Question & Answer
Faith Related Q and A


» Would you please explain how the readings are chosen for service? Why are some readings from the Old and others the New Testament? How come we only stand for the "gospel"? Shouldn't we stand for all the readings because it is the "word of the Lord"? Thank you for your response!!!
Probably most of our churches use the schedule of Scripture readings that you will find on pages 163-166 of Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal. Pages 163-165 list the Scripture readings over a three-year cycle. We are currently in “Year A” (page 163). Page 166 lists an annually-repeated schedule of Scripture readings. Christian Worship: Manual, the “handbook” for our hymnal, provides an explanation for worshipers standing for the reading of the gospel: “The congregation stands for the reading of the Gospel. In the past soldiers put down their weapons and kings removed their crowns when the Gospel was read. Christ—his life, his words of law and gospel, his suffering, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, his assignment to his Church, his promise to return—is the center of the Gospel. The faithful have waited for this moment, this reading. They stand in reverence. ” (pages 173-174) Through the gospel lesson Jesus—the Word (John 1), the Word of God (Revelation 19:13)—comes to us. The gospel lesson relays the words and works of Christ. For those reasons, we have retained an ancient practice of showing respect and awe for the Lord and his gospel by standing. That practice of course falls into the category of adiaphora: those things that God has neither commanded nor forbidden. In Christian freedom, we gladly include that posture in our liturgy—as we are able.

» Can I be forgiven for sins when i said the G--D D-M IT? I did not mean it. The words just kinda slipped out of my mouth. I read the Bible or books like Billy Graham etc. and pray every day that God will forgive me. I hope that Jesus will let me into heaven when my time comes.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ won forgiveness for all sins by his holy life and sacrificial death (1 John 2:2). Jesus’ glorious resurrection from the dead is proof positive that God the Father accepted Jesus’ work as the full payment for sin (Romans 4:25). Through Spirit-worked faith in Jesus Christ, people personally enjoy the forgiveness of sins Jesus has won (Romans 5:1). The Bible teaches us to confess our sinful thoughts and words and actions to God, and to receive his message of forgiveness in faith (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2). Our thankful response for God’s gracious forgiveness of our sins is to lead lives that are pleasing to him. When we fail to do that, as in using words you did, we bring those sins to the Lord, as Jesus taught us to do in the Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:4). Our comfort is knowing and believing that Jesus was perfect in our place (Hebrews 4:15); he never uttered wrong words. In addition, God laid all our sins, including our sins of misusing his name, on his Son, Jesus (Isaiah 53:4-9). When it comes to the end of our earthly lives, God has given us some wonderful promises. You can look up passages like these: Mark 16:16; John 3:16; 10:27-30; 11:25. Keep the Bible at the top of your reading list. Recognize that salvation is God’s doing, from beginning to end. Keep in mind that Christian faith is a gift of God (John 15:16; Ephesians 2:8). Keep your focus on Jesus (Psalm 141:8; Hebrews 12:1-2). God bless you.

» What does God say about prayer and when and how often we need to do it ? I do pray to the Lord for dinner, problems , bad days or frustration, church, etc., but it seems like that's the only time I go to the Lord. I would like to know if what I am doing is the correct thing, and not that I only go to God when times are not good. Can you provide any passages for my concern? Thanks.
Rather than seeing prayer as an obligation, the Bible teaches that prayer is a privilege Christians enjoy. God promises to hear and answer the prayers of his children (Psalm 34:15, 17; Matthew 7:7). God certainly instructs us to come to him in prayer in times of trouble (Psalm 50:15), but those are not the only times to pray or the only kinds of prayers to offer. The Bible teaches us to speak to God with “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving (1 Timothy 2:1); it directs us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer completes two-way conversation with God. Through his word, the Bible, God speaks to us (Hebrews 1:1-2). With prayer, we have the privilege of speaking to God. So, I encourage you to look upon prayer as conversation with God. Think of how conversation with family and friends often goes: it takes place numerous times throughout the day and night. Similarly, you can look upon prayer as a running conversation with God throughout the day and night. The sight of life’s beauties can move you to breathe a brief “Thank you, Lord.” prayer. Observing people struggling in life can lead you to a short “Bless them. Lord.” prayer. The conversations we have with God throughout the day can be long and short. They can take place as we walk and drive, eat and rest. They do not need to fit a certain structure. Like anything else in the Christian life, there is room for improvement in our prayer life. When we have neglected prayer or used prayer selfishly, we use prayer to confess our sins: “Have mercy on us, Lord.” In response to a prayer like that, God responds: “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist” (Isaiah 44:22). That is two-way conversation between a Christian and God in action. God’s blessings on your prayer life.

» Why don’t Lutherans make the sign of the cross like Catholics do? I know Lutheran pastors start services by making the sign of the cross but why doesn’t the congregation do it?
Some Lutherans do make the sign of the cross; many do not. It is entirely a matter of Christian freedom. You might be interested to know that in his Small Catechism (in the Concordia Triglotta) Martin Luther included this preface to his Morning Prayer: “In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say: In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer” [which we know as Luther’s Morning Prayer]. Similar wording precedes his Evening Prayer: “In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say: In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer” [which we know as Luther’s Evening Prayer]. In addition, The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) included this rubric for worshipers: “The sign of the cross may be made at the Trinitarian Invocation and at the words of the Nicene Creed ‘and the life of the world to come.’” Lutherans are free to follow or disregard those instructions for making the sign of the cross. There are no ceremonial laws for New Testament children of God. Anecdotally, I can tell you that some Lutherans make the sign of the cross when they receive the Lord’s Supper. Lutherans who do that are exercising their Christian freedom. Lutherans who do not join in that practice are also exercising their Christian freedom. Making the sign of the cross can be a helpful reminder that Christians are redeemed children of God—people who enjoy salvation only because of God’s forgiving love and not because of anything they have done (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). Wearing a cross can serve that same purpose. With untold words and various actions, Christians seek to point others to Jesus and his cross (Galatians 6:14).

» Where do our souls go at the time of death?
When death takes place, judgment also takes place (Hebrews 9:27). At death, the souls of Christians enter God’s presence in heaven, while the souls of unbelievers go to hell. The account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) is a section of Scripture that teaches these truths.

» Have you heard of a guy named Tovia Singer? He is a Jew that is totally against Jesus. He is well versed in the Bible and says worshiping Jesus is idolatry. He has really made me question Jesus as God's Son and his knowledge of the original Hebrew text and how the so-called prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament are not talking about Jesus at all, like the Isaiah prophecy was talking about Hezekiah. Is Jesus idol worship? Was he made up by the Greeks? This is destroying my Christian faith.
There are many voices out there calling for your attention. I encourage you to listen to the voice of your Good Shepherd (John 10:3, 4, 27). That Shepherd, Jesus Christ, speaks to you through the Bible, which is true in every way (John 17:17). Scripture tells us to beware of people who deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (1 John 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7). Anyone who denies the deity of Jesus Christ does not speak the truth. The Old Testament repeatedly pointed ahead to Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah (John 5:39). Consider the following: “According to David Jesus is both the Lord God (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44) and true man (Psalm 8:4-6; Hebrews 2:6-8), yet he was without sin according to Isaiah (53:9; 1 Peter 2:22). The ministry of Jesus would be in Galilee as Isaiah had said (9:1,2; Matthew 4:15-16). Yet the Savior would appear in Jerusalem according to Zechariah (13:7; Matthew 26:31). Jesus came to instruct humanity in the ways of God (Psalm 78:2; Matthew 13:35), to bear the infirmities and diseases of people (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17), and to heal their wounds as Isaiah predicted (53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). According to Zechariah his disciples would desert him (13:7; Matthew 26:31) and leave him to be pierced by his foes (12:10; John 19:37). He would hang, accursed, on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3 13). Even so, no bones of his body would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:36), nor would his body rot in the grave (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31). Rather he would sit at God’s right hand in glory (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34).” If you would like to read more about Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfillment in Jesus Christ, you can read a brief paper from which the paragraph above was taken. I pray for God’s blessings on your study of his word.

» During the recent emergency (Coronavirus), can a WELS husband and a WELS wife give each other Communion at home?
The March 24, 2020 Together newsletter addressed Holy Communion practices during this extraordinary time. That information follows: “Since restrictions on gatherings vary from place to place, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper will in some places need to be modified, depending on government restrictions and medical guidelines. Some congregations, if allowed by state and local authorities, are gathering in small groups and taking great care to practice good hygiene and recommended ‘social distancing.’ “In other places, even small gatherings are not allowed. There have been questions about how we should proceed when it comes to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper when members cannot gather at church. “Regardless of the specific situation in which your congregation finds itself, here are a couple of things to remember. First, while Christians desire to be strengthened and comforted by the Lord’s Supper, we also recognize that there are times when the normal celebration of Communion is not possible. For Christians serving in a war zone, for church members who are in a medically induced coma, for believers who are home-bound because of sickness or infirmity, the normal celebration of the Lord’s Supper with other believers may not be an option. But in those cases we take comfort in knowing that we have the means of grace in two forms—Word and sacrament. The forgiveness conveyed and assured by the written or spoken Word of God is no less powerful and effective than the sacrament. In some cases, private Communion may certainly be available. “Second, we also recognize that there is no scriptural definition or requirement for how frequently Christians should celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Jesus simply encourages us to receive the Lord’s Supper regularly and often. There may be times such as this that, temporarily, the Lord’s Supper may not be available as often as we would like or desire. For that reason, the Conference of Presidents is urging patience with the following advice: “’We encourage our congregations at this time to reserve the distribution of the Lord’s Supper for its regular and normal use within the gathering of the body of believers (realizing that some changes in procedure may be made) or distributed privately by the pastor to individuals in need, as is the customary practice. We urge congregations to refrain from initiating novel approaches for celebration of the sacrament.’ “If you have specific questions, please contact your district president.” Click here to subscribe to Together newsletters.

» During this COVID-19 period of isolation/shelter-in-place, could you please take us back to our Catechism instruction days and refresh us on (1) why for good order we ask our pastors to distribute Holy Communion as well as (2) who may do so in good conscience, especially in special circumstances like quarantine. I think it would be a timely topic for those craving the blessings of Lord's Supper while our churches cannot physically meet. Thank you.
This brief Catechism review will use the edition of Luther’s Catechism produced by Northwestern Publishing House in 2017. “Why do Christians gather together in congregations? Hebrews 10:24-25; Acts 2:42; 2 Peter 3:18.” “How does God guide Christian congregations as they use the keys publicly? Matthew 18:20; Ephesians 4:11-12; Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 5:17; Matthew 16:19. God provides Christian congregations with leaders who are to faithfully guide the affairs of the congregation. Preaching and teaching God’s Word is one of the most important ways that they lead their congregations.” “What are some ways in which a pastor serves the congregation that has called him? 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2-3; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; 2 Timothy 4:5; Isaiah 52:7; James 5:14; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. The pastor serves the congregation by leading the members in public worship, preaching and teaching God’s law and gospel, and counseling and encouraging the members with God’s Word. 1 Corinthians 14:40; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25. The pastor serves the congregation by administering the sacraments in an orderly way. Ephesians 4:11-12. The pastor serves the members of the congregation by training them with the Word of God, equipping them to serve their Savior.” The Pastor Call Form used in our synod highlights these truths, as it charges pastors: “To preach the gospel of our Lord among us in its truth and purity, to administer the sacraments in accordance with the inspired Word of God and the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as incorporated in the Book of Concord of 1580, and to establish and maintain sound Lutheran practice at all times.” Concerning special situations like quarantine, the latest Together newsletter provided this information: “Since restrictions on gatherings vary from place to place, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper will in some places need to be modified, depending on government restrictions and medical guidelines. Some congregations, if allowed by state and local authorities, are gathering in small groups and taking great care to practice good hygiene and recommended ‘social distancing.’ “In other places, even small gatherings are not allowed. There have been questions about how we should proceed when it comes to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper when members cannot gather at church. “Regardless of the specific situation in which your congregation finds itself, here are a couple of things to remember. First, while Christians desire to be strengthened and comforted by the Lord’s Supper, we also recognize that there are times when the normal celebration of Communion is not possible. For Christians serving in a war zone, for church members who are in a medically induced coma, for believers who are home-bound because of sickness or infirmity, the normal celebration of the Lord’s Supper with other believers may not be an option. But in those cases we take comfort in knowing that we have the means of grace in two forms—Word and sacrament. The forgiveness conveyed and assured by the written or spoken Word of God is no less powerful and effective than the sacrament. In some cases, private Communion may certainly be available. “Second, we also recognize that there is no scriptural definition or requirement for how frequently Christians should celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Jesus simply encourages us to receive the Lord’s Supper regularly and often. There may be times such as this that, temporarily, the Lord’s Supper may not be available as often as we would like or desire. For that reason, the Conference of Presidents is urging patience with the following advice: “’We encourage our congregations at this time to reserve the distribution of the Lord’s Supper for its regular and normal use within the gathering of the body of believers (realizing that some changes in procedure may be made) or distributed privately by the pastor to individuals in need, as is the customary practice. We urge congregations to refrain from initiating novel approaches for celebration of the sacrament.’”

» How do Lutherans view the Virgin Mary compared to Catholics? Do they still honor her and love her?
We view Mary as the woman God graciously chose to give birth to Jesus Christ. Mary received that honor and privilege only because of God’s grace to her (Luke 1:26-38). Roman Catholic Church teaching is that Mary entered this world as a baby without a sinful nature. The Bible does not teach that. The Bible teaches that all people born from a human father and a human mother are conceived and born in sin (John 3:6). Like all such people, Mary was in need of a Savior to forgive her sins. She recognized her sinfulness and need for a Savior (Luke 1:47). Roman Catholic Church teaching is that Mary did not commit actual sins. The Bible teaches that all people born from a human father and a human mother are guilty of sin (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:23). Roman Catholic Church teaching is that Mary remained a virgin after she gave birth to Jesus by not having sexual relations with Joseph. The Bible does not teach that. Roman Catholic Church teaching is that Mary’s body and soul went to heaven at the end of her earthly life. The Bible does not teach that. Roman Catholic Church teaching is that Mary is in a position to receive and answer prayers that are directed to her. The Bible teaches that any acts of worship, including prayer, are to be directed to God alone (Matthew 4:10; Revelation 22:9). Roman Catholic Church teaching speaks of a “saving office” of Mary. The Bible does not teach that. There is only one Savior and mediator between God and people: Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5-6). When we hold to what the Bible teaches, we will understand that Mary was a person who received a great blessing from God in being the woman to give birth to the promised Savior. From the Bible, we will see that the Savior, Jesus Christ, came to save people from their sins, including Mary.

» What does the Bible say about disease? Did God create the coronavirus or does he allow it to happen for His own purposes?
At the end of the sixth day of creation, God pronounced everything he had made as being “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The entrance of sin into the world brought sickness and death and untold problems into life (Genesis 3). The Bible makes it clear that God is not responsible for the existence of sin and its effects (Psalm 5:4; James 1:13-15). God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). When it comes to bad things in life, God can keep them out of Christians’ lives (Psalm 91:9-10) or he can allow them to enter our lives for good purposes (Romans 8:28). In the latter case, you and I sometimes might have difficulty understanding the good purposes that God has in mind. That is because God’s ways and thoughts are—thankfully—different from ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). The confidence we can have at a time like this is that God is very much in control of his world (Psalm 46; 104; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). While we know that God will use every circumstance in life for our eventual and eternal good, we also look forward to a life that is free from sin and its effects (Revelation 7:15-17; 21:4). Little wonder that the Church thinks of Jesus’ visible return on the Last Day and prays, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).


Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28