This is the third in a series of studies on the revival of true Christianity among the Lapps and Finns. The other studies are entitled Lars Levi Laestadius and the Revival in Lapland and The Laestadian Movement: Disputes and Divisions 1861-2000. A common fallacy of young and ignorant Christians is the notion that it is possible to compile a systematic history of the children of God. The journey of true Christians through this sin-cursed world is so infected by sin, enveloped in error and intertwined with and overshadowed by that of false Christians that it is only by the grace and power of God that sinful mortals gain any glimpses of it. Christís parable of the wheat and tares, which grow together until harvest (Matthew -30), makes this truth abundantly clear.
We see throughout the book of Revelation that unabated warfare rages between the true church and the false church. The false church secures for herself the name of Christ and recognition from the world, and the true church is left as an ignominious and despicable heresy, worthy only of persecution and extirpation. While the harlot of Babylon basks in her visible power, reputation and glory, the bride of Christ remains in the wilderness, hidden from the world, and because of the fallen flesh and the struggle that still rages within Christians she is hidden even from herself (Colossians 3:3-4), but though despised, rejected, expelled and ostracized, she remains alive, nourished by a hidden manna (Revelation 2:17), of which the world knows nothing.
The Third Article of the Apostlesí Creed, which speaks of the holiness of the church, is, like all other articles of the Creed, a matter of faith, not of sight. Nevertheless, doctrine must remain pure and as far removed from error as heaven is from hell, as day is from night, as God is from the devil. For God, who created the lights in the firmament to divide the day from the night (Genesis ), is no ecumenist. Christ himself judges his kingdom now already (I Peter 4:17), and at the end of the world he will complete this work by sending forth his angels to gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:41-42).
In his 1535 Commentary on Galatians, Luther explains the words "I would they were even cut off which trouble you" (Galatians ) as follows:
Wherefore, let us learn to advance and extol the majesty and authority of Godís Word. For it is no small trifle (as the fanatics surmise at this day), but a single tittle thereof is greater than heaven and earth. Wherefore, in this respect we take no account of Christian love or harmony, but we sit as it were on the judgment seat, that is, we curse and condemn all men who in the least point do corrupt or violate the majesty of Godís Word, for a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. But if they leave us Godís Word whole and inviolate, we are not only ready to keep love and harmony with them but also to be their servants and to do everything for them. If not, let them perish and be cast into hell, and not only they but the whole world also, as long as God remains. If he remains, life and salvation remain, and the faithful, too, will remain.
These words are in agreement with those of Christ himself, who says that the first of all the commandments is to love God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength and that the second is to love thy neighbor as thyself (Mark 12:29-31). Love for God and his Word takes precedence, therefore, over all things, even over love for the church, for without the Word, we have no church, no salvation, no faith, and no love for Godís people.