Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quinquagesima Sunday, 2015


Quinquagesima Sunday, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #27    O Bless the Lord                    4:21
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 305:1-5               Soul Adorn Thyself             4:23

 The Sermon - Isaiah 53 and Luke 18

The Hymn # 305:6-9                             Soul, Adorn Thyself             4:23
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657               Beautiful Savior                    4:24   


The Epistle. 1 Corinthians 13

THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


The Gospel. St. Luke 18. 31-43

THEN Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David. have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood. and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.


Quinquagesima Sunday

Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst manifest Thyself, with the Holy Ghost, in the fullness of grace at the baptism of Thy dear Son, and with Thy voice didst direct us to Him who hath borne our sins, that we might receive grace and the remission of sins: Keep us, we beseech Thee, in the true faith; and inasmuch as we have been baptized in accordance with Thy command, and the example of Thy dear Son, we pray Thee to strengthen our faith by Thy Holy Spirit, and lead us to everlasting life and salvation, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Isaiah 53 and Luke 18

Traditionally, the three Sundays before Lenten were spiritual preparation for the season of Lent. When people want to get away from those old Medieval Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, they also abandon the Scriptural foundations for emphasizing the atoning death and resurrection of Christ. Lent and Easter are condensed to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

What matters is not so much the actual traditions but the replacement of worthwhile and edifying services with happy-clappy entertainment. The non-liturgical Evangelicals were the first to move into entertainment, and they were copying the style of the Pentecostals.

I am no expert of what all the non-liturgical  Evangelicals and Pentecostals did long ago, but now they are united with the Lutherans in these characteristics:
  1. Elimination of the traditional liturgical Sunday names.
  2. Cutting out the liturgy and making Holy Communion an extra service.
  3. Replacing hymn singing with paid entertainment on the stage.

Evangelicals are now bemoaning what they led the nation in doing. They no longer have participation in Gospel singing, replacing it with passive listening to highly paid worship teams. People form these worship teams and rock groups money as they travel from congregation to congregation, being booked in advance, paid large amounts of money, and expected to witness (preach) to the congregations.

THEN Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said unto them

In some cases, Jesus spoke only to one, such as Peter, or to the inner circle often mentioned - Peter, James, and John. In this instance Jesus taught all twelve. They had a considerable education in what should be expected in the future, but they did not grasp it. 

Often people discuss this same characteristic of all people, no matter what the subject matter. "I never saw it happening." Some will add, "All the signs were there, but I did not acknowledge it to myself." When financial bubbles build up, someone noted, everyone sees green flags When the bubble has burst, they realize the green flags - go, go, go - were really red flags at that time - no, no, no.

However, even though the words seemed to fly past the 12, they were the basis for their future ministry. The Holy Spirit brought the words to mind and they saw how the Old Testament was the entire foundation for their Gospel work.

Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.

This is an important concept, often neglected. Everything was already in the Scriptures about Jesus. In fact, Jesus as the Angel of the Lord was already in their reading, their study, their worship. The Angel of the Lord spoke from the Burning Bush (Two Natures in Christ) and revealed the Name of God. In John 8, Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I AM." He reflected upon His Name as the great I AM.

When Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, he called the place Peniel, because he saw God face to face. But an angel is not God, is he? Not unless He is the Angel of the Lord, the Son of God before the Incarnation.

All the events revealed by God through the prophets would be revealed, whether the disciples or anyone else believed or not. But they were revealed through the prophets to establish faith and to provide the foundation of the Gospel. The Gospel consists of the Promises and Blessings of God. Although the Gospel is condensed by John 3:16, it is also involves all the aspects of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ.

For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

These are the exact details of the suffering of Christ. They were so different and terrible that they did not sink in when first taught. And when they took place, the disciples scattered in fear. And yet. they became the Gospel narrative, showing how the words of Jesus were fulfilled.

And these fulfill what Isaiah 53 taught for centuries before the words were fulfilled.

Isaiah 53 - 
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
So, Isaiah not only described the suffering, but suffering for a purpose - to pay for our sins, to heal us with forgiveness.
And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.

Until their faith was more complete, more informed, the disciples did not recognize this as the heart of the Gospel. Some are still arrested at this point today, and the wolf-preachers like them to stay that way. They think of the Gospel only in terms of typical human happiness. That is portrayed to them (rather sketchily) and nothing materialistic is challenged.
As Luther said, people like wolf preaches and flock to them. So God let's their flocks be chastised and used up. as they are when they suffer from their lords and masters and give up everything for the empire being built.
And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 
The second part demonstrates the kind of faith we should have, because a blind man saw what others missed. He knew from hearing the spreading of the Gospel that Jesus fulfilled the Promises of the Messiah.
And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David. have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.
Jesus itself was a common name, but they identified one specific Jesus, not giving the title the blind man was willing to shout out. He saw Jesus as the promised Messiah, so he cried out "Son of David, have mercy!" They did not like this, those people without faith, but they could not stop him. He had faith and that faith saw no opposition that could stop him. He cried out even more.

10. First, he hears that Christ was passing by, he had also heard of him before, that Jesus of Nazareth was a kind man, and that he helps every one who only calls upon him. His faith and confidence in Christ grew out of his hearing; so he did not doubt but that Christ would also help him. But such faith in his heart he would not have been able to possess had he not heard and known of Christ; for faith does not come except by hearing.

11. Secondly, he firmly believes and doubts not but that it was true what he heard of Christ, as the following proves. Although he does not yet see nor know Christ, and although he at once knew him, yet he is not able to see or know whether Christ had a heart and will to help him; but he immediately believed, when he heard of him; upon such a noise and report he founded his confidence, and therefore he did not make a mistake.

12. Thirdly, in harmony with his faith, he calls on Christ and prays, as St.

Paul in Romans 10:13-14 wrote: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed.” Also, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

This also shows that the Gospel is revealed especially to the poor, the broken, the afflicted. The great, wise, and powerful do not identify with the suffering of Christ. Not only is it difficult for them, but they associate with those who also see the Gospel as being weak and insignificant for them - a crutch they do not need.
And Jesus stood. and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Those who call upon the Name of Christ have their prayers answered. That takes faith in Him, which the blind man had without seeing, only hearing.

So many said, "We need to see another miracle to believe." They already saw miracles that no one else had seen, but they wanted more. All the blind man had to do was hear and he believed. 

As Luther implied - Faith comes from hearing the Gospel Word preached. That is my New Revised Amplified Living Jackson Version. Once again there is a direct connection with Isaiah 53.

53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord
revealed?
This is the basis for Romans 10 - when the report (sermon, Word) is preached and heard, faith grows from the Holy Spirit's work in the Word. Those who believe have their sins forgiven. Salvation comes to those who receive forgiveness through faith, by the grace and mercy of God.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity


The Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity, 2014
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn # 8       Father Who the Light               2:20
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 240          Father Most Holy            2:56

Scoffers in the Last Days, Following Their Own Lusts

The Communion Hymn #306             Lord Jesus Christ            2:50
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 227             Come Holy Ghost                     2:72 

Twenty-Sixth Sunday After Trinity
O almighty, eternal and merciful God, who by Thy beloved Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, hast established the kingdom of grace for us, that we might believe the forgiveness of our sins, in Thy holy Church on earth, since Thou art a God who hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: We beseech Thee, graciously forgive us all our sins, through the same, Thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.




KJV 2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

KJV Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.


Scoffers in the Last Days, Following Their Own Lusts

KJV 2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

The Age of Apostasy was predicted at the beginning of the Apostolic Age:

2 Thessalonians 2:3 - Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

1 Timothy 4:1 - Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

The Greek word apostasy means falling away, which means those who once believed no longer do. That effect has been the goal of modern theologians ever since F. Schleiermacher taught at Halle University (the alma mater of Bishop Martin Stephan, H. Muhlenberg, and A. Hoenecke). Halle was created to teach Pietism and soon became rationalistic.

The Pietists did not like the Lutheran Confessions, and this dislike led to a rationalistic approach to the Scriptures, which fostered "faith without belief" - the hallmark of modern apostasy. 

Faith without belief means using the words of the Christian Faith without believing what is taught in the Scriptures. Instead, the Word of God is examined for all its faults and contradictions (all imagined) and judged by more recent authorities. If someone's uncle in the Synodical Conference wrote a paper, that paper trumps the Word of God and the Confessions by virtue of being the product of someone's uncle. With a web of relationships, every clergy's family member becomes an Apostle by virtue of DNA.

Once people are sufficiently doped up with this kind of thinking, the articles of faith are removed by the scoffers, who know better than God. Thus one issue of The Episcopalian had two clergy debating whether Jesus rose from the dead or not. The anti-resurrection writer was full of smiles and charm, cheerful and willing to tolerate those with a "Sunday School religion."

This kind of debate can be seen happening in all denominations. The Episcopalians of the past would have been shocked to find the resurrection debated in their own paper - by their own priests, but now they are debating more obvious deviations, like marriage.

One initial objection concerned the coming of Christ. That was an easy target for them. Why has He not returned. Everything continues as before. If He was wrong about that, then how many more things are also taught in error?

And yet, they had the Gospels, memorized, recited, written, that pointed out Jesus' teaching - No one knows the time, only the Father, not even the Son. To argue about the coming of Christ implies a knowledge that is denied to divinity, certainly also to humanity.

And today, this same topic generates instant wisdom. The Blood Moons are the new craze, although that never came up before. If it had been so obvious, why were they not mentioned many times before? Perhaps because every lunar eclipse looks reddish, dark - like blood. Some of us knew that, but the prediction is for something more dramatic, yet to be seen.

2 Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

Here we have Creation by the Word of God and the Genesis Flood - in two sentences. Nothing makes modern Lutherans feel so awkward as the Six Day Creation and the Genesis Flood. Both are directly related to the efficacy and power of the Word and therefore to justification by faith. 

Which one was abandoned first - efficacy, Creation, the Genesis Flood? All are a product of Halle University Pietism turning rancid, into Rationalism.

The early, famous scientists were all Creationists, but this is forgotten now, and a layer of Darwin's evolution is laid on top of all science. The theologians were all Creationists too, but they have avoided that topic and the Flood, willingly and willfully. 

And yet look at the picture painted near the time of Jesus. It is what we know today. The landmasses stand out of the water, since the earth is mostly ocean. Everywhere we see evidence of the Flood, from giant seams of coal to vast deposits of pure mud - all speaking of the power of God, sermons in stone, as Sedona, Arizona might boast.

And modern man has said, "I cannot imagine the Flood covering everything, so it could not have happened."

2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

This section answers a question often raised. Why the delay? As many passages teach, the power of the Antichrist began early - and there are many little Antichrists - but the ultimate crisis is being held back on purpose by God. The reason is given here - God's grace and mercy, extending the Word of the Gospel so that all might repent. 

The result has been that millions more have heard the Gospel. If God had not extended the time for us, but brought things to a close during the Reformation, as Melanchthon expected, we would not be here to experience the blessings of life and the Christian Faith.

Looking forward, there is an effort today to bring the Gospel back into China and all the way back to Islam. We can only guess the potential for conversions and persecution. Who can regret the chance for millions more to hear about Jesus and believe in Him?

In Africa too, there millions of believers and ferocious persecution. Angola has more Episcopalian believers in one district than all of America. They provided some of the initial leadership for conservatives in America. They cannot even imagine how the Left-wing mind thinks about these matters, because they teach faith rather than traditions and modern philosophy.

God is long-suffering, and willing to wait for repentance to spring from the teaching of the Word, since the Holy Spirit convicts the world of unbelief.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

The thief in the night image is frequently used in the New Testament, first by Jesus, last by Revelation. When people expect a thief, they prepare for that to happen - with lights, with recording devices, with locks, with watchmen. But they never know.

This reference should always correct anyone who claims to know the time. It is like the old joke, told by Kirk Douglas. "Samuel, I am sorry to hear about your business burning down." Sam replied, "Sh. It is not until Friday night."

People prepare because they do not know the hour. They scam others when they pretend to know. There is more effort in scamming than in preparing. Physical preparation means nothing at the end. We were joking about Jim Bakker selling his latest on TV, large supplies of food. Chris said, "I don't want to slowly starve over a year's time. Might as well make it quick. And what good is a year's supply of food without any utilities?"

2 Peter 3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

Preparation means being steadfast in the Word of God, being filled with the Psalms and Gospels, hymns and spiritual songs. 

People try to divide faith and works but they belong together, works growing from faith in Christ and thanksgiving to God. It is always a good time to give work to those who want to earn some money. That is human nature. Small children love to earn their own money, and they learn good habits by working for it. There are many living on the margins because our societal rules take away all their benefits if they work at the lowest of jobs part-time.

I have told our helper that the Jackson Gardens would be nowhere without him. And he takes great pleasure in being a part of it - with his children helping, too. Sometimes they were done just in time for the ice cream truck.

Many get jobs easily because they pay so little up front. A waiter or waitress may make only $2 an hour from the restaurant. During rush times, income is good. When no one comes in, he or she earns $2 an hour to wait. Someone who cuts hair probably supports a young family. I urge my liberal friend who want to mandate wages - "Give really big tips, year around, as long as someone has done the job. It is a good feeling and it blesses the person who receives it.

Sending in a positive review is another easy way to make someone's day. At a franchise restaurant, a website survey is sent right to the restaurant and posted on the board. The good employee is thanked and kidded all week. It takes a few minutes, not a big price to pay.

My math is pretty good, but emotions get in the way. The difference between a 10% and a 20% tip - that is double! But in almost all cases, the dollar difference is not that great to us, but a lot to the recipient. Also the recipients feel good about the work they do when it is appreciated. 

One time the whole clan came back from vacation on the plan. We had all our luggage to get to the car. The helper did his work expertly and got us packed up in our car with no drama. When I gave him a big tip, he held my shoulders and said, "You really did something for my family today." I said, "You got my family packed up, so now we are all happy."

Likewise, our extra possessions can go to others who can use them. Many times one little item has been a real benefit to us, because we left so much behind at times, too much to truck away. And yet we accumulate stuff that others can use, clothing, bedding, furniture, books, etc.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Third Sunday in Advent.



The Third Sunday in Advent, 2013

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn # 8 Father Who the Light            2. 20
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #76 A Great and Mighty Wonder            2.2  

Stewards of Mysteries Revealed Only by Faith

The Hymn # 77:1-8 All My Heart               2.25
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 77:9-15            All My Heart               2.25

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

KJV Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. 7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Third Sunday In Advent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst suffer Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to become man, and to come into the world, that He might destroy the works of the devil, deliver us poor offenders from sin and death, and give us everlasting life: We beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may seek no other refuge than His word, and thus avoid all offense to which, by nature, we are inclined, in order that we may always be found among the faithful followers of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


Stewards of Mysteries Revealed Only by Faith
KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

As Luther pointed out, and everyone knows, the Corinthians were divided into factions, lining up according to the men they followed. Nothing reveals conflict more than this manner of settling doctrinal problems. We can see that today when people line up according to this man or that man, taking turns attacking each man. It reminds me of John 9 and the Keystone Kops, chasing around foolishly.

Paul addressed this problem with great eloquence and simplicity, giving us the greatest possible treatment of the ministry – which is why it is so widely ignored today.

This word “account” is an interesting one. It could be translated as “reckon” and we usually associate it with justification by faith. Abraham believed and it was accounted as righteousness (Gen 15, Romans 4, Galatians).

So this is a job evaluation. If any human being wants to be give a job evaluation of Paul and the apostles – we are ministers (servants) of Christ and stewards (managers) of the mysteries of God.

This one sentence condenses all we need to know about how the Christian Church works in its gracious operation.

Paul is clearly arguing against the wrong definition implied by these words. Is he popular? Are his numbers good? Is everything running smoothly? Are they changing so they do not die, as the popular apostates teach (to loud applause).

His job evaluation cannot be done by people and he awaits the only possible one, done by God alone.

Minister means servant, so Paul is a servant of Christ – as all the apostles were. This is the opposite of being the servant of people, or as the pope calls himself, Servant of the Servants of God. That is why he is infallible.

Stewards of the mysteries of God contains the most important phrase of all. Luther did not know how he could translate the term mysterion, so he left it the same in German, as we do in English.

Secrets could be another term used. Each synonym has other associations, so we have to look at what it means. The mysteries are articles of faith, known only to believers. A non-believer may know the term Holy Trinity and define it, but it remains a mystery until he believes it. This happens through the Holy Spirit’s power in the Word.

If someone wants to look at the popular claim that the Trinity does not appear in the Bible, he only needs to study those passages where the Divine is spoken of in groups of three, from the Aaronic benediction in Numbers 6 to Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts (Isaiah 6:3). Add to that the man Father/Son references and the Spirit’s role in witnessing. Use a computer t find Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within two verses – the Trinity is all over the New Testament and begins at Genesis 1.

The arguments against this shorthand term (Trinity) are lame when confronted by faith and knowledge. Trinity itself as a term is not found in the Bible, since it was first used about 500 years after Christ. But the Trinity is there in the Scriptures. One must be blind not to see it – and that is a clue. One can read the verses all day and become more blind to the mysteries because of a proud arrogance judging the Word of God as one more religious book.

The job description of the minister of Christ is to teach the mysteries of faith and nothing more. Apart from teaching and preaching and take the Word to others in visitation and evangelism, a minister has no other task to accomplish.

Holy Spirit work is Word work. If it is not Word work, it does not belong to God but to man. So there is a clamor to have so much of man’s work that there is no time or energy left for God.
Man’s wisdom excludes God’s wisdom in the church, and vice versa. Studies show, as Fuller Seminary likes to say, that studies prove nothing and only serve to blind more people to the truth of the Word.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Steward simply means manager. In an estate he was the chief servant who ran the estate for the owner. In Europe, the stewards were those who sat on the throne until the prince came of age, so he could rule. In various applications the steward has great power, but it is subordinated to the master, so it is required that a steward be faithful in his duties.

Faithful does not mean successful in man’s terms, but in God’s terms. Staying out of prison would be a good thing for most church organizations, but John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress) did more in prison than most evangelists do in a lifetime – and his work continues today in teaching the Word of God, justification by faith apart from the works of the Law.

What counts today is conformity to the structure of the organization. The agenda keeps changing but the conformity mandate does not. One criterion (reckoning) excludes the other. To be judged faithful to the synod is to be unfaithful to the Word of God.

When the poor, innocent, and helpless are attacked and used by clergy perverts, the synod says, “Erase the evidence, because the lawsuit will cost us $10 million.” When I pointed out that one such lawsuit cost $40 million, an advocate for UOJ called me a liar because he did not know such a thing to be true. So I provided the evidence that ELCA did this and faced the judgment for their evil judgment in ordaining a known predator against boys.

These evils continue because men are not faithful to the Word but to the synod that rewards them for infidelity.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Many things are coming to light already, but far more will be known, revealed in Judgment. Those who enjoyed rich benefits and benefices for their denominational loyalty will be exposed, their homes and BMWs no more comfort to them.

We hear all the time about what recent professors said, but what did Luther say about this crucial passage?

Luther:
11. Their claim that in addition to the teachings of Christ, the commandments of the Church may be taught and they intimate that their teachings are the doctrines of the Church is of no significance. Paul’s teaching here continues to stand, that the Church belongs neither to Peter nor Paul, but to Christ only, and acknowledges none but the servants or ministers of Christ. You see, then, the blasphemy of the Pope in crying obedience to his doctrines as the road to salvation, and disobedience to them the road to damnation. Paul here makes obedience to these things a work of the devil; as he does also in 1 Timothy 4:1-3: “But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth.” And Christ says: “My sheep hear my voice, and a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers. I know mine own, and mine own know me.” John 10:5-14.

18. So, then, the mysteries of God are simply the blessings in Christ as preached through the Gospel and apprehended and retained by faith alone.

Paul says relative to the matter, speaking on how men should behave themselves in the house of God: “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; he who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16. This is spoken of Christ, who was manifest in the flesh. He dwelt among men who had flesh and blood like himself, yet he was still a mystery. That he was Christ, the Son of God, the life, the way, the truth and all good, was hidden.

19. Yet he was “justified in the Spirit;” that is, through the Spirit’s influence believers received, acknowledged and retained him as all we have mentioned. “To justify” means simply to pronounce just, or at least to admit as just; as we have in Luke 7:29: “All the people when they heard, and the publicans, justified God.” Again, in Psalm 51:4: “That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest.” This is equivalent to saying:

The believer in Christ justifies him, and acknowledges the truth that Christ alone is our life and righteousness and wisdom, and that we are sinners, condemned and perishing. For such Christ is, and such is his claim. He who acknowledges this his claim justifies him in the Spirit; but he who does not justify him relies upon his own works; he does not see himself condemned but contends against and condemns Christ. [This justification of Christ is effected by no one unless he possesses the Holy Spirit, whose work alone it is. Flesh and blood cannot do it, even if it be publicly presented to our eyes and preached into our ears.]