Lutheran Worship and Resources



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

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

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

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Judica - The Fifth Sunday in Lent



The Trinity, by Norma Boeckler


Judica, The Fifth Sunday in Lent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

Mid-Week Lenten Services are Thursdays at 6 PM.

The Hymn #291 St. Anne 4.3
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 Hebrews 9:11-15
The Gospel John 8:46-59
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #40 Yigdal 4.94

Mediator of the New Testament

The Hymn #380 St. John 4.12
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 #456 Spohr 4.36

KJV Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

KJV John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

O almighty God, who of Thy great mercy didst cause Thy Son to be conceived by the Holy Ghost, and to become incarnate of the blessed virgin Mary according to the angel's annunciation: Grant us by Thy grace, that our sinful conception may be purified by His holy conception, 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.

Mediator of the New Testament

Preface
I enjoyed the Gerhard volume on Baptism and Holy Communion. Johann Gerhard (not to be confused with the hymn writer Paul Gerhardt) was a brilliant and prolific Lutheran theologian. The extent of his work is difficult to imagine. He wrote 10,000 letters, published enormous volumes of Lutheran orthodoxy, and served the church in various capacities. Most of all, he was a Biblical theologian. This English version deals with every concern or question someone might have about Baptism and Communion. The original date was 1610, only 30 years after the Formula of Concord.

When we encounter a truly great theologian and Biblical teacher, we find that he sees the entire Bible as a testimony of one unified truth. Luther and Gerhard are quite similar in this regard. Gerhard is easy to follow and constantly relies on the Scriptures to show the foundation for his thoughts.
New Testament
This passage from Hebrews reminds us of how God prepared His people for the atoning sacrifice of His Son for centuries before Jesus died on the cross for our sins. In the Temple, the priest entered the holy of holies and performed a blood sacrifice for the sins of the people.

All the descriptions of blood sacrifices in the Old Testament prepared believers to understand the blood of Jesus poured out for the sins of the world.

KJV Exodus 30:10 And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.

KJV 2 Chronicles 29:23 And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: 24 And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.

But we can also observe how God’s own example is far beyond what humans would imagine. In this case, when the Bible teaches about the atoning sacrifice, Christ is both the victim and the high priest who offers the sacrifice. Similarly, we believe in Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but He is both the Shepherd and the sacrificial lamb. I was trying to get this across in a confirmation class many years ago, and one student said about the Exodus, after many questions, “Everything points to Jesus.” He was responding to the fact that the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, the spotless lamb at the Passover, the water springing from the rock, the manna from heaven, and many other aspects of the Exodus prefigured the ministry of Jesus.

We can know everything about the Old Testament and not see this. On the road to Emmaus, the two disciples knew the Scriptures, but Jesus opened their eyes about the meaning of the Word.

KJV Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

Someone can read all day about Old Testament blood sacrifice and not realize that all of the details point toward one moment in time when the Incarnate Word would be the blood sacrifice.

It has been an constant theme of the church, begun in the earliest times, and repeated by the orthodox Lutherans, that the blood and water which flowed from the wound of Jesus represented the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

"Whoever is baptized in Christ is baptized through His suffering and blood or, to state it more clearly, through Baptism he is bathed in the blood of Christ and is cleansed from sins. For this reason St. Paul calls Baptism a "washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5); and according to what Christians say and picture, the Sacraments flow from the wounds of Christ. And what they say and picture is right." [Plass footnote: "Thus Jerome (d. 420) sees the Sacrament symbolized by the blood and water that flowed from the side of the dead Christ (John 19:34). Similarly St. Augustine (d. 430). In Luther's days pictures and woodcuts presented the same view. See W 30, II, 527, note; SL 13a, 491f.]
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 46. to Duke George, 1533. John 19:34; Titus 3:5.

Gerhard too refers to baptism as being washed in the blood of Christ.

"Even though the water which is used for holy Baptism continues to retain its natural essence and natural attributes after Baptism, it is nevertheless not just lowly [plain] water, but it is formulated in God's Word and combined with God's Word. Thus it is a powerful means through which the Holy Trinity works powerfully; the Father takes on the one who is baptized as His dear child; the Son washes him of his sins with His blood; the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews him for everlasting life."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 56.

We cannot understand God’s forgiveness through our human reason alone. Only the Holy Spirit can show us the love, mercy, and grace of the Holy Trinity in forgiving our sins and declaration to us in so many ways that we can always return to the cross for forgiveness. Human forgiveness is limited and tends to run quite low. The farther our society goes away from the Word, the less evidence we see for forgiveness and patience. Because we resist the truth of the Scriptures, God teaches us the same lesson repeatedly and then helps us with the sacrament of Holy Communion.

The Scriptures teach the forgiveness of sin and that is foremost in every Gospel promise. It is a sign of the age of the Great Apostasy (falling away from the faith) that Christian leaders talk about blessings from God but not forgiveness of sin, because sin is negative and implies that people are sinners. That makes it so much easier to see that the greatest sin of the Bible is unbelief in the Word. When someone makes a conscious effort to talk about the Bible and about Jesus while ignoring the forgiveness of sin, he is promoting and teaching unbelief.

I was thinking about this problem while I was pulling weeds, mostly London rocket and mallow, although plump examples of goat’s head have appeared as well. Pulling weeds will always conjure up in my mind the expulsion of Adam and Even from the Garden.

KJV Genesis 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

When I encounter weeds too tough to pull out by hand, I think, “Oh Adam, Adam. Look at what you did.” The nature of original sin is such that all our actions and thoughts are tainted by and changed by the corruption of sin. That much must be believed before we can appreciate and be thankful for forgiveness through Christ. We have a constant need for forgiveness of our sin, because we cannot perfect ourselves and escape this nature.

The Israelites believed in their sin enough to have blood sacrifices for centuries. In fact, I understand that the tradition is still taught in the hope that the Temple will be built again. God has said to us in many different passages, in many different ways, but especially in Hebrews: Jesus is the high priest Who has offered up Himself as the blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world.

KJV Leviticus 4:26 And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.

KJV Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

The KJV uses atonement in this passage as a synonym for reconciliation. Holy Communion offers us the visible form of this Gospel promise:

"Accordingly, we say that by virtue of the institution, the holy Supper was established by Christ and was used by the believers chiefly to this end: that the promise of the gracious forgiveness of sins should be sealed and our faith should thus be strengthened. Then, too, we are incorporated in Christ and are thus sustained to eternal life; in addition, subsequently, other end results and benefits of the holy Supper come to pass. Yet, both of the fruits indicated above always remain the foremost."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 369.

Quotations

Holy Communion

"And just as the Word has been given in order to excite this faith, so the Sacrament has been instituted in order that the outward appearance meeting the eyes might move the heart to believe [and strengthen faith]. For through these, namely, through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Ghost works."
Apology Augsburg Confession, XXIV (XII), #70. The Mass. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 409. Tappert, p. 262. Heiser, p. 123.

"Our adversaries have no testimonies and no command from Scripture for defending the application of the ceremony for liberating the souls of the dead, although from this they derive infinite revenue. Nor, indeed, is it a light sin to establish such services in the Church without the command of God and without the example of Scripture, and to apply to the dead the Lord's Supper, which was instituted for commemoration and preaching among the living [for the purpose of strengthening the faith of those who use the ceremony]. This is to violate the Second Commandment, by abusing God's name."
Apology Augsburg Confession, XXIV. #89. The Mass. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 413f. Tappert, p. 265f. Heiser, p. 124.

"Whoever denies the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper must pervert the words of Institution where Christ the Lord, speaking of that which He gives His Christians to eat, says: 'This is My body,' and, speaking of that which He gives them to drink, says: 'This is My blood.' [Also 1 Corinthians 10:16]
Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 40. 1 Corinthians 10:16.

"If Reformed theology wishes to free itself from the confusion of self-contradiction and its other Christological errors, it must by all means eliminate its rationalistic principle that the finite is not capable of the infinite."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1951, II, p. p. 275.

"And all these are established by the words by which Christ has instituted it, and which every one who desires to be a Christian and go to the Sacrament should know. For it is not our intention to admit to it and to administer it to those who know not what they seek, or why they come."
Large Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar. #2. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 753. Tappert, p. 447. Heiser, p. 210.

"For it is not founded upon the holiness of men, but upon the Word of God. And as no saint upon earth, yea, no angel in heaven, can make bread and wine to be the body and blood of Christ, so also can no one change or alter it, even though it be misused. For the Word by which it became a Sacrament and was instituted does not become false because of the person or his unbelief. For He does not say: If you believe or are worthy you receive My body and blood, but: Take, eat and drink; this is My body and blood."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #16-17. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 757. Tappert, p. 448. Heiser, p. 211.

"On this account it is indeed called a food of souls, which nourishes and strengthens the new man. For by Baptism we are first born anew; but (as we said before) there still remains, besides, the old vicious nature of flesh and blood in man, and there are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes also stumble."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #23. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 757. Tappert, p. 449. Heiser, p. 211f.

"Therefore it {communion} is given for a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself so as not to fall back in such a battle, but become every stronger and stronger. For the new life must be so regulated that it continually increase and progress; but it must suffer much opposition. For the devil is such a furious enemy that when he sees that we oppose him and attack the old man, and that he cannot topple us over by force, he prowls and moves about on all sides, tries all devices, and does not desist, until he finally wearies us, so that we either renounce our faith or yield hands and feet and become listless or impatient. Now to this end the consolation is here given when the heart feels that the burden is becoming too heavy, that it may here obtain new power and refreshment."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #24-27. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 759. Tappert, p. 449. Heiser, p. 211.

"For here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin, which contains and brings with it the grace of God and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #70. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 769. Tappert, p. 454. Heiser, p. 214.

"Therefore, if you cannot feel it {the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:199ff. above}, at least believe the Scriptures; they will not lie to you, and they know your flesh better than you yourself...Yet, as we have said, if you are quite dead to all sensibility, still believe the Scriptures, which pronounce sentence upon you. And, in short, the less you feel your sins and infirmities, the more reason have you to go to the Sacrament to seek help and a remedy."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #76-78. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 771. Tappert, p. 455. Heiser, p. 214.

"Calvin was dissatisfied with Zwingli's interpretation of the Lord's Supper, but his own interpretation was also wrong. He said that a person desiring to receive the body and blood of Christ could not get it under the bread and wine, but must by his faith mount up to heaven, where the Holy Spirit would negotiate a way for feeding him with the body and blood of Christ. These are mere vagaries, which originated in Calvin's fancy. But an incident like this shows that men will not believe that God bears us poor sinners such great love that He is willing to come to us."
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 185.

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

"For in Confession as in the Lord's Supper you have the additional advantage, that the Word is applied to your person alone. For in preaching it flies out into the whole congregation, and although it strikes you also, yet you are not so sure of it; but here it does not apply to anyone except you. Ought it not to fill your heart with joy to know a place where God is ready to speak to you personally? Yea, if we had a chance to hear an angel speak we would surely run to the ends of the earth."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 199.

"In addition there is this perversion, that whereas Christ instituted the use of His Supper for all who receive it, who take, eat, and drink, the papalist Mass transfers the use and benefit of the celebration of the Lord's Supper in our time to the onlookers, who do not communicate, yes, to those who are absent, and even to the dead."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 498.

"However, you will be sure as to whether the sacrament is efficacious in your heart, if you watch your conduct toward your neighbor. If you discover that the words and he symbol soften and move you to be friendly to your enemy, to take an interest in your neighbor's welfare, and to help him bear his suffering and affliction, then all is well. On the other hand, if you do not find it so, you continue uncertain even if you were to commune a hundred times a day with devotions so great as to move you to tears for very joy; for wonderful devotions like this, very sweet to experience, yet as dangerous as sweet, amount to nothing before God. Therefore we must above all be certain for ourselves, as Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:10: 'Give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure.'"
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 211. 2 Peter 1:10.

"Hence it is manifest how unjustly and maliciously the Sacramentarian fanatics (Theodore Beza) deride the Lord Christ, St. Paul, and the entire Church in calling this oral partaking, and that of the unworthy, duos pilos caudae equinae et commentum, cuius vel ipsum Satanam pudeat, as also the doctrine concerning the majesty of Christ, excrementum Satanae, quo diabolus sibi ipsi et hominibus illudat, that is, they speak so horribly of it that a godly Christian man should be ashamed to translate it. [two hairs of a horse's tail and an invention of which even Satan himself would be ashamed; Satan's excrement, by which the devil amuses himself and deceives men].
Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 67, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 997. Tappert, p. 581f. Heiser, p. 270.

"Dr. Luther, who, above others, certainly understood the true and proper meaning of the Augsburg Confession, and who constantly remained steadfast thereto till his end, and defended it, shortly before his death repeated his faith concerning this article with great zeal in his last Confession, where he writes thus: 'I rate as one concoction, namely, as Sacramentarians and fanatics, which they also are, all who will not believe that the Lord's bread in the Supper is His true natural body, which the godless or Judas received with the mouth, as well as did St. Peter and all [other] saints; he who will not believe this (I say) should let me alone, and hope for no fellowship with me; this is not going to be altered [thus my opinion stands, which I am not going to change]."
Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 33, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 983. Tappert, p. 575. Heiser, p. 267.

"Besides this, you will also have the devil about you, whom you will not entirely tread under foot, because our Lord Christ Himself could not entirely avoid him. Now, what is the devil? Nothing else than what the Scriptures call him, a liar and murderer. A liar, to lead the heart astray from the Word of God, and blind it, that you cannot feel your distress or come to Christ. A murderer, who cannot bear to see you live one single hour. If you could see how many knives, darts, and arrows are every moment aimed at you, you would be glad to come to the Sacrament as often as possible."
The Large Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar. #80-82. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 771f. Tappert, p. 456. Heiser, p. 214.

"Here are examples, in some cases already alluded to by District Presidents: 1. Performing weddings, funerals and baptism without first consulting his successor or the pastor of the congregation; 2. Still striving to retain a leadership role in the congregation from which he retired. RX: The retiree is essentially and actually a lay member and must not serve in any pastoral role unless he is requested or directed so to do; 3. Giving counsel or advice to his successor, or the pastor where he is a member in retirement. RX: If the latter wants or seeks counsel or help, let him ask for it. 4. Giving comfort or support to malcontents who are not satisfied with the present pastor. RX: Be courteous and advise the dissatisfied individuals that you are not the pastor and that they need to bring their concerns to the shepherd of the flock."
Kurt Brink, Overcoming Pastoral Pitfalls, Albuquerque: 1992, p. 126.

"For Scripture never calls either Baptism or the Lord's Supper mysteries or sacraments. Therefore this is an unwritten (agraphos) appellation."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 29. Chapter Four.

"The purest and best part of the human race, the special nursery and flower of God's Church, is tender youth. Youth retains the gift of the Holy Spirit which it received in Baptism; it learns eagerly the true doctrine about God and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; it calls Him God with a chaste mind and with a simple, pure faith; it thanks Him with a quick and joyful heart for the blessings received from Him; in its studies and the other parts of life, it carries out the duties commanded it; and it obeys God and parents reverently. Particularly God-pleasing, therefore, are the studies of one's earliest age: prayer, obedience and praises which honor God, regardless of how weak and stammering its voice may be."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 9. Chapter Four.

"On the contrary, with the Anabaptists and the Reformed Church in general, the Mennonites are Enthusiasts, lay great stress on the immediate working of the Holy Ghost, who is said to 'guide the saints into all truth.' In his Geschichte der Mennonitengemeinden John Horsch, a prominent Mennonite, states that the Holy Spirit is the 'inner word,' who enables Christians to understand the Scriptures. Without the inner word, or the light, the Scripture is a dead letter and a dark lantern."
The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 260. Chapter Four.

"Naturally, Universalists deny that the Sacraments are Means of Grace. Some Universalists observe three sacraments--consecration, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. The act of consecration of children consists in the parents' pledging themselves to rear their children in the admonition of the Lord."
The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 409f.

"The Anabaptists, the mystics, and other fanatics spoke of Scripture only as the external word, a dead letter, and contemptuously pronounced those who adhered to Scripture as 'worshipers of the letter.' They separated the activity of the Spirit from Scripture, from the Word, and held that the Spirit operates immediately, producing an inner illumination, etc."
E. Hove, Christian Doctrine, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1930, p. 27f.

(6) "For the joy Thine advent gave me, For Thy holy, precious Word; For Thy Baptism, which doth save me, For Thy blest Communion board; For Thy death, the bitter scorn, For Thy resurrection morn, Lord, I thank Thee and extol Thee, And in heaven I shall behold Thee." Thomas Kingo, 1689, cento, "Like the Golden Sun Ascending," The Lutheran Hymnal, trans., George T. Rygh, 1908 St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #207. Acts 2:32.

(1) "He that believes and is baptized Shall see the Lord's salvation; Baptized into the death of Christ, He is a new creation. Through Christ's redemption he shall stand Among the glorious heavenly band Of every tribe and nation. (2) "With one accord, O God, we pray: Grant us Thy Holy Spirit; Look Thou on our infirmity Through Jesus' blood and merit. Grant us to grow in grace each day That by this Sacrament we may Eternal life inherit." Thomas Kingo, 1689, "He That Believes and Is Baptized" The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #301. Mark 16:16.

"As distinguished from the Gospel, Sacraments are acts, we apply water in Baptism, and we eat and drink in the Lord's Supper. They are sacred acts, and must, as such, be distinguished from ordinary washing, eating and drinking...A Sacrament which offers God's blessings cannot be instituted by man or the Church, but by God alone."
Edward W. A. Koehler, A Short Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism, Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1946, p. 254.

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

"Thus we do also in infant baptism. We bring the child in the conviction and hope that it believes, and we pray that God may grant it faith; but we do not baptize it upon that, but solely upon the command of God. Why so? Because we know that God does not lie. I and my neighbor and, in short, all men, may err and deceive, but the Word of God cannot err." [Ego et proximus meus et in summa omnes homines errare possunt et fallere, porro autem Verbum Dei nec potest errare nec fallere.]
Large Catechism, Infant Baptism, 57, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, J-9 p. 747.

"The same is true of other factions--the Anabaptists and similar sects. What else do they but slander baptism and the Lord's Supper when they pretend that the external [spoken] Word and outward sacraments do not benefit the soul, that the Spirit alone can do that?"
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 208. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Chapter Four.

"Regarding the baptizer--who may be a woman even--and the baptized, we certainly can see nothing wonderful. The humanity in the case does not effect any great work; the work is wrought by Him who is God, Lord, and Spirit."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 218. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11;

"But the discerning Christian can with satisfaction boast on this wise: 'My baptism or my absolution is not of my own devising or ordaining, nor of another man's. It is of Christ my Lord."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 219. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11;

"It is a glory which every preacher may claim, to be able to say with full confidence of heart: 'This trust have I toward God in Christ, that what I teach and preach is truly the Word of God.' Likewise, when he performs other official duties in the Church--baptizes a child, absolves and comforts a sinner--it must be done in the same firm conviction that such is the command of Christ. He who would teach and exercise authority in the Church without this glory, 'it is profitable for him,' as Christ says, (Matthew 18:6), 'that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.' For the devil's lies he preaches, and death is what he effects."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 227. 2 Corinthians 3:4-11; Matthew 18:6

"The first class of disciples are those who hear the Word but neither understand nor esteem it. And these are not the mean people of the world, but the greatest, wisest and the most saintly, in short they are the greatest part of mankind; for Christ does not speak here of those who persecute the Word nor of those who fail to give their ear to it, but of those who hear it and are students of it, who also wish to be called true Christian and to live in Christian fellowship with Christians and are partakers of baptism and the Lord's Supper. But they are of a carnal heart, and remain so, failing to appropriate the Word of God to themselves, it goes in one ear and out the other, just like the seed along the wayside did not fall into the earth, but remained lying on the ground..."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 J-209 II, p. 114. Luke 8:4-15 (par. Mark 4: Matthew 13:)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mid-week Lenten Service



I Am the True Vine, 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 – Thursdays after tonight.

The Hymn #657 Schoenster Herr Jesu 4.24
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 4 p. 123
The Lection Passion Harmony, TLH

The Sermon Hymn #434 St. Savior 4.20

The Sermon – The True Vine

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

The Hymn #555 St. Anatolius 4.2

KJV John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Laetare - The Fourth Sunday in Lent



One sunflower seed produces hundreds of high-protein, high fat, high mineral content seeds, and it is considered a weed in some farming areas,
due to its miraculous growth. Art by Norma Boeckler.


Laetare, The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

Mid-Week Lenten Services are Thursdays at 6 PM.

The Hymn #361 St. Agnes 4.1
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 Gal. 4:21-31
The Gospel John 6:1-15
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #462 St. Thomas 4.21

When He Had Given Thanks

The Hymn #304 St. Crispin 4.6
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 #166 Spanish Chant 4.35

KJV Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Fourth Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son didst feed five thousand men in the desert with five loaves and two fishes: We beseech Thee to abide graciously also with us in the fullness of Thy blessing. Preserve us from avarice and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things perceive Thy fatherly goodness, through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God world without end. Amen.

When He Had Given Thanks

Recent and future plans of our government show that federal officials do not learn from history. The Roman Empire controlled most of the civilized world but suffered from many different monetary crises. The early Christians had to live with the impact of a distant and all-powerful government, just as we do.

In this Gospel lesson, Jesus accomplished what no one else on earth could do. He transformed one boy’s lunch into a miraculous abundance, which was so great that every one was full - and gigantic baskets of fragments remained.

Jesus saw an enormous crowd coming toward Him, so he asked Philip what to do. Philip responded that a certain sum of money was not enough to feed everyone and anyway – where would they find a place to buy food in the desert? Andrew opined that they found one boy with some bread and fish, but that was insignificant among so many.

Jesus said this to test him, so we have a record of the dialogue between the Savior and His disciple. Philip’s answer has two parts, which sounds like so many council meetings:
1) We do not have the money.
2) If we had the money, it still could not be done.
3) There is a supply of food, but it is not enough.

One church secretary lobbied for new carpeting in her office. When the council voted for it, she said, her voice cracking, “I just want to know where all the money is coming from.” Her husband was a Ford executive (1970s) when company generosity knew no bounds. The congregation had thousands of dollars squirreled away in various funds and no debt. The congregation often met challenges by having another commercial fund-raising activity. Their version of the Feeding of the Five Thousand was to turn one pound of meat into a meal for the entire congregation, and to charge dearly for it.

When Jesus heard Philip’s reply, He had the men seated. Note this:

“Now there was much grass in the place.”

That means they were at an oasis. In a desert, there will be grass only where there is a water supply. Otherwise, 5,000 men and their families would be fainting away.

Bravehearts at the Grand Canyon like to hike down the trail to the bottom. They forget that they need a lot of water and food. One man hiked down but could not go up again. In the daytime it was too hot. In the nighttime it was too dangerous to find the path. He stayed near a stream and hallucinated until they found him, still alive. That is just a glimpse at what people faced in the desert at the time of Jesus. They might reach a brackish water source and have to drink what the animals refused to taste.

So we should picture the crowd as one which was drawn to Jesus for various reasons. He provided the Word and taught it with clarity and authority. As the rest of the chapter shows, others would follow only if He did things their way. These disciples fell away because they did not like His teaching. And yet the experts say that the cure for all ills is making disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

KJV John 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Although they were at an oasis with plenty of grass of water, the crowd needed food. Jesus had them sit down.

John 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

When He had given thanks – Jesus might have transformed the loaves and fish without the spoken Word, but He gave thanks in the midst of so much want. He thanked God, which is something the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who came to my house) cannot comprehend. Their lack of understanding proves that Jesus is not the Son of God – so they claim. I said, “My dog doesn’t understand it either.” That made them angry.

Jesus gave thanks in the midst of want, and so should we. As Peter Schiff said so eloquently, we have been spending on luxuries for years and borrowing from the world for those luxuries. Now the stuff has lost its value but the debt remains. We have garage sales all over our neighborhood. I always say to college classes, who brag about their cell phones and all the features they pay for – “Have a garage sale. That is what your things are worth. Not what you paid, plus interest, but what the people will pay you with cash.” One man let his college-aged son spend $1500 on his cell phone in two months and blamed the cell phone company for the cost. I said, “Why not let your son pay his own bill? That will change his attitude.” The father scowled at me.

One young man asked me if he could repair my windshield at the car wash. I could tell he needed some cash, so I let him. I thought it might save me some trouble later. He told me about spending $60,000 on his truck. A young woman said she had a vehicle that cost her $2,000 a month in payments, gas, and insurance. Later, she and her husband left town with no forwarding address and no phone number. Now the credit bubble has burst and my favorite bookstore is offering collectible books at 50% off. It’s my favorite store because I can enjoy a museum trip in book collecting for free and leave without guilt.

They say the sign of the Wall Street bubble, just before the Great Depression, was a shoeshine boy talking about his investments. We had two Mexican students from college come by to do some electrical work. They were talking about how hard it was to buy a house before they others had it bought already. Far too many of my students were either in real estate or the mortgage business. The money rolled in for many of these people.

What Jesus accomplished in the desert was a miracle of the Word. Anyone troubled over Holy Communion should consider the Feeding of the Multitude. We cannot understand or grasp either one. Both are mysteries, revealed to us. A mystery is something beyond our understanding – such as the Holy Trinity, Creation by the Word, the Incarnation, the Atonement. Once God reveals these mysteries to us, everything in Christian doctrine is in perfect harmony.

Here is the beginning of the Feeding of the Multitude:

John 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples,

The Last Supper in Mark:

KJV Mark 14:23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.

The Words of Institution in Corinthians:

KJV 1 Corinthians 11:24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Some people look at the mysteries and make fun of them. John Calvin was a Christian, but he subjected the Bible to his rationalistic analysis. So he made fun of the Real Presence in his Institutes. He was confused about the Two Natures of Christ and the Incarnation, so he was also confused about Holy Communion. Not surprisingly, Calvinists turn into Unitarians in one generation. Doubts about Holy Communion become doubts about the divinity of Christ. There is a saying which is true for Calvinists and Calvinistic countries – “Young Calvinist, old Unitarian.”

A pastor is a “steward of the mysteries of God” because these mysteries are not for us to trifle with. God has given us a great treasure in Holy Communion, so we do not hide it or act embarrassed about it, as if a mystery of God would keep God’s Church from accomplishing His will.

As I recall, one Roman Catholic missionary simply set up shop in China and began saying Mass. Eventually the ruler wanted to know about Christianity and people were converted. This may be mythical. But it is entirely different from hiding the Gospel behind a popcorn machine in the hopes that people will stop by for snacks and wi-fi, but stay for something that shames the stewards of the mysteries of God – the Gospel.

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Jesus provided so abundantly that the entire crowd was satisfied and 12 baskets of bread fragments were gathered up. The word for basket is “coffin,” which suggests a man-sized basket, not a tiny offering basket. That amount is far beyond anyone’s comprehension and defies all rationalistic explanations.

In the same way, Jesus provided for us by establishing Holy Communion. Already at the Last Supper, He said, “This is My body, give for you, for the forgiveness of sin.” Since then millions have received His body and His blood.

He provides the instruments of His grace in great abundance. Anyone in the world can hear the Gospel, one way or another. Ways to distribute the Gospel message are even more far-reaching than ever before.

This chapter in John has strange contrasts in it, because Jesus foreshadowed Holy Communion with this miraculous Feeding. His message was spiritual rather than material, but he crowd wanted to make Him king.

Luther commented on this text. God certainly provides for our material needs, but “a roast goose will not fly into our mouths.” He wrote about the need to work for our material needs while trusting that God would provide.

When young adults complain about how hard it can be, I ask, “How many people swim 90 miles through shark-infested water to reach Cuba? No one! They swim here, and you are already here.” (One woman came from a criminal family. Everyone was on welfare and stole to make extra money. She said it was difficult to leave that life because it was so easy, to collect benefits and to profit from crime.)

Life will be difficult in the years to come. The Forbes billionaire list said most of the wealthiest lost 50% of their wealth, like everyone else. That will continue to have an impact on everything. My Evangelical students tell me they are learning how to live frugally, which was the only way in the Great Depression.
The Scriptures teach us that God will take care of our material needs, our greatest worry – which should be our least. He provides for our spiritual needs in great abundance. That should be the source of our greatest joy. In everything we should give thanks.

Lobet den Herren alle, die ihn ehren

All Praise the Lord, All Who Honor Him.

1. Lobet den Herren alle, die ihn ehren; lasst uns mit Freuden seinem Namen singen und Preis und Dank zu seinem Altar bringen. Lobet den Herren!

All praise the Lord, who honor Him; let us sing his name with joy and bring praise and thanks to His altar. All praise the Lord.

2. Der unser Leben, das er uns gegeben, in dieser Nacht so väterlich bedecket / und aus dem Schlaf uns fröhlich auferwecket: Lobet den Herren!

He who our life has given, in this night has covered us so fatherly and wakes us joyfully from sleep, All praise the Lord.

3. Dass unsre Sinnen / wir noch brauchen können / und Händ und Füße, Zung und Lippen regen, das haben wir zu danken seinem Segen. Lobet den Herren!

That we can use our senses, move our hands and feet, tongue and lips, we owe His blessing. All praise the Lord.

4. Dass Feuerflammen / uns nicht allzusammen / mit unsern Häusern unversehns gefressen, das macht's, dass wir in seinem Schoß gesessen. Lobet den Herren!

The flames of fire will not devour our homes, He wills that we sit in His castle. All praise the Lord.

5. Dass Dieb und Räuber / unser Gut und Leiber / nicht angetast' und grausamlich verletzet, dawider hat sein Engel sich gesetzet. Lobet den Herren!

That thief and robber, our goods and life cannot take, for His angel has been appointed. All praise the Lord.

6. O treuer Hüter, Brunnen aller Güter, ach lass doch ferner über unser Leben / bei Tag und Nacht dein Hut und Güte schweben. Lobet den Herren!

O faithful Guardain, wellspring of all goodness, by day and night Your Guard and Goodness hover. All praise the Lord.

7. Gib, dass wir heute, Herr, durch dein Geleite / auf unsern Wegen unverhindert gehen / und überall in deiner Gnade stehen. Lobet den Herren!

Give us that we today, Lord, through Your escorts, go on our way unhindered and remain in Your grace. All praise the Lord.

8. Treib unsern Willen, dein Wort zu erfüllen; lehr uns verrichten heilige Geschäfte, und wo wir schwach sind, da gib du uns Kräfte. Lobet den Herren!

Strengthen our will to fulfill Your Word; teach us holy ways; and where we are weak, there give us strength. All praise the Lord.

9. Richt unsre Herzen, dass wir ja nicht scherzen / mit deinen Strafen, sondern fromm zu werden / vor deiner Zukunft uns bemühn auf Erden. Lobet den Herren!

Direct our hearts, that we do not trifle with Your judgments, but remain pious before Your future reign on earth. All praise the Lord.

10. Herr, du wirst kommen / und all deine Frommen, die sich bekehren, gnädig dahin bringen, da alle Engel ewig, ewig singen: >Lobet den Herren!<

Lord, you will soon come, and all Your believers, those who are converted, bring them in with grace, where all the angels, always always sing out, All praise the Lord.

Paul Gerhardt 1607-1676


Quotations

"Nothing in the world so effectively hinders faith as mammon, or riches, on the one hand and poverty on the other. He who is rich and has something simply ignores God's Word and treads it underfoot. So the Gospel speaks of those who are invited to the great supper but 'cannot' attend because of their acre, oxen, wife, etc. (Luke 14) He who is poor does everything that pleases the devil and the world in order to stave off poverty."
What Luther Says, ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 435. John 6:1?15; Luke 14.

"How does it happen that although all of us are certainly Christians, or at least want to be such, we do not take this attitude of unconcern and neither comfort ourselves with abundance and surplus nor are frightened by want and by worrying about it? For if we faithfully and devotedly cling to God's Word, there shall be no want. Christ takes care of us, and from this it must follow
that we shall have something to eat."
What Luther Says, I, p. 436.

Children
"Children are the most delightful pledges of a loving marriage. They are the best wool on the sheep."
What Luther Says, I, p. 137.

"We should deal with children in such a way that they do not fear their parents, but that they know that they are offending God if they do not fear their parents."
What Luther Says, I, p. 142.

"Chastise them when they deserve it, but accompany the correction with affectionate words so that they do not become disheartened and expect nothing good from you. It is very bad if a son loves someone else more than his father. The father should give some sort of proof that there is no intention entirely to crush the child. The Law alone serves no good purpose; in fact, it is intolerable."
What Luther Says, I, p. 142. 1533, Ephesians 6:4.

The Small Catechism
P: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor's. What does this mean?
C: We should fear and love God that we may not estrange, force, or entice away from our neighbor his wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and do their duty.
P: What does God say of all these commandments?
C: He says thus: I, the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mid-week Lenten Service



The Risen Christ, 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 – Thursdays after tonight.
The Hymn #558 Tallis Canon
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 4 p. 123
The Lection Passion Harmony, TLH
The Sermon Hymn #245 St. Crispin

The Sermon – The Little Gospel
The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45
The Hymn #376 Toplady

KJV John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Luther said about John 3:16 – This verse should be written in golden letters on the heart.
The context is interesting because the John 3 section is one of the more distorted passages in Protestantism. This is where many rest their claim, “You must be born again.” For them, that means an adult conversion experience.

The context and many related passages show that Jesus did not say, “You must have an adult conversion experience.”

He said, “You must be water-Spirit baptized,” and that is a very concise way of saying that baptism offers what God promises. In other words, it is a sacrament, to use our shorthand.

“You must be born from above” is the real meaning of Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus.

All false religion is based on being born from below, from man’s effort. Either he performs works and makes sacrifices to appease God or he accumulates virtue in some way to make himself acceptable to God. “Making a decision” is being born from below, from man’s intellectual effort. Fides formata (Roman Catholic) is faith with works added, or being born from below.

Being born from above can only come from the Holy Spirit working through the Word. The ancients, when they fell away from the revealed truths of God, wandered around trying to determine where God was to be found. They made up the most absurd legends and myths. Many of these stories are barely known because they are too absurd or crude to be told.

God had made His will known in the plainest way possible. His Word always accomplishes His will, (Is 55:8-11) so that means the Holy Spirit is never apart from His Word. There is no independent operation of the Holy Spirit, separated from the Word. And the Word is never without the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is – it must be God’s Word to have the power of the Holy Spirit. If a sermon is about “How to be popular and successful,” that is man’s word and devoid of the Holy Spirit. Worse is the attempt to bend an actual text and turn it into man’s philosophy. Man’s philosophy is always based on works and the Law. If someone wants to test that, listen to the language being used. Wait for – You must do this, and you cannot do that. That is law language.

I read a thesis where a liberal Lutheran applauded Robert Schuller’s maxim that “sin is not believing hard enough.” Schuller is an advocate for Napoleon Hill’s philosophy and for what Norman Vincent Peale plagiarized from an occult source. In both cases, the imagination has special powers to re-create the world (see also Nightingale Conant). In that little maxim sin and faith are both distorted so they serve another interest, which is opposition to God’s Word in the name of God. The conclusion is – You must believe harder. Believe in what? “Believe in yourself. Believe in the power of the your dreams.” Faith is turned into works, man-centered works.

In contrast, the Little Gospel is quite different. We call it the Little Gospel because it states the message of Christ in one, easy-to-memorize verse. When students learn Greek, they turn to John 3:16, because the verse is easy and enjoyable to translated. The words are very simple, plain and easy to understand.

The first phrase reveals the gracious love of God toward all:

God so loved the world.

Jesus, in John’s Gospel, also reveals how the world rejected Jesus and would reject His followers. But God’s love is far beyond man’s grasp. His love is all-encompassing, above and beyond man’s ability to understand. Grace means – free and without strings attached.

Instead of God loving us after we love Him, the reverse is true. We love God because He first loved us.

That He gave His only-begotten Son.

The phrase “only-begotten” is still the best, because “only son” is so quickly distorted by man. In the movie “Oh God,” Jesus is called God’s Son. But so is Moses and Mohammed. So what can that term mean? Only-begotten is very precise, pointing to “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary…”

We are called children of God (as believers) and sons of God (as believers) but Jesus is the only-begotten Son.

That whosoever believeth in Him…

Unlike all the false religions of the world, the Little Gospel has no demand of the Law for salvation. No extra law requirements are added to “any person who trusts in Him for salvation.” Once again, whosoever is very precise in making it clear that no believer is excluded on the basis of prior sins or station in life. No one is too old or too young. Babies also trust in Him, from the moment of baptism, because they are born from above, by water-Spirit baptism.

should not perish

The issue is not whether we will die or not. The word perish sums up two concepts at once – both death and eternal condemnation. To show what “not perish” means, the opposite is stated.

but have everlasting life.

Everlasting life, eternal salvation – that rests upon God giving His Son to us, and that message of divine grace produces faith in His gracious love in Christ. In faith we receive the Promises of God, and those Promises in the Word produce faith in our hearts.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

In the verses following the Little Gospel are an explanation of justification without using the term which Paul favored. Only those who believe in Christ are forgiven, saved, and given eternal life. Those who do not believe on condemned for their non-belief. In fact, as another verse clearly states, they are not forgiven (justified) because the wrath of God remains on unbelievers.

KJV John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The Gospel of John is especially clear about the Biblical message – there are 1) believers in Christ, and there are 2) unbelievers. The world has only two categories, no more.

Finally, this passage includes the statement that false people hide their works because their works are evil. People laugh about my stealth term, but that is the best way to describe false teachers and their works. They always want to work under the radar. They hate being quoted. They hate having their work evaluated in the light of the Scriptures. They claim they can be more effective if they distance themselves from God’s Word. Sadly, they cannot bear to teach the whole counsel of God found in John 3:16. They always conclude, “Look at all the good things we have done in God’s Name.”

God says, “Look at what I have done for you, long before you ever existed.”

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oculi - The Third Sunday in Lent





Oculi, The Third Sunday in Lent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

Mid-Week Lenten Services are Wednesdays at 6 PM.

The Hymn #175 Hamburg 2.43
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 Ephesians 5:1-9
The Gospel Luke 11:14-28
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #172:1-5 Herzlich tut mir 2.55

The Stronger Man

The Hymn #172:6-10 Herzlich tut mir 2.55
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 #457 Friend 2.24

KJV Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

KJV Luke 11:14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. 15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. 18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Third Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who hast sent Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh, that He might overcome the devil, and defend us poor sinners against the adversary: We give thanks unto Thee for Thy merciful help, and we beseech Thee to attend us with Thy grace in all temptations, to preserve us from carnal security, and by Thy Holy Spirit to keep us in Thy word and Thy fear, that unto the end we may be delivered from the enemy, and obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Stronger Man
Luke 11:21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

This Gospel lesson has four different parts, which I have divided in the printed version for clarity.

The first part deals with the power of Jesus, which was displayed with great effect from time to time. The audience had two possible conclusions. Either Jesus was divine or demonic, because only God or Satan could have such power. Some accused him of being in league with the devil, while others demanded a sign (a miracle from heaven). That was often a feature of Jesus’ miracles. In the midst of them, people wanted even more. In my current religion class, some students wondered why Jesus promised the cross to His followers.
Our Savior knew that people were attracted to the miraculous and only wanted the miraculous. Many false leaders today have proven that a criminal record, no education and phony miracles will not be a barrier to forming large crowds and getting big offerings.

When Luther wrote about the Two Kingdoms (Reich) he was distinguishing the Kingdom of God from the Kingdom of Satan. (Another category is the Two Realms or Regiments – the spiritual and the material, the Church vs. the government). People either belong to one Kingdom or another. We are born unbelievers so we do not enter God’s Kingdom until we are baptized. The Christian Church began with infant baptism, when whole households were baptized—no exclusions—for 16 centuries until a few men decided to take away that certainty by inventing “believers’ baptism.”

So the Bible teaches us that there are exactly two categories of people – believers in Christ and non-believers. Becoming a believer is the easiest possible thing in the world because the Word accomplishes it either through baptism (among infants) or through conversion among adults. Remaining a believer is the difficult part. God has appointed His Means of Grace so we always know where we find forgiveness and the source for strengthening our faith, but we always take abundance for granted.

I think many would now value the LCA church I attended in the 1960s. The pastor was conservative. Every service was liturgical. No one ever thought of appealing to the youth by bringing in pop music. Confirmation took two years, but no one was allowed in class until the Small Catechism was memorized. The confirmation classes numbered about 60 each year. As I mentioned on the blog, youth meetings ended with Vespers or another service from the hymnal. The pastor routinely visited in the homes and hospitals. That congregation today would be as rare as hen’s teeth.

So there is a perpetual battle between the Two Kingdoms, Satan’s and God’s. People would have us believe that more people will enter God’s Kingdom if we imitate Satan’s realm. Jesus’ message in this Gospel is - His battle against Satan’s kingdom. Proof of God’s Kingdom arriving is Jesus’ ability to cast out demons. Opposition always accompanies the Gospel because Satan cannot abide losing anyone from his followers, and he wants to recruit as many new ones as possible.

People used to take closed communion for granted. No one thought it was a Constitutional right to drop in at a new denomination and demand Holy Communion. Now people will read a closed communion announcement in a bulletin, stand up, and leave in a huff. If enough congregations have open communion, the forces of apostasy win simply by making everyone indifferent to God’s Word.

Falling away from the faith is more toxic than never believing in the first place. Those who fall away (apostasy means falling away in Greek) have an allergy to what they first believed. They are most likely to be active opponents. I have one reader of the blog who posts one or two atheistic comments on a regular basis. I sometimes wonder if one or both of the Church Growth pastors I knew in the past are sending those atheistic posts.

I recall so many famous Evangelists who became apostates that I cannot begin to list them all. Now we are in an era where even the supposedly conservative Christian leaders are apostates. There is no place where doubt and opposition cannot enter. But these things were predicted in the Epistles.

KJV 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (Apostasis – apostasy) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

KJV 2 Timothy 4:3 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.

Stronger Man
The brief mention of the stronger man is a good example of Jesus speaking to believers who must study His Word carefully. It is easy to pass by this brief mention, but the passage is full of meaning for everyone. For a non-believer, the passage makes no sense.

21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

The strong man is Satan. He ruled over his realm on earth in peace and kept his spoils. Before the Flood, most of the world was given over to godlessness, so it was destroyed, except for Noah’s family. After the Flood, godlessness and pagan worship grew once again. The public ministry of Jesus began the era of the Stronger Man. First in His miracles, then with His cross of resurrection, Christ defeated Satan and took away his armor (all his weapons of deceit). Christ as the Victor took away Satan’s spoils too. The souls won by Christ through the Word would be in God’s Kingdom rather than Satan’s.

Since then the Gospel has spread over the world and given every tribe the chance to hear the Word.
Warning
The warning parable in the third section notes that someone may be converted, defeating demonic forces, but still be prey to their return. Let’s say the problem was addiction. An individual puts his life in order through the Word and receives nothing but blessings: forgiveness from friends and family, a new chance at a job, respect and a health life once again. He says, “I have conquered this.” So an old friend offers him another hit, and he falls again. That can happen many times over, but despair takes over when someone is proud of his own achievements. The swept and garnished house is easier to wreck. So even worse demons take over.

I have seen young adults speaking in class, former meth addicts, with their special meth acne scars still showing. I wonder how we could have thrown away a civilization on such poison.
The Blessing
People in the crowd tried to bless Mary for giving birth to Jesus, but He responded:

27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

God blesses those who hear the Word of the Gospel and guard that Word. The verb means to protect, watch over. The verb is used for guarding a jail. The happy-chappy-chapel people want to talk about Jesus all the time, but they never take His Word seriously. Conversion to Christ means a responsibility to teach His Word exactly as it is revealed in the Word, without any adulteration. We are blessed both in hearing the Word and in keeping it, because God’s Word—not man’s—is the blessing.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reminiscere - The Second Sunday in Lent



"And the Rock which followed was Christ." Norma Boeckler




Reminiscere, The Second Sunday in Lent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

Mid-Week Lenten Services are Wednesdays at 6 PM.

The Hymn #140 Jesus Leiden und Pein
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 Thess. 4:1-7
The Gospel Matthew 15:21-28
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #206 Jesus, meine Zuversicht

God Afflicts the Old Adam

The Hymn #311 Jesus Christus, unser Heiland
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 #151, vss 1-3 Jesu, meines Lebens Leben

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

KJV Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Second Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us, we beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit, that He may strengthen our hearts and confirm our faith and hope in Thy grace and mercy, so that, although we have reason to fear because of our conscience, our sin, and our unworthiness, we may nevertheless, with the woman of Canaan, hold fast to Thy grace, and in every trial and temptation find Thee a very present help and refuge, 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.

God Afflicts the Old Adam

The New Testament has many passages that have troubled people for centuries. Some of them seem to show Jesus as harsh, unconcerned, even insulting. This is one of them. If we study the Gospel, then we can see that Jesus’ love and wisdom should never be doubted.

First of all, we should ask ourselves why the Word of God would place such stumbling blocks in our way, making us wonder about Jesus. This is especially worth considering, since the Holy Spirit is very concise in telling us about Christ. Much more could be written, as the ending of John’s Gospel declares. Therefore, it would have been possible for the Bible to offer us only stories that flow past us without disturbing us at all.

We think we would like God’s Word to be like one class I once took. The professor was so kind and easy-going. He was soft spoken and soft on his students. In fact, I could hardly stay awake. If the Bible never disturbed us in any way, we would be asleep all of the time, or take things for granted.

We can see that this woman already believed in Christ. She had complete trust in His ability to heal her daughter and His willingness to do so. That never wavered. So, this is an example of Jesus laying His cross on a believer. As Luther wrote:

"Observe, God and men proceed in contrary ways. Men set on first that which is best, afterward that which is worse. God first gives the cross and affliction, then honor and blessedness. This is because men seek to preserve the old man; on which account they instruct us to keep the Law by works, and offer promises great and sweet...But God first of all terrifies the conscience, sets on miserable wine, in fact nothing but water; then, however, He consoles us with the promises of the Gospel which endure forever."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 69. Second Sunday after Epiphany, John 2:1-11.

In this miraculous healing, Jesus was first asked by a woman to heal her daughter, who was “grievously vexed with a devil.” But Jesus did not even answer the woman! Where was His love and compassion? She continued to cry, and His disciples intervened to ask Him to care of things. The request of the disciples implied that they wanted Him to grant her prayer, because His answer seemed to be a clear “No.” Jesus said He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. She was a Canaanite woman, a non-Jew. He was not sent to minister to her.

First Jesus refused to answer her. Then He told His disciples that His mission was to help the house of Israel. Next, the woman worshiped Him and implored His help. But He answered in a way that would be taken by many to be quite insulting: “It is not right to take away the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.” The children belonged to the house of Israel. She did not.

Three different times Jesus failed to grant her prayer for her daughter. The Canaanite woman responded in faith, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” She was saying, “It is true that I do not qualify to receive help, so I am no better than a dog. But there is so much at the master’s table that I might get a crumb.”

Then Jesus said, “Great is your faith.” The woman’s daughter was healed at that moment.

In various miracles of healing, different points are made to give us spiritual wisdom. When the centurion’s son was healed, the main point was that Jesus could heal with His Word, without being present. However, that happened in this miracle without any emphasis upon the Word.

When the Gerasene demoniac was healed, the evil spirit confessed Jesus as the Son of God.

In this miracle, the healing revolved around Jesus’ reluctance to answer the woman or give her what she desperately wanted for her sick daughter. In fact, this is how God often treats us. He teaches us to look at Him as our kind, gracious, heavenly Father, and to see ourselves as His beloved children. He admonishes us to ask Him for everything, all our needs. And yet, when we pray to God, our prayers do not seem to be answered many times.

God does this to discipline us and to destroy our self-confidence. That is not a typographical error. Self-confidence often means pride, conceit, self-centeredness. When God delays answering our prayers and does not seem to hear or care about us, we begin to despair of ourselves. That is a good thing. When we think we can manage things ourselves, when we make demands, we can become extremely ungrateful.

One aspect of our fallen nature is very clear. Simply receiving things in abundance will make us spoiled, ungrateful, even resentful. Times of privation, when we have almost nothing, make us thankful for what we have. Some of the most grateful Americans are those who came through the Depression and WWII. Others are immigrants. One Polish immigrant came into the city treasury department in New Ulm, paid his real estate taxes, and said, “I want to tell you how thankful I am to be able to pay my taxes in America.” The workers were stunned and pleased to have a happy tax-payer in the office.

If we think we can take of ourselves through our strength, cleverness, and hard work, then our confidence in God will decrease. In contrast, if we give up on ourselves and throw ourselves on the mercy of God, then we will give Him alone the glory for the solution to our affliction.

The miracle in this lesson offers us two examples. First of all, the Son of God does not seem to listen and yet, after a period of waiting, He says, "Be it done as you desire.” Second, the woman is not deterred by waiting or the apparent shunning of her cause. Accepting the designation of “dog,” she responds, “Even the dogs get the scraps from the table.” She is held up as an example by Jesus Himself, “Great is your faith.”

In contrast, many are those who pray to God but become discouraged. What is discouragement but a lack of courage? Courage and patience are closely related. Aristotle wrote that courage and patience are so closely related that one must be the daughter of the other.

Praying in faith means having the spiritual wisdom to realize that God will answer prayers according to His wisdom. Faith in God means trusting that His nature is completely different from ours. His thought are completely different. “My ways are not your ways; My thoughts are not your thoughts.” God may delay answering our prayers to strengthen us in faith and to kill our confidence in our own abilities, wisdom, and strategies. If we are thankless, He may wait long enough to make us thankful. If we have decided exactly how He should accomplish our will, He may grant a prayer in such a convoluted way that we have to concede, “God alone did this.”

False teachers instruct people in how to demand and get from God exactly what they want, when they want it. God is not so weak nor so deaf that He cannot turn this around on them. They get exactly what they want and when they want it, to their destruction. They become more and more puffed up in their pride. They create their own destruction by being proud, unthankful, and conceited.

So we see in this Canaanite woman no questioning of God’s goodness. Her mission is so important that she cannot stop asking. Prayer to God requires faith. Her faith is undaunted by all the apparent roadblocks: the initial silence, the comment made to the disciples, and finally the response from Jesus Himself.

In Christ we have the source and giver of all spiritual treasures: forgiveness of sins through the cross, eternal life, the peace and joy of the Christian life, the blessings enjoyed by our children and grandchildren. Nothing is beyond the reach of God. He can bestow His wealth of blessings upon everyone.

Thankfulness and humility lead us to pray for others, to pray for what is most important for ourselves (in the eyes of God), to pray for faithful pastors and congregations.


Luther On the Cross

"If, here upon earth, the body is unwilling, not capable of grace and Christ's leading, it must bear the Spirit, upon which Christ rides, who trains it and leads it along by the power of grace, received through Christ. The colt, ridden by Christ, upon which no one ever rode, is the willing spirit, whom no one before could make willing, tame or ready, save Christ by His grace. However, the sack carrier, the burden-bearer, the old Adam, is the flesh, which goes riderless without Christ; it must for this reason bear the cross and remain a beast of burden."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 53. First Sunday in Advent Matthew 21:1-9.

"But when our good work is followed by persecution, let us rejoice and firmly believe that it is pleasing to God; indeed, then let us be assured that it comes from God, for whatever is of God is bound to be crucified by the world. As long as it does not bring the cross, that is, as long as it does not bring shame and contempt as we patiently continue in it, it cannot be esteemed as a divine work since even the Son of God was not free from it--(suffering for the sake of the good He did) --but left us an example in this. He Himself tells us in Matthew 5:10, 12: 'Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake.. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.'"
Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976, p. 55. Matthew 5: 10, 12.; Romans 2:6-10

"On the other hand, we are outwardly oppressed with the cross and sufferings, and with the persecution and torments of the world and the devil, as with the weight of heavy stone upon us, subduing our old sinful nature and checking us against antagonizing the Spirit and committing other sins."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 145. Sixth Sunday after Trinity, Romans 6:6 John 16:20 –

"Such people, however, do not understand divine things, they think they will suddenly enter death with Christ, whom they have never learned to know except in words. Thus was Peter also disposed, but he stood before Christ like a rabbit before one beating a drum. Notice, how the old Adam lacks courage when under the cross! The new man, however, can indeed persevere through grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 85. Third Sunday after Easter John 16:16-23

"But wine is sharp and signifies the holy cross that immediately follows. A Christian need not look for his cross, it is always on his back. For he thinks as St. Paul says, 2 Timothy 3:12: 'All that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.' This is the court-color in this kingdom. Whoever is ashamed of the color, does not belong to this king."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 30. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Luke 10:23-37; 2 Timothy 3:12

"Observe, God and men proceed in contrary ways. Men set on first that which is best, afterward that which is worse. God first gives the cross and affliction, then honor and blessedness. This is because men seek to preserve the old man; on which account they instruct us to keep the Law by works, and offer promises great and sweet...But God first of all terrifies the conscience, sets on miserable wine, in fact nothing but water; then, however, He consoles us with the promises of the Gospel which endure forever."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 69. Second Sunday after Epiphany, John 2:1-11.

"Not only is Christ hidden from the world, but a still harder thing is it that in such trials Christ conceals himself even from His church, and acts as if he had forgotten, aye, had entirely forsaken and rejected it, since He permits it to be oppressed under the cross and subjected to all the cruelty of the world, while its enemies boast, glory and rejoice over it, as we shall hear in the next Gospel."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 67. Second Sunday after Easter John 10:11-16.

"If we would be Christians, we must surely expect and count on having the devil, together with all his angels and the world, as our enemies. They all will bring misfortune and sorrow on us For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and where it produces fruit, the dear, holy cross cannot be wanting."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 357. Large Catechism

"O Lord, look down from heaven, behold And let Thy pity waken;
How few are we within Thy fold, Thy saints by men forsaken!
True faith seems quenched on every hand, Men suffer not Thy Word to stand;
Dark times have us overtaken.

(2) With fraud which they themselves invent Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show, They lead the people to and fro,
In error's maze astounded.

(3) May God root out all heresy And of false teachers rid us
Who proudly say: 'Now, where is he That shall our speech forbid us?
By right or might we shall prevail; What we determine cannot fail;
We own no lord and master.

(5) As silver tried by fire is pure From all adulteration
So through God's Word shall men endure Each trial and temptation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross, And purified from human dross,
It shines thru every nation."
The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #260. Psalm 12.

"But now, since the prince of this world and the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the devil, are directly opposed to one another, and the Holy Spirit is not willing that anyone should parade his own deeds and praise himself on account of them, the holy cross must soon follow. The world will not consent to be reprimanded for its blindness. Therefore one must willingly submit and suffer persecution. If we have the right kind of faith in our hearts, we must also open our mouths and confess righteousness and make known sin. Likewise we must condemn and punish the doings of this world and make it known that everything it undertakes, is damned."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 120. Fourth Sunday after Easter John 16:5-15.

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

"This a true definition of marriage: Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God. The ultimate purpose is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one's wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one's wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 884. Genesis 24:1-4.

"This is a true definition of marriage: Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God. The ultimate purpose is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one's wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one's wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols. ed. Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 884. Genesis 24:1-4

"Human works and doctrines at all times yield much revenue and carnal gain, while the doctrines of God and the work of Christ bring the cross, poverty, ignominy, and all kinds of calamity, which the holiness of Herod cannot endure. Thus it happens always, that they who have ensnared and oppressed the poor with an erring conscience and with human doctrines, do not like to hear that poor, miserable consciences receive instruction, attain a right understanding, and seek the simple pure Word of God and faith."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 376. Epiphany Matthew 2:1-12.

"The apostle says 'our,' 'our sins;' not his own sin, not the sins of unbelievers. Purification is not for, and cannot profit, him who does not believe. Nor did Christ effect the cleansing by our free-will, our reason or power, our works, our contrition or repentance, these all being worthless in the sight of God; he effects it by himself. And how? By taking our sins upon himself on the holy cross, as Isaiah 53:6 tells us."
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 180. Hebrews 1:1-12; Hebrews 1:3;

"This, mark you, is the peace of the cross, the peace of God, peace of conscience, Christian peace, which gives us even external calm, which makes us satisfied with all men and unwilling to disturb any. Reason cannot understand how there can be pleasure in crosses, and peace in disquietude; it cannot find these. Such peace is the work of God, and none can understand it until it has been experienced."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 111. Fourth Sunday in Advent, Philippians 4:7