Thursday, September 23, 2010

Church Growth and Persecution: Like Two Peas in a Pod

“The enmity of the world in his [St. Paul’s] estimation augurs well for the success and growth of the Church, which fares best in times of persecution.”

The following quote comes from Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, Chapter 5, verse 11, gleaned from Project Wittenberg:

VERSE 11. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased.

In his great desire to recall the Galatians, Paul draws himself into the argument. He says: "Because I refuse to recognize circumcision as a factor in our salvation, I have brought upon myself the hatred and persecution of my whole nation. If I were to acknowledge circumcision the Jews would cease to persecute me; in fact they would love and praise me. But because I preach the Gospel of Christ and the righteousness of faith I must suffer persecution. The false apostles know how to avoid the Cross and the deadly hatred of the Jewish nation. They preach circumcision and thus retain the favor of the Jews. If they had their way they would ignore all differences in doctrine and preserve unity at all cost. But their unionistic dreams cannot be realized without loss to the pure doctrine of the Cross. It would be too bad if the offense of the Cross were to cease." To the Corinthians he expressed the same conviction: "Christ sent me. . .to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." (I Cor. 1:17.)

Here someone may be tempted to call the Christians crazy. Deliberately to court danger by preaching and confessing the truth, and thus to bring upon ourselves the hatred and enmity of the whole world, is this not madness? But Paul does not mind the enmity of the world. It made him all the bolder to confess Christ. The enmity of the world in his estimation augurs well for the success and growth of the Church, which fares best in times of persecution. When the offense of the Cross ceases, when the rage of the enemies of the Cross abates, when everything is quiet, it is a sign that the devil is the door-keeper of the Church and that the pure doctrine of God's Word has been lost.

photo credit: Dayna McIsaac


Kari said...

Thank you, Scott.
This is why we are the church militant.

Anonymous said...

I know you don't like "hmmmmm", Scott, but this post makes me go "Hmmmmm" and wonder if CG is not in itself a form of persecution? Or is it more simply just a temptation? Is it heresy?

Whatever it is, it ain't good.