With Barbara A. Below
As staff at the International Center sort through the logistical side of the 2013 Synod convention — with matters such as voting ballots and seating; bylaws; and nametags — the Rev. Timothy Pauls is hard at work on the theological side.
Delving into the Scripture that will serve as both the theme and the foundation for the convention, Pauls is the author of a Bible study that pastors and congregations can use together in advance of the July 20-25, 2013, 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS.
He is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho.
The convention theme — “Baptized for this moment” — is based on Acts 2:38-39: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”
Reminding Synod members that it is through water and Word that sinners are united with Christ, the five-part Bible study mines the riches of this comforting text. “When Peter declares, ‘Repent and be baptized’ to the Pentecost crowd, he’s not giving them a two-step method of what they need to do to get right with God,” says Pauls. “He’s telling them that they’re saved by grace alone for Jesus’ sake and that He makes them His children by Holy Baptism.”
“As the baptized people of God, we don’t live a life of fear, wondering if we’ve done enough to please God,” he explains. “Knowing that God is pleased with us for Jesus’ sake, we live as beloved children who are certain of His favor. That’s bound to change how we look at the work of the Church, be it Witness, Mercy or Life Together.”
Flowing from this understanding, the first session of the study will introduce the Acts passage and its context. The second will drill down even further, differentiating the meaning in the phrases, “I am baptized” or “I was baptized.”
Focusing on Witness in the third session, Pauls discusses the ways in which Baptism frees the Christian to bear witness to Christ, to come to a better understanding of Law and Gospel, and to live life under the cross.
Mercy will undergird the fourth part of the study, which will explain the way in which the baptized Christian rejoices in providing “daily bread” — in all its forms — to those for whom Christ has died.
In the final session, participants will learn about Life Together and the biblical foundations that give it meaning, discovering how Christ has set Christians free to be servants to their neighbor in all vocations, whether in the home, the congregation or even at Synod conventions.
Pastors and congregations are encouraged to make use of this resource in such settings as a Bible class, confirmation or individual study. The study is scheduled to be available for download Jan. 15 on the Synod’s website at lcms.org.
To learn more about the 2013 convention via social media, visit facebook.com/LCMSConvention and twitter.com/LCMSConvention.
Barbara A. Below is assistant to the Synod president.
Posted Sept. 25, 2012