Sunday, August 23, 2015

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity 2015

Dahlia from Norma Boeckler's garden

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #
 376                                Rock of Ages              
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 #123                             Our God Our Help             

False Assumptions from False Teachers and Our Old Adam


The Communion Hymn #304                    An Awful Mystery             
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 #315                                I Come O Savior To Thy Table                                 

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

KJV Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast created all things: We thank Thee that Thou hast given us sound bodies, and hast graciously preserved our tongues and other members from the power of the adversary: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy grace, that we may rightly use our ears and tongues; help us to hear Thy word diligently and devoutly, and with our tongues so to praise and magnify Thy grace, that no one shall be offended by our words, but that all may be edified thereby, 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.



Norma Boeckler's front garden is a mass of color and happy insects at work.

False Assumptions from False Teachers and Our Old Adam

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 

People like to knock the KJV, because they have never read it with appreciation - or never read it at all. This opening statement is so concise and beautiful in its expression. Our trust rests in God through Christ, but this phrasing is even better. When compound words are looked at separately, they make more sense - trust toward God, God-ward. The mediating influence is Christ, because the Gospel is Jesus the Son of God dying for our sins. The cross creates and encourages trust in the loving mercy of God the Father.

Whenever we read 2 Corinthians, we should keep in mind Paul's reaction to the false teachers who invaded after Paul established the Christian Faith there. This always happens, as soon as the Gospel takes root. The false teachers see this and look for opportunities to scandalize the new believers and take them away. Scandalize is a good word to use, because it comes from the trigger in the trap in the Greek language. When the animal - or man - touches the skandalon, the trap closes.

So everything in 2 Corinthians is either addressing false teachers or providing God's doctrine against them. We can see this in the lesson for today.

False teachers preach themselves and not God, but genuine teachers preach God and Christ crucified. False teachers are alike in many ways, throughout the ages. The librarians of doctrine like to have 187 categories to use, so they can argue about which category fits best, but the same errors keep repeating themselves and they come from the same type of people.

They attack:
  1. The humanity of Christ.
  2. The divinity of Christ.
  3. Justification by faith.
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 

This is Paul's clear statement about the efficacy of the Word. Lacking that doctrine, a teacher is always going to argue for his own personality or perhaps the visible institution. On the Protestant side, there is that game played with flirting with the audience, playing up to their base instincts, and making them dependent on the thrill fixes they get from watching the motivational speaker. On the Roman Catholic side - "The Church of Rome is the oldest, the biggest, the best..."

The false teachers plaguing the Corinthians were praising themselves and attacking Paul, but Paul did not defend himself. He defended God's work in the Word - our sufficiency is of God. Literally - our sufficiency of God - the verb is dropped for emphasis. That is like saying - The trouble with Notre Dame football? - defense.

For those used to the concept of Creation, sufficiency from God is giving honor where it is due, but that is alien to our culture. The efficacy of the Word has hardly been taught since the growth of the evolution concept. Man determines his destiny and all things are designed and managed by man.

I went outside to photograph Norma Boeckler's flowers in her front yard. I bent over to look at the insects flitting about. The bees were obvious from a distance, but close up with ichneumon wasps and hover flies, both designed by God to get rid of pests by answering the the call of alarm from damaged flowers and laying their eggs in or near the pest.  Where these plants in distress? Perhaps not, but they provide  nectar and pollen between those times of egg laying. Some - like ladybugs - eat pests in the adult and larva stages. Others only attack pests when growing up.
A constant display of flowers, wildflowers, herbs, and weeds will keep all the beneficial insects happy between rescue missions. 

If I could grasp how many beneficial insects work at once, I would have an inkling of God's design. This is like saying "there are fish in the ocean" but it is an improvement over not knowing what the tiny ones are are doing - and why. That is only one tiny slice of Creation on display in every garden. If not, we would all starve.

6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 

God makes us able - not the institution, not the personality. One might say - God has made us able servants of the Testament He gave us - that He would make us His own by providing His Son as our Savior. He gave us the Gospel we did not look for, which Paul knew so well. In the Old Testament, God made Israel His people and revealed Himself to them, laying the groundwork for the open era of Christianity. All the Gospel Promises of the Old Testament are also Gospel and many believed in the Savior through them.

Luther distinguished between believing in the Savior to come, and being justified, and believing in the Savior revealed to us - the New Testament.

False teachers always offer the Law, and salvation through works. Inevitably they must praise themselves or the source of their new law. Sometimes it is self-esteem law. At other times it is loyalty to an institution. Man never tires of law and likes it even more when it is called "new." Itching ears like something new, even if it is a retread of something very old and tiresome.

The Gospel gives life while the Law only offers condemnation and death.

7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 

This is an argument from the lesser to the greater, which was common in Judaism and is still used today. Swedes coming to America thought Lindsborg (nicknamed Little Sweden) was a great city, since many were aiming for that little town. When they landed in New York City, they said, "If this is NYC, what must Lindsborg be like?"

So if the ministration of death was so glorious that the Israelites could not look at the face of Moses, how much greater is the ministration of eternal life?

The false teachers like to mock modest churches and rented rooms for chapel services. Jesus was born in a make-shift motel room, rented by Joseph, and the Last Supper took place in another rented room, arranged by Jesus. It is as if God was saying, the Gospel is first, not the furnishings.

Those ministers who say, "I only have a tiny congregation" or "I only work in a tiny town, far from the center of action" - they are demeaning the work of the Spirit in the Word. That may not appeal to the ego, but those receiving the Gospel of forgiveness and the comfort of God's love are not so sure that matters.

Glamour boys like to flaunt their celebrity, who gets to see them - except their staff - and who visits people in their homes - the staff, at best, most likely no one.

But people look around and say, "I want that big fancy church and all the pleasant associations with it." That appeals to the Old Adam in the minister and the congregation, and yet they always want more and seek more, often falling into death traps because of that.

Wherever the Gospel is preached, eternal life springs up. That is God's doing, only the teacher needs to be faithful to God's Word and not consumed with man's opinion.

8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

Notice the ministration of righteousness. One of the desert fathers said, "We lay down the light yoke of justification by faith and  pick up a heavy yoke when we justify ourselves." How much of our conversation is self-justification?  That is teaching man-made law, and the letter kills. If someone is guilty of one infraction, all the claims mean nothing.

The ministration of righteousness is what God has done for us through Christ, so our trust through Christ is God-ward. The wrath of the Law is taken away and we know we are beloved children, brothers of Christ, in Him as believers, and knowing He is in us.

Holy Baptism is a great sacrament to witness, because it is God's seal and promise. Adults are baptized because they believe in the Gospel and desire the sacrament God has offered, just as they desire Holy Communion.

The skeptics demean the Sacraments as the visible Word, but believers appreciate the power of the Word to fulfill God's Promises.

If someone wants to know how to remain in God's little flock, the most direct instruments are - 
  • The Word of God - worship and study.
  • Holy Communion.
  • Being mindful of one's baptism and what that means.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

51. There is also especial comfort to be derived from Paul’s assertion that the “ministration,” or doctrine, of the Law “passeth away”; for otherwise there would be naught but eternal condemnation. The doctrine of the Law “passes away” when the preaching of the Gospel of Christ finds place. To Christ, Moses shall yield, that he alone may hold sway. Moses shall not terrify the conscience of the believer. When, perceiving the glory of Moses, the conscience trembles and despairs before God’s wrath, then it is time for Christ’s glory to shine with its gracious, comforting light into the heart.

Then can the heart endure Moses and Elijah. For the glory of the Law, or the unveiled face of Moses, shall shine only until man is humbled and driven to desire the blessed countenance of Christ. If you come to Christ, you shall no longer hear Moses to your fright and terror; you shall hear him as one who remains servant to the Lord Christ, leaving the solace and the joy of his countenance unobscured. In conclusion: “For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth.”

52. The meaning here is; When the glory and holiness of Christ, revealed through the preaching of the Gospel, is rightly perceived then the glory of the Law — which is but a feeble and transitory glory — is seen to be not really glorious. It is mere dark clouds in contrast to the light of Christ shining to lead us out of sin, death and hell unto God and eternal life.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Trinity 3, 2015



The Third Sunday after Trinity, 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


                       

The Hymn # 652                   I Lay My Sins on Jesus               
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 #436            The Lord’s My Shepherd                   

The Shepherd's View Should Be Our Own

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 # 649                        Jesus Savior Pilot Me   

KJV 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Third Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having suffered ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh: We beseech Thee graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ; and quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may abide in Thy word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Thy Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end Amen.




The Shepherd's View Should Be Our Own


KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

These two parable introduce the Parable of the Prodigal Son, so we have multiple lessons in a row, each one unforgettable, about God's view of us as sinners. The introduction is not accidental. Jesus' kindly nature caused the obvious (open) sinners to draw near Him. They felt welcomed and comforted.

The publicans were the hated tax collectors, despised for being harsh and serving the Roman Empire with greed and profiting from it. The sinners are identified as open, obvious sinners by the term used. The Pharisees were sinners too, but outwardly they were great saints and scholars.

The tax collectors and sinners came to Jesus to hear Him - to hear His gracious and life-giving Word. To the world they were nothing and worthless, but Jesus showed them their worth while guiding them into a different life.

We should not be shocked that the original Christian Church was made up of former prostitutes, former homosexuals, former thieves and criminals of all sorts. The scum of the Roman Empire were drawn to the Christian Faith, and Christians were hated especially because of this association.

2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Receiving can be understood as welcoming. Not receiving is more like shunning or rejecting. That language was used in an early dispute.

3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

Receiving and eating with these sinners meant Jesus showed them respect, kindness, and love, which made the Pharisees righteously angry, to borrow a term. This was bound to happen at that time, because Jesus taught the righteousness of faith in Him while the Pharisees exemplified the righteousness of their works.

Jesus, therefore, annihilated the self-worth of the Pharisees and ignited their hatred, simply by being the gracious, promised Savior.

This also applies to us, where we see the same kind of Pharisaical shunning among Christians, which serves their political purpose but does not serve God. Lutherans do this. Baptists practice it with great zeal. Pentecostals outdo the Baptists, leaving the room when the odious (to them) doctrine of infant baptism comes us. One might add the glaring, the seeing through people they know but no longer acknowledge, and other such tactics that we puzzle over when we hear about untouchables in India.

One Lutheran discussion page had people grandly announce they would not post if I did, but they had no such qualms about a trans-sexual posting.

3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

The parable was aimed at the Pharisees, who took great pride in their works and despised others. Thus it is also aimed at all those who take great pride in their outward righteousness, based on belonging somewhere, while ignoring the righteousness of faith in Christ.

Nothing seems more true of the visible church today. I was thinking of the gigantic ant colony that exists overseas. Here is one from Brazil.  For some reason one particular group got established and grew because their recognized their own and do not go to war against their own DNA. However, Lutherans are just the opposite. They delight in driving out and killing their own with words, slander, and various actions. That ant colony is enormous in size, through welcoming their own, while the Lutherans are in a death spiral from abusing their own.

Those who survive the abuse in Lutherdom are very proud of belonging, but many times they are also tossed under the bus, as mobsters find themselves in the lap of luxury but only for a short time.

In this parable, the 1% is that sheep that wanders away, not those who rule and grab the grants for themselves. When we think of gently, helpless animals, we do not question that we would leave the sheep being tended and look for the helpless one lost in the wilderness.
How often have we gone out in the rain or darkness to find a pet that slipped out? Once I found our Sheltie, sound asleep in a storm, using a pile of plastic sheets as her bed, but safely under the patio roof. 

For walks I take a big branch to use to warn off big dogs, who look at Sassy as vulnerable and easy to attack. In close quarters she had no defenses with her lack of balance. Inside, she reverses the role and watches over us, warns us about animals on TV, and alerts us to UPS drivers (who often leave her a Milkbone).

Looking for the lost sheep - until he finds it. This is the Good Shepherd who pursues the lost and provides so many ways to draw them into the Kingdom or return them to the fold. Thus the first Gospel, infant baptism, lays a claim on a soul, and the Savior does not forget. When the Gospel Word is heard later, the baptized soul responds.

The key word is - until. Not for a time, not for months and years, but until that shepherd finds the lost sheep.

5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

God view of finding and rescuing the lost sinner is not berating the sinner for being lost, but to increase the help for that person. And many times that individual has been found and reclaimed - or found and converted to the Gospel by the Gospel. 

Rejoicing - God condemns unbelief and convicts us of that weakness. The Spirit's primary work is to say to each and every person, "You may have some faith, but do you utterly trust in Jesus as your Savior? And if you have no faith, I will show you the true nature of God, because the Son of God teaches the grace, lovingkindness, and mercy of the Father."

We often tell stories about our lost pets and finding them. Our tiny Sheltie Precious liked to escape from time to time. Once she ran out the door. And I told Sassy, "Find her." Sassy ran out, tracked her, and cornered her in a minute. It has been a fun story every since. Because when that happened in a motel, I had to look in various rooms being cleaned until I found the delinquent hiding in an end table.

This parable helps us see how God is gracious in seeking us and delighted to find and help us. On our own we dash into destruction and are best served when we stop and realize our condition.

6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

We know this is our nature with animals that depend on us, so we can see this is God's nature. He is not the pagan god of wrath and appeasement, that we must pay and satisfy to reduce His rather. This is the true God who is revealed by the Holy Spirit and represented and taught by God Incarnate.

7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 

The last verse is a humorous climax to the parable, because the Pharisees do not generate joy in heaven - happy as they are in their pen at home. "We have have been in this pen for five generations!"

21. Therefore, when you feel your sins gnawing at you, and feel your heart trembling and agitated, place yourself beside the publicans where they are standing. These are the very ones who shall receive the Gospel. Do so joyously, and say: “Oh, God! it is thy word that says there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance, and that all the righteous and angels are to interpose and cover up sins. Now, Oh, God! I have come to this that I feel my sins. I am already judged. I need but the one Shepherd who seeketh me; and I will therefore freely venture on thy Gospel.”

22. It is thus that you come to God. You are already the sheep placed upon his shoulders. You have found the Shepherd. You are the piece of silver in the hand. You are the one over whom is joy in heaven in the presence of all the angels. We are not to worry, if we do not experience or feel this at once. Sin will daily decrease, and its sting will drive you to seek God. You must struggle against this feeling by faith, and say: “Oh, God! I know thou hast said this, and I lean upon thy Word. I am the sheep and the piece of silver; thou the shepherd and the woman.”






Third Sunday after Trinity Quotations
                                            
"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of grace when one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV:  'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace.  First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism.  Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"        
          John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, 1934, p. 447. SA, IV, Concordia Triglotta, p. 491. Matthew 18:20.        

"We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel.  Therefore, whatever is to be preached, concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing.  For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin."
          The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #54, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 417.          

"The second argument is that 'God desires all men to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4), and He gave His Son for us men and created man for eternal life. Likewise:  All things exist for man, and he himself exists for God that he may enjoy Him, etc.  These points and others like them can be refuted as easily as the first one.  For these verses must always be understood as pertaining to the elect only, as the apostle says in 2 Timothy 2:10 'everything for the sake of the elect.'  For in an absolute sense Christ did not die for all, because He says: 'This is My blood which is poured out for you' and 'for many'‑‑He does not say:  for all‑‑'for the forgiveness of sins.' (Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28)
          Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 25  p. 375.  

"No more splendid work exists than receiving and hearing the Word of God." 
          What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I,  p. 302. Luke 10:38.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Feast of the Holy Trinity, 2015





The melodies are linked in the hymn name. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.

The Hymn # 246                              Holy, Holy, Holy               
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 Athanasian Creed             p. 53
The Sermon Hymn #251                  We All Believe in One True God      


We Confess the Holy Trinity


The Communion Hymn # 308            Invited Lord     
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                 

KJV Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Pentecost Monday Gospel:

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.



Trinity Prayer

O Lord God, heavenly Father: We poor sinners confess that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing, and that, left to ourselves, we die and perish in sin, since that which is born of the flesh is flesh and cannot see the kingdom of God. But we beseech Thee: Grant us Thy grace and mercy, and for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that being regenerate, we may firmly believe the forgiveness of sins, according to Thy promise in baptism; and that we may daily increase in brotherly love, and in other good works, until we at last 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.

http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2013/04/norma-boecklers-new-book-treasury-of.html

 

Luther’s Trinity Sermons Linked Here


We Confess the Holy Trinity

An age or a church without confessions of faith will soon become one without the Scriptures. When the confessions are mocked, the Word of God is subtly mocked. Some of the mockers may not realize it. If a Lutheran pastor is poorly trained in the Confessions, then he is also poorly prepared to comprehend them. They see without seeing. 

Likewise a denomination that is antagonistic toward confessions of faith will allow man's opinions to replace them. Today we heard a little of Charles Stanley's sermon and began debating how old he is. I said closer to 90, and he proved to be 83. But in looking up his bio, I found this quotation - 

As a young pastor, he was given the motivational book [Napoleon HillThink and Grow Rich. He has written, "I began to apply the principles of that book to my endeavors as a pastor, and I discovered they worked!" He also wrote, "For years, I read Think and Grow Rich every year to remind myself that the truth of God is not just for one career field. It is for all manner of work and ministry."[2] (Stanley, Charles, 2009, How to Reach Your Full Potential for God, p. 224, Thomas Nelson Publishers, ISBN 978-1-4002-0092-4)





Charles Stanley is the father of a favorite among some Lutherans:



When we speak the Apostles, Nicene, or Athanasian Creed together, we are confessing the truth of God's Word with all believers of all ages. That is why we call them Ecumenical Creeds - they are the stated or implied confessions of all Christian denominations.

Whenever I speak those words, I think of the millions who have gone before us, saying and believing those same words of faith. Each phrase is shaped from the Scriptures. To say we do not need Confessions is the same as saying we do not need hymns, many of the hymns coming from times of religious and doctrinal crisis.

The Book of Concord is our major textbook because each section (except perhaps the Apostles Creed) comes from a known doctrinal crisis. A large part of it comes from the Reformation and the second stage, when the students of Luther and Melanchton worked out a harmony, a concord, and dealt with all current disputes.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

We have to view each episode in the context of the entire Bible, although few have the scope of Luther in that regard. Nicodemus can be seen many ways, but they are conditioned by what we know about him later, risking his life, and the way Jesus dealt with those who came to Him.

Nicodemus was a great scholar among the Jews, a leader among scholars and a saint in their eyes. He could not have been more trained in the Scriptures and traditions, and as a member of a strict sect, he could have have been more saintly in the eyes of others.

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 

Many long explanations can be given for "by night" but the most obvious is timidity. It was not natural to be out and about at night, but that was the easiest way to be anonymous.

Luther said Nicodemus was fond of Jesus, an interesting term. Nicodemus is not being a two-faced flatterer as some were, but showing his glimmer of faith. If he came from his studies, as some would offer, Nicodemus was intrigued by the power of Jesus' miracles, acknowledging this could only come from God.

So Nicodemus is a man with a great reputation, some faith, and no understanding. Many have reaching the tipping point and listened to reputation, man's wisdom, and popularity, so Nicodemus is an Everyman in one sense, representing what many go through in a confessional crisis. 

If he continues along the path of faith, his life will be in danger and people will shun him. We often discuss at home the cross-cultural and inter-denominational game of shunning. It is all the rage. If someone questions a sacred cow, the word spreads and the shunning begins. That may be Common Core or the new definition of diversity. One may touch the third rail of page 5 and 15 and become unemployable among Lutherans. One must belong to the proper sub-group within the sub-groups.

So Jesus seems to be quite harsh in his response, but that misses the context of the Gospel and Jesus' way of dealing with the wrong understanding. In John's Gospel especially we see people listening to Jesus' spiritual wisdom and only seeing the material side. Examples:
1. Nicodemus.
2. The woman at the well, John 4.
3. The Keystone Kops leaders in John 9.
4. Peter wanting a complete wash after protesting his feet being washed.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

This sounds dismissive and it is intended, no doubt, to shake Nicodemus from his trust in works and his scholarly knowledge. While it may seem harsh to some, it is Jesus revealing the truth, which never sounds good from the perspective of man's wisdom.

Jesus began with truly, truly, to emphasize the truth of God's revelation. The word is one we still use - Amen. We sing that or say Amen to express agreement. Jesus took the ending and made it the beginning. 

Man must be born from above, an interesting pun, which Nicodemus took the wrong way. The main definition is "from above" and the Greek word is formed from those two words, from and above.

Soundcheck - So Jesus always taught in Aramaic? If so, why do we have them debating a Greek conversation? Wouldn't Aramaic be natural, a Jewish rabbi speaking to a Jewish rabbi? If the pun could be created in Aramaic, then few in the whole world at that time could understand it. In contrast, thanks to Alexander the Great, Greek was the universal language of scholarship and commerce.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

Nicodemus cannot grasp this truth, which is shown in his assumption about the secondary meaning of the word - again.

So his wisdom is foolish, as Paul pointed out in "making foolish the wisdom of the wise." Wisdom was the great virtue among the pagan scholars at that time, and Jewish wisdom was encased in traditions apart from Scripture. I can think of Lutheran examples, such as open communion, which is a contradiction, because it is popular with sceptics, mockers, and unionists.






5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 





Naturally people will jump to bad conclusions about this sermon alone. Many want to isolate the Spirit, and they will if given a chance. But the Spirit always includes the Word throughout the Scriptures. "The Word never without the Spirit. The Spirit never without the Word. That is sound doctrine." - WELS A. Hoenecke.

The Word is so powerful that the Spirit's effect is compared to the wind. In Hebrew and Greek, Spirit and wind are the same words. That is no accident, because we see the effect of the wind without seeing the wind itself. In fact, we only know the wind from its effects.

Teaching and preaching are the invisible Word. The wise of this world mock teaching and preaching because it does not have material gain associated with it - not like a CPA audit or a visit from the plumber. Therefore, it cannot have value, cannot be measured, and cannot even be assessed based on effect because the effect may come much later.

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

This is the great revelation of truth, which will be fulfilled in the crucifixion. This passage unites Moses with Jesus, showing us the the Exodus foreshadowed the ministry of Christ.

So we have the conclusion, which is found on Pentecost Monday, rather than a continuing story about Nicodemus being converted. So when did that happen and how do we know? He risked his life to associate with Jesus after the crucifixion which he heard predicted.

Thus we never know the true results of the Word at any given moment. The harvest may be realized decades later, like the story of the organist who finally came down from the balcony to receive Holy Communion. After all those years of playing hymns and hearing sermons, he believed.

And there are many clergy who gladly sold their souls to Satan for the chance to enjoy the wealth and power of the world. They thought they were only leasing their souls for a short time, but of course, mortal life is a short time and not to be despised as God's gift.

The de-confessions are more significant today than the confessions, which should warn people the End Times are nearer than ever before. But what God promises is invisible and untouchable, the truth of His grace in Christ, received in faith.