Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ignoring the Ideal - Quote from Theodore Schmauk - Comfort for Christians

Ignoring the Ideal - Quote from Theodore Schmauk - Comfort for Christians:

Ignoring the Ideal - Quote from Theodore Schmauk

4 minute read
As is the case with every other noble work of God and every other noble product of time, it is possible to write down the Augsburg Confession to the level of a mere historical document, transient and temporary, and filled with the imperfections, the lower motives, and the ambiguities of its occasion. But this attempt, like that of all similar effort to weaken and disfigure the great and authoritative monuments and abiding instruments of the race, such instruments as the Magna Carta, the American Declaration of Independence, by overlooking the permanency and overestimating the occasional character of their causes, is a historical perversion.

I am looking for Objective Justification
as the great treasure of the Reformation, the Chief Article,
the Master and Prince, the judge of all articles of faith.
Nope, not there at all. Just the opposite is true -
the OJists and UOJists are roundly condemned.
No wonder they hate the Confessions and love Pietism.

The attempt to drag down and cheapen the great Confessional standards of our faith, by pointing out and emphasizing the human passions and motives that may have animated the men who were active in their formation, by elaborating and laying stress on the incidental occasions, which, in the hand of Providence, are often slight and minor or even unworthy, instead of upon the real underlying cause; and by surrounding the real standard of Truth attained and confessed, with the great multitude of inferior, unfinished and unsuccessful propositions, and the counterfeits, which nearly always swarm round about a genuine and great work of truth, is not a worthy one, and is not writing history in the true sense of the term.

This attempt has been made against every standard of historical greatness. In our own country, George Washington has been written down to the level of a common, coarse, and unworthy humanity. Cheap side-lights thrown upon the framing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States often have set these instruments in the glare of an unworthy and common-place coloring. The attempt has been made to reduce the divinity of our Lord to an elevated humanity by gathering round about Him great men, e. g., the religious founders of a hoary orient, who apparently stand forth as His equals. The same attempt has been made to write down the history of Israel and its religion to the level of the other ethnic communities around it. The Sermon on the Mount itself, has, according to these depreciators, been proven to be no more than a chrestomathy of the choicest sayings of pagan antiquity.

In any sphere, it is nearly always possible, by judicious selection, to raise up a multitude of the second best and the counterfeit productions of a people or a religion in such a way as to disparage, and apparently to take away the supremacy of the original. For the original, despite its greatness, its truth and its purity, cannot escape, so long as it is in this world, showing some contact with the sin and weakness of human nature.

But the great question in deciding on the real merits of an acknowledged standard is not how far it can be weakened down, or how near it comes in certain points to its inferiors. To attempt to show this is not in accord with a true historical method, but is essentially the method of skepticism, used for purposes of undermining faith in that which is really good. The question is not whether the foundation is covered with the shifting sands of time, or is strewn with the defective spawls2 and rejected boulders of the workshop, but the question is whether, beneath all these, the real solid rock is still standing. The effort to level and destroy men’s faith in the Word of God, in miracle, in the Person of Christ, in the Lord’s Supper, in the great and wholesome political, historical, or Confessional foundations of the past is at the very least pessimistic, and owes its origin to something outside of genuine Faith.

If the comparative method is to be applied to the Augsburg Confession and the Symbols of the Church, let it bring forth the clear distinction between the genuine Confession and the defective compromises that were constantly being put forth by wavering confessors within the Church.

He is a poor interpreter of pure art who would set up the perfectly chiseled and immortal statue amid the partly hewn and rejected blocks that had been its companions previous to its completion; and would strew it over with the chips and the dust which had fallen from it in the sculptor’s shop, and would say to us: See, it is no more and no better than the varied and motley stones from which it has sprung.

-Theodore Schmauk. The Confessional Principle. Chapter 19, Providence and the Augustana. pp. 428-430.

The Confessional Principle is now being prepared for publication as an e-book.

Originally published at: Comfort for Christians"

'via Blog this'

The Sermons of Martin Luther, Volume II, Published

The full color edition of The Sermons of Martin Luther, Volume II, is now published.

The Kindle e-book version of The Sermons of Martin Luther, Volume II,  is also available, and naturally, it is full color too.

The no-excuses edition of Luther's Sermons, Volume II, black and white interior, is also in print now.

The author's price is much less than the retail, especially in the full-color version. I used the retail links because clicking on them will increase visibility on the Internet. Everyone has a book about Luther this year, but clearly, few are reading his sermons. The professors are the worst in this category.

Posting a review will greatly increase the results of Google searches. Some are doing posting their reviews.

So will clicking on my Amazon Author's Page.

I will sending out copies of Volume II now. I was waiting for the black and white one to finish - another glitch - but settled. When all the print titles are done, the full color versions will be named

  • The Sermons of Martin Luther on Amazon.

and the black and white student economy editions will be named

  • Luther's Sermons on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Norma Boeckler's New Book - Those Days on the Farm

Those Days on the Farm

Those Days on the Farm - Norma A. Boeckler - Print Version

Those Days on the Farm - Norma A. Boeckler - Kindle e-Book

 Norma A. Boeckler is our artist-in-residence
at Bethany Lutheran Church.

This is her art website.

A number of people have asked me, "How do you know Norma Boeckler?" That happened again in Perryville, Missouri, when the LCMS pastor asked that question. She is a member of our congregation and lives in Midland, Michigan, where we also lived for six years. However, we did not know her at that time.

Various events among Lutherans led a number of us to form an independent Lutheran congregation. Norma is not only our member, but also our artist-in-residence, designing the covers and interiors of our books, providing an endless number of Scripture illustrations for those books, the classes I teach, and her Facebook audience.

My wife Christina thought I was a city guy until I suddenly identified the inner farmer in me, during our years in Midland, 1982-1987, devoured the organic gardening books at Grace Dow Library, and began writing about the subject.

 This is Norma Boeckler's garden in Midland, Michigan.
Her Amazon page is here.

Books about growing up on a farm fascinate me, and they should interest everyone, because America was once mostly rural. I encouraged Norma to carry out her intention to write this - and soon it was done.

Those Days on the Farm is a portrait of family farming. I considered a stay at the farm of my Uncle Howard Noel and Aunt Grace quite a treat when I was growing up. The memories - and farm equipment - in this book are familiar to me and stir up  many happy memories.

Another treat in this book is not only the past but the present of the farm. Norma's sister took over the farm and transformed it in various ways, so the past has merged into the present.

The first story tells how Norma did not like milking, so her sister got to do that work. Norma stayed in to do the kitchen work, so one day her sister Marian kept ordering pancake after pancake, to get even. They still laugh about that episode.

Some memories are not pleasant. The barn burned down and Norma watched the tragedy unfold from a block away, while she was at school. A greater sadness is the loss of her mother when Norma was only one year old. From that loss came a lot of time spent drawing and the unfolding of many different creative talents.

Norma's father worked at Dow Chemical, headquartered in Midland, Michigan, and the family farm at the same time. Many with small farms did the same, keeping a non-farm job to produce cash year-around. That meant everyone had work to do, but the children growing up this way learned many skills, developed a can-do attitude, and still had time to play in idyllic surroundings.

The loss of practical knowledge about God's Creation is obvious everywhere. I bought two Salvia plants for for their appeal to bees. There were on clearance at Walmart because the poor things were almost dead. I told the cashier, "I will revive them in rainwater." Cashier, "Rainwater, as in water than fell as rain? How do you do that?" I told her, "Buckets catch the rain from the roof and I use that to revive plants and strengthen special plants." Cashier - "How does that work?" I explained, "The rain contains natural fertilizer and no bleach." She said, "Bleach?" I went on to say, "Yes, they use chlorine gas to purify tap water, but rain water is free of that and works better. Tap water is OK, but rain is the best." Cashier - "And you think that will work?"

One Midland farmer told me, "I pity the children who never grew up on a farm. There are countless lessons no one could ever teach them in school."

That is why Norma Boeckler is an artist of God's Creation. She grew up surrounded by the beauty and realities of the farm, and that became the foundation for all her work.

One of my jobs on the farm was watching the cows graze in a field without a fence several days a week. As a budding artist, I saw many interesting wild flowers and trees in the field that I could spend time drawing. Putting my imagination to work, I created pictures, using old pieces of slab wood left behind from the old saw mill. They worked perfectly as a drawing board. And I used old rotted stump pieces that had turned to chalk for drawing.

Boeckler, Norma. Those Days on the Farm (p. 3). Kindle Edition.

Most people will smile warmly as they read this book. Most of us drawing some kind of retirement had far more experience outdoors than the kids today. One neighbor shook her head in wonder at me when I walked our dog Sassy on a cold, snowing, icy day. Living in Arkansas means hiding inside until the snow melts.

Children stay indoors when it is too cold and also when it is too hot. I know the weather is perfect when children are playing outdoors. But that obscures the changes caused by the weather and lessons learned from the definite signs and warnings of Creation.

Explanations - Like the Separator

The separator machine, was a needed item on the farm that I learned how to use. It had a large metal bowl and two separate spouts, the milk would be poured into the separator bowl, and the handle had to be turned for a long time, until finally, the cream would separate from the milk and come out its spout into a cream can and the skim milk came out the other spout into another can. They call that centrifugal force.

Boeckler, Norma. Those Days on the Farm (p. 4). Kindle Edition.

I remember Aunt Grace showing me the separator on their farm. She was amused that I thought she was giving me cream on my cereal. That was whole milk! My mother loved whipped cream but she thought skim milk was better for us children. Aunt Grace learned how much I loved cream, so I  had cream on my cereal every day after that. Grace was correctly named, because she smiled all the time, patient and understanding with her city-slicker visitor.

Norma has combines her memories of the separator with its origin and the general work involving the dairy cattle. They even had a butter churn to turn the cream into butter. Photographs make the book even more interesting.

The Farm Continues
One of the best parts of the book is the continuing story of that farm, since Norma's older sister Marian bought the farm and worked it with her husband until he passed away. Now the farm itself is rented out and the new home is remodeled for current needs. The original farmhouse burned down from an electrical problem.

Valuable History
This personal history will always be valuable to Midland historians and Norma's extended family. Most of us do not have that much information about where our parents worked and grew up.

Norma's early adult life is also interesting. She met Walter Boeckler, a scientist at Dow Chemical. Together they built the home she lives in now. Walter and Norma supported Lutheran congregations in the area and generously helped the start of independent congregations.

Norma has been invaluable with all of my Amazon books, and she has a list of her own here.

Those Days on the Farm will make a wonderful gift for family and friends at Christmas. Anyone who enjoys farm nostalgia will appreciate the memories and feel the paradoxical joy and sadness of reliving those days.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Moving Books to Amazon

The interior has been set up for The Story of Jesus in Pictures, which is now at Norma Boeckler wanted to produce a book for children, which was made up of illustrations about Jesus.

The cover is being finished, so we are not far from completion.

Next is Thy Strong Word, The Efficacy of the Word in the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.

This is being proof-read, but also ordered time after time from Lulu, even as we speak.

The original was published in 2000, as I recall. I would have to find an original to check the date, but I may have given  that one away.  Yes, on purpose.

The original used a lot of text in Hebrew and Greek, which I thought was useful for clergy. However, the laity were the ones reading it and they found all the material they could not read a problem.

So - despite all the shunning and refusal to give any coverage to this 700 page book - people are requesting it more than any other, 16 years later.

Book Publishing History
My dissertation was published by the Augustana Historical Society. I finished the PhD in 1982.

I also had an essay or two published in a book, from a conference on aging that Mrs. Ichabod and I attended in Atlanta, about 1978.

I wrote a series of essays for Christian News, explaining how apostasy developed in America. He suggested it for Northwestern Publishing House, and they accepted it. NPH may have been the last bastion of Lutheran doctrine  in WELS at that time. Publishing was delayed, and when Liberalism: Its Cause and Cure came out, the Church Growth faction exploded in anger.

The irony is that I delayed writing the last chapter, which became The Cure chapter, about the Means of Grace versus the Church Growth Movement. Once I gave The Cure paper at a WELS pastoral conference, with the drama queens fainting and throwing tantrums, I knew that was the definitive last chapter.

DP Bob Mueller traveled down to Columbus with the stated purpose of getting rid of me. The only doctrine he ever opposed was Lutheran doctrine, although one council member forced him to agree that I did my job well and taught correctly. Tis a burden to live a life of lies. No wonder so many WELS DPs, CPs, and clergy are hopeless drunks.

Norma Boeckler designed the cover for
Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant - Lulu.

NPH accepted Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant for publication, but wrote me a snotty letter about not printing it until I "changed my attitude." I did not change my attitude: I remained Lutheran.

But Liberalism sold like hotcakes, enraging the WELS honchos who still maintained Church Growth did not exist in WELS. Wayne Mueller, the father of the transvestite pastor in Arizona, was the WELS leader who published the claim that WELS had no CG, but if it did, it was in harmony with the Scriptures. My new versions would be, "There are no transvestite pastors in WELS, but if there are, they are perfectly normal."

So I left WELS, resigning in disgust, a great move. My wife was uninsurable, but we found medical insurance for her, one time after another.

That was when I began to self-publish through Herman Otten's publisher, then Lulu. Pastor Otten's son Tim was a great help with

Norma Boeckler loves
to design Christian art,
and her Facebook fanbase is unlimited.

Switching to Lulu meant I also received a lot of artistic help from Norma Boeckler. That continues to be a great boon in every way possible. I do not have to worry about template-looking covers. Norma designs them.

Norma Boeckler began using Create Space, publishing several of her books on that Amazon-Kindle platform.

I enjoy using a desktop with a large screen, but most people are mobile and like having a library on their devices. For that reason, when I began to use Kindle versions for gardening articles, I decided to start publishing with Create Space and move everything over, in time, to that platform.

Communication without the Rottweilers Blocking
This could be a Litany for a service for leaving the established Lutheran sects, named These Are the Last Days of an Insane, Old Word:

  • The ELCA is Scriptural and Confessional, marking __ years of grace.

Lord, have mercy.

  • The LCMS is Scriptural and Confessional, marking __ years of grace.

Lord, have mercy.

  • The WELS is Scriptural and Confessional, marking __ years of grace.

Lord, have mercy.

  • The Little Sect is Scriptural and Confessional, marking __ years of grace.

Lord, have mercy.

  • The CLC (sic) is Scriptural and Confessional, marking __ years of grace.

Come Lord Jesus.
I am coming soon.

The Rottweilers, known more for their vicious nature than their intelligence, make sure only their boys and girls are in charge. They promote the work of their own circle with steroidal joy and energy, but watch carefully lest anyone else have a say, obtain a position, or even publish a book or article.

Major scandals in Lutherdom are either spiked completely by Christian News or deep-sixed on page 17. As far as I know, WELS is the first denomination to have the FBI raid its headquarters and collect the computers. Did anyone read that story anywhere but here?

Likewise, a publication, in the old days, was nothing if no distribution was available. By controlling distribution, and even by blocking it, the established synods control the message.

The Rottweilers also control friendships, using one man or one member to keep a pastor from doing anything -

  • Friendly suggestions.
  • Threats, sometimes disguised as friendly suggestions.
  • Tearing up the congregation with invented conflict.

"Don't be afraid, big doggie,
it's only a blog."

The Social Media and Self-Publishing
Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, Ustream, and self-publishing are a giant chip shot above the heads of those who guard the net. (Tennis allusion)

The old synodicals move at the pace of Jobba the Hut, clamping down on this, putting the happy face on the latest felony. Meanwhile, news moves faster than beer at a WELS convention, faster than self-congratulations at a Missouri gathering, faster than self-serving condemnations at a CLC (sic) fest.

Lutheran clergy, teachers, and laity - no one is your master now. You are not confined to a location for worship. You can enjoy a vast library of genuine Lutheran books from the Net, from Luther's sermons to the entire Book of Concord. Cost is no issue.

Martin Luther started with the truth of the Scriptures and let them control the agenda. He did not begin with this thought, which paralyses so many "Will my synod approve?"

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Print Copies of Making Disciples: The Error of Modern Pietism Are Arriving

The cover by Norma Boeckler
emphasizes the Means of Grace in the KJV
versus the anti-Means of Grace language of the NIV.

The Kindle price for Making Disciples is only $3,99. Kindle Unlimited is $0 for now.

Quite a few people have requested multiple copies of  Making Disciples as a printed booklet. If you send your name, address, and number needed, I will send them to you free - or at the author's price of $2 or so. Some people have given gifts to get them distributed for free, so do not hesitate to ask.

I order them as soon as the request comes through.


The Great Commission in Various Translations. 10

Teach All Nations. 10

KJV. 10

KJV 21st Century. 10

Geneva English Bible. 10

Luther’s German Bible 1545. 10

Vulgate Latin. 10

Douay-Rheims, Roman Catholic, 1899. 11

Make Disciples. 11

New KJV. 11

English Standard Version. 11

New NIV. 11

Good News Translation. 11

The Message, also known as the Surfer Dude Version. 12

Fuller Seminary – The New Mother Ship for Rationalistic Pietism... 15

Lower Criticism Paved the Way for Dynamic Equivalency, Paraphrases Marketed as Translations. 21

The Rules. 21

The Shorter Reading Is Preferred. 22

The More Difficult Reading Is Preferred. 22

When in Doubt, Favor Tradition. 23

Example, Textual Work – The Ending of Mark’s Gospel, Removed. 24

The Aland edition of the New Testament. 25

Eugene Nida Took Away the Precise Translation Method of the KJV. 28

Tyndale Studied under Luther and Melanchthon. 29

Tyndale, Luther, and Melanchthon. 29

All English Bibles Begin with Tyndale. 30

Horrible Corruptions by the New NIV Living Paraphrase. 33

Genesis 4:1. 33

Isaiah 7:13-14. 33

Matthew 26:28. 34

Matthew 28:18-20. 35

Mark 16:8-20. 35

The Great Commission – Subverted by the Modern Pietists. 40

The Great Commission To Form Cell Groups. 41

Object of the Verb To Teach. 41

Objection – Teach Used Twice. 42

A Disciple Is Not a Soul-Winner, Simply a Pupil 42

The Verb in Matthew Is Not a Good Argument for Making Disciples. 42

King James 21st Century - KJV21. 44

KJV21 Readings and Explanations. 44

No Need for Another Translation. 45

Friday, January 29, 2016

Lutheran Resources found on Ichabod, The Glory Has Departed

Luther's Sermons, Book of Concord selections,Lutheran books, Free PDFs, Pastor Paul Rydecki Publications,Martin Chemnitz Press.

Lutheran Resources - Posted on Ichabod

Melanchthon's Book of Concord Work

The Augsburg Confession, Book of Concord

Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Book of Concord


Martin Luther

Luther - Sermons  - Lenker Edition

Luther - Small Catechism, Book of Concord

Luther - Large Catechism, Book of Concord

Luther - The Smalcald Articles, Book of Concord

Luther - Galatians Commentary, Recommended by the Formula of Concord

Luther - Preface to Romans - Also Called - Introduction to the Romans Commentary


F. Bente's Historical Introductions

Complete Text of Bente's Historical Introductions in One File


The Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration


Martin Chemnitz Press Books - Free PDF downloads

Liberalism: Its Cause and Cure

Jesus Priceless Treasure

Angel Joy

The Story of Jesus in Pictures, In Color

Coloring Book - The Story of Jesus in Pictures

Luther versus the UOJ Pietists: Justification by Faith 

Jesus Lord of Creation 

The Wormhaven Gardening Book 

Thy Strong Word - English only edition 

Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant 

Discussion Guide for Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant

College Students - Tips for Success

Moline High School 1966 - The Class the Stars Fell On

To Order from

Purchase MCP printed books from here


F. W. Stellhorn's family came across the Atlantic with the Bishop Stephan migration.
L. Fuerbringer mentions him as a Missouri Synod teacher in his memoirs.

From Bruce Church - The Error of Missouri and Lutheran Seminary Costs

Various Formats - The Error of Missouri


H. Schmid - Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church

Text Version of Doctrinal Theology - Perfect for Copy and Paste

HTML Version of Doctrinal Theology - Webpage friendly

Another PDF of Doctrinal Theology


This is a zipped folder of all the hymn texts from The Lutheran Hymnal - from the Wittenberg Project

Here are Lutheran Reformation hymn resources.


Order from Amazon.


Project Wittenberg - Texts about Luther and Other Lutherans


Pastor Paul Rydecki is actively translating essential Lutheran materials.
Check out the link below.
Pastor Paul Rydecki's books and links to his stand on justification by faith are here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2015

The Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2015
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Today is our 46th anniversary.

The Hymn #514               God Moves in a Mysterious Way                   
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 # 268           Zion Mourns    

Johann Hermann lost all his possessions, many times, when Catholic forces repeatedly sacked his city during the Thirty Years War, one of the worst times for faithful Lutherans. He also wrote "Ah Holy Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken," #143, and "O God Thou Faithful God" #395.

Comfort about the End -  from Paul

The Communion Hymn #246              Holy, Holy, Holy 
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 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

KJV Matthew 24:15 

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Comfort about the End -  from Paul

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 

The Apostolic Age was full of anxiety among the congregations, because the world was coming to an end, from their perspective. The greatest emperors had rule over Rome, and the empire was beginning to fade, but the complete dissolution took until 400 AD in the West and 1453 in the Christian Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire).

The Fall of Constantinople, still mourned today in Eastern Orthodoxy, meant that the Muslim armies were free to attack Europe, and they did. They were at the gate of Vienna in 1530 and continued to attack at various times. until 1683, when the Polish king and general Jan Sobieski, scattered the Muslim army - and discovered coffee for Vienna in the spoils of war.

At various times the world has appeared to be falling apart completely. Strangely, almost no one knows the history of the Byzantine Empire,  whose fate was so closely tied to Islam trying to engulf it and finally succeeding. 

The Apostolic Age was similar in the way the grandeur of Rome was decidedly fading. And many of the same players are involved today. Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians about the Man of Iniquity who is worshiped as a god - and sets himself up in the temple of God.

This feeling of everything coming to an end created problems. Why work? - the world is ending. Paul said, "If you do not work, you do not eat," good words for today.

The other anxiety is about death and the end of all time. So many key phrases are in this one verse.

They are brothers in Christ, through faith, which means they belong to the same family. He writes to them with a great feeling of closeness and sincerity.

He does not want them to be anxious but to know the truth - "not be ignorant..."

About those who are asleep. This changed the language of believers, because cemetery means a place of sleep, referring to this passage. In contrast, some made up a dogma of "soul sleep" to deny the immortality of the soul. How could they take so much discussion of the individual soul and decide that was not true? Like justification, every sound or healthy doctrine can be changed into the opposite, if the false teachers desire this change. I even had a supposed Lutheran ask, "You don't believe in the immortality of the soul, do you?" He was offended that I affirmed it was the teaching of the Bible.

Do not sorrow, as those who have no hope. Here is a distinctive difference that one can experience with many different people. Grief is not bad, but healing. for the Christian. For those without knowledge and faith in the resurrection of Christ, death is a grievous pain and burden. 

Believers still grieve, but not "as those who have no hope." It is a sign of our shallow society that friends and relatives do not allow grief to be expressed, as if it is a disease than one can catch. 

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also, which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. 

Once again we can find some, or perhaps many, who argue for a Rapture event instead of reading the plain words about the end of time. 

First there is a conditional clause - if we believe. That is the condition which the apostates and mainline Leftists warn against. "No, do not allow an if - because that robs God of His glory." Then why does Paul use "if" here and in Romans 4:24?

So the sorrow is - what happens when some in our Christian family have died already and Jesus comes in His glory? The fear or anxiety expressed is - how can those asleep in Christ experience the final expression of God's grace? 

Paul answers - those who have fallen asleep in Christ will also share in the return of Christ.

John 5 is very clear about that.

John 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
When Christ returns in judgment, everyone is raised from the dead. Those who died in Christ are raised to everlasting life.
Details about all this are sparse, which is good, because people would embroider even more tales if they had more material to work with. Notice how the Rapture salesmen work just like the Objective Justification mongers.
First, they start with a non-Biblical name for their dogma - Rapture. Next, every passage they can use is enlisted in their Rapture booklet. This 1 Thessalonians passage is one of them, although it is clearly about the Final Judgment, the end of all history.
But now the issue is - what is your position on the Rapture? Do you believe it will happen before during or after the Tribulation? Add to this the millenial reign of all Christians, ruling from Jerusalem. You are against the Millenium? Oh no.
Soon they are fine-tuning arguments about a new dogma that a tiny sect spread throughout America (Darby-ites). This came from Calvinism and was promoted by the notorious Scofield Bible. The Left Behind industry is connected with it.
Now, now far are we away from justification by faith in Christ, just by turning off on this road?

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep.

Here we see clearly that no one is "left behind" even though that is a fear promoted by certain groups. "You will be in a bus and the driver will be raptured." Cartoons show planes going down, vehicles crashing.

This verse repudiates the whole scheme of the Rapture business - and it is a business - and yet they never notice the repudiation. Final Judgment includes the living and the dead. Those who are asleep in Christ are at peace, their souls with Christ, and yet the final act is not completed. Paul is addressing the end of all time, which is in complete harmony with Jesus in John 5.

There are many examples of this, where one writer in the Bible addresses the same issue with different words. This shows the unity and the harmony of the Word of God. The more we study, the more evident this is.

When people feel obligated to support a certain tradition of man, they get confused because the Scriptures clearly do not teach this fad. Rather than get upset by making the Word of God first, they follow human traditions and become fanatically loyal to that fad or fallacy. There is even a saying from Orwell about this.

I would not go back and reverse the conflicts caused by the Word of God, not to mention the punishment administered by various clergy creatures, because that is what taught me the real meaning of the Book of Concord and Luther.

Look at the irony today. So many people and clergy run after this new translation or commentary. The best one volume commentary on the Bible is the Book of Concord, where we can find concise, brilliant summaries of the Scriptures from some of the great Biblical scholars of all time. Their one qualification to teach in the Reformation was this - be a Biblical scholar: Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, and Chytraeus are the Big Four. I add Gerhard as the fifth, because he worked in publishing with Chemnitz.

What is justification? Should I study the Apology of the Augsburg Confession on this topic? or an essay by Uncle Fritz Gesetzmacher? One is the confession of faith of Luther, who greatly admired Melanchthon's work. The other? - a political appointment.

About the desire for longer commentaries - Luther's sermons are this - commentaries on Biblical passages. I publish one almost every single week on Facebook and here on the blog. Someone who reads and understands one essay will know more about the Bible than the "conservative" seminary professors all put together. Luther is easy to follow and becomes even more powerful in time as he teaches us the Word of God.

Luther did not coach the congregation about time management and being happy. He did not promise to slowly boil them like frogs in a kettle. He taught the Word as it was then and remains true for all time. For that reason, everyone has access to Luther's sermons today, which remain the most read of that era.

His basic approaches to the Scriptures are:
  • The entire Bible is a sermon about Jesus, and it teaches faith in Him.
  • Justification by faith is the point of the Bible.
  • The Word of God is always effective, so the only way to accomplish God's will is to teach His Word.
  • The books of the Bible are in harmony with each other, so one will often explain the other passage we are trying to understand more thoroughly.
  • All of Christian doctrine is contained in the Bible, which judges all other books

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

We know from many passages that this time is not revealed, and yet the signs of His Return are mentioned in various verses.

The efficacious Word of God will raise the dead first, which will show all the living that the time has come. That will be a moment of start terror for unbelievers, but a great joy for believers who trust in Christ alone for their salvation. The living will join the resurrected in the final consummation with Christ, and the unbelievers will be tormented by the knowledge of God but without His peace and comfort, which is Hell itself.

Obviously the Thessalonians were being upset by doubts, rumors, and stories, which will always arise among believers. Someone will say, "I heard that..." and that vague story becomes a new dogma. Those who are converted and learning are more likely to be disturbed and derailed, as all of us have been at one time or another. 

Luther wrote about being struck with doubts when writing about the Real Presence in Holy Communion. It would have been easier to give that up to appeal to our human reason. And yet the magisterial use of reason (a good insight from Sig Becker) places the Word above all human reason. So if the Word is the master, then we have our human abilities to study and see why this or that article of faith is true.

I am certain of this - the more we are challenged about doctrine, by events and by those who oppose the Word, the more we will appreciate and understand what is revealed. That makes the treasure of the Gospel more valuable to us and impossible to take away.

All the signs say we are in the end times, but we do not know how long they will last. We are certainly closer than ever before. Why would God delay the coming of His Son? More are converted by the Gospel, and the Father's timing is His alone - not ours. Jesus was clear in saying, "No one knows, not the Son, only the Father." Mark 13

Given the utter transformation of the world - heaven and earth will pass away - and the permanence of the Word, we should rest our hopes and our peace in the Word of God, not in anything else.