Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central.


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reformation Sunday



The Beauty of Spring, by Norma Boeckler


The Festival of the Reformation

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #262 by Luther Ein’ feste Burg
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 Rev. 14:6-7
The Gospel Luke Matthew 11:12-15
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #269 by hermann Herzliebster Jesu

The Reformation Gospel

The Hymn #309 by Kingo Old Hundreth
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 #283 by Grundtvig Reuter

Prayer by Veit Dietrich
O almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy Son hast promised us forgiveness of our sins and deliverance from eternal death: We pray that by Thy Holy Spirit Thou wilt daily increase our faith in Thy grace through Christ, and establish us in the certain hope that we shall not die, but peacefully sleep, and be raised again on the last day to eternal life and 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.

KJV Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

KJV Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The Reformation Gospel

KJV Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

My wife and I went to his church. We sat at his dinner table. I disagreed with him later when he went all out for the Church Growth Movement. He was a Missouri and then a WELS pastor. Now he is virtually an atheist – free thinker who publishes at a forum called Freedom From Religion. (“Young Calvinist – Old Atheist” – still true.)

The Reformation marks the time when God took extraordinary men and women and refreshed the Church with the everlasting Gospel. Some claim that the Christian Church would have rotted away without the Reformation. Naturally, God did not allow man to destroy the everlasting Gospel, and that is simply not possible.

There were many odd little events which went together, showing how God works. Many know Henry VIII’s second wife as “Ann of a Thousand Days.” She was executed, but not before she changed England in two crucial ways. One was the birth of her daughter Elisabeth, who became the first Protestant monarch of Britain. The second was her ability to turn Henry VIII toward Protestantism. She was the key person who read Protestant works and influenced him. He pursued her a long time, so she had more than three years to win him over.

Protestant-Catholic battles in England led to the settlement of America as a Protestant haven from the Stuart kings, who tried to make England Catholic again. About 3/4ths of my ancestors were English. French wars against the Huguenots (Protestants) led my French Protestant ancestors to come to America (the Noel clan). The loss of crucial French Protestant naval skill led to the dominance of England on the seas after the horrible St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

Another odd series of events involved Erasmus. He was the most noted scholar in the time before the Reformation. He was like the man who gathered all the kindling but refused to start the fire. Or, as some noted, he started the wagon rolling down the hill and jumped off. He stayed loyal to Rome, but his Greek New Testament and his writings were the basis for the Reformation and the Bible being produced in a modern language.

Gutenberg, in Germany, took a wine press and turned it into the printing press. That meant religious books could be printed cheaply and spread across the civilized world. Caxton in England also invented printing. Of course, long before, China had printed paper money, but that does not count for Westerners.

The Everlasting Gospel
For the Gospel to be what God has delivered to us, the message must be exactly what God has revealed.

God allowed Martin Luther to experience spiritual turmoil throughout his life, so he was always dealing with the Word. He never had any outward peace in his life, but God gave him happiness in many other ways. Luther lived in the midst of civil and spiritual warfare, but he had trustworthy friends, an Elector who protected his life, a wife and children.

Luther deserves credit for emphasizing once again that the Gospel is free from law demands. Others knew how to teach the comfort coming from the Gospel of forgiveness, but Luther was relentless in separating the Law from the Gospel, as the Apostle Paul did. Like Paul, he kept the worship forms and only changed things gradually. He was often pushed into some changes, because other attempts were making everything chaotic. His German translation of the Bible and German worship service followed attempts by others to modernize those two areas of church life. That is why Krauth called the Lutheran Reformation – The Conservative Reformation.

Calvinism
The Calvinists tried hard to be different for the sake of being different. They took many Lutherans with them then and still do today. Calvinism and its more liberal branch, Arminianism (decision theology)

Comparison of the two - http://www.the-highway.com/compare.html

Those two branches added several dangerous elements to the Gospel, adulterating its message. One was human reason. Any effort to appeal to human reason (or emotions) is going to denigrate the Gospel. After all, who can explain the mysteries of the Faith? No one can explain Creation, the Trinity, the Two Natures of Christ, the Sacraments, the Virgin Birth, the miracles, the Atoning death of Christ, or the Resurrection. Once human reason is used to judge the revealed Word, the Scriptures must be subordinated to the understanding of man. That is one path leading to atheism.

The other path is the Law requirement embedded in the Gospel. That comes in hundreds of ways but it has the same effect. Someone determines that no one can be a Christian and….fill in the blank. I do not mean that the 10 Commandments are obsolete. They just add a lot of commandments and those laws vary from region to region, sect to sect. One does not allow any kind of dancing. Another says that looking at any type of dancing is a sin. These were big issues among the Swedish Pietists. Dance studios had their front windows soaped over to prevent people from seeing inside. My teacher, as a child, peaked through a hole in the window covering and looked inside. He was disciplined. Later, reflecting upon that is going to make someone toss out everything with the dancing rule (or looking at dancing rule).

People weigh down the Gospel with “have tos” and turn the “have tos” into the path of salvation.

As Luther taught, the Gospel alone gives us the power to battle against temptation and sin. The Law by itself is good and useful, but powerless to make us better, to strengthen against sin.

The Efficacious Word
One overlooked contribution of Luther was, and continues to be, crucial in the Christian faith – the effectiveness of the Word.

Luther and his followers were united in the Hebrew Old Testament concept of the Word, which was naturally the New Testament teaching as well – the Holy Spirit works only through the Word and never apart from the Word.

God has chosen to convey Christ to us through the visible and invisible Word, so we are never in doubt about how to abide in Christ (John 15) and be fruitful.

We are never in doubt about how to evangelize – by sowing the Seed, which is the Word (Mark 4, Matthew 13).

Are we weak in faith? The Gospel will strengthen that trust in the Promises.

Do we wonder about forgiveness? The Word teaches us in hundreds of ways that the Savior seeks us, carries us home on His shoulders, and rejoices that He has found us.

People become anxious that they are not good enough, but the Scriptures teach us that the Good News is aimed at the weak, the anxious, the poor in spirit.


Non-Lutherans disparage the Sacraments and teach against them. The question about Holy Baptism is answered in the Small Catechism. “How can water do such great things?”

How can water do such great things?--Answer.
It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.
Most congregations which teach against infant baptism will dedicate babies, using the Word of God. One minister explained this to me, so I said, “You baptize without water. We baptize with water.” He did not like what I said, but history shows that groups teaching against the Sacraments become increasingly rationalistic and abandon the Scriptures entirely, while maintaining the outward forms.
If I had told my vicarage supervisor that his congregation would be headed by a retired Episcopalian bishop (as an interim pastor) while promoting homosexual marriage, he would have had a stroke. How did that develop in only 30 years? A series of pastors and seminary professors taught against the Word until the Scriptures had no significance at all.

A former member of the ELS wrote, “The synod became more important than the Word of God.”

Jesus said something about that. “You set aside the Word of God to hold to the traditions of man.”

The Word of God belongs to God and always works with His Holy Spirit. We cannot discuss the Word the way we talk about Shakespeare or Herodotus. For instance, Herodotus has some wise observations and some that are just ridiculous.
Debating with God is foolish. His Word says “teach and baptize all nations,” not “withhold baptism…and anyway, it is just a law, not a sacrament.” Episcopalians call their confession a three-legged stool, the legs being the Word, tradition, and human reason. This allows the Word to be set aside in two different ways, by human reason and by tradition.

KJV Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
Does the New Testament teach orthodoxy?

Now another term is tainted. Orthodoxy used to mean straight teaching for Lutherans. Now Lutherans are joining the Eastern Orthodox, so the word may become ambiguous in time.

Orthodoxy is often mocked today, especially by those who want to belong to the conservative branch of Lutherans. Moles are more dangerous than people attacking from the outside.

Jesus warned that the wolves dressed themselves as sheep:

KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

The Word of God will not fade away, but last longer than everything on earth:

KJV Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Paul warned against wolves attacking from the outside and perverse men within the fold – all destructive. The New Testament says nothing about protecting the organization, the “face of the church,” as the ELS seminary president expressed himself.

KJV Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

KJV 1 Timothy 1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

Just as he wrote to the Galatians:

KJV Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Paul described false teachers as flatterers and belly servers:

KJV Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

The most important work of a minister is read at installations and ordinations, and nothing is mentioned by Paul about synod public relations:

KJV 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

With the Word comes the cross. Teaching the Word in its purity and truth means bearing the cross. In the old days, cross and crown were associated together. The believer belongs to the royal priesthood and will reign with Christ in glory, but here on earth he will bear the cross.

Now we have the cross resting in a mug of coffee, to suggest that a God without wrath sent His Son without a cross into a world without sin.

The Reformation continues.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity




The Twenty-second Sunday After Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #259 by Luther Denby
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 Phil 1:3-11
The Gospel Luke Matthew 18:23-34
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #261 by Luther Erhalt uns Herr

The Reformation Gospel

The Hymn #314 by H. Jacobs Herr Jesu Christ, du
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 #294 Munich

KJV Philippians 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

KJV Matthew 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Twenty-Second Sunday After Trinity

O almighty, eternal God: We confess that we are poor sinners and cannot answer one of a thousand, when Thou contendest with us; but with all our hearts we thank Thee, that Thou hast taken all our guilt from us and laid it upon Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and made Him to atone for it: We pray Thee graciously to sustain us in faith, and so to govern us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may live according to Thy will, in neighborly love, service, and helpfulness, and not give way to wrath or revenge, that we may not incur Thy wrath, but always find in Thee a gracious Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Reformation was like the raging forest fires which we have witnessed in the last few years. Some years ago an article warned that the forest service was letting too much kindling build up in forests, by putting out so many small fires. The small fires do not hurt established forests. Natural fires clean out the underbrush. But people like to live in and around the forests, so they want the fires extinguished, an understandable concern. As the article warned, the build-up grew so great that the entire forest burned. I recall the warning of “crown fires,” where the largest trees burst into flames and left the area wiped out of all vegetation.

The Reformation happened after centuries of false doctrine building up. Instead of dealing with doctrinal issues by addressing them with the Word, as Chemnitz showed in his Examination of the Council of Trent, the Medieval Church of the West built up the office of the pope and made him a monarch. Pope-king is a hyphenated term often used and still promoted today in some quarters.

The pope was a king with territories, an army, and secular power. When all the kindling caught fire at once, Medieval Europe was ablaze and the powers trembled. The Peasants War, for instance, brought Germany to a halt and ended in a slaughter.

The cause belonged to God, and God caused the right people to come together for comparing sound doctrine to false doctrine. Luther was the most significant of the reformers, but he was not alone. Many people made it possible for him to have enormous influence. The Elector and the Muslim menace made it possible for Luther to live and the Reformation to take root.

The Medieval Church had a wonderful money-making scheme, which continues today. First of all, the Law was taught in all its severity. Everyone was well aware of sin. Medieval shows displayed the horrors of burning in Hell for eternity. People wanted relief from the burden of sin, so the Church offered them Purgatory. The concept began in pagan Greek authors, as the Church of Rome admits today. A cleansing after death appealed to human reason. At first people were supposed to be purged in Purgatory in a few weeks. The length of stay increased over the centuries. A famous scholar denied that Purgatory could be short, because they would make the visions of certain saints fraudulent. The longer Purgatory became, the more people wanted relief from this mini-Hell for the semi-saved.

The solution may seem to involve many responses, but it amounts to one – good works. Indulgences are just one form of good works. Some good works for reducing time in Purgatory include: paying for a Mass (or endowing many masses), attending Mass (daily communicants are the best), praying for the departed (the origin of the services called The Suffrages), all works of charity, paying reparations (repayment, literally) for sins, various worship services for Mary, the Queen of Purgatory, and saying the Rosary (named after the rose, the flower of Mary). My favorite good work is to donate all good works to those in Purgatory, but I am not sure if this heroic donation retains a residue of efficacious good works or is efficacious by itself to spring someone from Purgatory.

An indulgence is a grant of release from Purgatory, often a specific amount of time. Apparently it also applied to certain acts, since that issue made Luther angry enough to attack indulgences openly. Indulgences are still offered, such as a notice I saw at Notre Dame, for reducing time in Purgatory if the faithful watched the pope’s broadcast. There is a book on indulgences offered but I do not own it.

As we can see with the Rosary, prayer is very important as a good work for Catholics. Praying earns grace. Justification by faith means faith with works added (fides formata).

These good works of Catholics are all transactions, as any good work must be – one thing for another. The Reformed use good works in a similar way, and some admit it. Many Reformed will say, “God has done this for you (a presentation of the Gospel precedes). Now you must complete the transaction by making a decision. Life or death. Heaven or hell.” The work is making the right decision. Grace comes from prayer, and it is the only means of grace. The more one prays, the more grace available. In some cases, the Reformed argue that God is unable to act without prayer providing the energy

In contrast, the Gospel teaches that salvation is a gift, not earned by good works of any kind. The Gospel message itself produces faith, and that faith receives and hold fast the Promises of God. Gospel motivation is rather rare because Law motivation is much easier, to move people by threats or rewards. Law motivation is limited because someone has to promise better rewards all the time or stir up deeper fears.

The Gospel does not set limits since it is based on thankfulness rather than limitations. If people ask what they have to do, they will select the minimum they have to do. If they understand that God has accomplished everything so we can have forgiveness for free, then there is no limit to our responses.

When churches raise money by selling cakes, cookies, and pencils, they rejoice at their profits. This works so well that people send kids out with cheap junk to sell in the name of charity. The kids and the companies make money. It’s easy to see, easy to measure. Several Jewish families have been shocked that Protestant churches do not have membership dues. One man said, “We give newlyweds a deal. We lower the dues for the first few years so they get used to being members. They pay the full amount later. How can you do any planning, any budgeting without dues? You mean to tell me that you build a budget on some people pledging? I can’t figure that out.”

Gospel giving is entirely different. No one buys a pencil for a large sum of money, even if it is overpriced for these charity sales. But people gladly give generously because that is the effect of the Gospel. That applies to all areas of life. Responding in thanks to God is quite different from doing the minimum, which is a Law response.

Luther saw that the greatest danger of salvation based on works was the despair caused by this demonic doctrine. First of all, salvation by works taught that Christ did not do enough for our salvation, to win forgiveness through His innocent blood. Secondly, salvation based on indulgences meant that man could complete what God was unable to do. By paying enough money or doing enough good works, man could eventually earn eternal life without pain and sorrow, and be grateful he did not end up in Hell with the Lutherans.

Catholics have always been especially antagonistic toward Lutherans because of the tradition of comparing sound doctrine to false doctrine. One little girl invited herself to our Vacation Bible School in Columbus. Then she asked which denomination. She was Catholic and knew I was Protestant. When I said, “Lutheran,” she responded, “No, I can’t go to a Lutheran VBS.”

What makes the Biblical position so alien to people who call themselves Christian?

The Word of God takes salvation away from rationalism. Christianity is taught from faith to faith.

As a child I thought the apostles had the best vantage point. They traveled with Jesus, were taught by Him, and saw His miracles. However, the Gospels show that being eyewitnesses was not the same as being loaded with faith based on proof.

The famous definition of faith is supposed to include the Greek version (evidence o things not seen) and the Hebrew version (substance of things hoped for).

KJV Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. 4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. 5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Rationalism cannot prove the mysteries of the Christian faith because they are hidden from the eyes of most and revealed to those who trust in God’s Word.

Rationalism supports buying forgiveness with good works and money. That is why Luther said people purchase Hell (thinking they can buy forgiveness) when they can have forgiveness for free.

Faith is not making a decision, because making a decision is a rational process. The Reformed reveal this in the way they talk about the order of salvation. They skip Law and Gospel. They imagine that making the Gospel appealing will lead someone to make a decision.

One book about Creation and dinosaurs ended this way, “Now that you know the truth about dinosaurs, it is time to make a decision about Christ…”

Faith is a gift of God, created by the Holy Spirit distributed the Gospel message to people, among babies in infant baptism, among adults through the Word. The generation is passing away where a large share of children were trained in the Bible. Now they know pop culture but not the most basic Biblical passages.

The Gospel message was once sown among most Americans as they were growing up. Now they are mostly dead to Christ when they become young adults.

The content of the Biblical message is the power of the Holy Spirit. As the lesson is remembered the work of the Holy Spirit continues. Proper teaching is essential. Every Biblical story is distorted by someone.

The Sower and the Seed teaches us to broadcast the seed, which is the Word. The lesson has become a pun, because word for sowing has become the word for transmitting over the airwaves (via Internet, radio, TV). Church Growth people say the parable means we should “study the soil.” The parable says just the opposite.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us about Christ being the Good Samaritan, who finds us left for dead on the road, heals us, and provides for our continuing spiritual care. The vast majority of sermons I heard about that Gospel were Law lessons about doing good deeds, aimed at making everyone feel guilty for not doing enough. The same characters are in both versions. The first version is Luther’s – Gospel. The second one is Protestant and Catholic – teaching good works leading to salvation.

The Law is especially effective with those who maintain a works-righteous attitude, which is our natural state until we know the Gospel and believe the entire message of the Word.

For instance, one member stopped coming to church. I asked him why. He said, “There are all those hypocrites in church.”

I said, “What is a hypocrite?”

He said, “It is someone who says one thing and does another.”

I replied, “Well, that fits me too.”

Old Russell dropped his head, “I guess that fits me too.” Russell never missed church after that.

There were others who nursed grudges going back for years. They loved the grudges and would not give them back. The grudges were more important than the Gospel.

The Law also catches up with people who think the eternal commands of God do not apply to them. They are lucky if everything falls on them at once, because they realize then that they have no excuse before God. Then they are like the man beaten and robbed on the way to Jericho. They know they hurt everywhere. They have nothing but pain and poverty. They want real relief.
The Gospel message is simple, plain, and easy to understand. The Gospel creates faith as the Promises are heard, unless someone hardens his heart against the Word.

Christ the Savior has died for the sins of the world. There is a price to be paid for sin, but He has already paid for it. My brother and I tried to check out of a motel and paid for the rooms after a family reunion. The clerk could find no bill. Finally the matter was resolved. My mother already paid the bill. How can someone pay the bill when it is already paid?

That is where people insult the Gospel message, by attaching a debt to be paid when Christ has paid the bill in full by His innocent death on the cross. Any doubt about forgiveness can only point to the cross. All sins have been paid for – except rejection of the Gospel up to the moment of death. That is the sin against the Holy Spirit. Universalists would take that away from the Word and say everyone is forgiven, everyone is saved, everyone is going to heaven. They take the Good News and turn it into No News, appealing to everyone except believers.

Faith, created by the Gospel Promises, receives and holds onto the Gospel Promises. The Means of Grace are the instruments giving us that forgiveness promised in the Scriptures. Holy Baptism begins the journey for most. Holy Communion strengthens and sustains our faith with another visible sign of the Gospel. The Word deepens our understanding and faith throughout life, so we continue to receive and enjoy the blessings of the Christian faith.

Quotations - Epitome, Formula of Concord, Book of Concord

Affirmitive Theses.

Pure Doctrine of the Christian Churches concerning This Controversy.

5] For the thorough statement and decision of this controversy our doctrine, faith, and confession is:

6] 1. That good works certainly and without doubt follow true faith, if it is not a dead, but a living faith, as fruits of a good tree.

7] 2. We believe, teach, and confess also that good works should be entirely excluded, just as well in the question concerning salvation as in the article of justification before God, as the apostle testifies with clear words, when he writes as follows: Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, Rom. 4, 6ff And again: By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast, Eph. 2, 8. 9.

8] 3. We believe, teach, and confess also that all men, but those especially who are born again and renewed by the Holy Ghost, are bound to do good works.

9] 4. In this sense the words necessary, shall, and must are employed correctly and in a Christian manner also with respect to the regenerate, and in no way are contrary to the form of sound words and speech.

10] 5. Nevertheless, by the words mentioned, necessitas, necessarium, necessity and necessary, if they be employed concerning the regenerate, not coercion, but only due obedience is to be understood, which the truly believing, so far as they are regenerate, render not from coercion or the driving of the Law, but from a voluntary spirit; because they are no more under the Law, but under grace, Rom. 6, 14; 7, 6; 8, 14.

11] 6. Accordingly, we also believe, teach, and confess that when it is said: The regenerate do good works from a free spirit, this is not to be understood as though it is at the option of the regenerate man to do or to forbear doing good when he wishes, and that he can nevertheless retain faith if he intentionally perseveres in sins.

12] 7. Yet this is not to be understood otherwise than as the Lord Christ and His apostles themselves declare, namely, regarding the liberated spirit, that it does not do this from fear of punishment, like a servant, but from love of righteousness, like children, Rom. 8, 15.

13] 8. Although this voluntariness [liberty of spirit] in the elect children of God is not perfect, but burdened with great weakness, as St. Paul complains concerning himself, Rom. 7, 14-25; Gal. 5, 17;

14] 9. Nevertheless, for the sake of the Lord Christ, the Lord does not impute this weakness to His elect, as it is written: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8, 1.

15] 10. We believe, teach, and confess also that not works maintain faith and salvation in us, but the Spirit of God alone, through faith, of whose presence and indwelling good works are evidences.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity




The Twentyfirst Sunday After Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #292 by Selnecker Ach bleib bei uns
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 Eph 6:10-17
The Gospel Luke John 4:46-54
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #370 Magdalen

Armor of Christ

The Hymn #304 by Loy, St. Crispin
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 #202 Sei du mir

Note - The qwest.net email will no longer work after Monday morning. I am switching back to cox.net. The last name of the Second Martin is the address for now.

Alicia Meyer will have foot surgery on October 14th. Remember her in your prayers.

Today is the anniversary of Walter and Norma Boeckler. Walter died after many years of disability.

KJV Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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:

KJV John 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. 48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. 49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. 52 Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.

Twenty-First Sunday After Trinity
Almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy Son hast promised us the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and everlasting life: We beseech Thee, do Thou by Thy Holy Spirit so quicken our hearts that we in daily prayer may seek our help in Christ against all temptations, and, constantly believing His promise, obtain that for which we pray, and at last be saved, through Thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

ARMOR OF GOD

We can see from this lesson that there are two kingdoms only, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan. They are the only superpowers. There are no others. One cannot be partly in one kingdom and partly in another. That is impossible. The Bible only teaches us about believers in Christ and unbelievers. Believers belong to the Kingdom of God. Unbelievers belong to Satan.

God constantly works through the Word and His appointed servants to claim people from the Kingdom of Satan. We are conceived as unbelievers and born as unbelievers. Baptism makes a child a member of the Kingdom of God. Our heavenly Father first claims us for His Kingdom, then nurtures us in faith through the Word. Just as ministers are appointed to preach and teach the Word of God and administer the Sacraments, so are parents appointed to teach the child the Word in the home and apply it day by day.

Unfortunately, Satan also works hard to convert people. He does not tempt his own. Unbelievers do whatever they wish and find a certain amount of peace, security, and prosperity in doing so. But Satan never stops tempting believers, not in this way or that way, but in any way necessary for a particular person.

We should feel very much intimidated by the warfare that goes on because of our immortal souls. We are like the tiny countries fought over by the superpowers, significant in one way, but overwhelmed by the power on each side.

Paul’s exhortation to us is to be strong in Lord and in the power of His might. Unlike the gurus around us, he does not order us to trust in our own powers or to find resources within ourselves. Instead, the Holy Spirit tells us through Paul to put on the whole armor of God.

Children can learn the armor of God very easily, because each part represents the armor used by soldiers of that time (and ours). It is vivid and easy to picture in our minds. You can count up the six parts of the armor. As I have mentioned many times before, God’s work is done or described in groups of three (faith, hope, and love; 9 fruits of the Spirit).
The six pieces of armor are:
1. The belt of truth.
2. The breastplate of righteousness.
3. Shoes – preparation of the Gospel of peace.
4. The shield of the faith.
5. The helmet of salvation.
6. The Sword of the Spirit, the Word.
Those few who know Greek will note that the these are middle verbs, emphasizing the self. Gird yourself with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness… English uses the reflexive pronoun. God chose the eloquence of Greek for a reason. Robertson and Lenski say, “There are sermons in tenses.” (Ephesians, p. 663)

Wear the Belt of Truth
The belt of truth stands for the truth of God’s revelation. Knowing that God’s Word is truth and trustworthy guards us against all kinds of daily assaults. If I make science and technology “truth,” then I must judge the Bible by science and technology. Doubts creep in right away, because the standard has changed, and the standard itself changes every day.

Assurance of God’s truth makes other claims funny or petty. Whenever we tour a wonder of Creation, the guide tells us, “This happened exactly 300 million years ago.” They fret over the disappearance of the dinosaurs – some but not all. An asteroid hit the earth exactly 65 million years ago, right where Iceland is. No, right off the coast of Mexico.

At the Phoenix Zoo we learned that animals take care of the environment because they know that is the only environment they have. This puzzles me, because I have never met an animal that thinks. A few of us laughed, but not enough.

No scientist can answer the question of purpose. Animals and plants clean the environment because they were created by God to do so. Their relationships with each other represents complexities within complexities. Within each animal, even the simplest, such as a lowly slug, one little thing wrong will end its little life. The slug to a Michigan gardener is terrible predator, marring the crop, leaving its slime trail, but one little nick in its skin ends his life.

So man, blinded by doubts, creates a phony explanation for what God has done in His infinite wisdom, power, and might. When we gird ourselves with the truth, the Holy Spirit reveals these things to us through the Word.

Human reason, used to prove God’s truth, is more dangerous than secular doubts. If man’s wisdom is needed to prop up the Bible, God’s Word is very weak indeed. But God urges us through Paul to gird ourselves with His truth, not with man’s truth.

The Breastplate of Righteousness
Once it was a metal plate over the chest to protect the heart and lungs. Now the US Army uses Kevlar for the same purpose. The breastplate of righteousness is not our righteousness that we earn or created, but the righteousness of Christ.

How does this forgiveness of sin, received from the crucifixion of Jesus, protect our vital organs? If we think forgiveness is based upon our own works or merit, then we are unprotected against Satan’s mortal attacks. He drives some to despair over their worthiness, others to incredible hardness of heart. Satan can destroy people with anxiety or arrogance.

As we sang last Sunday, “clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” TLH, #370.

Shoes – Preparation for the Gospel of Peace
No one needs to ask about shoes in Phoenix. There are many reasons to wear them. On a pleasant sunny day in July, the sidewalks are so burning hot that a barefooted person is tempted to jump into the grass for relief. There dozens of goats-head thorns wait to imbed themselves into bare feet.

In the spiritual battle we all face daily, the Gospel of peace gives us a sure footing. The Gospel of peace makes eager to go to battle. That peace, the peace that passes all understanding, is the peace of God from salvation.

In the Battle of the Bulge, toward the end of WWII, the American soldiers simply could not go on because of constantly wet, cold feet, leading to gangrene. Once they got the proper boots, one soldier said, “We could fight all day and not feel cold.”

How many people have been ready to stand up for the truth and said, “I got cold feet.” I went to the meeting and I got cold feet. One pastor got 10 ministers lined up to support him at a ministerial meeting on a doctrinal issue. They all got cold feet, he said.

Why do we get cold feet? Because we step out without the Gospel of peace. The Gospel belongs to God and His power, not to man. Apparent losses are often victories in retrospect. Apparent victories are often long-term losses. When Luther was in danger of burning at the stake, year after year, and locked in a castle, he seemed to be the tiniest person in the world. He was. He experienced the terrors of Hell, virtually alone with his doubts in the Wartburg Castle. But he used the time to translate the New Testament into German in a few months.

The Shield of the Faith
Faith can be used in different ways in Greek, just as it is in English. When James says that faith without works is dead, he means that faith without works is not faith at all, just knowledge. God creates faith, and it is a living, active faith that never stops to wonder what is God’s will but does it. The Gospel bears fruit in good works, so faith is active in love.

Faith is also used in the sense of trust in God. When the Holy Spirit proclaims, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ,” faith is trust in the merits of Christ.

The New Testament also speaks of The Faith, as we do, all the doctrines of the Bible. The grammar of the passage helps us understand what is meant. Here Lenski argues for The Faith, and it makes sense in the context. The Faith is a shield against the weapons of Satan, his fiery darts. When we know and believe what the Word of God teaches, and we are sure from many trials, the Christian faith is a shield to protect us.

The blessings of the Christian faith become apparent to us over time, when we see that grounding our lives upon the Word of God and the forgiveness of Christ will give us blessings beyond our imagination, as God has promised.

The Helmet of Salvation
When the US Army improved its body armor through the laboratory at Natick, Mass, they designed a new helmet to protect the head. Football helmets became so safe and comfortable that for a time the players were using their heads as weapons, until it was called “spearing the opponent.”

God Himself puts on a helmet of salvation in Isaiah.
Isaiah 59:17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

No one would arm himself for battle and omit one article protection. So we are urged to put on the whole armor of God, to be able to stand in battle. Salvation is the result of having our sins forgiven through Christ.

The Sword of the Spirit, the Word
The Word of God is compared to a sword in several places. In this passage it is the only weapon, but of course it is both an offensive and defensive weapon. The other parts of armor are passive in nature, protecting the body.

The Sword of the Spirit is wielded to smash the weapons of Satan and to kill diabolical opponents. Whenever someone uses the Word of God, he is brandishing God’s only method means for accomplishing His will.

Whenever man’s word is used, God’s will cannot be accomplished. So people build larger church buildings, thinking a building converts people. They build larger parking lots, and brag about them, although parking lots are the Means of Grace. They air-condition and increase social events. It is possible that people who join a church because of social events are there for the wrong reasons.

We also see that people win in church disputes with threats, appeals to loyalty, or citations of blue-blood (synodical in-breeding, which often produces idiots).
Luther’s crime, in the eyes of the Church of Rome, was not that he proclaimed the Gospel. Others had done that for centuries. Luther’s terrible sin, and it has not been forgiven, was that he identified false doctrine and contrasted it with the whole counsel of God.

For instance, any pagan will agree in various ways with the concept that Jesus is the Son of God. So we can have peace and unity if we all say, God is love; Jesus is the Son of God. But if we say that Jesus is the only source of salvation, that we cannot be saved by works, then no false teacher will agree. In fact, they will scream while covering their ears (Acts; stoning of Stephan) and kill us.

Stephan was stoned to death, but he proclaimed the Word of God before he died. It must have seemed to be a waste of time, especially to Saul, who held the cloaks of others while people stoned to death the first Christian martyr. The opponents of Christ seemed to win at that moment, but soon after, Saul was converted to Christ by the risen Lord Himself, and became the greatest and most productive apostle.

Quotations


Preaching of the Gospel – Stone in a Pond

"The preaching of this message may be likened to a stone thrown into the water, producing ripples which circle outward from it, the waves rolling always on and on, one driving the other, till they come to the shore. Although the center becomes quiet, the waves do not rest, but move forward. So it is with the preaching of the Word. It was begun by the apostles, and it constantly goes forward, is pushed on farther and farther by the preachers, driven hither and thither into the world, yet always being made known to those who never heard it before, although it be arrested in the midst of its course and is condemned as heresy."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 202. Ascension Day Mark 16:14-20.

"Shall we permit this to be done! in the name of Christian unity! and by a latitudinarianism that is our own heritage, which rises ever anew from the embers of the past to find such veiled support and strength in the citadel of Zion that Confessionalism is told to whisper low in Jerusalem lest she be heard on the streets of Gath."
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 941.

"Is the Lord's Supper the place to display my toleration, my Christian sympathy, or my fellowship with another Christian, when that is the very point in which most of all we differ; and in which the difference means for me everything--means for me, the reception of the Savior's atonement? Is this the point to be selected for the display of Christian union, when in fact it is the very point in which Christian union does not exist?"
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 905f.

"The modern radical spirit which would sweep away the Formula of Concord as a Confession of the Church, will not, in the end, be curbed, until it has swept away the Augsburg Confession, and the ancient Confessions of the Church--yea, not until it has crossed the borders of Scripture itself, and swept out of the Word whatsoever is not in accord with its own critical mode of thinking. The far-sighted rationalist theologian and Dresden court preacher, Ammon, grasped the logic of a mere spirit of progress, when he said: 'Experience teaches us that those who reject a Creed, will speedily reject the Scriptures themselves.'"
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1911, p. 685. Trinity

"The real question is not what do you subscribe, but what do you believe and publicly teach, and what are you transmitting to those who come after? If it is the complete Lutheran faith and practice, the name and number of the standards is less important. If it is not, the burden of proof rests upon you to show that your more incomplete standard does not indicate an incomplete Lutheran faith."
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 890.

[Selnecker, who wrote "Ach bleib bei uns" (TLH #292) was bitterly attacked and severely persecuted by the Reformed, deposed when Augustus died, reduced to poverty, and not allowed to remain in Leipzig as a private citizen.] GJ – Imagine that!
Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1911, p. 310ff.

"It is not the devil's aim to plague us physically; he is a spirit who is always thirsting for the tears and the drops of blood that come from our hearts. He wants us to despair and to perish from sadness. This would be his joy and delight. But he will not succeed."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1244. John 15:19.


Satan and Devil for TSW
January, 1999

"Hence the Pope is the true Antichrist, and his high schools are the devil's own taverns and brothels. What does Christ signify if by effort of my own human nature I can obtain God's grace? Or, having grace, what more will I desire?" Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 284. New Year's Day, Galatians 3:23-29

"So when we see a bishop assuming more than this text gives him warrant for, we may safely regard him as a wolf, and an apostle of the devil, and avoid him as such. Unquestionably he must be Antichrist who in ecclesiastical government exceeds the authority here prescribed." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 65 Third Sunday in Advent, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

"Observe, however, what the devil has accomplished through the Papists. It was not enough for them to throw the Bible under the table, to make it so rare that few doctors of the holy Scriptures possessed a copy, much less read it; but lest it be brought to public notice they have branded it with infamy. For they blasphemously say it is obscure; we must follow the interpretations of men and not the pure Scriptures. What else is their proceeding but giving Paul the lie here where he says the Bible is our manual of instruction? They say it is obscure and calculated to mislead." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 41 Second Sunday in Advent Romans 15:4-13

"THE DEVIL'S DIRTY DOZEN: TWELVE WAYS (AND MORE) TO KEEP YOUR CHURCH FROM GROWING..."Limit worship experience only to pages 5 and 15...Bulletin should be 'worship service' oriented rather than 'announcement oriented'...Expect unchurched to accept traditions as though they were doctrine." School of Outreach IV, Notebook, WELS Evangelism Commission p. O-1.

"Several of our brothers have been warning us to be careful about the leaven of The Church Growth Movement and the insidious Reformed doctrine contained within. Not a few of us have heard their warning and have thought to counter the danger by saying we will weed out the erroneous material and use only that which is proper and beneficial to the Lord's work in our congregations. Fellow-shepherds, there is some evidence to show that that is exactly what the devils wants us to think. That seems to be used to lull us and our members into sleep, and without our intending it, the soul-harming false doctrines creep in undetected, under the guise of religious printed materials and programs." Michigan District President Robert Mueller, (WELS), "President's Report to the Conferences, Spring, 1991, p. 2.

"Let us, then, prepare ourselves to be patient and lern to bear the furious attacks and the blows of Satan, who is trying to tear the church of Christ to pieces and to establish his own church. We are not any better than the fathers. At the cost of much sweat and labor they, too, scarecely succeeded in their effort to preserve the Word and to snatch a few souls from the jaws of Satan." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 280. W 42, 425. Genesis 11:10ff.

"Therefore nothing but a satanic, seductive, and sinister strategy is involved when we are called upon to yield a bit and to connive at an error for the sake of unity. In this way the devil is trying cunningly to lead us away from the Word. For if we adopt this course and get together in this matter he has already gained ground; and if we were to yield him a fingerbreadth, he would soon have an ell." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f. Ephesians 6:10-17.

"The devil has the advantage of being able to find pupils for a doctrine or a dream no matter how absurd the doctrine or the dream may be. The more absurd it is the sooner he finds pupils." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 632. WLS #1940 Mark 7:31-37.

"If the devil were to identify himself and show himself as black as he is, who would want to follow him? But now he peddles his poison and false doctrine under the cover of God's name and does so with an impressiveness greater than that with which the true doctrine is presented." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 633. 2 Corinthians 11:14.

"If the devil were to identify himself and show himself as black as he is, who would want to follow him? But now he peddles his poison and false doctrine under the cover of God's name and does so with an impressiveness greater than that with which the true doctrine is presented." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 633. 2 Corinthians 11:14.

"All the others also say that they are teaching the Word of God. No devil, heretic, or sectarian spirit arises who says: I, the devil, or a heretic, am preaching my own views. On the contrary, all know how to say: This is not my doctrine; it is God's Word." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 640. "As Luther says: You 'cannot remain in the same stall with others who propagate false doctrine or are attached to it or always speak good words to the devil and his crowd.'" [XVII, 1477; probably St. Louis edition] Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 49.

"When you preach or confess the Word, you will experience both without, among enemies, and also within, in yourself (where the devil himself will speak to you and prove how hostile he is to you), that he brings you into sadness, impatience, and depression, and that he torments you in all sorts of ways. Who does all this? Certainly not Christ or any good spirit, but the miserable, loathsome enemy...The devil will not bear to have you called a Christian and to cling to Christ or to speak or think a good word about Him. Rather he would gladly poison and permeate your heart with venom and gall, so that you would blaspheme: Why did He make me a Christian? Why do I not let Him go? Then I would at last have peace." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 928.

"All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words. Just as also our enthusiasts [at the present day] condemn the outward Word, and nevertheless they themselves are not silent, but they fill the world with their pratings and writings, as though, indeed, the Spirit could not come through the writings and spoken word of the apostles, but [first] through their writings and words he must come. Why [then] do not they also omit their own sermons and writings, until the Spirit Himself come to men, without their writings and before them, as they boast that He has come into them without the preaching of the Scriptures?" Smalcald Articles, VIII., Confession, 3-5, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 495. Tappert, p. 312f.

"In a word, enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from the beginning [from the first fall] to the end of the world, [its poison] having been implanted and infused into them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power [life], and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet. Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet, neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments [or spoken Word]. Neither was John the Baptist conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his mother's womb without the voice of Mary." Smalcald Articles, VIII. Confession, 9-10 Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 497. Tappert, p. 313. 2 Peter 1:21.

"The nice, envious person who is sad when another prospers, and would gladly have one eye less if thereby his neighbor had none, is the product of Satan." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 102. Third Sunday after Easter John 16:16-23.

"Faith is a tender, subtle thing, and we so easily make a mistake and are liable to stumble; but the devil is watchful, and unless men exercise watchfulness, he quickly gains his point." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 265. Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, John 4:46-54; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:12

"For this reason one should not be too credulous when a preacher comes softly like an angel of God, recommends himself very highly, and swears that his sole aim is to save souls, and says: 'Pax vobis!' For those are the very fellows the devil employs to honey people's mouths. Through them he gains an entrance to preach and to teach, in order that he may afterward inflict his injuries, and that though he accomplish nothing more for the present, he may, at least, confound the people's consciences and finally lead them into misery and despair." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 322. Easter Tuesday Luke 24:36-47.

"Even the history of the world shows how great is the power of the devil's kingdom. The world is full of blasphemies against God and of wicked opinions, and the devil keeps entangled in these bands those who are wise and righteous [many hypocrites who appear holy] in the sight of the world. In other persons grosser vices manifest themselves. But since Christ was given to us to remove both these sins and these punishments, and to destroy the kingdom of the devil, sin and death,it will not be possible to recognize the benefits of Christ unless we understand our evils. For this reason our preachers have diligently taught concerning these subjects, and have delivered nothing that is new, but have set forth Holy Scriptures and the judgments of the holy Fathers." Apology Augsburg Confession, Article II: Of Original Sin Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119. Tappert, p.

"The deeper a person is sunk in sadness and emotional upheavals, the better he serves as an instrument of Satan. For our emotions are instruments through which he gets into us and works in us if we do not watch our step. It is easy to water where it is wet. Where the fence is dilapidated, it is easy to get across. So Satan has easy access where there is sadness. Therefore one must pray and associate with godly people." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1243. 1532

"It is not the devil's aim to plague us physically; he is a spirit who is always thirsting for the tears and the drops of blood that come from our hearts. He wants us to despair and to perish from sadness. This would be his joy and delight. But he will not succeed." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1244. John 15:19.

"One day I overheard my stepmother say to my father: 'The only real devil that exists in this or any other world is the man whose business is that of making devils.' I accepted this statement instantly and never have departed from it." Napoleon Hill, Grow Rich With Peace of Mind, New York: Fawcett Crest, 1967, p. 212.

"Having ascended Mount Carmel and having met the monks there, Saint Louis [Louis IX of France] is astounded by the account of a most unusual tradition. The saintly monks say that they are the descendants of the Prophet Elias and call themselves 'Hermits of Saint Mary of Mount Carmel' because the fiery prophet, whom they imitate, had beheld, in a foot-shaped cloud that had divinely soared from the sea below them, a prophetic image of the Immaculate Virgin Mary who was to bring forth man's Salvation and to conquer the pride of Satan with Her heel of humility." John Mathias Haffert, Mary in Her Scapular Promise, Sea Isle City, NJ: The Scapular Press, 1942, p. 5. Genesis 3:15.

"Therefore we should not be afraid of powers. But we should fear our prosperity and good days which cause us more harm than our anguish and persecution; and we should not be afraid in the face of the wisdom and the shrewdness of the world, for they can do us no harm. Yes, the more the wisdom of the world opposes the truth, the purer and clearer does the truth become, consequently the Gospel can experience nothing better than that the world rise up against it with all its force and wisdom; yea, the more my conscience, sin and Satan attack me, the stronger does my righteousness become." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 299. Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:15-22

"Lastly, it is nothing else than the devil himself, because above and against God he urges [and disseminates] his [papal] falsehoods concerning masses, purgatory, the monastic life, one's own works and [fictitious] divine worship (for this is the very Papacy [upon each of which the Papacy is altogether founded and is standing]), and condemns, murders, and tortures all Christians who do not exalt and honor these abominations [of the Pope] above all things. Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, we can endure this apostle, the Pope, or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord. For to lie and to kill, and to destroy body and soul eternally, that is wherein his papal government really consists, as I have very clearly shown in many books." Smalcald Articles, Part II, Article IV, The Papacy, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 475. Tappert, p. 301. 2 Thessalonians 2:4. [Marks of the Antichrist: the falling away, apostasia, verse 3; seat in the temple of God, verse 4; acts godlike, verse 4; works have the power of Satan (also see John 8:44); will remain until Judgment Day, verse 8.] Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 463f. 2 Thessalonians 2:3ff.

"Satan torments you until you conclude that you are lost and ruined, that heaven and earth, God and all the angels, are your enemies." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 247. Exaudi Psalm 6:7-8. "For that rogue, the devil, has a sharp vision and easily becomes conscious of the presence of a true Christian. Therefore he exerts himself to entrap him, and surrounds and attacks him on all sides; for he cannot bear that anyone should desert his kingdom." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 264. Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, John 4:46-54; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:12

"Neither is he [Satan] truthful; he is the spirit of lies, who, by means of false fear and false comfort having the appearance of truth, both deceives and destroys. He possesses the art of filling his own victims with sweet comfort ; that is, he gives them unbelieving, arrogant, secure, impious hearts...He can even make them joyful; furthermore, he renders them haughty and proud in their opions, in their wisdom and self-made personal holiness; then no threat nor terror of God's wrather and of eternal damnation moves them, but their hearts grow harder than steel or adamant." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 302. Pentecost, Third Sermon John 14:23-31.

"Thus also the devil is angry because God wants to trample him under foot by means of flesh and blood. If a mighty spirit were opposed to him, he would not be so sorely vexed; but it greatly angers him that a poor worm of the dust, a fragile earthen vessel defies him, a weak vessel against a mighty prince. God has placed his treasure, says St. Paul, in a poor, weak vessel; for man is weak, easily aroused to anger, avaricious, arrogant, and weighed down with other imperfections, through which Satan easily shatters the earthen vessel; for if God would permit him, he would soon have utterly destroyed the whole vessel." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 268. Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, John 4:46-54; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:12

"The devil does not sleep, he will do many more such things, he looks around and exerts himself to exterminate the pure doctrine in the Church and will finally, it is feared, bring it to this, that should one pass through all Germany he would find no pure pulpit, where the Word of God is preached as in former days. He tries with all his might to prevent the pure doctrine from being taught, for he cannot endure it." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 266. Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, John 4:46-54; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:12

"The devil also is able to present to the factious spirits the idea that they regard themselves as right, like the Arians who thought their cause was right." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 266. Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, John 4:46-54; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:12

"The reference [the Votum] is simply to a disposition to trust and love God sincerely, and a willingness of heart and mind to serve God and man to the utmost. The devil seeks to prevent this state by terror, by revealing death and by every sort of misfortune; and by setting up human devices to induce the heart to seek comfort and help in its own counsels and in man. Thus led astray, the heart falls from trust in God to a dependence upon itself." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 111. Fourth Sunday in Advent, Philippians 4:7

"If Satan were only prudent enough to keep quiet and let the Gospel be preached, he would receive less injury from it; for if the Gospel is not attacked it completely rusts and has no occasion or reason to make its power and influence manifest." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 300. Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:15-22

"When one heresy dies, another presently springs up; for the devil neither slumbers nor sleeps. I myself--though I am nothing--who have now been in the ministry of Christ for twenty years, can truthfully testify that I have been attacked by more than twenty sects. Some of these have entirely perished; others still twitch with life like pieces of dismembered insects. But Satan, that god of factious men, raises up new sects." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1270. Preface, Galatians Commentary Galatians.

"Indeed, more factious spirits shall arise and it shall come to pass that they will not regard Christ as God, nor as the son of a virgin. For the devil is so cunning and skilful that, if one thing is taken from him, he makes use of another. Thus it has been from the beginning, and it will continue to be so in the future." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 269. Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, John 4:46-54; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:12

"In like manner must all come to shame and be overthrown who rise up against this divine wisdom and the Word of God. Consequently no one should fear even if all the wisdom and power of the world oppose the Gospel, yea, even if they plan to suppress it by the shedding of blood; for the more blood is shed, the more Christians there will be. The blood of the Christians, as Tertulian says, is the seed from which Christians grow. Satan must be drowned in the blood of Christians, consequently there is no art that can suppress the Gospel by force." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 299. Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:15-22

"We have now sowed a little of the Word, and this the devil cannot stand, for he never sleeps; the worms and the beetles will come and infect it. Yet so it must be, Christ will prove His Word, and examine who have received it and who not. Therefore let us remain on the right road to the kingdom of Christ, and not go about with works and urge and force the works of the law, but only with the words of the Gospel which comfort the conscience: Be happy, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 201. Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 9:1-8

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity



By Norma Boeckler


The Twentieth Sunday After Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #387:1-4 by Luther, Nun freut euch
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 Eph 5:15-21
The Gospel Luke Matthew 22:1-14
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #370 Magdalen

Clothed in His Righteousness Alone

The Hymn #304 by Loy, St. Crispin
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 #202 Sei du mir

KJV Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

KJV Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Twentieth Sunday After Trinity, The Collects Of Veit Dietrich

Lord God, heavenly Father: We thank Thee, that of Thy great mercy Thou hast called us by Thy holy word to the blessed marriage-feast of Thy Son, and through Him dost forgive us all our sins; but, being daily beset by temptation, offense, and danger, and being weak in ourselves and given to sin, we beseech Thee graciously to protect us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we fall not; and if we fall and defile our wedding-garment, with which Thy Son hath clothed us, graciously help us again and lead us to repentance, that we fall not forever; preserve in us a constant faith in Thy grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Clothed in His Righteousness Alone

Matthew 22: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Often the Epistle and Gospel travel separately. I read one tradition that the Epistle was read to the communing Christians on one side and the Gospel to potential converts on the other side of the gathering place. I doubt whether this was always true, but it paints an interesting picture.

In this case we have an Epistle and a Gospel that complement each other perfectly.

Believers should walk circumspectly – watch how they behave.
They should redeem the time because the days are evil.
They should not be unwise but understand the will of the Lord.
They should not be drunk with wine, which lends itself to excess.

I read how wine was sold in Medieval churches. At Chartre, the wine merchant said, “This wine will go to your head like a squirrel up a tree.” Intoxicants have great appeal. In contrast…

Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Here is where the Pentecostals may start waving their arms and testifying, but this passage is not Pentecostal but Means of Grace.

How is one filled with the Holy Spirit instead of the excess of wine?

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is equated with or explained by speaking in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. These three expressions have one thing in common – the Word of God. The Holy Spirit always accompanies the faithful teaching of the Word and never accompanies the word of man.

Man’s wisdom is good for practical, useful information, but

KJV 1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (That is why an unbeliever cannot be argued, bullied, or sold on the Kingdom of God.)

Paul’s spiritual advice was aimed at believers so their lives would be filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit rather than the spirit of the age.

The Parable of the Wedding Feast explains how the Word invites people, how many refuse to listen to the Gospel and harden their hearts against the Word.

The King is God the Father, who sends out invitations to the wedding feast of His Son. The skeptics always say that the Bible is full of contradictions, but Jesus spoke of Himself as the Groom in other places.

John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Bridegroom:

KJV John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

The same image is found in Paul:

KJV Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ (bridegroom) also loved the church (the bride), and gave himself for it;

In this parable, the servants are sent the first time and people do not come (verse 3).

The second invitation is far more detailed and the results are violent;

4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

This clearly portrays the prophets of the Old Testament, who preached the coming of Christ but died at the hands of their own people – unless they were false prophets. The false prophets were popular.

KJV Jeremiah 23:21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

KJV Jeremiah 23:32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

People think that God lets these things happen without divine justice being brought down on the criminals. But Israel was occupied by many different foreign powers, then Greece and Rome, with only brief independence. Finally Israel ceased altogether within a century of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jews could not even visit Jerusalem, which was destroyed twice, first after the Zealot rebellion, then a few decades later after the Bar Kochba revolt.

Matthew 15:7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.


The Bar-Kokhba Revolt
(132-135 C.E.)

“Following the battle of Bethar, there were a few small skirmishes in the Judean Desert Caves, but the war was essentially over and Judean independence was lost. The Romans plowed Jerusalem with a yoke of oxen. Jews were sold into slavery and many were transported to Egypt. Judean settlements were not rebuilt. Jerusalem was turned into a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina and the Jews were forbidden to live there. They were permitted to enter only on the 9th of Av to mourn their losses in the revolt. Hadrian changed the country’s name from Judea to Syria Palestina.
In the years following the revolt, Hadrian discriminated against all Judeo-Christian sects, but the worst persecution was directed against religious Jews. He made anti-religious decrees forbidding Torah study, Sabbath observance, circumcision, Jewish courts, meeting in synagogues and other ritual practices. Many Jews assimilated and many sages and prominent men were martyred including Rabbi Akiva and the rest of the Asara Harugei Malchut (ten martyrs). This age of persecution lasted throughout the remainder of Hadrian’s reign, until 138 C.E.” (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/revolt1.html)
Matthew 15:8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

This is the beginning of the Church, when the dregs of society crowded to hear the message of forgiveness and eternal salvation. Some who believed in Christ were influential and powerful, but the vast majority were slaves, criminals, prostitutes, and others at the bottom of society.

The surprise ending has the King coming to the feast and throwing someone into eternal torment for wearing the wrong garment. Apparently, it was not Casual Friday:

11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.


This wedding garment can only be the righteousness of Christ. The image connects Paul’s letter to the Galatians with this passage.

KJV Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on [literally – be robed in] the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

KJV Galatians 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on [the robe of] Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

The baptismal robe reminded the new Christian that God would see the righteousness of Christ rather than the failings of man, since the believer joined the Kingdom as a brother of Christ, redeemed by Christ. We are children by faith in Christ Jesus. Faith is commended throughout the Bible because trust in the Savior is good.

The opposite (wearing the wrong robe) is the person trusting in his own righteousness, his own works and merits.

Even today, with centuries of Christian preaching and teaching, many respond exactly wrong when asked about sound doctrine. Their responses, based on my experience, are:

1. Do you know who my father is?
2. Do you realize what I have done?

Now, with so many billions of dollars disappearing into thin air, people can look at the treasures that matter. Everything changes so quickly. One day, a person says, “Look at how much I made in real estate. I have three homes.” Two years later, people say, “You are in real estate? You poor thing?! Three homes? Oh no!”

We can find many different points being taught in this vivid parable. One dominant theme is the constant preaching of the Word. The King makes three efforts to invite people to the feast.

Since this is a wedding feast, we imagine how appealing this should be. Who would turn down a wedding invitation? They are enjoyable gatherings of friends and families.

Calling – inviting: those are synonymous. The Greek verb is the root for phone, so during tutoring, I always insisted on the translation being, “Jesus phoned the disciples.” That sounds silly but it conveys several things at once. One is the spoken Word of God. Almost all evangelism takes place through speaking the Gospel to someone. Another is close connection between common (Koine) Greek and our English words of today.

Many are phoned, but few are elect (chosen). The Gospel is thinly sown, as Luther says, not because people are good or bad, but because few remain faithful to the Word. They do not guard the spiritual treasures of the Gospel. They trample it down, let weeds grow around it, or vamoose when things get tough. The Bible only knows of two groups – believers and unbelievers. As I have said many times before, people move from faith to unbelief in tiny stages. Many “successful” ministers have shown that they were atheists at the peak of their fame, seconds before the great tumble into ignominy. Some are rescued by their equally deceitful pals, but the final scene is never good for someone who has turned against the Word.

To counteract our tendency to drift away from the Gospel, Jesus admonishes us to remain with the True Vine and bear fruit. Abide in the Word (John 15). Take up the cross and follow Him.

It was easy for prostitutes and pimps to wear the robe of righteousness given to them by Christ. They had nothing else to commend them. They knew they were sinners. The great temptation of today is to knit ourselves a better robe, one made from our good deeds, our own righteousness, our family tree.

The great comfort of this passage is God scouring the highways and byways for people to fill His banquet – the good and the bad. The Apostolic Church was filled with the bad, justified by faith, given a new life through the Gospel. Throughout the New Testament we find the first followers being charged with following that new life, not returning to their life of crime before the invitation came.