever” (Revelation 7:12). Here we simply say together, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.” 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 4
Issue: April 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Deliver us from evil

John A. Braun

The prayer Jesus taught us begins, “Our Father in heaven.” With those words Jesus directs us to look beyond our space and time to our Father above who cares for us while we are here. Each time we pray to our heavenly Father, we turn our attention above to the source of all our blessings.  

But because we are here, our attention often drops to our own challenges. We get so wrapped up in our troubles, struggles, and burdens that we do not look up enough and we do not consider what our heavenly Father has given us. His love gave us the promise of heaven—citizenship where he will wipe away our tears and dispel death, sorrow, and pain. In Christ, he claimed us and made us his children, but he did not remove us from this world. Not yet. 

Each birthday brings us face-to-face with a relentless truth: We are closer to the end of our earthly journey. Yet even the birthdays somehow turn our attention away from that reality. We think one day will be just like the next, and we will continue to be as we are. No change. And sometimes we pray, “Deliver us from evil,” thinking that God promises to keep us and those we love just as we are—young, healthy, and happy.  

God listens to our prayer and responds, but not in the way we often expect. Instead of removing our burdens and struggles, he leaves them as our crosses to bear while we are here. Those troubles are often especially painful and shattering. Then the sour notes of our anguish prompt a question: “Why me? Did God forget to deliver me from evil?” 

We cannot always understand enough to answer the question, but God has his reasons. For one thing, when we suffer, God points us to heaven. We come to know: “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for a city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). Our presence in that city is the greatest good God could provide for anyone. He teaches us in our tragedies to groan and long for the complete absence of our earthly woes and to be in the peace and joy of heaven.  

We are not only to look above, but also around. When you pray this prayer with your fellow Christians in worship, look around. Among your brothers and sisters in Christ some carry crosses of all sizes and shapes: cancer, disability, poverty, loneliness, heartache—a host of anxieties. It’s a much longer list. These children of God come to their heavenly Father with their own versions of “evil” and pray for deliverance. Their crosses give you an opportunity to show your compassion. Your compassion, caring, and prayers—for your own family and for your fellow believers—is one answer to their prayers for deliverance.  

For all of us, troubles are a time to look up to our heavenly Father and patiently wait. He continues to care for us in good and bad days. So when we pray, “Deliver us from evil,” we must not think as small children who cry when they scrape a knee and think everything is coming to an end. As children of God, we know that our heavenly Father comforts us, picks us up, and gives us the strength and courage to face the next challenge. In the process, we mature and grow knowing that we need each trouble to learn and also to treasure the final deliverance God promises. He does not desert us. “Heavenly Father, deliver us from evil.”  


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 3
Issue: March 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Lead us not into temptation

John A. Braun

Christian life in this world is difficult. We live as disciples of Jesus in a complex world that operates on a different frequency than we do. Our world has no forgiving God who promises not only forgiveness but also eternal life. It owes nothing to Jesus and therefore thinks only how to get the most out of life: love, happiness, fame, comfort, and family—good things. 

That all sounds so familiar to us too. We want the same things, but our vision and thinking include a loving Savior and his promises. We think differently. We treasure the one thing needed while we experience what life deals out to all— whether blessings or trials.  

God places us here in this world to be his witnesses. We are to be salt and light where both are in short supply. But being disciples in this world is not so easy. Agur, in the book of Proverbs. observed the problem. He writes, “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “ ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (30:8,9). 

In this life we are often distracted from the grace of God in Christ, but not always for the same reason. Sometimes the distractions are wealth, as Agur notes, and sometimes they are poverty. 

You and I have seen and heard some who are tempted by wealth to abandon the Lord. But not everyone who is wealthy abandons the Lord. On the other hand, we have also seen and heard some who are tempted by their poverty to turn away from the Lord, either blaming him for their hardship or abandoning him because life is a difficult struggle. But here too not everyone who is poor turns away from the Lord. 

No matter what challenges we face, the potential exists to find a reason to turn away from the Lord’s grace. It might be riches, poverty, fame, obscurity, disaster, safety, health, sickness, happiness, or sorrow. You can add to the list from your own experiences.  

It gets even more complicated. We are surrounded by so many ideas that contradict the Scriptures and our faith. We see the ungodly prosper and God’s truth mocked or disregarded. In all this too, Satan prowls, always looking for an opportunity to rob us of our faith. He is a master of using the temptations posed by the world around us. Remember, he came to Jesus promising all the world’s wealth, and he also made use of the need for daily bread hoping Jesus would turn stones into something to satisfy his hunger after a 40 days’ fast. 

It’s no surprise that the Lord Jesus asks us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” As we face the ups and downs of life, we pray that our heavenly Father would preserve our faith in Jesus. Nothing could be worse than having our lamps empty when the Lord calls us home (Matthew 25:1-13). 

Our Father hasn’t left us alone to face these challenges. He promises always to strengthen and help us. He sends his angels to protect us. He also reminds us that the hardships and difficulties we must face are his discipline sent for our good to refine our faith (Hebrews chapter 12 and 1 Peter chapter 1).  

Temptation surrounds us all in many different forms. So this petition is for all of us. “Heavenly Father, lead us not into temptation.” Keep us secure in our faith as your children here on earth. 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 2
Issue: February 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Forgive us our sins

John A. Braun

Forgiveness! Jesus wanted us to pray for the forgiveness we need in our daily lives. How often we stray from God’s will. Our words, our thoughts, and our actions always seem to define what it means to miss the mark. So, in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for forgiveness. 

Possessing God’s forgiveness by faith is one of our core needs. In this prayer, it comes after we ask for “daily bread.” We understand our need for daily bread to live in this life and serve God and others. But an even greater need is the forgiveness that Jesus has accomplished for us all. We need that forgiveness if we are going to stand before him when we no longer need daily bread. 

So humbly, with each repetition of this prayer, we come for the forgiveness Jesus has achieved by his pain and blood. At those times when we lose the comfort and confidence in the gospel of forgiveness, the words of this petition turn our attention away from what is inside our hearts and to what is inside God’s heart—unconditional love in Christ and forgiveness. We need the consolation that we are indeed forgiven children of God. 

The forgiveness we possess by faith transforms us and empowers us. It awakens in us a desire to thank God. It moves us to desire to please our God for the forgiveness Christ has paid for so dearly. A part of that transformation is the willingness to forgive as we have been forgiven. 

This petition does not limit the forgiveness of our sins to only when we will forgive others. That would only drive us all to despair. No, God’s forgiveness is freely given before we can think, say, or do anything good—yes, before we can forgive. It’s by grace; there is no condition on God’s forgiveness. And it transforms us, bending our attitudes to forgive others rather than hold a grudge or seek revenge. 

I think this prayer is an essential part of our lives together as believers in his church. How often do family feuds divide the work of the church? How often do the real and imagined insults and slights color our attitudes and sour our work together? How often do decisions of the council, committee, or the pastor create not just differences of opinion but real animosity and bitterness? The apostle Paul warns, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15). He advised earlier, “Serve one another humbly in love” (v. 13). Forgiving each other is as important in the church as it is in marriage. When personalities, opinions, and visions of what is best clash, forgiveness is required. 

The wonder of it all is that we are all forgiven by a gracious God. Jesus provides not only the motivation but also a pure example for us to follow. Jesus endured pain and suffering at the hands of sinful humans. We may not have been there, but our sins caused the scourging, the insults, and the mockery. But Jesus did not retaliate. He forgave. He said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). When we grasp what Jesus endured to forgive us, then how can we refuse to forgive others—especially other believers in his church?  

When you are tempted to hold a grudge and withhold forgiveness, think of Jesus. Who has inflicted as much harm and misery on you as we have all inflicted on Jesus? So we pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 1
Issue: January 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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Give us today our daily bread

John A. Braun

Daily bread! When we learned the meaning to the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer in Luther’s Catechism we memorized a list of the things included in daily bread. We also learned that God gives daily bread to all people. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded us that our heavenly Father “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).  

We are in the habit of saying prayers when we sit down to eat. If God gives even without our prayers, why pray for daily bread? Those prayers are regular reminders that all we have comes from a gracious and loving God.  

At times, we might find it difficult to be grateful when our customary blessings are interrupted and we are without. Then we worry. But Jesus reminds us not to worry. He pointed his disciples—and us—to the birds and the flowers. God feeds the birds each day and clothes the flowers so beautifully even Solomon might envy them. Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32,33). 

To some he gives abundantly. To others he gives little. We don’t know why God gives some more than others. We can only face each day with the blessings he gives—much or little. God wishes to create thankful hearts in all of us—hearts that are not tied to the size of his gifts. 

But the idea of daily bread creates a question. Is there more to it than just being thankful? Why does God give us daily bread and allow us rhythmically to draw daily breath? For the evil and the unrighteous who receive sunshine and rain, life provides an opportunity to turn to the Lord and discover his boundless love in Christ.  

But life is not all sunshine. Sometimes God sends disaster, pain, or misery. With these he challenges both the righteous and the unrighteous to consider what Moses saw: Our days “are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). He embeds another truth in trials and disasters, “Here we do not have an enduring city” (Hebrews 13:14). That heavenly city awaits all believers in Christ.  

And when we count our blessings and note how richly he has blessed us, consider that God allows us to live as his disciples here. That means to show love and compassion—to love our neighbor as we love ourselves—and to use his blessings for others. The Macedonian congregation learned that lesson. Although they had difficulties and were in “extreme poverty,” their love for Christ “welled up in rich generosity” for those affected by the famine in Palestine (2 Corinthians chapter 8). We also have opportunity for generosity, compassion, and love. 

One more thing. We pray the Lord’s Prayer together in our worship. Certainly we ask for our individual portion of daily bread, but we also ask that our fellow believers may have their portion too. We pray for our daily bread. Among the reasons that we ask God to bless us all with daily bread is so that we might have the resources to carry out the work of his church. Each one contributes some of God’s blessings—some of that daily bread—in the collection plate. We share those blessings to proclaim our Jesus around the country and the world.  

It is well for us to pray, “Heavenly Father, give us today our daily bread.” 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 12
Issue: December 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Your will be done on earth as in heaven

John A. Braun

Our heavenly Father’s will does not change. He is not willing that any should perish, but he wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He has a special concern for his believers. He always works everything out for the good of the people he has called to faith in Jesus (Romans 8:28). 

In heaven, God’s will is done without opposition and without question. That means what he decides is accomplished, and the entire host of the angels and saints in heaven rejoice and praise him freely and without complaint. 

Those in heaven know that God wants nothing but the best for his people. The believers there see that he has brought them safely through their struggles on earth. The angels witnessed God’s justice and love in expelling the rebel angels and confirming those who remained faithful. In heaven all is well; God’s will is unchallenged and perfect. 

But on earth, the devil prowls among the living, seeking to devour souls (1 Peter 5:8). He has been at his tasks for a long time—ever since he was expelled from heaven. He knows how to thwart God’s will, how to pervert his Word, and how to distract the living with every imaginable temptation. The believers in heaven are safe, but the living on earth are still under attack. And it’s not just the devil that God’s people must contend with here on earth. The world and our sinful flesh also have become our enemies.  

The church on earth often seems to be singled out for special attention from the devil. If he can rob the church of the gospel, so many souls will go into eternity without the grace of God. If he can use the world to intimidate the church or in other ways lead the church to proclaim false teaching, he also achieves his goal. It should not surprise us that Jesus asks us to pray that our heavenly Father’s will be done on earth as in heaven. 

But Jesus not only gave us this prayer; he also prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). With that prayer on his lips, he shows us how to face the anguish and turmoil on earth. In his challenges, he wanted the assurance that his Father’s will would be done. He willingly submitted to the will of his heavenly Father. 

So we have a clear lesson from Jesus. Our heavenly Father’s will is sure and certain. But we doubt and often are confused by what we face. When life doesn’t make sense to us, we wonder. When death and pain afflict us, our loved ones, and other Christians here, how is God’s will done? When persecution and disaster strike, we are confused about how this is God’s good and gracious will to protect his own and bring them home to heaven. When, like Jesus, we face difficult days or the church faces serious challenges, decisions, or hardship, we crave the assurance that our heavenly Father’s will be done. 

It is at such times that we should pray, “Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” We don’t always understand God’s will while we are here on earth. We are tempted to abandon God when he allows so much trouble on earth. But God always knows what he is doing, even if we don’t know and wonder why. We are still in his hands and under his loving care. And in heaven, when we join the saints and angels, we will not wonder.  

But for now on earth, we pray, “Your will be done.” 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 11
Issue: November 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Christ, the center

John A. Braun

Over the past few years, I have grown closer to Luther than I ever imagined. Research, reading, writing, research again, reading more, and writing again have brought Luther into focus more clearly for me than ever before. For that I am grateful. I don’t consider myself a Luther expert, but the focus I have acquired is important. 

I think that the greatest clarity comes from understanding the central principle Luther found in the Scriptures and on which he stood. It was Christ! He said and wrote as much often.  

When he learned that so many of the common people in the churches in Saxony, had “no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine,” he wrote the Small Catechism which has one of the greatest confessions of his faith in Christ: “I believe that Jesus Christ . . . has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.” Luther captured the central message of the Bible. For Luther it was never a dry academic principle. Luther wrote personally; he said “me.” That’s the beauty of Luther. He points us to Christ because he treasures Christ. We too have come to treasure Christ. 

This wasn’t an isolated incident. At home in Wittenberg, boarders, friends, and relatives often joined Luther at the supper table to listen to him and learn. Once he said, “If anybody strays from the center, it is impossible for him to have the circle around him, he must blunder. The center is Christ” (Luther’s Works [LW], Vol. 54, p. 45). Again Christ and, therefore, faith and forgiveness. 

Luther had to struggle to discover the greatness of God’s grace in Christ. He was tormented by his unworthiness before a holy, just, and omnipotent God. When the Holy Spirit opened his eyes and enlightened him, he confessed it was as if paradise was opened for him. Then the words of Scripture became a clear message of Christ that Luther was not willing to abandon, no matter what the cost. 

Perhaps we may consider Luther a kind of idol when we consider all that God brought to pass because of him. But human idols are not perfect, and neither is Luther. He was a sinner whose flaws are easy to discover. But Christ was his treasure and hope. He said, “The Christian faith differs from other religions in this, that the Christian hopes even in the midst of evils and sins” (LW, Vol. 54, p. 70). 

Rather than  being an idol to whom we give blind reverence, Luther is a signpost, pointing us to the Scriptures and to the message of the Scriptures—Christ.  

In the past few months I also have read comments by my brothers and sisters in the faith about being Lutheran. A few of those comments are included in this issue. Some of them are in the special insert, and another page shares thoughts from confessional Lutherans around the world. As I read all of these comments, I stand in grateful praise to God for what he has done in bringing them also to be signposts pointing to Christ. As you read them, I suggest you consider how many times they point to the certainty of salvation in Christ.  

Not only are they all signposts, but they are also examples that encourage us all to share our faith and to point others to Christ. For Luther, for these believers, for all of us, Christ is the center. Christ is still the message the world desperately needs. 


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 10
Issue: October 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Your kingdom come

John A. Braun

Believers have always longed for the Lord’s kingdom to come. The Old Testament believers, like Abraham, were “looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). We also pray for its coming the way John ends Revelation. When the Lord promises, “Yes, I am coming soon,” believers respond, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Our prayer is a longing for the perfect kingdom Jesus promised, a place where there is no more death, sorrow, pain, or crying. It springs from hearts that daily endure the harsh realities of life in the trenches of unrest, anger, immorality, addiction, and all that comes with them. Here we have nothing perfect. We anticipate something much better because Jesus, our King, has promised it will come.

But Jesus reminded his disciples that the kingdom of his Father is more than a distant hope. It already exists (Luke 17:21). All those who listen to the gospel and believe become citizens even though they must wait for its glorious coming. The glory waits, but not the love and care of God.

Our Father placed all things under the power and authority of Jesus (Ephesians 1:22). Now Jesus rules his kingdom so that all things work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). That’s the kingdom we pray will continue to advance.

Perhaps we need to remember that our King came here and lived with us as a poor, humble servant. He stood accused of treason and bound before Pilate. In his interview with the Roman official, Jesus maintained he was a king, but his kingdom was not of this world. It was different.

When we remember Jesus before Pilate, we begin to understand how different the kingdom of God is. It is not kingdom of power, borders, armies, decrees, or legislative action. It is a kingdom of God’s action on behalf of his people—quietly, relentlessly, efficiently carried out by an unseen and unnoticed almighty God who loves his own.

Our great King now rules even in the presence of his enemies. Today, the headlines announce how often the enemies of Christ seek to destroy his kingdom and belittle or even persecute his people. They almost always seem to be more powerful, more successful, and more important than Christ’s kingdom. But Jesus reminds us that even hell itself cannot overcome his kingdom (Matthew 16:18).

The gospel of Jesus had called, gathered, and enlightened sinful humans like us. We are his kingdom waiting for the glory to come. When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we recognize that we are citizens of his kingdom and pray that he will keep us as his subjects.

We could say that Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom of words because his power is in the words of the gospel of forgiveness. That power not only sustains us as his own, but it also brings others to treasure the grace of God. In spite of attempts to wipe Christians from the face of the earth, the kingdom of God continues to claim new believers and to sustain all those who trust in him. Your kingdom come, Lord.

Sometimes we need to remember that the kingdom is his, not ours. This is a prayer to “our Father in heaven,” and we pray, “Your kingdom come”—not mine or ours. We are challenged to see that we do indeed contribute to the rule of Christ our King, but we serve him. We pray that God would keep us focused on his kingdom and our humble service to him while we are here waiting for his glorious kingdom to come.


John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 9
Issue: September 2017

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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