Christus Victor
Thursday of Epiphany 1
12 January 2017
The Church is always under attack by her enemies. Satan will never rest in his unending labor to overturn the holy faith that the Bridegroom, Christ, has given His bride, the Church. The proxies of the evil one will always try to foist on the bride a lover other than the Bridegroom. The incubus of heresy tries to filch the pristine faith of the Son of God from His blood-bought spouse. Satan is ever angling to steal a sullied and salacious kiss from the bride of Christ, that he might divorce her from the heart of her gracious Lord. She fends off the advances of every false Christ and every angel of light beckoning to a better life than the one her Bridegroom has given at the cost of His own life.
 
Because of the tenacity of our seeming-pleasant enemy, we will always find ourselves in the midst of a hidden, but very real war. If there is to be a superficial peace the capitulation must come from our side. Our enemy will never give up. His rage and spite against the Christ and His Church will never diminish, only the tactics will evolve. Often people will blame the Church for the war that is waged against her. This is akin to blaming Poland for the outbreak of World War II. The Church would desire to live in external peace, but Satan will have none of it. So while she has a peace that surpasses human understanding, she will always live at war.
 
This makes her look weak and incompetent. Why can't the Bride of the King of Peace live at peace? The other "King," Rodney King, asked plaintively, "Why can't we all just get along?" A great majority of people in our culture share Rodney King's thinking. Many people demand that the Church tolerate heresy right within her own walls. But exactly at the point of attack the church's glory shines through. When she is fending off Satan's advances with the Word of God for the sake of Christ and His gospel, then she is confessing Christ. Nothing fluffy or insubstantial needs to be said or done while being attacked. The imminent advance of enemy troops instantly focuses the mind upon what is most important. So weak is the Church that Christ and His eternal Word must defend her. His victorious banner goes before us. And there is no greater or more powerful defender than Him.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
 
"I am confident that the church, by the light of her doctrine, will so enlighten the world's vain wisdom, that, even though it accept not the mystery of the faith, it will recognize that in our conflict with heretics we, and not they, are the true representatives of that mystery. For great is the force of truth; not only is it its own sufficient witness, but the more it is assailed the more evident it becomes; the daily shocks which it receives only increase its inherent stability. It is the peculiar property of the church that when she is buffeted she is triumphant, when she is assaulted with argument she proves herself in the right, when she is deserted by her supporters she holds the field.
 
"It is her wish that all men should remain at her side and in her bosom; if it lay with her, none would become unworthy to abide under the shelter of that august mother, none would be cast out or suffered to depart from her calm retreat. But when heretics desert her or she expels them, the loss she endures, in that she cannot save them, is compensated by an increased assurance that she alone can offer bliss. This is a truth which the passionate zeal of rival heresies brings into the clearest prominence. The church, ordained by the Lord and established by His Apostles, is one for all; but the frantic folly of discordant sects has severed them from her. And it is obvious that these dissensions concerning the faith result from a distorted mind, which twists the words of Scripture into conformity with its opinion, instead of adjusting that opinion to the words of Scripture."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 7.4
2 Corinthians
10:1-6

I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ- I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!- I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh.
 
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.  (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, though Satan's rage and spite swirl all around Your bride, you will never permit her to be taken. The gates of hell will never prevail against her. Assure us by Your Holy Spirit, that though we see her in conflict we will never doubt your ultimate victory. Amen.
 
For the people of Memorial Lutheran Church, that God our heavenly Father would lead us to recognize His truth in Christ and share with joy the message of salvation in Him
 
For all those who are suffering under their losses, that they might find consolation in the peace of Christ, who grants strength to those who trust in Him
 
For those who are being enticed by the blandishments of the enemy, that they might confess Christ and bring every thought captive to Him
 
For John Hatteberg, that the Lord would send the holy angels to watch over him and guard him in all his ways
Art:  DAVID, Gerard  Triptych of Jean Des Trompes (1505)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016