The Christian church

The Christian church

John A. Braun

I anguish often over the plight of Christians. Some of them I know. They are friends, family members, and neighbors facing challenges. Some of those challenges are difficult. But I also anguish over other Christians I do not know personally. That group includes people far away who tell stories of faith, perseverance, toil, and even persecution. What catches my eye is their confession of faith in Jesus.

These Christians are not always WELS and some of them don’t wear the label Lutheran, but they are a cause of some of my prayers for the larger invisible church of Christ. They are also a source of encouragement. They have bravely faced what I have not and confessed their faith in Christ.

I anguish over the Christians killed by terrorists or others and pray God will keep all his faithful in his strong hand. He will; it’s what he has promised. My prayers hold God to his promise. I wonder whether widespread persecution of the church by enemies of Christ will disrupt the relative peace we have here as believers. Yes, we still are ridiculed and persecuted in many ways, but we don’t have to face the barrel of a loaded AK-47 in the hand of someone intent on using it. I leave that in the Lord’s hands to solve according to his will.

Reading the headlines carrying such news sometimes clouds my thoughts with worry and dread. Then I have the privilege of preparing Forward in Christ each month. It brings me into contact with the thoughts of believers who trust the Lord of the church as I do. I worship with them and share the work of the Lord with them. It’s a joy to be tied together with them in our beliefs in Christ.

Each month I read their confessions and encouragement as we prepare another issue. At times I am moved by their words long before any of you read them. I praise God for what he has done in their hearts, and that boosts my spirit.

What we publish may represent one small voice in a world that despises the gospel and believers. So many Christians will never read any of the articles into which our writers put their Christian faith. But it is a witness and a confession. We trust that the Holy Spirit will use our pages to bring comfort, strength, and courage to some.

On another level, our confession that we are saved by God’s grace in Christ through faith is a defiant message hurled against the gates of hades. All the forces against Christians are unable to prevail against the church founded on Christ. But Satan takes no notice of us, thinking it only a little scratch in his vicious onslaught against Christ’s church. But rage as Satan has and will, in Christ we have victory. Satan may win battles and all may appear to be lost for us believers here on earth, but we need to stand tall and confess our faith in our powerful Lord.

The great truth is that the power of the gospel sustains us because the Holy Spirit works through it. The writers who share their faith in the words you read are assurances that he has not withdrawn his presence or failed to work on human hearts through the gospel.

Read on. Take a deep breath of God’s grace. Count your wonderful blessings. Pray for Christians around the world. And let that prayer include not just those in our own missions but all the other Christians the Holy Spirit has called, gathered, and enlightened in the whole Christian church on earth.

 

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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 102, Number 6
Issue: June 2015

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