As most of you know, the foundation truth of this broadcast, Fundamental Faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son and the world's Savior has been publicly attacked. Indeed, the opposition to the glorious Gospel truth is constantly being assailed more widely and more severely. Now please don't worry about the fact that this assault, as many others, has been made against personally. During the past sixteen seasons of broadcasting Christ's eternal Gospel, almost every name you can imagine has been heaped on us by atheists, war-mongers and rabble- rousers, because God has helped us call sin "sin," denounce evil in high, as in low places, and then point men to Jesus, the only Redeemer from ruin. Despite all this, our broadcast has, by God's grace - and again we ask you to believe that we mean only by God's grace, not by human efforts, least of all mine - steadily grown, until today, as we open our seventeenth season in the name of the triune God and for the spread of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, "Bringing Christ to the Nations" is larger and more widespread than ever before. The more violently the message of the cross has been assailed, the greater has been the Almighty's blessing.
We are, however, disturbed over the fact that in an increasing degree, some people use the word "fundamentalist" to express their contempt for anyone who trusts each word of Scripture. Has loyalty to the Bible and the Lord Jesus in the United States dropped to the low point that those who follow the whole Christian Creed are to be criticized publicly?
I thank God that I am a
fundamentalist and praise the Holy Spirit
for helping me make the Bible the foundation of my faith. Morever --
this is the appeal as our radio mission begins its seventeenth season
and I have the privilege of speaking to you from historic -- century
Trinity Lutheran Church, mother Church of our faith in Milwaukee
the first of one hundred and seventy-six churches in this Wisconsin
With the Bible banned from many households--a recent report states that while forty years ago fifty percent of our American Christian homes had a family altar, family Scripture reading and prayer, only five percent today take time to worship the Lord - - is it any w on d e r that unfaithfulness, divorce, domestic misery and sins of the flesh flourish as never before? With God's Word thus widely pushed aside and neglected, need we search far afield to find the cause for many of the sorrows that assail us? Too many in the state and federal governments have said good-bye to the Bible. They have no time or interest for Holy Writ. What do we find instead? Too often excessive drinking! An Illinois senator complains that cocktail parties in Washington interfere with the functions of good government and so widely has official drinking spread in some states that the Madison, Wisconsin, Capital Times, for example, declares: "There are too many public officials, judges and legislators in this State who have gotten drunk, and who have made exhibitions of themselves in public places. The Capital Times believes that it is time for the press of Wisconsin to call upon our booze-drinking officials to show respect for the dignity of the offices they hold."
Because many churches have banished the Bible as the true Word of God from their pulpits, substituting personal opinions for the decisive "thus saith the Lord" often neglecting even to take a text from Scripture, Christianity Is at a low ebb in our country today as Bibleless churches constantly lose members, influence, and the reason for their existence. The cry of this disquieted and disillusioned age should be, "Back To The Bible!"
We must go back to Scripture, not as to a volume which contains the truth, but which is altogether and entirely the truth; -- not a book which like others written by mere men, contains some helpful portions and some that are valueless or even dangerous, but a sacred record which from its beginning, describing paradise here on earth, to its end picturing paradise in heaven, as Christ Himself testified, the "truth" written, every page of it, for our guidance, Instruction, and salvation.
Give the Bible its place in your heart! Be fair enough to read Scripture yourself and let the Holy Spirit prove the wonderful power of the Word! The Reds held up a truckload of Bibles for Berlin in eastern Germany and refused to give the Scriptures entrance because they called God's Word "propaganda material." Don't you make the mistake of rejecting Holy Writ before you read it! Join our Bible Class of the Air, now with some sixty thousand members! Study the divine records without prejudice, and the Lord can help you add your name to the many who have been converted to Christ by this searching of Scriptures and learning the ground truths of the glorious Gospel!
Give the Bible a prominent position in your home! We wonder how here in Milwaukee a family could slave for eighteen years to pay a fortune teller a total of $50,000 to keep ghosts from driving parents and children insane. Every Monday at midnight they brought from $50 to $300 to a woman who grew rich as she promised to keep the ghosts away, while her victims lost even their shoes. Yet for two or three times eighteen years, some of you, refusing to rely on the Bible, have lost more than money; you have sacrificed your inner happiness and soul peace. Start today! Read Scripture together in your family! Pray together! If you can, sing a hymn together! Maintain this service to the Savior and you will find that your home, united in worshiping God, will experience untold blessings. It will be built on the Rock, which is Christ.
Don't be afraid to be a fundamentalist and believe the whole Bible! With your loyalty to the Lord you are in good company, the best you can ever have. You stand with Jesus who, praying to His Father, said, "Thy Word is truth." You stand with Saint Paul as he declared, "All Scripture is given by inspiration ..." You stand with Martin Luther who told the great assembly of princes and prelates where he was asked to retract his teachings that unless we were convinced from clear passages of Scripture, he could not and would not retract, adding in triumph: "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me! Amen!" You stand with the mightiest minds of the ages. One of the greatest European scholars of all times was Christian Gellert, professor of the University of Leipzig. His classrooms were always overcrowded. Princes and leaders visited him. Even Frederick the Great, scoffer though he was, invited him to his palace. Gellert's death was considered a national calamity, and a biographer records, "Perhaps no grave has been watered by so many and such sincere tears" as Gellert's. Was he ashamed of the Scriptures? Never. He wrote that strengthening Hymn:
When he died, his Bible, worn from use, was found opened at Job's second chapter, containing the words, "Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"
Within the Bible, the foundation book of our faith, the foundation truth is Christ Himself. Our text emphasizes this when it speaks of the "foundation... that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Now what are the fundamental doctrines which the Scriptures teach concerning our Lord? May the Holy Spirit help you hear and believe these facts of the faith:
Fundamental Truth No.1: Jesus Christ is your God. Who says this? Your heavenly Father, when repeatedly He calls Christ "His Son"! The writers of the Old Testament, when they foresee Jesus, the Messiah, as "the mighty God"! The writers of the New Testament when they call Jesus, "God blessed for ever," or kneel before Him to worship Him as "My Lord and my God!" Christ Himself proved that He was the Almighty, for the miracles which He Himself per-formed are plainly the work of God.
Besides, you need God almighty, with whom nothing shall be impossible. God, who with all the resources of heaven, can protect you in danger, provide for you in need, comfort you in sorrow, and finally, after death, take you to heaven. Here He is in the Lord Jesus Christ, "very God of very God." His triumphant "all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth" is a personal guarantee of strength and victory to those who entrust themselves to His care. Be a strict fundamentalist and insist that Christ is your God! Don't be satisfied with any compromise or with any denial of Scripture which makes Jesus good and godly, high and exalted, but still a human being, even as you and I. A human Christ can never help you, but a divine Christ can always deliver you.
Fundamental Truth No.2: To save you, the Son of God was born of the virgin Mary and became man to take your place in suffering the guilt of your sins. Of course, you cannot understand Christ's being born a child. Even the Bible calls it a great "mystery"; but if you cannot explain a hundred other marvels of nature which surround you in everyday life, why should you refuse to accept God's own revelation concerning the birth and incarnation of Jesus? An American church leader can rise up to contradict God's Word and to declare flatly, "I do not believe in the Virgin Birth:" but are you going to trust men or God? Build your faith on the faultless foundation of the prophets and the apostles, "Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone."
Fundamental Truth No.3: Moved by a limitless, heightless, depthless love for you, the son of God, made the Son of Man, gave Himself on Calvary's cross as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. This, indeed, is the fundamental of all fundamentals, the unsearchable mercy of Jesus' love which led Him, sinless and stainless as He was, to become sin for us, first by removing the guilt, the curse, the punishment of all our rebellions against God, then, by loading all their sentence, punishment and pain upon His innocent soul and body, finally, by suffering in our stead the full punishment of our rising up against God and for each of us dying the death we deserved. In this blood-bought atonement of Jesus Christ, full and complete because it wipes out every sin, even the scarlet vices and the black crimes which distress many of you; in this cross-gained redemption, free because in Heaven's highest mercy it is granted you by grace and through faith; in this atoning mercy, final, because it has left nothing required for your redemption undone, you have the heart and center of the Christian creed. Believe it, and you are saved; reject it, and Jesus will reject you.
Don't let anyone keep you from this foundation fact of faith! The modernist churchman whom I cited declares boldly and we think blasphemously: "I do not believe... in the old-fashioned theory of atonement (the Bible truth of Jesus, that 'the blood of Jesus Christ ... cleanseth us from all sin'), nor do I know any intelligent minister who does"; but don't let that disturb you! The Bible puts a curse on all who contradict Christ's redemption. Paul declared: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed!" You cannot destroy Gibraltar by shooting pebbles at it with a sling shot; neither can the eternal Rock of Ages, faith in Christ crucified for our sins, be moved by the pygmy attacks of puny unbelievers.
Fundamental Truth No.4: To prove that His sacrifice for the sins of the whole world has been accepted, and to give every believer the victory over the grave, Christ on the third day after His crucifixion publicly triumphed over the tomb. If you want the assurance that the gruesome grave is not life's end, that through Jesus you shall live in a resurrected, radiant body, far too marvelous for human understanding; that the Son of God has opened the door of heaven for you, be a fundamentalist, trust t h e foundation promise of Christ, "I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (Jn 11:25, 26)
Fundamental Truth No.5: The Savior, risen, ascended, exalted at the right hand of His Father, will come again in glory to judge all unbelievers, but to bring His believers safely home to heaven. The day of that judgment is rapidly approaching. Scripture records for us the signs which are to foretell the beginning of the end and the approach of Christ's return. Never previously have these warnings been fulfilled so frequently and exactly as in the present moment. The time is drawing close, the Bible teaches us, when the earth will be destroyed by fire, and "the elements shall melt in fervent heat." Don't listen to those who say that the globe will not be consumed by fire, that matter is indestructible, that the world will go on forever! Even scientists who have no interest in the Bible as God's Word are writing and speaking about the end of the world as never before; and if some claim that man himself will be able to blow up the earth, why should anyone doubt that the Almighty will keep His Word and make an end of this unbelieving, sin-saturated sphere?
These, then, are the Bible's five fundamental truths concerning Christ which you should believe. Do you think, after you have heard them, that it is in the interest of saving souls and of promoting the welfare of our country for leaders derisively to call a person who accepts and teaches these foundation truths "a fundamentalist," as though he were a "funnymentalist," the term which modernist preachers often derisively substitute? God help America if those in high position think it smart not to believe in the fundamental truths of the faith!
When today we invite you to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ your Savior, we do not hesitate to warn you that as soon as you stand up for Jesus, you will have to stand up against assaults on your faith. Yet the battle is worth the fighting.
Make the "foundation... that is laid" for you, "Jesus Christ!" Sing out with unswerving loyalty:
then, no matter how many know-it-all opponents of the faith ridicule your trust, you will find joy in Jesus and the guarantee of peace in your heart, love in your soul, praise on your lips and courage in your mind to meet the worst that life can bring with the confidence that since you are Christ's, purchased by Him at the price of His precious blood, you can be His forever, blessed with the assurance that everything which happens to you comes as the evidence of His love.
Build the churches on Jesus as the foundation of faith; cleanse God's temples of all money-changers, twentieth-century Pharisees and Sadducees; let the pulpits of our country resound with the invitation of grace, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" give us preachers determined to proclaim nothing but the Gospel, to explain nothing but the Bible, to acclaim no other Savior than Christ, and our churches will help produce the true revival and the return to the Almighty which America sorely needs today.
Let the leaders of our country help build the foundation of a better tomorrow on Christ, in whose name the Continental Congress prayed during the hard years of the revolution, whose grace one President after the other publicly implored in our earlier days; keep our officials from joining in the widespread attack on the Christian faith now in progress across the two oceans; give us Christian statesmen who, believing in Jesus' warning, "Without Me ye can do nothing," will help our country avoid every course or action which in any way contradicts God's Word; and this country can be spared the horrors of an atomic war, just as the Almighty can graciously continue the prosperity with which He has blessed hitherto.
You, too, should be a fundamental, faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, because the Apostle tells us plainly, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid." How foolish and how tragic to put one's trust in anyone other than Jesus. Recently a professor of the medical school at Anago University, New Zealand, put seventy-five of the leading fortune tellers there to test. He reports that "not one had the slightest accuracy in any branch of forecasting. One, attempting to diagnose diseases, claimed that a man with a wooden leg had varicose veins. Seven other diviners said that a completely healthy man was suffering from twenty-five different sicknesses. Another fortune teller who claimed that he could tell whether photographs placed downward on the table were pictures of men or woman, identified as "women, photographs of a town, an island, and a war memorial." The fact that 90 percent of these fortune tellers are sincere does not lessen the harm they do, the professor summarized, to which we add: the fact that many who reject the Lord Jesus Christ are likewise sincere in their destructive rejection of the fundamental truths does not lessen the incalculable harm they do.
You will not find the joyful assurance of salvation and the abundant life in your emotions because often they can be totally wrong. You will not have a foundation for your faith in your own understanding and learning. People in Europe and in our country are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the German poet Goethe's birth. However high his talents were, he did not recognize and revere the redeeming Christ; and with this one firm foundation taken from his life, he lacked a moral basis. He lived with the mother of his oldest child for eighteen years before they were married, and despite his brilliant genius, he did not know the peace, rest, confidence the Savior's faith inspires. Modernism or any of the creeds which remove Christ as the Foundation of faith and put in His place human character and accomplishments, so-called good thoughts and good deeds, lead souls to hell. At the Ohio State Fair recently a painting in the art exhibit was hung with the wrong side to the top; yet an official at the fair said, "everybody liked the picture, ' even though, made in an automobile junk yard, it showed an old wrecked, abandoned car. As far as we are concerned, you could hang such pictures with the canvas toward the wall; but you cannot turn the Gospel of Jesus Christ upside down and make salvation depend on good works instead of God's grace, without losing heaven. You are either saved with Christ or lost without Him. You either make Him the Foundation of your faith or, building on the quicksands of self-righteous quackery, your hopes for eternal life disappear. Therefore, stand fast in these fundamental facts of faith!
Praise God's measureless mercy with me, everyone of you can build your life and trust on Jesus! The salvation which no money can buy, no learning acquire, no might secure, is given you freely by the glorious grace of Jesus Christ. You need only come before your God in His name, admit without restriction that you are a lost sinner, sentenced and condemned by your own rebellions against the Almighty, and present the promises of pardon sealed for you in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, the Savior who died, paying the full penalty of your transgressions, and rose again to reassure you of your personal resurrection, will arise before His Father and yours to plead and prove that He has taken your sins from you, that His blood has cleansed you, that His death has removed every charge against you, that, therefore, in God's sight, you are sin-pardoned and sin-free. Thus, heaven is yours, yours personally, yours eternally, yours by grace, through Jesus' love.
Because Christ is the only firm Foundation for your faith, all others being shifting sand, blown away by the winds of adversity, I want to make it all very clear to you in this first broadcast that Jesus, the Son of God, is your sure Savior, your only Savior. The fundamentalist who believes Christ's truth, not the modernist who rejects it, has the promise of redemption. Let me put these foundation facts of our faith in Christ, together In the words of Martin Luther which I repeat once every year because this statement of trust (We will be glad to send it to you on a beautiful plastic card, free of all charge), better states the heart and center of our Gospel glory than any other human utterance does. Beneath the cross of his Savior, the great reformer wrote: "I believe that Jesus Christ true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true." Luther, you see, was a fundamentalist of the first rank. You, too, should be. Give your heart this day to Jesus! Entrust your soul to the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you: Write us at once that you want Christ to be the Foundation of your faith and life!
Then, built on the Rock of Ages, you will resist all the storms of Satan's rage and survive the tides of hell's hatred. Firmly grounded on the eternal Foundation, you will have the guarantee of grace which will help you overcome all afflictions. All other values in life may change. The British pound that ten years ago had a value of $4.14 is slashed overnight to $2.80, as a dozen other countries devaluate their money; but our Father in Christ proclaims in His holy Word, "I change not." Paraguay has had six different presidents and administrations in only seventeen months; but once you are rooted in your Redeemer's love: He, the ruler of your soul, assures you, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
Heavy fears may encircle your heart. You read that there are some 700,000 patients in our American mental hospitals with 300,000 more waiting to get in. You hear that more than half of the patients in the United States' hospitals are mental patients and the fear steals steadily over you that you may lose your mind. When you are grounded in Christ's grace you know that, as your God, He can do everything required to relieve you; that as your Savior He wants to help you in every need. Put your trust in Him! Don't listen to those who tell you to keep away from the Bible, from Church, and from religion! Turn to the Christ who tenderly invites you, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Hide your life in Him, "casting all your care on Him, for He careth for you."
Rock-riveted faith in Jesus will keep you prepared for every sudden sorrow. How swiftly disaster can overtake us! Scores of passengers on a pleasure cruise aboard the Noronic on Lake Ontario went to bed a week ago only to be burned to death in the early morning hours. Those aboard the doomed vessel whose faith was built on the blood atonement of Christ could face the terror of that fiery torture in triumph with Jesus. Last Sunday a sweet, clean, Christian girl, on the last day of her vacation, started out with a sister and two friends to attend services at my son's church. At a busy Buffalo intersection a truck driver drove through the red light, struck the car in which the young people were riding, and instantly killed Alice. She was ready to meet her Savior, whom she was about to worship. Are You ready to meet Him, if you have never truly worshiped Him?
How sorely our war-racked world needs this foundation faith! Now, in this crisis hour, when, as President Truman reveals, the Reds in Russia, sworn enemies of Jesus Christ and our American way of life, actually possess the dread atomic bomb. While some of our top scientists were predicting that it would take at least ten years before the Communists could split the atom for the colossal destruction of human lives, Moscow now reveals that it has had the bomb for two years, and other sources report that three immense atomic plants have been built in the Soviet domain. The atomic bomb in the hands of atheistic Communists should drive our country to God and make every American a firm fundamentalist. If because of our sins and our thanklessness, the almighty and all-holy God be against us in the United States, blessed as we have been above all other nations, and yet, especially since the war, neglectful of God and indifferent to Christ, what assurance can we have that robot planes, loaded with atomic bombs a hundred times more destructive than those which leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki, will not blast American cities off the face of the earth? But "if God be for us, who can be against us?' Therefore, Pray, America, pray! Repent, America, repent! Return to God in Christ! Build on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus! Then, too, you will have this assurance of Scripture: "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: The Lord knoweth them that are His..." My countrymen, to be known by God, know Jesus as your Redeemer! Be a fearless, faith-filled fundamentalist, no matter who opposes you! Believe and trust every word of Scripture, every Gospel promise concerning your Savior! Then you will have the foundation that can never be weakened or shaken, because you have the divine, life-giving, heaven-bestowing Christ. Amen.
preceeding is a Lutheran Hour sermon by Dr. Walter
A. Maier, and first aired in September 1949