The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time
The Hymn #246 – Nicea
The Confession of Sins
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 Galatians 5:25 - 6:10
The Gospel Matthew 6:24-34
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 479 Fahre Fort
The Spirit Effective in the Word
The Hymn #305:6-9 Schmueke dich
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 # 265 Erhalt Uns Herr
Happy Birthday – Diane Popp, September 4th.
The hymn texts and a melody link are at the end of the sermon.
Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden. 6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
KJV Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity, from the Collects of Veit Dietrich
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee for all Thy benefits: that Thou hast given us life and graciously sustained us unto this day: We beseech Thee, take not Thy blessing from us; preserve us from covetousness, that we may serve Thee only, love and abide in Thee, and not defile ourselves by idolatrous love of mammon, but hope and trust only in Thy grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Galatians 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
This Epistle directly follows one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible, the contrast between the endless works of the flesh and the nine-fold fruits of the Spirit. Law and Gospel are clearly taught in a few verses.
Galatians 6:8 has a clear Law Gospel distinction in one verse. The first part condemns with God’s wrath – whoever sows to benefit his flesh will reap corruption. The second part promises the blessings of the Gospel – whoever sows to the Spirit will reap everlasting life.
The Pentecostals will grab this verse for themselves if we do not explain it properly.
Every passage about the Word is also about the Spirit. Every passage about the Spirit is also about the Word. They are never separated in the Scriptures and cannot be separated in the work of Christianity. Those who separate Word and Spirit are Enthusiasts, false teachers. All false doctrine is based upon Enthusiasm, whether that error comes from the Pope, the Muslim Prophet, or the tongue-speaker. Adam and Eve were the first Enthusiasts. (See the quotations below.)
Isaiah has the greatest passage about Word and Spirit. Note the Promises made.
KJV Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
The Promises are:
1. God’s Word will always have an effect, just like rain and snow upon all the plants of the earth, something especially noticeable in a desert region. (Verse 10)
2. God’s Word will not return void. This double-negative or litotes is the strongest possible expression, just like “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” No exceptions are allowed with a double-negative. (Verse 11)
3. God’s Word will accomplish what God pleases. (Verse 11)
4. God’s Word will prosper in God’s cause. (Verse 11)
The Scriptures are utterly consistent about the Word always having the power of the Spirit of God:
KJV Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
KJV 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
St. Paul admonished Titus to teach sound (literally – healthy) doctrine, which is God’s Word, and not another’s word:
KJV Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
Healthy doctrine creates spiritual health because the preaching and teaching of the Word is the work of the Holy Spirit. Appointed pastors are called to preach through the Holy Spirit in the Word. Believers could not have faith without the Spirit converting them and keeping them in the Faith through the power of the Gospel.
Flesh versus the Word
Paul is teaching us to invest ourselves in the Word rather than the flesh. One advantage of being older is seeing how many have devoted themselves to the flesh and reaped its reward over time. And yet, how fleeting were the rewards they sought for themselves.
The best way to advance in life is to use others before they use you (an LCA pastors’ motto), to lie without shame and backtrack only when caught (church bureaucracy), to pursue money, prestige, and power.
We are all tainted, thanks to Original Sin. However, the Word is given to us so that Original Sin does not take hold of our lives. That is why Paul urges us to sow to the Spirit, to invest in the Word, to trust in God’s Promises.
Deception and bribes have great power, but God’s Word has even more power. Recently, one pastor told me it was difficult to unmask the crypto-Calvinists who promote Church Growth doctrine and then retreat into Lutheran doctrine when confronted.
I disagree. People will answer truthfully when asked the right questions. I believe it is the power of the Word (Hebrews 4), which cannot be resisted.
I unmasked one fraud with a single question: “If an evangelism program fails to bring about any visible results, is it because the wrong method was used?” The Church Growth expert, Floyd Luther Stolzenburg, immediately said “Yes!” He was the expert. He knew all the right methods. District Pacifier Mueller began to rebuke him. VP Kuske jumped in to defend the false doctrine. Before Kuske could make a complete fool of himself, Mueller shut him down, with Floyd sputtering. A little later, the praesidium began lying about what happened. “It isn’t in my notes,” said VP Schroer, using the innocent look kids try on their parents when something is broken, smashed, or missing. “Never happened.” And of course, “He’s lying” or “He’s exaggerating about it.” God’s Word unmasks false teachers and makes powerful enemies.
"While only the Word is efficacious, the methods we use to minister to people with that Word may vary in their effectiveness."
Lawrence Otto Olson, D. Min., Fuller Seminary, "See How It Grows: Perspectives on Growth and the Church," EVANGELISM, February, 1991, p. 2.
"We cannot add anything to the Word, but we may be able to remove the human barriers which might be in the way of the Word."
Lawrence Otto Olson, D. Min., Fuller Seminary, "See How It Grows: Perspectives on Growth and the Church," EVANGELISM, February, 1991, p. 3.
"Faithfulness is the standard by which God judges those he calls into the public ministry. That faithfulness may or may not be 'effective' in terms of visible results; results are up to God, not us. But part of faithfulness ought to include striving to be as 'effective' as we can be in the methods that we use to take the Means of Grace to people."
Lawrence Otto Olson, D. Min., Fuller Seminary, "A Response to Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.," Christian News, 3-28-94, p. 23.
"Our decision not to use the name Lutheran in the name of the congregation seems to have caused some concern. We point you to the Lutheran confessions which clearly state that a name is an adiaphoron. So only when not using the name is a denial of what the name stands for is there a problem. We reject the inferences that have been drawn that have been drawn [sic] that it is our intention to deny the biblical teach [sic] (ibid. conservative Lutheran teaching). Put in very practical terms our question is: Can we reach more of the unchurched if we can begin with sin and grace, guilt and forgiveness, rather than having to deal with lodge, scouts, the vagaries of ELCA, etc. at the beginning."
WELS Michigan District Vice-president Paul Kuske, Letter to the Ohio Conference, Pilgrim Community Church, sponsored from Grove City by Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church Fall Conference, Gibsonia, 1989.  [emphasis in original]
"We have discovered that the Early Church was an institution that unknowingly saw its world through Church Growth eyes. We have some benefits they did not have in that we can look back today and analyze their successes and failures."
Floyd Luther Stolzenburg, "Church Growth - the Acts of the Apostles," Taught at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Columbus, Ohio.
I would ask any of the gurus of today – “Is God’s Word always effective?” And, “If so, how do you show this trust in God’s Word.” A doctrinal error is exposed by doctrine. Otherwise, people defend themselves by saying, “My grandfather was a DP” or “This is what I learned at the sem.” Luther learned Medieval error in is training. The issue is not the school but the doctrine, not the DNA but the teaching.
KJV Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
One WELS pastor said to Valleskey, the man who became president of the Wisconsin Seminary by promoting Church Growth false doctrine, “You are dealing with principalities and powers.” The pastor was forced out of the ministry, without cause.
Another pastor in the same town said, “God’s Word is always effective.” He was forced out of the ministry, without cause. He asked me once how he could get the synod to support him. I said, “Murder your wife. That always works.” He laughed because it was true.
A third pastor in the same town criticized the Church Growth methods promoted by WELS. He was a circuit pastor, but forced out of the ministry after being undermined by his fellow pastors.
Short-term sufferings are guaranteed in teaching the Word. The cross always accompanies the Word and reminds us of our Old Adam protesting against what the Scriptures teach as a necessity:
KJV Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
Long-term blessings also accompany the Word. Many people give up the long-term blessings for the short-term rewards of the flesh. The time of greatest temptation is when it seems to be too much. That is almost certainly a sign that the time of trial will be over. As Luther said, Satan tempts us by making any trial seem just too long, too stretched out to bear any longer. That is why endurance or steadfastness under trial is so important.
Investing our time in the Word reaps those rewards. No one is spared. Jesus was not exempted, and He was perfect. The saints of the early Church were men and women who remained steadfast when the Roman Empire tortured and murdered them. That persecution continues today throughout the world. Christians are killed in many countries just for their beliefs. So, we have no difficulties in comparison. Nevertheless, emotional stress can be or seem overwhelming.
Stress and trial are not all bad. Only those who have suffered spiritual onslaughts can be counselors to others. That is also where we learn Biblical wisdom. The first stage of learning is important. We need to know the content and the unity of the Bible. But we do not hunger and thirst for righteousness until someone is trying to destroy the truths we take for granted.
The teaching of the Book of Concord is important because it is Biblical exposition. What does God’s Word say about each of these issues? The same false claims are repeated in each generation, so this is not delving in antiquities, Medieval history, or the development of the Lutheran brand. The Book of Concord was patiently edited to unify the Lutherans about Biblical truths. The early Church Fathers were also quoted extensively because the Church of Rome tried to defend false doctrine with Augustine, Jerome, and the others. (I have witnessed Lutherans doing the same thing.)
If someone does not first stir us up, we do not cling to those instruments of the Spirit. Once agitated, bewildered, angered, and confused, we look for the truths and shake out the falsehoods. So we learn them better and nothing can be shaken loose again.
"Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio: A Right Way to Study Theology" – Martin Luther.
Quoted from Humann:
oratio, meditatio, tentatio
In his Preface to the Wittenberg edition of his German writings, Martin Luther presents a brief, utterly profound outline of a correct way of studying theology. Drawing attention to Psalm 119, Luther articulates three "rules," amply presented throughout the whole Psalm. They are, in Latin, Oratio, Meditatio, and Tentatio; prayer, meditation, and temptation.
Prayer begins the whole process of study:
Firstly, you should know that the Holy Scriptures constitute a book which turns the wisdom of all other books into foolishness, because not one teaches about eternal life except this one alone. Therefore you should straightway despair of your reason and understanding. With them you will not attain eternal life, but on the contrary, your presumptuousness will plunge you and others with you out of heaven (as happened to Lucifer) into the abyss of hell. But kneel down in your little room [Matt. 6:6] and pray to God with real humility and earnestness, that he through his dear Son may give you his Holy Spirit, who will enlighten you, lead you, and give you understanding.
The second step, Meditatio is not what we have come to understand as "meditation" in the modern sense, but rather careful rumination and reflection on the words of Holy Scripture:
Secondly, you should meditate, that is, not only in your heart, but also externally, by actually repeating and comparing oral speech and literal words of the book, reading and rereading them with diligent attention and reflection, so that you may see what the Holy Spirit means by them. And take care that you do not grow weary or think you have done enough when you have read, heard, and spoken them once or twice, and that you then have complete understanding. You will never be a particularly good theologian if you do that, for you will be like untimely fruit which falls to the ground before it is half ripe.
Thus you see in this same Psalm how David constantly boasts that he will talk, meditate, speak, sing, hear, read, by day and night and always, about nothing except God's Word and commandments. For God will not give you his Spirit without the external Word; so take your cue from that. His command to write, preach, read, hear, sing, speak, etc. outwardly was not given in vain.
Lastly, theology is practical. It comes into being not in some monastic isolation and retreat from the cares and worries of life, but rather in the very midst of such suffering and anxiety. And so:
Thirdly, there is "Tentatio." This is the touchstone which teaches you not only to know and understand, but also to experience how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God's Word is, wisdom beyond all wisdom.
Thus you see how David, in the Psalm mentioned, complains so often about all kinds of enemies, arrogant princes or tyrants, false spirits and factions, whom he must tolerate because he meditates, that is, because he is occupied with God's Word (as has been said) in all manner of ways. For as soon as God's Word takes root and grows in you, the devil will harry you, and will make a real doctor of you, and by his assaults will teach you to seek and love God's Word.
There are many different types of leaders in the Christian faith. Some laymen distribute the Word various ways, through the Net, through giving away books, through support of those who teach the Word. Some pastors take a leading role in supporting sound doctrine and willingly pay the price. A few elected or appointed leaders give up the perks of high office by being faithful. In all these circumstances, the last stage of sowing to the Spirit is also the most rewarding. The comfort and power of God’s Promises are so powerful that they would rather have them than the treasures that rust and decay.
Quotations on Enthusiasm
"The Lutheran Confessions take a decisive stand against 'enthusiasts,' who teach that the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of men without the Word and Sacraments (SA-III VIII 3-13; LC II 34-62; FC Ep II 13)."
John T. Mueller, "Grace, Means of," Lutheran Cyclopedia, Erwin L. Lueker, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1975, p. 344.
"On the contrary, with the Anabaptists and the Reformed Church in general, the Mennonites are Enthusiasts, lay great stress on the immediate working of the Holy Ghost, who is said to 'guide the saints into all truth.' In his Geschichte der Mennonitengemeinden John Horsch, a prominent Mennonite, states that the Holy Spirit is the 'inner word,' who enables Christians to understand the Scriptures. Without the inner word, or the light, the Scripture is a dead letter and a dark lantern."
The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 260.
Luther: "True, the enthusiasts confess that Christ died on the cross and saved us; but they repudiate that by which we obtain Him; that is, the means, the way, the bridge, the approach to Him they destroy...They lock up the treasure which they should place before us and lead me a fool's chase; they refuse to admit me to it; they refuse to transmit it; they deny me its possession and use." (III, 1692)
The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 5.
"A denial of the efficacy and sufficiency of the means of grace is contained in the theological systems of all religious enthusiasts."
Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 343.
"And in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in order that we may [thus] be protected against the enthusiasts, i. e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did, and many still do at the present day, who wish to be acute judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet know not what they say or declare. For [indeed] the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with [in] his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word."
Smalcald Articles, VIII., Confession, 3-5, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 495. Tappert, p. 312.
"The practical result of the separation of the divine power from the divine Word of Scripture is the rejection of the Bible as the only source and norm of faith (norma normans). This is proved by the very fact that the enthusiasts have invariably placed the 'inner word' (verbum internum), or the 'spirit,' above Holy Scripture (verbum externum), assigning to the latter an inferior place in the realm of divine revelation. To the enthusiasts the Bible is only a norma normata, or a rule of faith subject to the 'inner word,' that is, to their own notions and figments of reason."
John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 135.
"The Christian doctrine of the means of grace is abolished by all 'enthusiasts,' all who assume a revealing and effective operation of the Holy Spirit without and alongside the divinely ordained means of grace."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 127.
"To remain properly humble while firmly rejecting all erroneous teachings regarding the means of grace, we should remind ourselves how even Christians who teach and, as a rule, also believe, the correct doctrine of the means of grace, in their personal practice very often lose sight of the means of grace. This is done whenever they base the certainty of grace, or of the forgiveness of sin, on their feeling of grace or the gratia infusa, instead of on God's promise in the objective means of grace. All of us are by nature 'enthusiasts.'"
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 131.
"Our opponents hold that saving faith must be founded on Christ Himself, not on the means of grace. This reasoning, common to the Reformed, the 'enthusiasts' of all shades, and modern 'experience' theologians, assumes that faith can and should be based on Christ to the exclusion of the means of grace."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 152.
"The Lutheran theologians, in general, had reason to illustrate very particularly the doctrine of the operation of the Word of God, in order to oppose the Enthusiasts and Mystics, who held that the Holy Spirit operated rather irrespectively of the Word than through it; and to oppose also the Calvinists, who, led by their doctrine of predestination, would not grant that the Word possessed this power per se, but only in such cases where God chose...."
Heinrich Schmid, The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay, Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1889, p. 511.