Faith Related Q and A

» What is the role of women in the WELS?
There is a long answer to your brief question. What I can do is point you to some resources that will address your question from Scripture. These resources speak of men’s and women’s roles in marriage, in the church and in society. A section of This We Believe, a statement of belief of our church body, addresses men’s and women’s roles in the church. This link will take you to that section of the document. This next link will take you to a doctrinal statement on “Man and Woman Roles” found elsewhere on this website. Finally, you might be interested in a book from Northwestern Publishing House: A Bible Study on Man and Woman In God’s World. These resources will provide you with a well-rounded answer to your question.

» Hello. I have been dealing with a terminal illness with no more help from doctors. I do believe that God has healing for me and I want His will to be done in my life. I guess my question is, and a part of me feels bad saying this, but is it a sin to want to die so I can go home to be with Him and Jesus? I am tired of the suffering and pain that it is causing me and my family. I am scared to die, but I know there is a better place for me in heaven, free from all this, and I get to be with Jesus. Thank you.
Dear friend, it is not a sin to want to be in heaven with Jesus. When the apostle Paul was first imprisoned in Rome, he wrote to the Christians in Philippi that he had mixed thoughts about continuing to live on earth or being with his Lord in heaven. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:21-24). In 2 Corinthians 5:2 that same apostle spoke of his “longing” for heaven. While we look forward to our perfect life with God in eternity, we refrain from doing anything that would hasten the day of our death. We recognize that our times are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15). The unknown experience of physical death can present us with fears and concerns. Thank God that he has taken away our reasons for fear. God has turned death into the means by which we enter his presence in heaven. Forgiveness of sins is God’s gift to you through faith in Jesus Christ his Son (Ephesians 1:7). Eternal life is God’s gift to you through faith in Jesus Christ his Son (John 11:25). As a baptized child of God, remember how God has clothed you with the garments of salvation Jesus won by his holy life and innocent death (Galatians 3:26-27). Continue to use God’s gospel in word and sacrament for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of your faith. I trust you are in contact with your pastor. Do utilize the resources he has for you and your family. God bless you all with strength and peace and joy.

» Is there a WELS stance on garage or rummage sales? As a young adult, while moving from LCMS to WELS, I was led to believe that church members are responsible for supporting the local congregation. Still learning!
There is no synodical policy on the activities mentioned in your question. Differing local circumstances can lead to different practices. What I can do is pass along some observations from personal ministry experiences. What congregations will want to keep in mind is the impression given by such sales. Congregational fundraising can reinforce what many people wrongly think in the first place—that “all the church is concerned about is money.” Congregational fundraising can reinforce work-righteous thinking in the minds of the unchurched, leading them to conclude that “I’ve given to God, so I’ve done my duty.” Congregational fundraising can undermine a church’s efforts to encourage its members to grow in their management of God’s blessings by relying on community revenue. Congregations might utilize numerous community outreach efforts, including the sales you mentioned, to establish connections with their neighbors. As noted above, congregations will want to balance their exercise of Christian freedom with proper concern for all involved.

» Why did Jesus have to suffer such an horrendous death to forgive us our sins if it was he who forgave us our sins to begin with, assuming he is God? Why didn’t he just forgive us?
Jesus is God. Our Catechism teaches us that Jesus has divine names (Luke 2:11), he has divine attributes (John 1:2), he is responsible for divine works (cf. his many miracles) and he is to be given divine honor (John 5:22-23). God explains in the Bible that he is a just and loving God. His justice demands that sin be punished (Ezekiel 18; Romans 6:23). His love moved him to provide a substitute to live and die in the place of sinners (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible teaches that the forgiveness of sins is God’s free gift to people through faith in Jesus his Son. While forgiveness of sins is free to you and me, it came at a great cost to God. For that we praise God (2 Corinthians 5:15).

» What are the differences between the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod? And, as a follow-up, is it true that Lutherans from different synods cannot take Communion in a Wisconsin Synod church?
The main differences fall in the categories of church and ministry, the application of fellowship principles and the roles of men and women. There are many essays on the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File that provide a history of the relationship between the two synods. This link will take you to those essays. You might also be interested in A Tale of Two Synods, a book that is available from Northwestern Publishing House. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod enjoys fellowship with 31 Lutheran church bodies throughout the world. That fellowship includes the privilege of receiving the Lord’s Supper together. This link will take you to a listing of those churches.

» Is it the will of God that the Jews would reject Jesus Christ in order for the gentiles to have salvation? Will the Jews go to hell for rejecting Christ?
God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God wants “everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). It is people who reject God (Matthew 23:37). The apostle Paul explained that the Jews’ rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ resulted in the expansion of his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-47). It was not God’s will that the Jews reject Jesus Christ. Anyone—Jew or Gentile—who rejects Jesus Christ as Savior will be condemned eternally in hell (Mark 16:16). Your question underscores the urgency in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with all people. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

» Hi, long time believer, first-time writer. I am dating a gentleman, and things are looking towards marriage. It's great, but he is Baptist. He is in line with most of WELS doctrine minus the baptism. As a couple, this has come up on what to do with the children, and we came to an agreement that the children would be raised Lutheran until 18. However, I wasn't going to force him to convert and he is OK coming to a Lutheran church. He wouldn't be able to take Communion, and he understands that. My question is: would a WELS pastor be willing to marry us given the circumstances, or will they reject it outright because he is a different denomination of Christian?
Yes, our pastors can officiate at a wedding in the scenario you described. Our pastors especially look forward to offering pre-marital counseling to the individuals planning to be married, involving them in discussions on, among other topics, the challenges that their different church affiliations can bring to their marriage. If you have more specific questions, please contact one of our pastors.

» What is "heaven"?
While Bible writers use “heavens” to refer to the sky and the earth’s surrounding atmosphere (Genesis 1:1; Revelation 21:1), the Bible ordinarily speaks of heaven as that place where God reveals himself in all his glory and where his children can see him face-to-face.

» I have noticed that some Catholic families utilize a "holy water font" (i.e. a hanging vessel on the wall near the front door containing holy water to bless oneself with upon entering the home) in their homes. I am wondering if this is something Martin Luther did, and if the current leadership of the WELS church has any opinions about it. The concept of it seems appealing to me but I also don't want to be taking part in anything that is not biblical. I'd like some direction on this; thank you!
Water can certainly remind Christians of the waters of baptism, but the Roman Catholic Church’s understanding and usage of “holy water” goes far beyond that. The Roman Catholic Church considers holy water to be a “sacramental.” That church’s Catechism defines sacramentals as “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.” Their Catechism goes on to say: “Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it.” Martin Luther wrote that “The pope invented holy water, extreme unction, and many similar things to which he has ascribed forgiveness of sins.”

» In one of the creeds I remember saying in school and church that Jesus, after he died, descended into hell. Could you please reference some Bible verses so I can understand this better?
In the Apostles’ Creed we confess about Jesus: “He descended into hell.” The scriptural basis for Jesus’ descent into hell is 1 Peter 3:18-20: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” Many also see Colossians 2:15 as alluding to Jesus’ descent into hell: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” After Jesus’ body and soul were reunited in the grave and before he appeared to people on earth, the Lord descended into hell. By his descent into hell, Jesus declared his victory over Satan and the forces of evil.

WELS Q&A are topics that are submitted to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website.  The articles here are an automatic feed from the wels.net Q&A website.  Even though we may not have generated this contect, we are in fellowship with the WELS and generally subscribe to the beliefs of the breatheryn in the synod generating these answers.

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! ~ Luke 24:5-6