Lutheran Worship and Resources



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

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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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
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Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Treasure Quotations



"For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints or all holy and consecrated garments upon a heap, still that would help us nothing; for all that is a dead thing which can sanctify nobody. But God's Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour, then, God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. Therefore I constantly say that all our life and work must be ordered according to God's Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled."
The Large Catechism, The Third Commandment, #91-2. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 607. Tappert, p. 377. Heiser, p. 175. Exodus 20:8-11.


Johann Franck (1618-1677), enjoyed a career in law but devoted himself to writing hymns, giving us several well known titles, including: Soul, adorn thyself with gladness #305; and Jesus, Priceless Treasure, #347.

"Thus we arrive at the apostle's meaning in the assertion that a minister of Christ is a steward in the mysteries of God. He should regard himself and insist that others regard him as one who administers to the household of God nothing but Christ and the things of Christ. In other words, he should preach the pure Gospel, the true faith, that Christ alone is our life, our way, our wisdom, power, glory, salvation; and that all we can accomplish of ourselves is but death, error, foolishness, weakness, shame and condemnation. Whosoever preaches otherwise should be regarded by none as a servant of Christ or a steward of the divine treasurer; he should be avoided as a messenger of the devil." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 73. Third Sunday in Advent, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5,

"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."
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

"Therefore you should not imagine it is enough if you have commenced to believe; but you must diligently watch that your faith continue firm, or it will vanish; you are to see how you may retain this treasure you have embraced; for Satan concentrates all his skill and strength on how to tear it out of your heart."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 255. Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, John 4:46-54

"Let a prince give a person a castle or several thousand dollars, what a jumping and rejoicing it creates! On the other hand, let a person be baptized or receive the communion which is a heavenly, eternal treasure, there is not one-tenth as much rejoicing. Thus we are by nature; there is none who so heartily rejoices over God's gifts and grace as over money and earthly possessions; what does that mean but that we do not love God as we ought?"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 190 Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:34-46

"Let a prince give a person a castle or several thousand dollars, what a jumping and rejoicing it creates! On the other hand, let a person be baptized or receive the communion which is a heavenly, eternal treasure, there is not one-tenth as much rejoicing. Thus we are by nature; there is none who so heartily rejoices over God's gifts and grace as over money and earthly possessions; what does that mean but that we do not love God as we ought?"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 190 Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:34-46

"If I only kept in mind that He gave me eyes, truly a very great treasure, it would be no wonder if shame caused my death, because of my ingratitude in that I never yet thanked Him for the blessing of sight. But we do not see His noble treasures and gifts; they are too common. But when a blind babe happens to be born, then we see what a painful thing the lack of sight is, and what a precious thing even one eye is, and what a divine blessing a healthy, bright countenance is; it serves us during our whole life, and without it one would rather be dead; and yet no one thanks God for it."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 129. Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Luke 7:11-17

"The Master uses here the Hebrew, which we do not. 'Mammon' means goods or riches, and such goods as one does not need, but holds as a treasure, and it is gold and possessions that one deposits as stock and storage provisions."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 107. Trinity 15 Matthew 6:24-34

"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the HS came...."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279. Pentecost Sunday John 14:23-31.

"Here are no learned, no rich, no mighty ones, for such people do not as a rule accept the Gospel. The Gospel is a heavenly treasure, which will not tolerate any other treasure, and will not agree with any earthly guest in the heart. Therefore whoever loves the one must let go the other, as Christ says, Matthew 6:24: 'You cannot serve God and mammon.'" Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 154. Christmas Day Luke 2:1-14; Matthew 6:24. (10)

"What I have done and taught, teach thou, My ways forsake thou never; So shall My kingdom flourish now And God be praised forever. Take heed lest men with base alloy The heavenly treasure should destroy; This counsel I bequeath thee."
The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #387. Romans 3:28. (10)

"What I have done and taught, teach thou, My ways forsake thou never; So shall My kingdom flourish now And God be praised forever. Take heed lest men with base alloy The heavenly treasure should destroy; This counsel I bequeath thee." The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #387. Romans 3:28. "Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f. Ephesians 6:10-17.

"Thus we see what a very splendid thing Baptism is. It snatches us from the jaws of the devil, makes us God's own, restrains and removes sin, and then daily strengthens the new man within us. It is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this state of misery to eternal glory. For this reason everyone should consider his Baptism as his daily dress, to be worn constantly. Every day he should be found in the faith and its fruits, suppressing the old man, and growing up in the new; for if we want to be Christians, we must practice the work whereby we are Christians. But if anyone falls from baptismal grace, let him return to it. For as Christ, the Mercy Seat, does not withdraw from us or forbid us to come to Him again even though we sin, so all His treasures and gifts also remain with us."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 61. Article on baptism, 1529

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f. Ephesians 6:10-17.

"Faith is that my whole heart takes to itself this treasure. It is not my doing, not my presenting or giving, not my work or preparation, but that a heart comforts itself, and is perfectly confident with respect to this, namely, that God makes a present and gift to us, and not we to Him, that He sheds upon us every treasure of grace in Christ."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #48. Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 135. Not in Tappert. Heiser, p. 36.

"...the Ukraine project of Thoughts of Faith (Pastor Kovaciny)" Use of mission funds. Charlotte Proctor, treasurer Floyd Luther Stolzenburg, Cornerstone, Emmanuel Lutheran Church Columbus, Ohio November, 1995 Recording secretary, Christine E. Scheiderer; treasurer, Charlotte Proctor. Floyd Luther Stolzenburg, Cornerstone, Emmanuel Lutheran Church Columbus, Ohio November, 1995

"Pastor Kovaciny, in an effort to respond to our request, sent a copy of the third quarter treasurer's report of the Ukrainian congregation, signed by the treasurer and written in his own hand. We thought you might enjoy seeing it! You should be aware that our budget offering goes to pay for Pastor Kovaciny's salary and expenses through 'Thoughts of Faith,' the radio ministry which has been bringing the Gospel to the Ukraine for many years...." Floyd Luther Stolzenburg, Cornerstone, Emmanuel Lutheran Church Columbus, Ohio January, 1995

"These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves. This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the Father, and are eternally saved."
Formula of Concord, SD, III 10, Righteous of Faith before God, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 919. Tappert, p. 541. Heiser, p. 250.

(8) "What is the world to me! My Jesus is my treasure, My Life, my Health, my Wealth, my Friend, my Love, my Pleasure, My Joy, my Crown, my All, Bliss eternally. Once more, then, I declare: What is the world to me!"
Georg M. Pfefferkorn, 1667, "What Is the World to Me," The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #430. 1 John 2:15-17. "

(3) Hollazius (ib.): 'The Word of God, as such, cannot be conceived of without the divine virtue, or the Holy Spirit, who is inseparable from His Word. For if the Holy Spirit could be separated from the Word of God, it would not be the Word of God or of the Spirit, but a word of man. Nor is there any other Word of God, which is in God, or with which the men of God have been inspired, than that which is given in the Scriptures or is preached or is treasured up in the human mind. But, as it cannot be denied that that is the divine will, counsel, mind, and the wisdom of God, so it cannot be destitute of the divine virtue or efficacy.'"
Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 505.

"Thanks to the dogma of Purgatory, how many souls follow the recommendation of Our Saviour, and lay up to themselves treasures in Heaven, thus becoming rich before God (Matthew 6:20; Luke 12:21)?"
Martin Jugie, Purgatory and the Means to Avoid It, New York: Spiritual Book Associates, 1950, p. 29. 381 Fourth Ave, NY 16, NY Matthew 6:20; Luke 12:21.

"The Gospel shows the Father's grace, Who sent His Son to save our race, Proclaims how Jesus lived and died That man might thus be justified. (2) It sets the Lamb before our eyes, Who made the atoning sacrifice, And calls the souls with guilt opprest To come and find eternal rest. (3) It brings the Savior's righteousness Our souls to robe in royal dress; From all our guilt it brings release And gives the troubled conscience peace. (4) It is the power of God to save From sin and Satan and the grace; It works the faith, which firmly clings To all the treasures which it brings. (5) It bears to all the tidings glad And bids their hearts no more be sad; The heavy laden souls it cheers And banishes their guilty fears."
Matthias Loy, 1863, "The Gospel Shows the Father's Grace" The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #297. John 3:16.

"Indulgences are, in the Church, a true spiritual treasure laid open to all the faithful; all are permitted to draw therefrom, to pay their own debts and those of others."
Rev. F. X. Schouppe, S.J., Purgatory, Illustrated by the Lives and Legends of the Saints, Rockford: TAN Books and Publishers, 1973 (1893), p. 195.

Andy Stanley and Appleton Alliance Refuted
"Therefore it is pure wickedness and blasphemy of the devil that now our new spirits, to mock at Baptism, omit from it God's Word and institution, and look upon it in no other way than as water which is taken from the well, and then blather and say: How is a handful of water to help the soul? Aye, my friend, who does not know that water is water if tearing things asunder is what we are after? But how dare you thus interfere with God's order, and tear away the most precious treasure with which God has connected and enclosed it, and which He will not have separated? For the kernel in the water is God's Word or command and the name of God, which is a treasure greater and nobler than heaven and earth."
The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #15-16. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 735. Tappert, p. 438. Heiser, p. 205f.

"Here you see again how highly and precious we should esteem Baptism, because in it we obtain such an unspeakable treasure, which also indicates sufficiently that it cannot be ordinary mere water. For mere water could not do such a thing, but the Word does it, and (as said above) the fact that the name of God is comprehended therein. But where the name of God is, there must be also life and salvation, that it may indeed be called a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water; for by the Word such power is imparted to Baptism that it is a laver of regeneration, as St. Paul also calls it, Titus 3:5."
The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #26-27. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 739. Tappert, p. 439f. Heiser, p. 206.

"Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God and in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?"
The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #29. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 739. Tappert, p. 440. Heiser, p. 206.

"Without faith it profits nothing, notwithstanding it is in itself a divine superabundant treasure. Therefore this single word (He that believeth) effects this much that it excludes and repels all works which we can do, in the opinion that we obtain and merit salvation by them. For it is determined that whatever is not faith avails nothing nor receives anything."
The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #34. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 741. Tappert, p. 440. Heiser, p. 207.

"Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith. Therefore they do us violence by exclaiming against us as though we preach against faith; while we alone insist upon it as being of such necessity that without it nothing can be received nor enjoyed."
The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #37. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 741. Tappert, p. 441. Heiser, p. 207.

"For this reason let every one esteem his Baptism as a daily dress in which he is to walk constantly, that he may ever be found in the faith and its fruits, that he suppress the old man and grow up in the new. For if we would be Christians, we must practice the work whereby we are Christians. But if any one fall away from it, let him again come into it. For just as Christ, the Mercy-seat, does not recede from us or forbid us to come to Him again, even though we sin, so all His treasure and gifts also remain. If, therefore, we have once in Baptism obtained forgiveness of sin, it will remain every day, as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old man about our neck."
The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #84-86. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 753. Tappert, p. 446. Heiser, p. 209f.

"For herein you have both truths, that it is the body and blood of Christ, and that it is yours as a treasure and gift. Now the body of Christ can never be an unfruitful, vain thing, that effects or profits nothing. Yet, however great is the treasure in itself, it must be comprehended in the Word and administered to us, else we should never be able to know or seek it."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #29-30. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 759. Tappert, p. 449f. Heiser, p. 211.

"This faith He Himself demands in the Word when He says: Given and shed for you. As if He said: For this reason I give it, and bid you eat and drink, that you may claim it as yours and enjoy it. Whoever now accepts these words,and believes that what they declare is true, has it. But whoever does not believe it has nothing, as he allows it to be offered to him in vain, and refuses to enjoy such a saving good. The treasure, indeed, is opened and placed at every one's door, yea, upon his table, but it is necessary that you also claim it, and confidently view it as the words suggest to you."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #34-35. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 761. Tappert, p. 450. Heiser, p. 212.

UOJ Refuted
"For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which we could not attain ourselves."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #38, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 689. Tappert, p. 415. Heiser, p. 194.

"For where He does not cause it to be preached and made alive in the heart, so that it is understood, it is lost, as was the case under the Papacy, where faith was entirely put under the bench, and no one recognized Christ as his Lord or the Holy Ghost as his Sanctifier, that is, no one believed that Christ is our Lord in the sense that He has acquired this treasure for us, without our works and merit, and made us acceptable to the Father. What, then, was lacking? This, that the Holy Ghost was not there to reveal it and cause it to be preached; but men and evil spirits were there, who taught us to obtain grace and be saved by our works."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #43-44, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 689. Tappert, p. 416. Heiser, p. 194f.

"True, the enthusiasts confess that Christ died on the cross and saved us; but they repudiate that by which we obtain Him; that is, the means, the way, the bridge, the approach to Him they destroy...They lock up the treasure which they should place before us and lead me a fool's chase; they refuse to admit me to it; they refuse to transmit it; they deny me its possession and use." (III, 1692)
The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 5.

"These means are the true treasure of the church through which salvation in Christ is offered. They are the objective proclamation of faith which alone makes man's subjective faith possible (Augsburg Confession, Article V). The Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration, Article XI, 76) states expressly that God alone draws man to Christ and that he does this only through the means of grace." Walter G. Tillmanns, "Means of Grace: Use of," The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, 3 vols., Julius Bodensieck, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1965, II, p. 1505.

Ash Wednesday



"In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious clan." Art by Norma Boeckler.


Mid-Week Lenten Vespers


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 6 PM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #142 An Wasserfluessen Babylon
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 1 p. 123
The Lection John 15:1-10

The Sermon Hymn #347 Jesus meine Freude

The Sermon – The Treasures of Heaven

The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45

The Hymn #554 O Welt, ich muss

KJV Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? 18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:

KJV Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Prayer

Lord God, heavenly Father, inasmuch as the adversary doth continually afflict us, and as a roaring lion doth walk about, seeking to devour us: We beseech Thee for the sake of the suffering and death of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to help us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and to strengthen our hearts by Thy word, that our enemy may not prevail over us, but that we may evermore abide in Thy grace, and be preserved unto everlasting life; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Treasures of Heaven

Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

God has given man plenty of reasoning power for practical decisions. He even seems to have granted some people a level of genius and a measure of persistence to change the world. One man, Tesla, created the 20th century with the generation of alternating current, remote control, radio waves and TV (though Marconi got the Nobel for Tesla’s invention), x-ray (overshadowed by Roentgen), and some inventions still being disputed.

However, there is another area where God alone is the master, judge, and teacher – spiritual treasure. We have only one Book where God speaks directly to His people in order to reveal these treasures. People try to insist “many truths” and “many paths to God” but there is only One Truth, one revelation, and that is found in God’s Word, in His Holy Scriptures. Many religions reflect some of the truths of the Bible, but they are man’s effort to borrow the glory of God and turn it over for their own use. The quasi-Christian sects (Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, liberal denominations) use the terms and even the passages that suit them, but they have no interest in the truth of the revealed Word.

Although God has given man enough reasoning power to overcome many practical problems of life, such as bridging huge chasms and turning oil into dozens of chemicals, He has not given over His Word to man to judge, adulterate, twist, and market.
That is why the Commandment says, “I am a jealous God.” As a child, I thought, “That sounds wrong,” but many passages are there for us to learn as children and apply as adults.

Jealous means that God does not want or permit us to set aside true worship for the worship of false gods. Those false gods can be fame, economic security, popularity, worldly honors, carnal pleasures, and so forth. If an idol is set up, God is displaced.

For that reason Biblical worship has always been contrary to culture. God gave laws to the Jews to separate them from everyone else. It is too easy to say, “You are very much like us.” Time after time the Jews abandoned the true worship to bow before gods who offered them fertility, pleasure, wealth, and other false promises.

Biblical worship is more like being in an enemy occupied country where the invading soldiers have taken away most of the communications. In WWII, people huddled near makeshift radios to hear the truth in the dark land. A radio is especially fitting as a comparison, because a radio does not tune a station in – it tunes all other stations out. Biblical worship means tuning out the strident noise of our culture so we can hear the still, small voice of God.

KJV 1 Kings 19:8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. 9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

Many find it odd and alarming that pastors will claim they are proclaiming the Gospel when they bring in the noise, confusion, and glitter of the outside world into worship in the name of making worship “relevant.” Christian worship is inherently irrelevant to most concerns. The more someone wants to make the Christian faith practical, the more the Christian faith is displaced by how-to talks and cheerleading efforts. The nadir of practical sermons came during the Age of Rationalism, when sermons were about building better roads, getting inoculated, and other programs of social improvement. Their shame in the Gospel and refusal to teach the Gospel of Christ led many astray, into atheism and a “scholarly” repudiations of the Scriptures.
Because the Christian faith is irrelevant, the Gospel is able to move across all barriers – social, racial, cultural, and governmental. Nothing can stop God’s Word when God’s Word is taught in its purity and truth.

But we all have this Old Adam hanging around our necks. Laity want to be in big, successful churches. I even had a dentist bragging about what a big, big church she attended, communicating her scorn for our small church as she worked on my captive teeth. Pastors want to be invited to say the prayer at the Kiwanis luncheon and be in the annual civic parade. Theologians covet the cover of Time magazine, given recognition for their great wisdom.

All those tendencies are a despising of the cross. If a minister quietly conspires to adulterate the Word in order to be successful, he is no longer laying up for himself treasures in heaven, but treasures on earth. The cross means pain for holding to the truth of the Word, and some people will inflict that pain with great joy and energy. That will never change. One member even told me that he was the guy who never gave the minister anything but grief. When the Word finally converted him, he realized how blinded he had been and how stubbornly obnoxious he was. He once said, “I know that kind of person. I was that person.”

Some people are driven almost crazy with their opposition to the Word, then convert and see the light. Others continue on their path of hatred and fall into complete denial of God, freedom from religion.

If our treasure is in heaven, nothing can corrupt it and no one can steal it. If our treasure is on earth, it can be stolen, reduced in value, or worn down by time. One man showed me his silver dollar, which he was given to keep him from drinking. The friend said, “You will wear away like this dollar if you keep this up.” He pulled out the silver dollar, which was little more than a shiny disk. It was hard to believe, but carrying that coin wore it down. In Phoenix we see a lot of things eaten up by the strength of the sun’s rays. Wooden fences rot in the sun. Plastic turns hard, brittle, and bleached out.

God’s treasure is revealed to us in the Word and most clearly seen in the crucifixion of Christ for the sins of the world. The true Gospel teaches that forgiveness is pure grace. God has already accomplished everything for us. He cares for our physical needs and provides for our spiritual needs as well. The treasure is Christ crucified for us, but to distribute that treasure, He appointed pastors and teachers to spread the Gospel to each and every person.

"For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints or all holy and consecrated garments upon a heap, still that would help us nothing; for all that is a dead thing which can sanctify nobody. But God's Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour, then, God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. Therefore I constantly say that all our life and work must be ordered according to God's Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled."
The Large Catechism, The Third Commandment, #91-2. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 607. Tappert, p. 377. Heiser, p. 175. Exodus 20:8-11.

So everything revealed to us in the Bible is a great treasure, one which we can never fully explore in our lifetimes. If someone does not like to see up baptizing babies, should we be ashamed of this treasure and try to appease them? They are scowling at the Word, not us. If they are offended by Holy Communion as a sacrament, should we hide it away to appease them? If Gerhardt hymns are difficult the first time they are sung, should we switch to little ditties that appeal to the immature?

Perhaps very few appreciate the Word in these dark times. But Jesus did say, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith?”

The treasure offered does not depend on the love of the unbelieving world, but the power of God.


Quotations

"For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints or all holy and consecrated garments upon a heap, still that would help us nothing; for all that is a dead thing which can sanctify nobody. But God's Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour, then, God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. Therefore I constantly say that all our life and work must be ordered according to God's Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled."
Large Catechism, Preface, #91, Third Commandment, Concordia Triglotta, 1921, p. 607. Tappert, p. 377.

"For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which could not attain ourselves."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #38, Concordia Triglotta, 1921, p. 689. Tappert, p. 415.

Luther: "True, the enthusiasts confess that Christ died on the cross and saved us; but they repudiate that by which we obtain Him; that is, the means, the way, the bridge, the approach to Him they destroy...They lock up the treasure which they should place before us and lead me a fool's chase; they refuse to admit me to it; they refuse to transmit it; they deny me its possession and use." (III, 1692)
The. Engelder, et al., Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 5.

"These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves. This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the Father, and are eternally saved." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 10 Righteousness, Concordia Triglotta, 1921, p. 919.

"Early in the morning it rises, sits upon a twig and sings a song it has learned, while it knows not where to obtain its food, and yet it is not worried as to where to get its breakfast. Later, when it is hungry, it flies away and seeks a grain of corn, where God stored one away for it, of which it never thought while singing, when it had cause enough to be anxious about its food. Ay, shame on you now, that the little birds are more pious and believing than you; they are happy and sing with joy and know not whether they have anything to eat."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 114.



"These means are the true treasure of the church through which salvation in Christ is offered. They are the objective proclamation of faith which alone makes man's subjective faith possible (Augsburg Confession, Article V). The Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration, Article XI, 76) states expressly that God alone draws man to Christ and that he does this only through the means of grace."
Walter G. Tillmanns, "Means of Grace: Use of," The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, 3 vols., Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1965, II, p. 1505.


"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the HS came...."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279.

"Thus we see what a very splendid thing Baptism is. It snatches us from the jaws of the devil, makes us God's own, restrains and removes sin, and then daily strengthens the new man within us. It is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this state of misery to eternal glory. For this reason everyone should consider his Baptism as his daily dress, to be worn constantly. Every day he should be found in the faith and its fruits, suppressing the old man, and growing up in the new; for if we want to be Christians, we must practice the work whereby we are Christians. But if anyone falls from baptismal grace, let him return to it. For as Christ, the Mercy Seat, does not withdraw from us or forbid us to come to Him again even though we sin, so all His treasures and gifts also remain with us."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 61.

"(3) Hollazius (ib.): 'The Word of God, as such, cannot be conceived of without the divine virtue, or the Holy Spirit, who is inseparable from His Word. For if the Holy Spirit could be separated from the Word of God, it would not be the Word of God or of the Spirit, but a word of man. Nor is there any other Word of God, which is in God, or with which the men of God have been inspired, than that which is given in the Scriptures or is preached or is treasured up in the human mind. But, as it cannot be denied that that is the divine will, counsel, mind, and the wisdom of God, so it cannot be destitute of the divine virtue or efficacy.'"
Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 505.

Roman Catholic Indulgences
"Indulgences are, in the Church, a true spiritual treasure laid open to all the faithful; all are permitted to draw therefrom, to pay their own debts and those of others."
Rev. F. X. Schouppe, S.J., Purgatory, Illustrated by the Lives and Legends of the Saints, Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1973 (1893), p. 195.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quinquagesima Sunday



Sunflower by Norma Boeckler


Quinquagesima Sunday

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

Mid-Week Lenten Services will be Wednesdays at 6 PM – starting this week.

The Hymn #657 Schoenster Herr Jesus
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 1 Cor. 13:1-13
The Gospel Luke 18:31-43
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #376 Toplady

The Scriptural Meaning of Love

The Hymn #310 St. Michael
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 #50 New Ulm (by Reuter)

KJV 1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

KJV Luke 18:31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. 35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: 36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. 37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Quinquagesima Sunday

Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst manifest Thyself, with the Holy Ghost, in the fullness of grace at the baptism of Thy dear Son, and with Thy voice didst direct us to Him who hath borne our sins, that we might receive grace and the remission of sins: Keep us, we beseech Thee, in the true faith; and inasmuch as we have been baptized in accordance with Thy command, and the example of Thy dear Son, we pray Thee to strengthen our faith by Thy Holy Spirit, and lead us to everlasting life and salvation, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Scriptural Meaning of Love

Love is one of the most abused terms in our time, and this passage deals with love, or charity. Our perception of this chapter is not helped by its reading at weddings, including that of Prince Charles and Princess Diane, leading people to believe that the greatest of all the theological virtues is romantic love. The best known philosophers of the 20th century, the Beatles, sang, “All you need is love,” but they could not stay together.

First we need to ask about the setting of this lesson. Few people notice that it is placed between two chapters, 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14, dealing with charismatics or tongue-speakers. Another term we use for tongue-speakers is Pentecostals. I remember being at a Baptist camp as a child and hearing someone put down as “Pentecostal.” All I knew at the time was that Pentecost was a religious event in the Christian Church.

The three chapters, 1 Corinthians 12-14, are an extensive criticism of Pentecostal claims then and now. We can see that embedded in this chapter.
“If I speak in the tongues of angels…”
“Tongues shall cease.”
“When I was a child, I spake as a child.”

Although Pentecostalism is a problem for many Lutherans, I think it is important to address a greater danger, which is foundational, common to all forms of false doctrine: the separation of the Word and the Holy Spirit. This is called Enthusiasm in the Book of Concord.

"And in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in order that we may [thus] be protected against the enthusiasts, i. e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did, and many still do at the present day, who wish to be acute judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet know not what they say or declare. For [indeed] the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with [in] his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word."
Smalcald Articles, VIII., Confession, 3-5, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 495. Tappert, p. 312. Heiser, p. 147.

We confess as Lutherans that all false doctrine begins with separating the Word from the Spirit, since the Scriptures always weld them together. The Word never operates without the Spirit and the Spirit never without the Word. That is sound doctrine. (Hoenecke’s Dogmatics. Vol. IV is now available from NPH.)

That is the key to the love, which is the main theme of this chapter. Love is the fruit of the Gospel. When Paul wrote about the Law and Gospel to the Galatians, he pointed out the difference between the WORKS of the flesh and the FRUITS of the Spirit. We work strife, envy, and hatred in ourselves—these are works of the flesh. The Law works wrath, so one does not stop hatred by saying, “Stop being so hateful. I despise that. It is evil.”

In contrast, love is a fruit of the Spirit. (Some distinguish between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God here. I fail to see the difference. The Spirit of God must produce the fruit before the spirit of man enjoys it.) When we say fruit, we mean that God produces it, unlike the works of the flesh. So the answer to hatred is not merely denouncing it, which is the Holy Spirit’s work through the Law. The only way to produce love is through proclaiming the Gospel of forgiveness.

What does the Word of God do? It proclaims that the eternal Son of God became man, being born of a Virgin, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. Jesus the Incarnate Word, taught, performed miracles, and died on the cross for our sins, rising from the grave to be the firstfruits of all those who would rise from the dead.

The world stands condemned for its unbelief without the Gospel. The preaching of the Word has always been God’s method for imparting His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love. It is true that some read the Scriptures and are converted, but they are in the minority. All infant baptisms are the preaching of the Word, for every baptism is water with the Word.

(When I teach confirmation, I heat up a wire and set fire to paper with it. The wire paper clip glows with heat and energy, a comparison used by the orthodox Lutherans. We do not separate the red glow of the heat from the metal. We see both. In the same way, with baptism and communion, we see the elements but we know the power is in the Word. The Word imparts the Holy Spirit’s energy to the recipient in granting forgiveness.)

Therefore, if we want an abundance of love, we should first desire an abundance of orthodox preaching. Otherwise we are demanding apples where there are no trees. The tree is the Word of God. Love, joy, and peach are the fruits that grow from this tree. Gospel preaching is both Law and Gospel, since our Old Adam never goes away. Justification by faith means that the Holy Spirit proclaims what Christ has done for us on the cross, paying for our sins, and we receive this decree of pardon by faith. A forgiven sinner knows and experiences God’s love, so the Gospel love of God bears fruit in the believer as love toward God and toward our neighbor. We love because He first loved us.

This is important because the false teachers want us to believe they are the apostles of love. First of all they pose as men who are more loving than the rest of us. Their great love gathers disciples to their cause and proves how valuable they are to the Kingdom of God. That alone should make the alarm bells go off, as we will see shortly. But the second part of their love message is even more dangerous. They claim that their false doctrine may not be opposed because it is unloving to do so. In fact, the proto-liberals of the LCMS made their case in a booklet called Speaking the Truth in Love. That phrase has become a rallying cry for the false teachers among the conservative Lutherans. Let’s look at the context.

KJV Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Clearly the context of “speaking the truth in love” is in opposing false doctrine. Love is not an excuse for tolerating false doctrine, because false doctrine belongs to man and ultimately Satan. Orthodoxy simply means teaching exactly what the Bible reveals to us, as confessed through the Book of Concord. The more I read the Book of Concord, the more I see how the controversies of the past have been resolved with the pure Word of God. Orthodoxy means clinging only to the truths of the Scriptures.

As Lenski points out, the meaning behind “speaking the truth in love” is a double accusation against the false teachers. They engage in all kinds of deceit and trickery to have their way and they are anything but loving. Luther wrote: “They flay their disciples to the bone.” For example, some Evangelicals, after getting 10% of everyone’s income, will say, “Ten percent is not an offering. An offering is what you give after the required 10%.” I heard one famous minister, who was having an affair and teaching about his lovely marriage at the same time, “I am going back to my congregation to preach about the double tithe.” Motivating with the Law is not enough for these wolves. They must double the Law. The adulterous pastor was given another church job, then called back to his congregation where he had the affair.

The apostle is also exhorting the Ephesians not to be children about doctrine. An endearing trait of children is their eagerness to be taught and led. One can also mislead and deceive them easily. (I offered children a gold coin or a huge token worth $1. Most of them took the token rather than the gold.) Adult believers should not be childish in allowing themselves to be drawn away from the Word of God and the Confessions. No one has the power to take us from the truth. We must give up the truth willingly in the name of some other loyalty, to a person, a family, a tradition, a building, or a church body. You would be amazed at how cheaply the Gospel is bartered away by pastors and church leaders. One said, in effect, “I will never let that adulterer speak at my church, but I will take his $50,000.”

Our love of God should be primary. The catechism says we should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. If we have to choose between man’s favor and God’s truth, our fear of God should be greater than our fear of rejection by man. If we love our possessions, we should love God more, so that we would gladly give them up rather than give up God. We look for people and companies we can trust, but we should trust in God most of all.

Trust is the key element in our love of God. Oh, I love God, but can I trust in Him to provide when I have to make decisions according to His Word. One thing is very clear—there is a lot more money, prestige, and friendship in abandoning the Word than in insisting on the truth of the Scriptures and acting upon that truth.

Another Excuse
Love is also used as an excuse for lawlessness. It would be unloving to identify something as a sin. “I wouldn’t do that but I won’t JUDGE anyone who does.” Of course, that is a condemnatory statement. There is an implied condemnation in the claim that “I won’t JUDGE anyone who does.” Someone who judges something to be wrong is condemned for being wrong according to the spirit of this age.
I have never seen someone abandon the Law, although they may sound like anti-Nomians. What they really do in their lawlessness is transfer man’s law into God’s Law. They deny God’s Law and replace it with man’s law. They are far more censorious with their law than God is with His Law.

It is far more loving to identify sin as a sin, according to God’s Word. If something is a sin, then it is contrary to God’s commandments, which are good and loving. The Holy Spirit alone can create true contrition, sorrow for sin, by working through the Law. No one wants to hear the Law, but the Law prepares us for the comfort and forgiveness of the Gospel.

Proper Love
The proper love of God, according to the Scriptures, means that we will never accept any trifling with the truth of the Word, because it belongs to God alone.

The proper love of man, as revealed in the Scriptures, is shown in our willingness to accept the failings and shortcomings of others, to make allowances for them, and be eager to forgive, as God forgives us.

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Quotations

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

2 Timothy 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

"Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2:14; but this righteousness is wrought through the Word."
Augsburg Confession, Article XVIII, Freedom of the Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 51. Tappert, p. 39. 1 Corinthians 2:14.

"Now, although both, the planting and watering of the preacher, and the running and willing of the hearer, would be in vain, and no conversion would follow it if the power and efficacy of the Holy Ghost were not added thereto, who enlightens and converts the hearts through the Word preached and heard, so that men believe this Word and assent thereto, still, neither preacher nor hearer is to doubt this grace and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, but should be certain that when the Word of God is preached purely and truly, according to the command and will of God, and men listen attentively and earnestly and meditate upon it, God is certainly present with His grace, and grants, as has been said, what otherwise man can neither accept nor give from his own powers."
Solid Declaration, Article II, Free Will, 55-56, Formula of Concord, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 903. Tappert, p. 531f.

"Why is so much assumed about the ability of human nature? It has been wounded, hurt, injured, ruined. It has need of a true confession, not of a false defense." [Augustine, De natura et gratia, chap. 53; quoted with approval by Chemnitz]
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 411.

"Moreover [On the other side], both the ancient and modern enthusiasts have taught that God converts men, and leads them to the saving knowledge of Christ through His Spirit, without any created means and instrument, that is, without the external preaching and hearing of God's Word."
Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II. 4. Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 881.

"Against both these parties the pure teachers of the Augsburg Confession have taught and contended that by the fall of our first parents man was so corrupted that in divine things pertaining to our conversion and the salvation of our souls he is by nature blind, that, when the Word of God is preached, he neither does nor can understand it, but regards it as foolishness; also, that he does not of himself draw nigh to God, but is and remains an enemy of God, until he is converted, becomes a believer [is endowed with faith], is regenerated and renewed, by the power of the Holy Ghost through the Word when preached and heard, out of pure grace, without any cooperation of his own."
Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II. 5. Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 881.

"Hence the natural free will according to its perverted, disposition and nature is strong and active only with respect to what is displeasing and contrary to God."
Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II. 7. Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 883. John 8:34; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Timothy 2: 26.

"For, first, although man's reason or natural intellect indeed has still a dim spark of the knowledge that there is a God, as also of the doctrine of the Law Romans 1:19ff., yet is is so ignorant, blind, and perverted that when even the most ingenious and learned men upon earth read or hear the Gospel of the Son of God and the promise of eternal salvation, they cannot from their own powers perceive apprehend, understand, or believe and regard it as true, but the more diligence and earnestness they employ, wishing to comprehend these spiritual things with their reason, the less they understand or believe, and before they become enlightened and are taught by the Holy Ghost, they regard all this only as foolishness or fictions. 1 Corinthians 2:14..."
Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II. 9. Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 883. 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 4:17f.; 1 Corinthians 1:21

"And, in a word, it remains eternally true what the Son of God says, John 15:5: Without Me ye can do nothing. And Paul, Philippians 2:13: It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. To all godly Christians who feel and experience in their hearts a small spark or longing for divine grace and eternal salvation this precious passage is very comforting; for they know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of true godliness, and that He will further strengthen and help them in their great weakness to persevere in true faith unto the end."
Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II. 14. Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 885. Philippians 2:13; John 15:5.

"Thirdly, in this manner, too, the Holy Scriptures ascribe conversion, faith in Christ, regeneration, renewal, and all that belongs to their efficacious beginning and completion, not to the human powers of the natural free will, neither entirely, nor half, nor in any, even the least or most inconsiderable part, but in solidum, that is, entirely, solely to the divine working and the Holy Ghost, as also the Apology teaches."
Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II. 25. Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 891.

"Today's Gospel also teaches by this parable that our free will amounts to nothing, since the good seed is sowed only by Christ, and Satan sows nothing but evil seed; as we also see that the field of itself yields nothing but tares, which the cattle eat, although the field receives them and they make the field green as if they were wheat. In the same way the false Christians among the true Christians are of no use but to feed the world and be food for Satan, and they are so beautifully green and hypocritical, as if they alone were the saints, and hold the place in Christendom as if they were lords there, and the government and highest places belonged to them; and for no other reason than that they glory that they are Christians and are among Christians in the church of Christ, although they see and confess that they live unchristian lives."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 103. Matthew 13:24-30;

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Review of Deutschlander's The Theology of the Cross




The Theology of the Cross: Reflections on His Cross and Ours

Daniel M. Deutschlander

Northwestern Publishing House, 283 pages, paperback, $17.99.

Book review by Gregory L. Jackson, PhD

Professor Daniel Deutschlander was loved and respected by his students at Northwestern College, Watertown, Wisconsin (WELS). Many took the German courses just so they could have him as a teacher. His courses were marked as German language classes, but he also taught Lutheran theology. He was a tough teacher who expected preparation for each class. When he heard that one student took German at Michigan Lutheran Seminary, he said, “That’s good. Mrs. Lawrenz does not teach whoopee-Deutsch.”

Now retired, Deutschlander has written a book that will be influential for many years to come. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod would be wise to distribute and promote this book. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod pastors will doubtless welcome this work as a welcome antidote to the theology of glory promoted by the Schwaermer and their covert allies in the Lutheran Church.

Schwaermer is a term used by Luther to describe the Enthusiasts who separate the Holy Spirit from the Means of Grace. They buzz around like bees, filling the world with their books while claiming the Word of God alone is not effective.

One Evangelical Lutheran Synod member asked me, “Do we need another book about Luther’s theology of the cross?”

I said, “Yes, we do. It will be good for the Wisconsin Synod and the ELS because it comes from one of their own, a highly respected teacher.”

The preface to the book would make a good conference essay by itself, an excellent summary of the situation today. One quotation indicates the wisdom and wit of the book that follows:

“The phony and the artificial church turns worship into a spiritual happy hour devoid of repentance, with cheap absolution, with no thought of taking God seriously in either the law or the gospel. And people love it. They still get to be their own god, their own bible, their own source of ultimate truth and salvation.” (p. vii)

The chapters include:

Chapter 1: What Is the Theology of the Cross?
Chapter 2: The Paradox
Chapter 3: Slivers on the Cross
Chapter 4: Slivers under the Cross
Chapter 5: The Theology of the Cross and the Hidden God
Chapter 6: The Hidden God in the Christian
Chapter 7: Crosses—A Sampler
Chapter 8: The Special Crosses of Pastors and the Visible Church
Appendix 1: A summary of Hermann Sasse’s “Luther’s Theology of the Cross”
Appendix 2: Lenten Sermon Series: Behold the Hidden Glory of the Cross

C. F. W. Walther wrote, “The nearer to Luther, the better the theologian.” But Lutherans have forgotten this admonition. Deutschlander’s book is a careful examination of Luther’s thought and how it applies to our situation today.

“But when speak of the theology of the cross in dogmatic theology, we are speaking not only about Christ’s cross but also about our cross, the cross of the Christian in his life of faith. While never losing sight of Jesus’ cross, it is the cross he sends us that will also occupy our attention in this book.” (p. 1)

When people read this book, they will be struck by Deutschlander’s broad education and his spiritual wisdom derived from study of the Word. Even more, he comes across as a German who understands the Luther corpus. Some have argued that the Lutheran Church began to turn Schwaermer when it gave up German. Numerous WELS pastors said to me in shock, “You can read German?” I responded, “You graduated from seminary and you can’t?” I remember the Mequon librarian overhearing one such exchange and nodding, “That’s what I say too.”

When German Lutherans were made ashamed of their heritage after WWI, they turned to a wide variety of English theology books, often with the claim - “to improve my English.” Also, WWI brought Lutheran groups together to help in the relief of Europe after the war. Cooperation in externals led to many other forms of cooperation today, including joint evangelism and worship efforts with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Many Lutheran pastors of that era saw the Reformed as their allies in doctrine, since the conservative Reformed authors favored inerrancy and regarded the papacy as the Antichrist. The influence of Pietism also influenced Lutherans to regard the Reformed as partners. The congregations of Germany were mostly union congregations where Lutheran doctrine was stifled to create an artificial harmony.

In contrast, Deutschlander, a German in name and doctrine, does not begin by trying to manufacture an artificial bridge between the Schwaermer and Luther, to subordinate Luther’s doctrine to the doubtful claims of the Enthusiasts.

“Notice first that Jesus makes the cross for is followers a consequence, not a cause, of discipleship. He is addressing those in whom the gospel has already created faith and who now wish to follow him.” (p. 2f.)

Luther wrote, and we confess:
“If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and reckon upon having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies who will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and produces fruit, there the holy cross cannot be wanting. And let no one think that he shall have peace; but he must risk whatever he has upon earth-possessions, honor, house and estate, wife and children, body and life. Now, this hurts our flesh and the old Adam; for the test is to be steadfast and to suffer with patience in whatever way we are assailed, and to let go whatever is taken from us.” (p. 4; see also - http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-5-ourfather.php)

The Theology of the Cross combines a thorough knowledge of Luther, the Book of Concord, and the Scriptures. Deutschlander is an author who writes from a lifetime of study, so there is never an impression of grabbing a quotation to make a point. There is perfect harmony in his use of Scripture, Luther, and the Book of Concord. If the theology of the cross is true to Luther and the Word, then the worship service should express that concept – an odd counterpoint to “Twenty sub-woofers behind that movie screen!”

Luther’s doctrine should be a litmus test of the Sunday service. Deutschlander’s exposition shows how the cross is both necessary and good, a joy for the Christian. Conversely, it must be a fatal error to avoid what God sends to the believer, since it is divinely ordained and graciously willed. ”Suffering and joy are two sides of the same coin in the Christian’s life.” (p. 10)

I was warned that The Theology of the Cross is not an easy book to read, but it is better to study one book methodically than to rush through several whoopee-inspirational books, or worse, something like Your Church Can Grow. The first chapter alone is an excellent review of the topic, with many insights for future sermons and classes. Sadly, Lutherans have shunned the cross and made fun of those who have crosses to bear, as if God’s grace only comes in the form of large audiences, institutional advancement, perfect health, and impressive salaries. Luther’s theology of the cross is a source of comfort, and Deutschlander explores that comfort from many different perspectives.

The Paradox (Chapter 2) discusses how the cross is both a source of joy and pain, a comfort but still oppressive. Luther often referred to it as “the dear cross” and “the holy cross.” This paradox cannot be resolved. The only way to remove the cross is to get rid of the Gospel, a temptation too great for many to resist. They do not say or even admit they are jettisoning the Gospel. They are only trying to remove the pain of the cross. However, they cannot have the Gospel without the cross Jesus promised:

KJV Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

KJV Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

One summary statement from Deutschlander shows his eloquence and understanding: “Only in loss do we begin to grasp how overly dependent we had become on the gift for our joy rather than on the giver of the gift.” (p. 45)

Slivers on the Cross (Chapter 3) deals with the cultural clash between the Christian faith and the world. The chapter title is unforgettable and easily remembered in connection with the topics covered, such as the influence of rationalism and evolution. A believer is going to have his belief in the inerrancy of the Word challenged, leaving a tiny sliver of the cross embedded and annoying his flesh. One Presbyterian minister said to me, “We laughed when we heard you would not share in performing the marriage with me.”

Slivers Under the Cross (Chapter 4) begins: “To carry the cross in the grand procession of the saints on the way to heaven is to deny self. The parade is a messy one. The path is strewn with the dead souls of those who gave up along the way because they were spiritually lazy.” (p. 89) This chapter is ideal for those who imagine that the religion of self-esteem is their medicine for happiness. The cross we bear is directly related to our station in life and our duties to others. There is a humorous and insightful paragraph on husbands and wives (Ephesians 5), p. 100. The point of the chapter and book is to say that joy comes from bearing the cross, not from demanding an easy life free of the cross.

The Theology of the Cross and the Hidden God (Chapter 5) uses the examples of Biblical figures to show how God seemed to be hidden from them. Sentimental portrayals of Biblical heroes tend to emphasize glory rather than the cross. One aspect of Reformed preaching is to have a series of sermons on Biblical figures, moving the focus from God’s promises to man’s experiences. Some churches feel a need to dramatize these efforts, dressing up pastors as those figures for a greater effect. The absolute nadir was reached when one conservative Lutheran pastor dressed as the woman at the well (John 4) to give his transvestite sermon. Deutschlander’s chapter is a good review of what Luther said – that God did not spare his saints. Is it any wonder that the pie in the sky, by and by churches develop into temples of occultic apostasy? I think not. This chapter may seem to be bitter medicine, but an ounce of efficacious medicine is better than a quart of tasty but useless sugar syrup.

“Look at how Christ reveals himself. He conceals his glory, hiding it in lowliness and suffering. His two greatest miracles he hid from the world.” (p. 118)

This chapter addresses the necessity of Lutheran worship reflecting the theology of the cross rather than the theology of glory. (p. 132) Roman Catholic worship is focused on the glory of the pope, the special abilities of the priest to consecrate, and the works of man in earning God’s favor. As a witness to numerous Catholic services, I can say that they are impressive examples of pageantry, well organized and choreographed to perfection. But, like Deutschlander, I also have to say they are monstrous in overthrowing the Gospel in the name of God. (p. 133)

Another theology of glory worship is more familiar to Lutherans, since they want to ape it – “whoopee worship.” Those in attendance are entertained, titillated, and amused, but the service does not address sin and guilt, forgiveness and salvation.

One unfortunate error remains in the book, the unhappy consequence of the Synodical Conference’s Objective Justification error, enshrined in the Brief Statement of the LCMS and found in the WELS Kokomo Statements. Deutschlander writes:

“ For faith receives the completed work of Christ; faith does not cause it. It is justification already accomplished and a salvation made entirely ours by faith alone.” (p. 138)

If the author had said, “It is atonement already accomplished,” he would have been correct. The Bible does not have God “declaring the entire world righteous.” Luther and the Book of Concord only teach justification by faith alone. Robert Preus clearly stated in his last book, Justification and Rome, that justification is only used for justification by faith.

Synodical Conference members are teaching the truth when they use the Biblical terms of atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, and redemption – all witnessing to the objective truth of Christ’s sacrifice, even if no one ever believed it. But it is long past-due time to bury the dual justification language, which has been used and abused, borrowed from the Halle Pietists, and preserved only among Midwestern Lutherans.

Some relevant quotations from Luther and the Book of Concord are listed at the end of this review.

Deutschlander also deals with the crosses borne by various age groups and by various pastors. His treatment of the temptations of young pastors is especially germane for today, since the institutional church places so much emphasis upon numbers rather than faithfulness to the Gospel. The old mainline churches tended to view the ending of a congregation as a noble act. As one pastor said, “It was my mission to close that church.”
So Fuller Seminary got everyone to view an increase in numbers as a noble act, no matter how this was achieved. If harmony, huge donations, and worldly admiration are the mark of a good pastor, very few in church history fit that model. Luther’s Reformation lost members as soon as the cross was felt. The Reformer said, “It was like a wind blowing through an orchard, knocking down apples.”

The sermon series material in the appendix shows that this book has been planned and executed to serve the needs of worshiping Lutherans. I hope pastors and laity will make this work, a lifetime achievement, a best seller and a basic book for regular review. This book will help laity and pastors alike, and all age groups as well.

The Theology of the Cross is an ideal gift for baptisms, confirmations, weddings, ordinations, and funerals. Some may gasp at The Theology of the Cross being opened by the bride and groom, amidst gasps and whispers. And yet people joke all the time about marital conflict. This book is a comfort for all who bear the cross, including husbands and wives. Pastors will make better spiritual counselors if they take Deutschlander’s advice to heart. This book is just the opposite of secular counseling. Imagine young people learning about the theology of the cross instead hearing about their rights as victims of parental and educational oppression. Teens have many sorrows, and that pain is not healed by secular nostrums.

Quotations on Justification by Faith

J-520
"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the Holy Spirit came...."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279. Pentecost Sunday. John 14:23-31.

J-528
"Faith is that my whole heart takes to itself this treasure. It is not my doing, not my presenting or giving, not my work or preparation, but that a heart comforts itself, and is perfectly confident with respect to this, namely, that God makes a present and gift to us, and not we to Him, that He sheds upon us every treasure of grace in Christ."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #48. Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 135. Heiser, p. 36.

J-545
"These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves. This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the Father, and are eternally saved."
Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. #10. Of the Righteousness of Faith before God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 919. Tappert, p. 541. Heiser, p. 250.

J-590
"For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which we could not attain ourselves.”
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #38, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 689. Tappert, p. 415. Heiser, p. 194.



Saturday, February 14, 2009

Transfiguration



The word for Transfiguration in Greek is metamorphosis, the word we use to describe how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Art by Norma Boeckler.


[We are not following the Church of Rome lectionary used by all the Lutheran synods, and we are a bit off on the traditional one. Call this the Gregorian. Back to the gesima Sundays next week.]

The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #8 Fred til Bod
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 2 Peter 1:16-21
The Gospel Matthew 17:1-9
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #135 Potsdam

Metamorphosis - Transfiguration

The Hymn #307 Old 124th
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 Reuter


KJV 2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

KJV Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
O merciful and everlasting God, heavenly Father: We thank Thee that Thou hast revealed unto us the glory of Thy Son, and let the light of Thy gospel shine upon us: We pray Thee, guide us by this light that we may walk diligently as Christians in all good works, ever be strengthened by Thy grace, and conduct our lives in all godliness; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Metamorphosis – Transfiguration


The Epiphany readings remind us of the divine nature of Christ and how it was shown to the Jewish leaders (in the Temple), the ordinary people (Wedding at Cana), and the disciples (stilling of the storm, Transfiguration).

Today I was reading material about the Seminex days, which I remember quite well. The people in the LCA cheered those seminarians and professors who left Concordia St. Louis (but came back the same day for meals and lodging). A public relations storm, manipulated by John Tietjen, made out the conservatives as despicable villains, the apostates as noble heroes worthy of emulation.

I got to know Robert Preus fairly well and I met his brother Jack, who signed my copy of Chemnitz Two Natures of Christ, which he translated. (Can you imagine Jerry Kieschnick translating a doctrinal book from Latin?). The Preus brothers brought to the forefront the world of Lutheran doctrine. They showed people that PhDs could be believers and defend those beliefs.

There are only two ways to look at this Gospel lesson. Either this happened, revealing the divine Sonship of Christ, or it was a myth. Until the Preus brothers disputed the leadership of the LCMS, the vast majority of Lutherans were being led into the mythological view of this Gospel text. The mythological view held that the story was invented but told an important truth anyway. The truth was whatever the reader saw in it.

Some people may think that the Wisconsin Synod did not fall for this, but Richard Jungkuntz and his sidekick Gerke were both teaching this at Northwestern College for years. They were finally smoked out and departed for the Missouri Synod, where heretics with PhDs were welcome. Then they were revealed again, and Jungkuntz finished his days in the ALC as provost of a small synodical college. (Jungkuntz was promoted every time he was exposed as an apostate, so he was not exactly a martyr. Besides, he is probably the only NWC professor ever quoted in the New York Times.)

The Emerging Church, which is the latest fad in WELS and the ELS, is a return to the mythological view of the Bible. Some may shriek that this is no so, but it bears some thought.

The Emergent Church is aimed at non-believers (in a rather petulant, angry way – as Stetzer and others have shown). The Emergent Church is full of movie screens, enormous sounds systems, and gimmicks to appeal to urban snobs – couches and expensive coffee machines. The Emergent Church is non-confessional and non-liturgical, because non-believers do not like such things. Don’t look for a cross, either. The Emergent Church only tries to appeal to the felt needs (very important term: felt needs) of unbelievers. Demographic studies show they worry about relationships, time management, and spirituality in a vague way. Everything is aimed at that slice of the market, at the ego of those people.
What this Gospel lesson teaches is not material for an Emergent Church service. The Emergent Church does not follow a liturgical calendar anyway. If this lesson is mentioned, it is to start a monologue about the speaker, where he pretends to bare his soul about his insecurities (much audience laughter) and his vanity (solemn nods). He may talk about himself for 40 minutes, as I witnessed at Xenos (a model Emergent Church, loved by Doebler’s Rock and Roll Church), before he even mentions God.

Is this not the mythological approach? The content of God’s revelation is only a springboard for a mildly amusing or stupendously annoying comedy routine. And Missouri contended against it for a period of time and seemed to win. The Wisconsin Synod and ELS felt kinship as they saw their old warnings finally proven to be true. After all, the Preus brothers started the break in fellowship as ELS leaders just before they joined the LCMS, which they had denounced as apostate. Nevertheless, God works with the Word even among clever church politicians. Both men accomplished a lot and showed more leadership skills than anyone who followed. Now we are back in swamp again. Church Growth is supposedly dead, but only because a worse version is taking over – the Emergent Church.

An eyewitness wrote this, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables [myths], when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The power of the apostles’ preaching came from their status as eyewitnesses of the Resurrection. Of all the miracles of Christ, the Resurrection was the greatest and most impressive. The apostolic witness was unanimous—and included Paul, who saw the risen Christ. The risen Christ appeared to Paul and made him an apostle.

Only those who saw the risen Christ could be apostles. That is why we only have one generation of Apostles. Often when there is a new religious fad, the leaders of that fad call themselves apostles. One writer said that charismatics were not ordinary Christians – they were apostles, much higher than ordinary pastors. Anyone can imagine how much they looked down on ordinary pastors. Harumpf.

The original Apostles traveled, preached, and trained local pastors. We can see Paul’s efforts in his letters to two pastors - Timothy and Titus.

Peter wrote, as John did in 1 John, that they were witnesses of the divine power of Christ. They were with Him on the Mountain of Transfiguration and they heard the heavenly voice saying, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.” There were two spoken affirmations of Christ. One was at His Baptism, when God the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The second affirmation said – “Listen to Him,” or in other words – Listen to what He says about His death and resurrection.

“We have a more sure word of prophecy.” The Apostles had the Old Testament to preach from and circulated apostolic letters at first. The Gospels were the spoken stories of the Apostles. People saw the men who were on the boat with Jesus during the storm. The fishermen could identify with that. They saw the men who witnessed the water turned into the finest wine. That probably caused a stir which was remembered in Cana, Galilee. The greatest commotions were caused first by Lazarus rising from the dead then Christ rising from the dead.

For all these things to happen and to have the Scriptures fulfilled – that was the message of salvation from the Apostles. The foundation of the Christian Church was the work of Christ, the witness of the Apostles, and knots of believers created during the preaching ministry of Christ. The Word of God transforms people.

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Christianity is historical, not mythological. The Gospel teaches us to have a different view of life because of God’s revelation. The Gospel is not a rabbit’s foot to be used for luck and prosperity when times are tough – or not luxurious enough. The Gospel transcends all material needs first, by feeding the soul, preparing us for eternal life, while reminding us that God also provides for our material needs before we even ask.

One member said she learned a lot about birds from an earlier sermon. Birds can be seen from an evolutionary perspective, as they were by Darwin, born 200 years ago. Or they can be appreciated from the perspective of Creation. Darwin saw various kinds of finches on an island decided they evolved into those different species.

http://people.rit.edu/rhrsbi/GalapagosPages/DarwinFinch.html

Everything living is food for another living thing. Believers look at the astounding variety of ways in which birds take care of God’s Creation. I still puzzle over how one animal or plant becomes something else over time! We have many examples of human settlements falling apart because of poor planning, lack of food, lack of water, violent warfare, and sterility (ancient Rome and their lead problem). Birds do not reason yet they manage very well, as if designed and programmed by the ultimate Manager. They thrive where the food is plentiful and fly off to where the new supplies are. They seldom strip a tree bare of fruit. Instead, they eat some and move on. They live in all kinds of habitat, from the ground to the highest perches. They court in the strangest ways, all different from each other, and they raise their young differently.
When people look at God’s Creation and eliminate His divine power from it, they are creating a mythological view. For example, they cannot explain the evolution of a bird feather, which is enormously complicated (there are four types, but that is another story). Instead, they say – the bird feather “is a miracle.”

Or sharks. I heard one TV program say, “Suddenly in evolution there appeared a perfectly designed killing machine – the shark.” That sounds like Creation but it was fashioned to conform to the mythology of evolution. The facts do not matter. Only the impression matters – the impression that there is no divine power, no divine justice, no heaven and hell.

The demagogues of this world want us to rest upon our feelings, to make our judgments based on our emotions, which are fragile and transitory.

In contrast, the Word of God says we should use our minds:

KJV Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Faith is not contrary to the use of our intellect. The Word of God converts us and sustains us, so our minds are constantly renewed by learning about God’s world through God’s eyes.

whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

There is only one truth and it is revealed by God in the canonical books of the Bible. It does not matter what people think it means. It only matters what God clearly states. When Mormons argue against the Bible, they say, “There are 100 different ways to interpret each verse of the Bible.” I agree with them, to a point. I always say, “Yes, 99 wrong ways and 1 right way.” And I sometimes add, “Are you telling me God’s Son was born of the Virgin Mary, performed great miracles, died on the cross for the sins of the world, and rose from the dead, but God entrusted this message to a bunch of idiots who could not write clearly?” Their reaction is amusing.

Arguments against the clarity of the Bible are attacks against God’s Word. If someone says, “Those are grey areas of Scripture,” he is saying, “God speaks in such a confused and disorderly way that we can take those passages any way we wish.” That what the warning against “private interpretation” means. Of course, the charming heretics always have their own interpretation and promote it without ceasing. But the Word simply hardens their hardened hearts until they retreat into atheism, Hinduism, or both. They prefer to have the highest positions in the church, where they can promote their mythological me-centered views in comfort and style.

Similarly, if someone says he is incapable of interviewing a known heretic and exposing the man’s false doctrine—because the wolf is so clever—then he is confessing he is “not apt to teach” and disqualified from being a pastor.

KJV 2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 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. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

“Rebuke” means to condemn, to damn false doctrine, as Paul did – If anyone teaches another doctrine, even an angel, then anathema – damn him to Hell. Now the leaders say – “but we have to be careful and cautious and worry about all the souls.” They do not trust God’s Word to do God’s work.

Peter and Paul wrote about great sorrow and trials in the midst of preaching the Gospel, but that is the cross, which cannot be separated from the Gospel. The light shines in the darkness, and appears even more brilliant because of the darkness. The darkness may seem overwhelming, but light overcomes it.

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