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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Leaning on the Word of God in Challenging Times- Lesson 13

For the most part, we have been looking at how we can trust in the Word of God whenever we struggle as individuals. Now, we will study the problems the entire church is facing in difficult times. How can the body of Christ trust in the Word of God when entire congregations are failing? How can it trust the Word when anti-Christian groups are having great success? There are so many challenges facing the church as a whole that at times our faith will be tested.  

We will look at news articles that represent these challenges, and we will search for law and Gospel in these situations. You will see how God is at work defending, and nurturing his church even in times of decline. 

Read the news article below: 

Congregations across the US are shrinking, and being forced out of buildings. It can have a devastating effect on the life of the believer. How can Christians keep themselves from becoming too attached to their buildings? If you belong to a church, what does the building mean to you?

A church is wherever the Word of God is proclaimed in purity, and the sacraments (baptism and Lord's Supper) are administered faithfully. We may have many memories of a particular place, but our faith can be strengthened anywhere God is at work. 

In this article the pastor said that the Church will continue to live on. How can he be so sure? 

Read Matthew 16:13-18. Remember that the rock is not Peter in particular, but faith. Faith in Christ is the rock. Christ will defend his church against all forces that threaten it. 

Do you see the law at work in this article? Do you see any gospel? 

The law is that all man-made structures are temporary. Everything in this world is decaying, because sin has damaged creation. Nothing lasts forever, not even a church building. 

The Gospel is that Christ has given this congregation the Word, and faith. They will continue on under his care, albeit at a new location. Also, buildings may rot and fall apart, but God's promises do no such thing. 

Read Ephesians 5:25-27, 29 and 1 Timothy 3:14-15 to see how God cares for his church. 

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