A reminder that the true church of Christ is not a matter of organizational membership – it is about faith and a right relationship with our Lord.
He sets us apart from our enemies and announces that we who have His Word and suffer excommunication and persecution because of it are the ones who know the Father and Him, and that our enemies do not.
Here you have the verdict as to who is and who is not the true church of Christ. It is true that our enemies appear to be servants of God and to have the true doctrine, and that we seem to be heretics and children of the devil. But Christ corrects this impression and says: ‘Since you have My Word and know Me, and they do not, be unafraid. In the sight of God it is already decided that you are the true church, even though before the world you must let them have the name and the honor which you do not have.’
Now we, too, have to become thoroughly grounded in this truth; for, as I have said, when it becomes necessary to stand in battle against the world, or when one’s conscience is sorely tried, the devil makes use of a weighty argument against us.”
Luther’s Works, AE 24:322,
Sermons on the Gospel of St. John,
When you see faithless clergy and elders occupying ecclesiastical offices and positions of purported authority – remember that the faithfuls’ approval comes from the Lord while the approval of the faithless comes from man. The faithless will be rewarded on earth and only for a little while – the faithful’s reward will be with Christ for all eternity.