The Formula of Concord: Articles III & IV
Article III: The Righteousness of Faith Before God
In articles I and II of the Formula of Concord (in my last newsletter) we heard about how original sin was the corruption of the entire human nature and continues to hang on to Christians after Baptism. We also heard that because of our original sin, we do not have a free will, but we in no way can come to Christ, begin to believe in Him, or help in our salvation. So, we might say, “What hope is there for me if I’m completely sinful and I can’t even come to Jesus?” Well, there is no hope in ourselves, but there is hope in Christ.
Article III confesses that Christ is our righteousness and we “lay hold of Christ” through the gift of faith. Yet, there was a man in the 1500s named Osiander who didn’t like the sound of receiving righteousness as a pure gift. Surely, Osiander thought, righteousness must have something to do with us and our gradual improvement, which is worked in us by God. Osiander thought that Christ was our righteousness according to His divinity alone. Then when we share in Christ’s divinity through faith, and that divinity works righteousness in us, we are saved. But this tears down the Gospel. If Osiander was right, salvation would be dependent on our gradual improvement rather than Christ. However, he was not right.
The Formula combats the teaching of Osiander and of others like him. The Formula teaches that Christ is our righteousness because of his perfect life and death, which is credited to us through the gift of faith (Romans 5:17-19, Isaiah 53:4-11). We are saved according to Christ’s entire person, not just His humanity or just His divinity. Our righteousness is given to us through faith, which is a gift, apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9). We have been saved by Christ alone. None of our salvation rests on us, which is the greatest news for us.
Article IV: Good Works
Article IV was included in the Formula of Concord because of the teachings of a man named Major, who said that Good works are necessary for salvation, not because they earn salvation, but because they maintain our salvation. In other words, we must do good works in order to keep our salvation. Major’s false teaching was combated by Luther’s good friend Amsdorf, who went too far the other way when he said, “good works are harmful for salvation.” Theologians such as Agricola and Otto jumped in and said that good works naturally flow from the believer, so we don’t even need to talk about good works or God’s law. However, all of these theologians were wrong on this point.
As the Formula of Concord responded, Good works “are excluded from the question about salvation,” but they are still necessary. We are saved completely by the grace of God in Christ Jesus through faith. Salvation is not something we earn or keep by good works, but it is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Good works will always flow from true faith in Christ, because we have been renewed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:10). Good works are necessary in the sense that they are not an option for us to do or not to do (1 John 2:5-9). Just as good fruit are produced by a good tree, so too will good works be produced by the Christian. Good works are not done by the Christian out of fear, but out love of righteousness, (Romans 8:15). However, we as Christians cannot do good works perfectly, for, we still have our sinful nature. Therefore, we always need God’s law to teach us what is pleasing to the Lord and to convict us of our sin. Yet, all our sin and imperfection in doing good works are completely forgiven in Christ. Good works are necessary for the Christian to do, but they are not necessary for salvation.
Our righteousness and salvation is not found in ourselves, but in Christ who is our righteousness. He did it all for us and gives righteousness to us through faith as a gift. Our good works do not make or keep us righteous, but they will always flow from true faith.
Dear members of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church,
My family and I would like to express our deep gratitude for your amazing generosity this Christmas! We have been blown away by how much you have done to make us feel welcome to Bismarck and to your congregation. It has been the greatest blessing getting to know you, to worship with you, and to serve you as vicar. We are looking forward to our second half of vicarage at Shepherd of the valley and Bethel, as I become ever more prepared to serve as a pastor. The Lord bless you all.
With thankful hearts, the Dailey family.
“Main Street Living North” Programs for February 2020:
Feb 2: Rev. Dan Suelzle, Wittenberg Lutheran Chapel, Grand Forks, ND, presents the message: “The Presentation of Our Lord,” based on Luke 2:22-32. “This Is The Life” program is: “The Point of No Return”. This presentation discusses God’s limitless Grace.
Feb 9: Rev. Dave Suelzle, Grace Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND, presents the message: “The Salty Disciples,” based on Matthew 5:13. “This Is The Life” program: “Mr. Big”.
Feb 16: Rev. Leo Deitemeyer, First American Lutheran Church, Mayville, ND, presents the message: “The Heart of the Matter: A Holy Heart,” based on Matthew 5:21-37, plus I Samuel 16:7. “This Is The Life” program is: “The Day We Lost Ella Mae”. Social Responsibility and Christian witness are the topics of this program.
Feb 23: Rev. Tim Schiller, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Alexandria, MN, presents the message: “Jesus’ Transformation Is for Our Transformation” based on Matthew 17:1-9. “This Is The Life” program: “Out of Bondage” examines the Christian approach to alcoholism.
“MAIN STREET LIVING” is a locally-produced TV program that includes a 30-minute worship service led by participating pastors of the Minnesota North and North Dakota Districts of our LCMS, along with a 30-minute Lutheran Hour program (normally “This Is The Life,” along with occasional church-season specials). Programs are broadcast 10:00am Central KBMY Xtra Channel 17.3 Bismarck/Dickinson, as well as the cable and satellite systems carrying these stations. MSLN programs are also archived and can be viewed at any time on www.mainstreetliving.com then click on “North (Fargo)”.
The “MERCY IN ACTION”
Conference will take place at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran on Saturday, February 29 from 9:00am – 3:00pm. Save the date and plan to attend as we highlight ministry opportunities and hear how lives are impacted as God’s people serve the Lord with gladness. You’ll meet Gideon, official Comfort Dog with Lutheran Church Charities and hear the amazing impact that Comfort Dogs have when people are in crisis. Rev. Dr. Adam Filipek will present “Rich In Mercy”. Rev. Dr. Filipek has served churches in NYC, Ferguson, MO, and Lidgerwood, ND. Zion Lutheran Church will share their IMPACT ONE mentorship partnership program with BHS and SOTV will highlight our partnership with Wachter Middle School and People Matter. Rev. Rick Jones, chaplain with Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, will share the impact of caring for children. Cost is $15 pre-registration or $20.00 at the door. Lunch will be provided. Register at https://sotv-bis.org/mercy-in-action-registration/ Contact Pastor Wolfgram at 701-400-0646 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or for more information.
The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League annual prayer service will take place at Shepherd of the Valley on Saturday, February 22, beginning at 9:00 AM. Pastor Wolfgram will lead the service and refreshments will be served following the prayer service. Plan to join us.
The next Men’s Network will take place at Holy Cross Lutheran church on Saturday, February 15, 9-11am. Plan to join us for breakfast, fellowship, and a study of God’s Word led by Vicar Dailey.
“REMEMBER YOUR LEADERS”
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7 will serve as the focus for our mid-week Lent services starting on Ash Wednesday. Special services will take place each week at 7:00 pm focused on Old Testament leaders as highlighted in Hebrews 13. They include Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20
We have been instructed by Jesus to gather in his name. By attending services regularly, we are able to worship God, hear His Word proclaimed, receive His body and blood in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and be encouraged in our shared faith. Being involved also allows us to use the gifts that God has provided in service to Christ and to care for each other.
Shepherding Our Strays
The VisionPath Committee continues in its work with the Shepherding Our Strays program, in partnership with the Elders. They held a workshop for session 4 of the program on January 4th, which included establishing a Contact Visitation Plan for our congregation. This plan will include notes, letters, phone calls and in-person visits to those members that haven’t been to church in a while. A workshop for sessions 5 and 6 will be held on Saturday, February 1st. We are building out a CARE Team and would appreciate any additional volunteers to help with the effort. Please reach out to Ann Willoughby if you’re interested in being involved.
Facility Expansion Plans
The Congregational Voters’ Assembly received a first look at the proposed facility expansion plans on January 12th. These plans are in draft form and we’re seeking out additional input over the next couple months. We’re planning a congregational forum for Sunday, March 29th to discuss facility expansion plans and the Congregational Voters’ Assembly is scheduled to meet on Sunday, April 26th to decide whether to initiate a capital campaign to fund facility expansion.
Call of Justin Woodside as Assisting Pastor
The Congregational Voters’ Assembly met on January 12th and approved the calling of Justin Woodside as a shared Assisting Pastor. This was followed by a joint meeting of the voters of both Shepherd of the Valley and Bethel Lutheran Church on January 26th with District President Arie Bertsch presiding. This joint meeting had about 100 voters and it resulted in a unanimous motion approving the call of Justin Woodside as a shared Assisting Pastor.
We will find out whether Justin Woodside will be returning to Bismarck during the candidate call service for Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne on Wednesday, April 29.
Your Brother in Christ,
Board of Education
Greetings and God’s blessings in the new year! My name is Samantha Henke and I am the Board of Education chair for Shepherd of the Valley. We are already planning events for the coming year and continuing the momentum from 2019.
Although it’s January, we are already talking about Vacation Bible School (stay tuned for more info!) and are excited about upcoming music performances during worship by the Sunday School students. We also have members working on presenting a financial planning program for families through the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. As always, we encourage adult members to attend our weekly Bible study held during education hour in the narthex, led by Pastor Wolfgram or Vicar Dailey, and for our confirmed high school students to attend Bible study with Carrie.
Our next Board of Education meeting is Saturday, February 8 at 9:30 AM at the church. Members are welcome to come and give their input as we take a look at our library in the narthex. If you have any opinions or input, please plan to attend as we work on making our library up to date and functional for our members.
Jacob P. Fetzer
Matthew Kalonick 2/15
Norm Sorge 2/16
Fred Hartlieb 2/17
Max Nelson 2/20
Jesse Kitzman 2/21
Linda Houfek 2/22
Corrine Aukland 2/23
Luella Richter 2/26
Feb 1-15 Steve Reiman
Feb 16-29 Kevin Olson
|THE PURPOSE OF SHEPHERD OF THE VALLEY LUTHERAN CHURCH IS TO PROVIDE SPIRITUAL NURTURE THROUGH WORD AND SACRAMENT, LIVE THE FAITH AND REACH INTO THE COMMUNITY WITH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.|
Mark & Anita Neels 02/14/15
Jeremy & Becky Gildea 02/20/10
Norm & Clair Sorge 02/21/70
*Feb 2 Jim Barrett & Doug Hintz 815am
Kari Kramer & Laith Hintz 1045am
Feb 9 Robert Knutson & Don Gienger 815am
Curt Krecklau & Dan Jackson 1045am
*Feb 16 John Hoffman & Kevin Brockel 815am
Bob Ziebarth & Justin Dever 1045am
Feb 23 Micheal Henke & Dwight Cook 815am
Melvin & Greg Sutheimer 1045am
*Feb 2 Joyce Keith 815am
Bob & Heather Ziebarth & Lily 1045am
Feb 9 Carrie & Nate Harling 815am
Leon & Jerry Lippert 1045am
*Feb 16 Don Gienger 815am
Chuck & JoAnn Falkenstein 1045am
Feb 23 Marion Meske 815am
Leslie Watson 1045am
*Feb 2 Aspen R. 815am
Emma V. 1045am
Feb 9 Norman C. 815am
Reagan D. 1045am
*Feb 16 Hunter P. 815am
Daisy A. 1045am
Feb 23 Blake N. 815am
Kallen H. 1045am