Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mid-Week Lenten Service, March 4, 2015



Third Mid-Week Lenten Vespers, 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Time 

The Hymn # 159  Go to Dark Gethsemane            2.30
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody                   Psalm 2                  p. 128
The Lections                            The Passion History
                                                 John 8

The Sermon Hymn # Zion Rise                              2.13

The Sermon –     I AM the Light of the World
 
The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                            p. 45

The Hymn # 654       Now the Day Is Over             2.7

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.

 I AM the Light of the World

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

We know "light" is an important word, because everyone wants to take it away from the Son of God and attribute "light" to their delusions.

The Enlightenment was a time when rationalism took over Europe and ministers gave sermons on building bridges and other practical matters - because they had nothing to say about matters of faith - just like today.

The Enlightenment had taken over the training of ministers when CFW Walther went to Leipzig University (where he earned his only degree, a bachelor's). 

Morningstar is associated with Christ but also with Satan, who is named Lucifer in a derivation of the morningstar name. This is appropriate because Satan always apes the Christian faith in every way possible. Thus the Satanists use Christian rites backwards and say such things as Bless God instead of God bless.

In the name of human reason, the most absurd and evil things take place because people think they are free from the restraints of society when they are in fact obsessed with those restraints, enslaved by their rebellion.

This sermonic exchange is something the unbelievers like to make fun of. In fact, I had a logic book that liked to use exchanges like this. The sayings of Jesus are comforting and strengthening for believers, but they offend unbelievers.

I AM - this a divine claim, because I AM is the Name of God. Moses asked, "What is Your Name," and the Angel of the Lord (the Son of God, before the Incarnation) answered, "Tell them I AM sent you."

The statement is triadic, which makes it easier to remember, when seen as poetic stanzas. 
  • I AM the light of the world: 
  • he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, 
  • but shall have the light of life.
The Son of God is defined as the source of all wisdom and understanding. This is the ultimate claim, and it is extraordinary. This claim excludes the idea is nice, or is a placebo, or is something sentimental and sweet and nostalgic.

That means, if Genesis 1 and John 1 say Jesus is the Creating Word, then every single plant, animal, microbe, and mineral was created through Christ - and nothing was made apart from Him - all in six 24-hour days.

There can be no compromise between this article of faith and the rationalistic view of evolving Creation over millions of years and other such nonsense. The Evangelicals were already compromising on evolution in the 19th Century, which shows how shaky the Protestant foundations became, long ago.

  • he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, 

Those who follow the Savior will not walk in darkness. Faith in Him means having our lives illuminated by the Gospel He gave us, and that light truly matters.

When something is lost or missing, the first thing we want is a bright light that will distinguish between one thing and another. Walking in darkness is no fun either. I used to take Sassy outside at night to get something - in Bella Vista with no street lights. I could not find anything or see our dog in the dark. Finally I got a little LED light on the key change. 

Walking in darkness is allegorical - it means tripping and falling - and it can also mean being scared. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet."

This light is true Christian understanding, which quite the opposite of human wisdom.

  • but shall have the light of life.
Darkness and light. Good and evil. Falsehood and truth. John's Gospel highlights what the Savior teaches, in the most basic language, so that no one needs to feel puzzled, confused, or conflicted.

13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
The opposition of the Pharisees made it easy for Jesus to clarify His message, which was and is the Father-Son relationship.
If someone rejects this relationship, the statements by Jesus are easy to ridicule. We often ridicule what we do not understand. But these truths are revealed by the Holy Spirit, so believers can easily grasp what is being taught. After all, the Bible has hundreds of references to the Trinity, and many more about the Father-Son relationship. Believers understand this spiritually, so this is Jesus explaining it further.
The Two Persons (Father and Son) agree. That is one point Jesus makes. And the Third Person bears witness to this (the Holy Spirit). 
Let us assume for a moment that Jesus is the Son of God. He knows Who He is, and where He has come from. How can anyone argue with that? We have no way to grasp His divine experience and He cannot prove it to us with facts.
One fake on TV said today that He went to heaven and obtained two books to help with translating (very Mormon-like). He wanted to take another one, but was not allowed - an extra chapter of John's Gospel. Was that new to you, too?
Maybe later this fake will reveal it to us, for a price. He raised a baby from the dead too, and he was so full of the Presence one day that people fell down all around him.
If the Pharisees died without faith, they could NOT say, "No fair, You did not tell us about being the Son of God." But Jesus did and many were converted. How could they be converted when His experience and sermons were so different?
Jesus' miraculous healings were so dramatic and public that thousands saw the power of God manifested in many forms - healing and raising the dead, command over nature, and defying the laws He established - water into wine, walking on water, helping Peter to walk on water, and finally - rising from the dead.

19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.

Jesus compassion included both teaching the truth about Himself and final judgment against unbelievers. The opposition continues so he warned them against dying in unbelief.  This included a reference to the future crucifixion - lifting up the Son of Man, because He knew He would rise from the dead. What He taught the disciples nurtured their faith in the darkest days. What He taught the Pharisees condemned them if they did not believe.
And yet, many believed on Him. Jesus taught the Gospel plainly and planted faith in their hearts. He did not appeal to them or try to figure out their felt needs. He taught:
  1. There is only One Truth.
  2. He is the Truth and the Life-giver.
  3. Believing in Him brings true wisdom and eternal life.


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.