Lutheran Worship and Resources

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

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

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

Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

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

which works too.

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

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Exaudi, The Sunday after the Ascension

The Last Supper, by Norma Boeckler

Exaudi, The Sunday after the Ascension

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

Note – if you are having trouble reading Ichabod or the Bethany blog, Google is reporting problems not yet fixed - as of this post. One solution is to download and use the Firefox browser (much faster working than Internet Explorer). The free download site is :
I am still having IE problems but have no problems using Firefox.

The Hymn #231 We Now Implore God 3:38
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 Peter 4:7-11
The Gospel John 15:26-16:4
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #39 Praise to the Lord, the 3:1

The Spirit of Truth

The Hymn #216 On Christ’s Ascension 3.41
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 #37 Lord Tis Not 3:52

KJV 1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. John 16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

Exaudi Sunday
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy Holy Spirit Thou hast appointed us to bear witness of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: We beseech Thee, inasmuch as the world cannot endure such testimony, and persecutes us in every way, grant us courage and comfort, that we may not be offended because of the cross, but continue steadfastly in Thy testimony, and be found always among those who know Thee and Thy Son, until we obtain eternal salvation through the same, Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Gaost, one true God, world without end. Amen

The Comforter, The Spirit of Truth

Man searches for truth. The Information Age has increased the distribution of facts and opinions, but people still wonder, “What is truth?”

In this Gospel, Jesus teaches us about the work of the Holy Spirit. This particular Sunday comes after the Ascension of Jesus and just before the Day of Pentecost. Most Christians think that Pentecost is a holiday unique to Christians, but the day is simply taken over from Jews who continue to celebrate Pentecost as they did in the past, as 50 days after Passover.

The Gospel lessons from John address the coming of the Holy Spirit several times. I find one description of the work of the Holy Spirit annoyingly cute, but it also fits the Biblical portrait well. Once Northwestern Publishing House published a book about the Holy Spirit called, The Holy Spirit, The Shy Member of the Trinity.
This title comes from the Biblical witness that the work of the Holy Spirit is to witness to the glory of the Father and the Son. If you read many different passages in the Bible, you will see how often the Father and the Son are emphasized, while the work of the Holy Spirit is implicit.

Dr. Robert Preus taught at Ft. Wayne that Pentecostalism arose because modern Christianity was too interested in Jesus alone, to the detriment of understanding the Holy Trinity, especially in how the Holy Spirit works. This requires some explanation. The liberals attacked Christianity by denying the divinity of Christ and wondering out loud what He really thought about Himself. Their main code word was “the mind of Christ,” distorting a phrase from Philippians 2. What they meant by this was that Jesus did not consider Himself the Son of God, so we should have this same “mind of Christ.” This also became a good excuse to teach a new doctrine of salvation by works – rather, the old doctrine of works.

Obviously in this concentration upon Jesus, built upon distortions and the manipulation of facts, the work of the Holy Spirit was forgotten. In one verse we have two descriptions of the work of the Holy Spirit. One is that of Comforter, or Spokesman, or Advocate. In this role we know that those who are faithful in their study of the Word and careful in teaching the Word alone, without distortions or man-made additions, will speak God’s truth. That does not mean that any kind of blabber is the work of the Holy Spirit. But it does mean that “he who listens to you listens to Me.”

No individual can speak God’s Word on his own. The Holy Spirit moves us to witness to the truth. Only the Spirit can plant faith in our hearts and nurture that faith through the Word and Sacraments. Knowing and believing this solves several basic problems. One is: how can I ever speak for God? The other is: how can I know what truth is?

The Christian faith is taught so clearly in the Bible that anyone can become an orthodox Christian through reading the Scriptures alone. We are helped by having other books, but the Bible does not require another book. What people often lack is not an understanding of the “difficult” Bible but a lack of study of the Word. The best professor of the Scriptures is the Holy Spirit. If we want to know what the Gospel of John teaches, the best books are not by Lenski and Luther, as good as they are, but by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. That is also what Luther and Lenski taught, following what the Christian Church has done from the beginning – using Scripture to interpret Scripture.

I remember how excited Time magazine got about hyper-linked texts. We are used to it on the Internet now. Click on a link about Moby Dick and it takes you to the Melville museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, next to the WELS congregation there. Click on a word in the museum site and it takes you to the complete text of the novel.

The Bible did this many centuries ago. Every verse is linked to all other verses. We are confident that the entire Bible is God’s truth, but also that it is a unified truth. The tiny book of Jonah relates directly to the death and resurrection of Christ. The expulsion of Adam and Even from the garden includes the first Gospel promise of our Savior. The New Testament is filled with verses that contain a phrase from the Old Testament. Then we can see how God prepared His people for centuries to see and believe in the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus our Savior.

The Bible is the Book of the Holy Spirit. We can say the Holy Spirit does not get much credit, but to have that One Book on His resume is quite an achievement. After all, the Bible is not judged by any book. Instead, it judges all books. I read a massive book on Charles Darwin, who was quite a genius and student of biology. Nevertheless, Darwin’s works do not stand above the Bible even if Darwin is the smartest of all scientists. (I find it ironic that he studied the earthworm for 40 years and missed its unique role in improving the soil, emphasizing instead its ability to create soil and bury all the creations of man.)

The explosion of information makes people uncertain about the truth, but every believer can open the Scriptures and test the latest claims with what the Bible has always taught. This is a great comfort for adults and children, because we can be thrown into all kinds of educational turmoil and remain believers by clinging to the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

Although we have many faults, weaknesses, and sins, and fall into doubt about God’s power and goodness, the Holy Spirit constantly teaches us and strengthens our weak faith. As one person said to Jesus, “I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.” We believe. We trust in Christ, yet we fall into turmoil from the assaults of Satan, our weak flesh, and the unbelieving world.

How is an individual forgiven? Most of the confessions of Christianity are in confusion about this, but the Bible speaks clearly. Forgiveness comes only through the appointed Means of Grace: the Word, Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. In each case, the Holy Spirit works exclusively through the Word to bring us forgiveness: through the invisible Word of teaching and preaching, the visible Word of Baptism and Holy Communion.

We have consistent worship throughout the Lutheran Church (that is the ideal, no longer in effect) for a reason – to call attention to the Holy Spirit’s work in worship, creating sorrow for sins through the Law and rejoicing in forgiveness through the Gospel. The worship service should be consistent from congregation to congregation, so that people do not whisper to each other, “I like the congregation’s pit band better than ours. We really need some bongo drums and better sound. I think I will donate some loud speakers in memory of my mother-in-law.”
Christianity Today was forced to admit one time that the traditional Lutheran worship service glorifies the grace of God more than any other. Isn’t it odd to have people gibbering in tongues to prove they have the Holy Spirit when the Word, baptism, and communion are welded to the Holy Spirit. In fact, God never works apart from these means of grace.

This is important to realize in terms of forgiveness. The entire world may refuse to forgive you, but every believer knows he is forgiven by God because of the promises given by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately what matters is God’s forgiveness and not the world’s forgiveness.

I know that many pastors and laity are facing great difficulties today. But there is little respect for the Word of God today, especially among church leaders who no longer recognize the divine call of the pastor. Nevertheless, as bad as things may be, we still know that the Holy Spirit guides us through the Scriptures. God will judge all these things in time and the judgment will begin in the house of God.
KJV 1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

It is easy to be in a position of power and gloat over the harm done to others through bullying and abuse of power, but God sees all and understands what is in the heart of man. Many a poor Lazarus will be in the bosom of Abraham in the age to come. Many a rich baron will cry out for a drop of water when his unrepentant sins toss him into the eternal flames of Hell.

The Holy Spirit warns us and comforts us. If we love the truth, the Spirit of Truth gives us confidence and peace. If we hate the truth, the Spirit of Truth will seem to be a burning fire, a hammer, a terror, and wrath without end.

Part II
John 16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
The second part of this lesson should resonate with many, because people continue to be shocked that sound doctrine causes strife, alienates people, and brings the cross. The first stage of the growth of Christianity came from the preaching of the Gospel in the synagogues. The first converts were Jews, and they used the worship and teaching centers to say that everything they learned from the Scriptures was fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. The Jewish followers were excommunicated for teaching the truth, so Jesus said, “I am telling you so you won’t be scandalized when it happens.”

Simply from preaching the Word the apostolic church saw explosive growth and immediate persecution. We know from the historical records of non-Christians that vast numbers became followers from the beginning. That should not shock us because 500 were eyewitnesses of the risen Lord and heard Him preach before His Ascension.
The apostles also drew from the dregs of society, the criminal class and the slaves. This added to the low esteem of Christianity, which was considered a sect of the Jews, who were nothing but trouble for the Romans. This loathing made it easy to persecute Christians and put them in the arena for sport, to be attacked by wild animals.

Jesus warned, “They will think they are doing a service for God when they kill you.” As Luther commented, the most bitter pill is the persecution of Christians by Christians. In the early days it was the Jews defenestrating fellow Jews, accompanied by Rome killing Christians in the name of religious harmony.
Now there are subtler forms of persecution. But rather than feel sorry, we should be satisfied that the Word is exactly right about this. Besides, conflict makes us study the Word and learn more. Ease and luxury have always made people lazy about the Word and more prone to fall away, as Jesus warned in the Parable of the Sower. The cares and riches of the world choke part of the crop because people pay more attention to material things. They even think that material means will create spiritual blessings. They say, “If only we had more money,” instead of “If only we applied ourselves to the Word.”

3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

Someone wrote, “Don’t take things personally.” This verse shows where the animus comes from. There are many indications, such as deceitfulness, hiding behind anonymity, and quoting false teachers as their authority. As one stealthy person claimed recently, Lutherans need to be judged by something D. James Kennedy (Reformed) wrote, a quotation so steeped in Law and Pietism that it was laughable. “How many people are you taking to heaven with you?” I cannot imagine a better load of guilt to lay on people – the Protestant version of Purgatory: motivate works with fear, guilt, and uncertainty.

The same has happened when people imagined they had a special claim on the Holy Spirit. They increased their annoying behavior many times over by always speaking for God—“the Holy Spirit told me…”—in spouting their hostilities. I know of ministers who cringed because they could not stand up to these self-appointed apostles, surrendering the great blessing of teaching where the Holy Spirit can always be found – in the Word and Sacraments.

When ministers turn against the Scriptures, they turn toward Rome as the materialistic symbol of truth. Or they spend their careers teaching people the Bible is not true, as so many mainline ministers do. Or they focus on personality, performance, and entertainment, because they think the Holy Spirit is not capable of producing the miracle of faith without their marketing skills and pop music.

False teachers cause a lot of damage, but they also prove how powerful the Word of God is. That is why they rage against orthodoxy and try to silence anyone who figures them out. They would not rage if they had a soft target.

"Nevertheless, He has said that the Holy Spirit should testify of him and that they also should bear witness; and He assures them that their testimony shall not be effaced by this rage and persecution of the world." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 258. Exaudi John 15:26-16:4.


"We have the comfort of this victory of Christ—that He maintains His Church against the wrath and power of the devil; but in the meantime we must endure such stabs and cruel wounds from the devil as are necessarily painful to our flesh and blood. The hardest part is that we must see and suffer all these things from those who call themselves the people of God and the Christian Church. We must learn to accept these things calmly, for neither Christ nor the saints have fared better." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 263. Exaudi John 15:26-16:4.
"From these two convictions—that they do not know Him and that they persecute and slay His advocates—Christ now passes the judgment that the so-called Church is not the Church. He then concludes that with their false doctrines and persecutions they are both liars and murderers of God and of Christ and of all His saints." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 270. Exaudi John 15:26-16:4.
"It is not the devil's aim to plague us physically; he is a spirit who is always thirsting for the tears and the drops of blood that come from our hearts. He wants us to despair and to perish from sadness. This would be his joy and delight. But he will not succeed." What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1244. John 15:19.
"Nevertheless, He has said that the Holy Spirit should testify of him and that they also should bear witness; and He assures them that their testimony shall not be effaced by this rage and persecution of the world." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 258. Exaudi John 15:26-16:4.

In Memory of Our Fallen Soldiers
I have had the great privilege of teaching active duty military in college classes, and I often teach former members of the military and family members as well. In church work I have also know WWII veterans, Korean, Viet Nam, and Iraq war veterans. Memorial Day began after the Civil War, to honor those who lost their lives in our bloodiest conflict. Graves were decorated, so I remember it still being called Decoration Day, as it was among some in the beginning.

Every time I read a book about our wars, I marvel at the courage and tenacity of our military people in facing political battles and logistic struggles while fighting the enemy.

The strength of our country has come from a core of veterans who placed their country above their own interests and saw their best friends die for it.

Our best way of remembering their service is to thank them and their families for their sacrifices.

No comments: