Stick to Religion

Recently, someone told me to “Stick to religion” after I posted something on Facebook. No, No, don’t misunderstand me, this is good and sound advice. But here is what that means. It means that as a Christian and a pastor, I must preach repentance unto the forgiveness of sins. That means that I must expose sin where I see it and identify certain actions, words and thoughts as sin according to the word of God. Then I must warn people involved in these sins that to continue in them means eternal destruction. But the goal of this warning is to bring them to repentance. So “sticking to religion” is a very good thing because it means to bring sinners to Christ. So if I “stick to religion” here is what that involves.

“Sticking to religion” means that I speak against the evil and sin of Abortion. Some people call the murder of the unborn “a woman’s right to choose.” However, not only does this “choice” mean death for the unborn child, but often it kills the soul of the mother. What pastor has not had to deal with a distraught woman who came to him after having an abortion seeking forgiveness with tear-filled eyes bearing the guilt of murder on their hearts? The “women’s right to choose” premise does not consider the cruelty and egregious inhumanity of abortion nor the repercussions upon the poor mothers who have had abortions. “Sticking to religion” gives me the opportunity to educate people about the horrors of abortion. “Sticking to religion” means that as a pastor (or layman) I can absolve that poor woman because I get to tell them what God says in His Holy Word, “You are forgiven.” Yes! “Sticking to religion” is good because I bring people to repentance, to trust in the Word of God, to look at the cross of Christ, not merely listening to lies of men.

“Sticking to religion” also means that I speak against the sin of homosexuality. “Sticking to religion” means that I apply the Word of God in this situation and the Word of God clearly calls this sin a sin. But “Sticking to religion” also means that I get to tell those who repent of this sin that Christ has absolved them of this evil. The secular world will not tell them that but leave them in their sin and on the road to hell while calling this “love,” and “tolerance.” Yes, I will “Stick to religion” because God’s Word of Christ Crucified for sinners is the only hope for those caught up in this sin.

“Sticking to religion” means that I must speak out against what is now called “Same sex marriage.” “Sticking to religion” means that I direct people to the institution of marriage in the Word of God, “A man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined unto his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” Of course, there are aberrations in Scripture itself regarding this institution, but we don’t take our cue from the example of the Old Testament people, but “Stick to religion,” that is, to the definition and command God has given us in His Word at the beginning of Creation and reiterated by our Savior Himself in Matthew 19: 4-6. So, “sticking to religion” means that I must tell people that marriage is the union of one man to one woman for life. But it means that when people repent of violating God’s holy institution of matrimony, I can pronounce absolution and tell them that Christ died and rose again for that sin. I love to “stick to religion” for it means I get to bring people to Jesus and the cross on which He died for them.

In this same vein, “Sticking to religion” also means that I must warn people about adultery and fornication. Our present culture rarely, if ever, uses these terms. More often we hear that people are “living together” or having a “sleep-over” or just have “partners.” The culture in which we live not only condones “living together” and “sleep-overs” but vaunts them as the normal and natural thing to do. One can hardly turn on the TV without seeing unmarried people in and out of the sack. “Sticking to religion” that is, applying the Word of God means that I must tell people that those who continue to do these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Yet, when they repent of these sins, I get to tell them about Christ and His grace and mercy. The world just lets them languor in their sins leaving them on the road to the fire of hell. But they call this “love” and “tolerance.” Yes! I will “stick to religion,” that is, I will trust the Word of God because this Word of the Gospel is the only consolation for troubled sinners.

“Sticking to religion” means that I must also speak against the pervasive teaching of evolution. There are several versions of evolution, but the basic premise of evolution remains that all life is the product of “random selection” over millions of years. Thus, evolution rejects the six day Creation of Genesis and the clear Word of God. “Sticking to religion” means that I trust that God is truthful and that He created everything in six normal days. As the writer to the Hebrews states, “By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made of things that are visible (Hebrews 11:3).” If we can’t trust God in regard to Creation, how can we then trust Him when He speaks from the cross, “It is finished?” The same WORD that created the universe, Christ, is the same WORD that spoke that one Greek word from the cross, tetelestai, “It is finished.” If He is a liar in one place, He is a liar in another place. On the other hand, if He is true in one place, He must be true in another because God cannot lie. So, I will be very happy to “stick to religion” for it means that I can give comfort to the troubled sinner that God cannot and does not lie either about the creation or the forgiveness of our sins.

“Sticking to religion” also means that I must tell people that hearing the Word of God, confessing their sins and partaking of the Sacraments, (Means of Grace) is vital to their faith. The world sees no need for this and thus will say nothing about it. “Sticking to religion” means that I must warn people not to take their Christian faith for granted or the Word of God for granted. The real danger may be that one’s faith is slowly transformed into a sort of Christian philosophy that for so many people has become a substitute for faith in Christ. We are in a spiritual battle against the “wisdom” of Satan. Many today have become complacent; they have fallen asleep. It is as if many today do not believe the Christian is called into a spiritual battle. We should not be in a state of leisure and of snoring. The armor God provides is in His Word. What is it that awakens us from the sleep of sin? It is the Word of God. What is it that kindles faith? It is the Word of God. What is it that keeps us comforted against all the sin in our lives so that we do not again fall into unbelief? It is the Word of God. What is it that comforts us when our evil conscience accuses us of sins long ago forgotten by our Lord? It is the Word of God. What keeps us safe as we encounter the “gospel imitations” of our world such as social gospel, environmental gospel, a gender neutral gospel, or a pro-LGBT gospel and so forth? It is the Word of God. If Satan succeeds in snatching the Word from you, all is irretrievably lost. Let those who have no desire to hear the Word of God and partake of His holy Supper not think for a moment that they are Christian.

Many people get a warm fuzzy feeling when the Name of Jesus is mentioned, but do we see a need to confess our sins in the Divine Service each week? A Christian wants to confess his sins. A Christian wants to hear His Savior and be with Him even as a husband and wife want to be with one another. Christians who live in this faith know how weak they are. They know that it is only by the grace of God, only by the miracle of the Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament that they are preserved in faith. One who says, “I am a Christian” but never attends the Divine Service, never longs for absolution, never desires to dine with Christ at His table is not a believer in Christ who says, “Do this often in remembrance of Me.” So “Sticking to religion” means that I remind people of the Third Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” In the Divine Service, we come into the presence of our Savior and hear Him speak words of eternal comfort and forgiveness. Yes, I will gladly “stick to religion,” that is, I will tell people how vital it is to hear the Word of God so that they repent and trust in Christ even to the hour of their death.

“Sticking to religion” means that I must address so-called Global-warming and Climate change. On the one hand, we are to be careful with the Creation God has given us. On the other hand, when we are told that our “carbon footprint” will cause the oceans to rise dramatically; when we are told that the earth will get so hot that crops will not grow and human life will die out in just a matter of a few years; when we are told that the earth will get so cold that New York will be a frozen wasteland (Remember the global cooling scare in the 70s), I will “stick to religion.” I will trust what God says in His Word and comfort those under my care with God’s promises. God gives us this promise, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. (Genesis 8: 22).”

“Sticking to religion” also means that when we witness dramatic occurrences in nature, such as tornados, hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes, etc. as a Christian and pastor I can remind people of the coming of our Savior and the words which He spoke regarding His coming again: “There will be miraculous signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth nations will be in distress, not knowing which way to turn from the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint as they fearfully wait for what will happen to the world (The Global Warming Crowd and other unbelievers). When these things begin to happen, stand ready and lift your heads because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21: 25-26, 28).” Yes! I will gladly “stick to religion” because of the comfort God gives us and the comfort and consolation I can give to those trouble in their conscience when the see the world winding down towards the Last Day. All these things now labeled as conditions of “Global Warming” are signs from God that our Redemption in Christ Jesus is drawing closer.

“Sticking to religion” means that I must encourage people to honor their king as St. Peter says, “Fear God, honor the king (I Peter 2:17).” While we are to pray for those who serve in public office and give them honor, our earthly king in this great nation is the United States Constitution. This is the authority to which we have vowed our allegiance. If you have served in the military you must recall that you took an oath to uphold the Constitution. This is also the vow we take as American Citizens and the vow our public servants take, such as our president and congress. Therefore, “sticking to religion” means that as a Christian and then as an American Citizen I am under obligation, by virtue of the command of God and of that citizenship and by virtue of my vow, to uphold and protect my king. That also means exposing those who want to overthrow my earthly king.

My earthly king has guaranteed to us a Republican form of government (Article IV, section 4), not a democracy, not national socialism, not a monarchy, not a dictatorship or communism. My earthly king has stipulated that I have the right to freedom of speech, freedom to “stick to religion,” that is, to express my beliefs freely and openly in public. There are those who want to overthrow my king and that freedom. Among other things, my earthly king has stated that I have the right not only to own firearms, but to bear these arms in self-defense and in defense of my fellow Americans against those who would seek to overthrow my earthly king and bring them into tyranny. Presently, our earthly king is under attack from those who would seek his overthrow. So, “sticking to religion” means that I will and must defend the precious Constitution of this nation with my life if necessary. Because I am a citizen of this country, and because I have taken a vow to uphold the Constitution, that means speaking out publicly against those who want to “fundamentally change” this nation. The push to “fundamentally change” this county, to replace the Constitution with something else, to seek to dethrone our earthly king is tantamount to treason.

However, “sticking to religion” also means that regardless of what happens to our present form of government, I must tell people that the Lord of the Church is in control of all human events for the good of His chosen people. God’s word gives us this comfort even when our present form of government ceases to exist, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, those He called according to His plan (Romans 8: 28).”

Yes! I will “stick to religion.” It is the only safe, good, comforting and God-pleasing thing to do. It means that I have the joy and consolation of trusting God and taking Him at His Word. It means that I can call sinners to repentance and turn them to Christ who died for their sins and rose again for their justification. What a great and merciful Lord we have who has called us out of darkness into the marvelous light of His Word. To God alone be the glory, now and forever. —–Pastor Joe Burkhardt