Lutheran Worship and Resources



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

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

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


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

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

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

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

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Third Sunday after Trinity



By Norma Boeckler


The Third Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #292 Lord Jesus Christ 1.2
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 5:6-11
The Gospel Luke 15:1-10
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #436 The Lord’s My Shepherd 1.33

God Pursues the Lost

The Hymn #339 All Hail the Power 1.57
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 #9 O Day of Rest 1.89

KJV 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having suffered ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh: We beseech Thee graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ; and quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may abide in Thy word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Thy Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end Amen.

God Pursues the Lost

This Gospel passage is famous by itself, and it is also the introduction to the Prodigal Son. So we have three easy-to-remember examples in a cluster:
The first is the lost sheep. Any farmer could identify with that one.
The second is the lost coin. Any woman could place herself in that story.
The third is the lost, prodigal son. Any person could see himself as the Prodigal Son, perhaps as the elder brother. And it reveals to us the nature of our loving heavenly Father, who rejoices in what is found.

We have tender feelings toward our animals. They depend on us, showing us love and affection, especially when they are hungry. They get themselves into trouble in various ways.

The Bible is lavish in comparing our relationship to Christ as that of the Good Shepherd (John 10) caring for the sheep. We are the sheep (Isaiah 53) who have gone astray, and He is the sacrificial, spotless Lamb who has paid the price for our sins. He is both Passover Lamb and the Good Shepherd.

Sheep easily get into trouble. If one heads into the corner of the pen, all the others will line up and crowd into that corner and stay there for a while. We knew a family with a sheep farm, and the son showed us that tendency. Once they were all lined up and pressing into the corner, I tried to get the crowd broken up. The farms kids laughed. They said, “You can’t change their minds right now. Later they will break up.” I could picture four parents saying, “Who did that to the sheep?” But later, they milled around as usual. It was easy to imagine them following each other off a cliff.

We all know animals that can take care of themselves fairly well. I heard about cats that live in luxury in a house, with loving owners. The cats have also tunneled under the fence where a supermarket of mice and other creatures live in a field. It’s hard to imagine a cat being totally dependent, since so many can live on their own if they have to.

Luther had the greatest comparison to remind us of our relationship to Christ, and this little story reminds us of it – He is as anxious for us as we are for Him.

Jesus was accused of welcoming sinners and eating with them. This accusation came in various ways from the Scribes and Pharisees. We should remember that this was historically true but also a hint at problems to come in the visible church.
Jesus attracted huge crowds because they heard and saw something completely different. He spoke with divine authority. He confirmed His divinity with miracles. And He taught that forgiveness came from Him, not from the works we do ourselves.

Those who had no hope for forgiveness from the Scribes and Pharisees were drawn to Jesus. They were open sinners. In other words, everyone knew they were scoundrels. Jesus said, “Righteousness comes from Me, not from your works.” That enraged everyone who trusted in his own goodness, so they hated Jesus and sought to accuse Him this way and that way.

The Lost Sheep addresses God’s attitude toward sinners. Jesus addressed the critics by asking them a question. Who among you would not leave his 99 sheep to look for the lost one?

That would be hard to answer with “I would!”

Now the entire audience is viewing the question of Jesus befriending the sinners in a different way. But there are more details.

Any herd owner search for that sheep until he is found.

Notice how the Enthusiasts turn this around? They want everyone to identify with this parable but they get the basic message wrong. The 99 do not search the woods, the ravines, and the ditches to find their lost companion. The Shepherd does.

How does God pursue the lost? He provides many different ways for people to hear about His gracious love, His mercy, and His forgiveness. Throughout the Scriptures there are hundreds of statements about His desire to forgive, His efforts to provide a Savior for us all.

We do not just have one Means of Grace, but many, if we count them all up.
If you have ever called for a lost animal, you know about this. They do not answer the first call or come on their own. So God pursues us all with many different Means and always in a way that we can understand and trust in His Promises.
Infant baptism is one way in which God draws people into His Kingdom. It is the surest sign of God’s grace and love. Infants have nothing to offer – no works, no money, no merit. They do have the purest trust in God, which is planted within their hearts by the Gospel. As infant believers, everything they do glorifies God, even when they soil their didies or have green stuff coming out their noses.

Enthusiasts jumped on Luther and said, “How can this be? Infants do not have a mature understanding.” Luther responded, “You do, but still you do not believe.”

So Jesus taught repeatedly that we must believe as children to enter the Kingdom. He picked up small children and blessed them to show what He meant. That naturally means that small children, even nursing babies, have faith.

Some are converted as adults, so they are baptized—as Jesus was—because this Sacrament carries with it so many blessings. Are we in His kingdom? We only need to look to our baptism, whether as children or adults.

We have the preaching and teaching of the Gospel as another Means of receiving God’s grace.

Jesus provided, through the apostles, a learned ministry so people would hear the Word of God from men who were well trained in the Scriptures. Jesus taught publicly but also explained more to His apostles. He gathered 500 together before His Ascension and taught them.

Preaching and teaching must be important to God, because that is mostly what Jesus did for three years. He performed miracles to confirm the Word, but most of His time was spent in distributing the Word, like the Parable of the Sower and the Seed.

Holy Communion is another instrument of God’s grace. The hardest work is to focus while listening. Luther commented on how a sermon can fly right past us as we think about other things. One study showed that people think at least 5 times faster than anyone can talk. One distraction can take away an entire audience. I worked for a pastor who had a bat fly above the congregation. No matter what he said, the heads moved around watching that bat. And we think it’s funny when the dog says “Squirrel” in the movie Up. People are just as easily distracted. So Holy Communion gives us the visible Word, which we receive individually. Adult education specialists say, “We should involve the senses in education.” God thought of that a few years ago. It is impossible to ignore what Holy Communion is when we come forward as individuals to receive the body and blood of Christ.

What do Enthusiasts complain about? The Word – they do not trust in the Word alone.

They also rail against the Sacraments. The Enthusiasts do not accept God granting us forgiveness through Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.

Lutherans who study with Enthusiasts begin to be embarrassed, so they get rid of the altar and hide the baptismal font.

What happened to the Shepherd leaving ninety and nine in the wilderness, and going after that which is lost, until he find it?

And yet there are more Means of Grace, if we count everything taught in the Book of Concord.

Absolution is definitely God’s instrument, because the announcement of forgiveness to believers is God’s grace.

The mutual consolation of the brothers – that is how people share the Gospel in their daily lives, forgiving and being forgiven.

Ordination is listed as a sacrament once in the Book of Concord. That is naturally part of the preaching and teaching of the Word. Certain men are set aside to preach and teach. Ordination, the laying on of hands, shows that God offers special blessings and responsibilities to those who serve in this capacity.

So Jesus helps us identify with God’s attitude toward us when He says that someone finding a lost sheep will carry it home rejoicing and celebrate with his neighbors. God is far more willing to forgive than we are to repent.

The Parable of the Lost Coin, in just a few words, once again reveals the attitude of God toward us. If only one item is lost, we search the entire home and engage in massive clean-ups to find it. One of my worst episodes was finding the tickets to Disneyland. I searched everywhere and even began cleaning out the filing cabinets finding them. I was ready to confess, on the day of the trip, that they were completely lost, when I sank into my chair near the computer. My eyes fell on the tickets, two feet away. The happiness was overwhelming.

So there is great rejoicing in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and believes in the Gospel.


Quotations

"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of grace when one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV: 'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace. First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism. Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"
John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, 1934, p. 447. SA, IV, Concordia Triglotta, p. 491. Matthew 18:20.

"We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached, concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #54, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 417.

"The second argument is that 'God desires all men to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4), and He gave His Son for us men and created man for eternal life. Likewise: All things exist for man, and he himself exists for God that he may enjoy Him, etc. These points and others like them can be refuted as easily as the first one. For these verses must always be understood as pertaining to the elect only, as the apostle says in 2 Timothy 2:10 'everything for the sake of the elect.' For in an absolute sense Christ did not die for all, because He says: 'This is My blood which is poured out for you' and 'for many'﷓﷓He does not say: for all﷓﷓'for the forgiveness of sins.' (Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28)
Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 25 p. 375.

"No more splendid work exists than receiving and hearing the Word of God."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 302. Luke 10:38.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Second Sunday after Trinity



Cover art by Norma Boeckler


The Second Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #377 Salvation unto Us 2.1
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 1 John 3:13-18
The Gospel Luke 14:16-24
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #264 Preserve thy Word 2.55

Father’s Day

The Hymn #313 O Lord we praise Thee 2.36
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 #45 Now the Hour 2.95

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy holy word Thou hast called us to Thy great supper, and we beseech Thee: Quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not hear Thy word without fruit, but that we may prepare ourselves rightly for Thy kingdom, and not suffer ourselves to be hindered by any worldly care, 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.

"Those, however, who set the time, place and measure, tempt God, and believe not that they are heard or that they have obtained what they asked; therefore, they also receive nothing." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 172. John 16:23-30.

"In like manner, St. Paul says that God's ability is thus proved, in that He does exceeding abundantly above and better than we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20. Therefore, we should know we are too finite to be able to name, picture or designate the time, place, way, measure and other circumstances for that which we ask of God. Let us leave that entirely to Him, and immovably and steadfastly believe that He will hear us." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 179f. Fifth Sunday after Easter. Ephesians 3:20.

"If the world were willing to take advice from a simple, plain man--that is, our Lord God (who, after all, has some experience too and knows how to rule)--the best advice would be that in his office and sphere of jurisdiction everybody simply direct his thoughts and plans to carrying out honestly and doing in good faith what has been commanded him and that, whatever he does, he depend not on his own plans and thoughts but commit the care to God. Such a man would certainly find out in the end who does and accomplishes more, he who trusts God or he who would bring success to his cause through his own wisdom and thoughts or his own power and strength." What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1151. Luke 5:1-11.

KJV 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Father’s Day

The skeptics like to tell us that man has painted a portrait of God the Father based on our own fathers. On every subject they get the facts right, but upside down.

Fathers should model themselves after our gracious heavenly Father.

Today we have many fathers but not many men. One of my students missed class because he said, “My girlfriend had our first baby last week.” I asked him in front of the class, “Are you going to marry her?” He said, “No!” Then he added, “I already feel married.” He was not a minority member or an impoverished illegal alien. He was being a typical American male, a boy who never grows into being a man.

God the Father takes care of us, even those who do not acknowledge him as Father. If one little aspect of His care is lessened (in our way of thinking), disaster strikes.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, about 9 inches of rain fell in one brief but memorable storm. Roads are washed out. Culvert pipes have washed downstream. Homes and businesses are flooded. I remember a worse flood in Midland. A future DP was in the car with me. One road was blocked with a warning sign, so we went down that way slowly. One block away, the roadbed ahead of the highway barrier was washed away and replaced with a new version of the Grand Canyon.

One bad storm and our lives are in turmoil. Yet people are not grateful to God for the sunshine and rain that regulate our lives and keep us nourished and healthy.
Bad weather is a reminder of how much good weather we enjoy. In fact, there is no other nation blessed with the weather and resources of America.

Many fathers seem to think they have no reason to provide for others as God has provided for them. And this is considered a normal attitude. Being married and providing for a wife and children is considered exception. I know that from having so many young adults in the classroom. The single mother situation, for whatever cause, is normal.

I do not know why, but the percentage of men in higher education has switched. In the past, men were the majority in college and they dominated academics in earning high grades. Now women are 60 to 80% of the student population. The women are normally the achievers while the men just get by. The women agree that the men do not want to grow up, but stay little boys who want to party and play video games, or work on their music careers while their girlfriends provide for them.

The Bible reveals God the Father as forgiving, with His forgiveness based on His love and mercy, not our merit. The most memorable example is found in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, which could easily be called The Forgiving Father.

When the son demanded his inheritance, the Father gave it to him.

Next the prodigal son squandered all his money on fast women and slow horses. He was reduced to coveting the carob pods eaten by the pigs.

The son turned toward home, knowing he had sinned against God and his family. The parable is a good example of natural law. If someone throws over the traces, the order established by God’s Creation will eventually catch up with him. Poverty and disgrace are one way God provides as a foundation for genuine contrition.

But what does the Father in the parable do as the son heads home?

KJV Luke 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

The Word reveals our heavenly Father as far more ready to forgives than we are to repent.

As we see in so many lessons from the Savior, God’s grace is prodigal even when we are prodigal sons. The Father runs to meet the son, but he also embraces him, kisses him, and hosts a feast for all his friends. Of course, this makes the elder brother angry. He is the little Pharisee in all of us.

The downtrodden, impoverished, wastrels, and criminals are usually the ones most thankful for the Gospel. As Luther often wrote, the broken and poor in spirit -- not the mighty and powerful--are the ones who rejoice in forgiveness. I was explaining Law and Gospel to a group of prisoners in jail when all of them burst into tears. That was how great the power of the Word was upon them. One gave up his drug addiction and went back to his drug connections to speak against his past life. That is just a small picture of what happened when the Gospel reached the Roman Empire. It is replayed in many ways today.

So earthly fathers should be as forgiving as our gracious Heavenly Father.

That is the purpose of the Gospel, not only to give us forgiveness of sins, justification by faith, but also to spread its blessings.

In a family where the Gospel dominates, there will still be sinfulness expressed in various ways. However, the Gospel provides forgiveness, heals the wounds caused by sin, and also gives us the power to overcome sin.

Our heavenly Father provided His Son for us, so we would have forgiveness of sin. This is a mystery far beyond our ability to comprehend. God has revealed it in His Word, so we would have the blessings of the Gospel in this life and eternal life, with the fruits of the Spirit abounding.



Quotations
"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: 'He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you.' Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is given." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159. Tappert, p. 125. Romans 3:31; John 16:15.

"But as the Confutation condemns us for having assigned these two parts to repentance, we must show that [not we, but] Scripture expresses these as the chief parts in repentance and conversion. For Christ says, Matthew 11:28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Here there are two members. The labor and the burden signify the contrition, anxiety, and terrors of sin and of death. To come to Christ is to believe that sins are remitted for Christ's sake; when we believe, our hearts are quickened by the Holy Ghost through the Word of Christ. Here, therefore, there are these two chief parts, contrition and faith." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XII (V), #44, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 263. Tappert, p. 187.

Need for Forgiveness
"For now we are only half pure and holy, so that the Holy Ghost has ever [some reason why] to continue His work in us through the Word, and daily to dispense forgiveness, until we attain to that life where there will be no more forgiveness, but only perfectly pure and holy people, full of godliness and righteousness, removed and free from sin, death, and all evil, in a new, immortal, and glorified body." The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #58, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693.

Who Has the Word?
"The Church has no word of its own. Whatever is not taken from Scripture is not the 'Word of the Church,' but what Luther bluntly calls 'prattle.' Also other books can exert a divine power and efficacy, but always only inasmuch as they have absorbed God's Word. Of Scripture Luther says: 'No book teaches anything concerning eternal life except this one alone' (St. Louis edition XIV:434)." Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans. Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950, I, p. 315.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The First Sunday after Trinity



Word and Sacraments, by Norma Boeckler


The First Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #656 Behold a Host 2.39
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 John 4:16-21
The Gospel Luke 16:19-31
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #429 Lord Thee I love 2.54

The Word of God Is Sufficient

The Hymn #313 O Lord we praise Thee 2.36
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 #660 Heaven is my home 2.46

"Moreover, neither contrition nor love or any other virtue, but faith alone is the sole means and instrument by which and through which we can receive and accept the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins, which are offered to us in the promise of the Gospel." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 31 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 925.

KJV 1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

KJV Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

First Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not, like the rich man, hear Thy word in vain, and become so devoted to things temporal as to forget things eternal; but that we readily and according to our ability minister to such as are in need, and not defile ourselves with surfeiting and pride; in trial and misfortune keep us from despair, and grant us to put our trust wholly in Thy fatherly help and grace, so that in faith and Christian patience we may overcome all things, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Word of God Is Sufficient

This parable, unique to Luke, gives us a portrait of the Afterlife and a clear, compelling lesson on the efficacy of the Word alone.

Jesus contrasted two people in this parable. One is Lazarus poor, miserable, and neglected by the rich man who is well fed, richly dressed, and living in wealth. Lazarus only wanted the scraps from the rich man’s table. His impoverished condition is shown by the dogs licking his sores.

Both men died, as all must. Lazarus was carried to heaven by angels, where he rested in the bosom of Abraham. The Bible portrays Abraham as the father of faith. He believed in the promised Savior; therefore, he was declared righteous. So we can see that, as miserable as Lazarus was in his own life, he believed in Christ, was justified, and inherited eternal life.

On the opposite side, the rich man died, was buried, and went to Hell, where he was tormented night and day. All those who deny Hell should be advised that they are arguing against Christ, not against human opinion. All the wise men in the world can agree that Hell does not exist, but the Word of God is not subordinated to their opinions.

Everyone knows how Christianity is mocked in the media. But when a Hindu family in America got a new house, the producers had a Hindu priest offer a prayer. They also declared during the show that faith in Hinduism would keep the family together. I wondered if the family worshiped Kali (one of 300 million Hindu gods) or thought widows should be burned alive on their husbands’ funeral pyres. Thugs got their name from those followers of Kali who strangled unwary travelers in India. Suttee is the name for having widows burned alive. Both were banished by the British.

The Biblical picture is clear – there are believers and unbelievers. All unbelievers go to Hell because they are not justified by faith in Christ. All believers inherit eternal life because they are justified by faith.

The Bible makes no other distinction. Sincere believers exist in all denominations and in unusual situations (Jews who believe in Christ but keep it from family and friends). Membership in a denomination or a church does not equal justification by faith.
God alone can make that judgment.

Even within an orthodox group of Christians, unbelievers can exist. It may be easier, knowing the right answers but not believing them. People can begin life as believers and fall away. Some people are converted, announce it to the world, and fall back into their old ways. That is why the Bible said – don’t be in a hurry to lay hands on someone for pastoral work.

Someone asked me about my friends who are Roman Catholic, Jews, Lutherans of various persuasions, and members of other denominations. I would be happy to have only those friends who believe exactly as I do, but there aren’t enough of them to go around. Actually, it is a great pleasure to hear from people all over the world, fellow believers who want to study the doctrinal issues.

This is an important statement from Luther:
"In matters concerning faith we must be invincible, unbending, and very stubborn; indeed, if possible, harder than adamant. But in matters concerning love we should be softer and more pliant than any reed and leaf and should gladly accommodate ourselves to everything." What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412f. Galatians 2:8.
We are not allowed by the Word of God to give in or compromise about a single sub-topic in Christian doctrine. However, we should not let that affect our relationships with other people – often friends, family, parents, children and spouses. Those relationships give us the best opportunity. One is their opportunity to hear. The other is our opportunity to keep our knowledge of the Word sharp.
Shunning is the mark of non-Lutherans, although it is engrained in the smaller synods as some kind of mark of orthodoxy. It an important part of the Mennonite sect. If someone is not being a true old-fashioned Mennonite, he is avoided, given the silent treatment, and denied any business dealings with the sect. Mormons do the same thing.

“Mark and avoid” is correctly applied to false teachers, but it is wrongly used to punish people who do not follow the corporate synodical mindset today. Questioning Pope John the Malefactor in the Little Sect on the Prairie is enough to get a pastor kicked out. Yet no one on their doctrinal board mentions this a Romanism rather than Lutheran practice. Of course, anyone who even cleared his throat on the subject would find himself on the wrong end of the Left Foot of Fellowship. But that is good, because God’s Word has that affect and separates the evil from the good.
The trouble is that few want to trust the Word of God to accomplish His will. They dream that God only wills that we live in big houses, have tax-free car allowances, and enjoy surplus income. Lazarus is a plain, clear example of that not being true. There are many unfortunate people in the world, and we have opportunities to serve them, seeing Christ in our neighbor. Secondly, if we suffer privation for witnessing to the Word, that is our cross to bear. Nothing is clearer in Christ’s message – You must take up the cross daily to be My disciples.
Because people will not accept the cross offered in the world, they find themselves mired in false doctrine and explaining it away. After hearing claims about how Biblical a certain synod was, and so very strict about fellowship, I asked about the most blatant examples of false doctrine and sitting at the feet of false teachers.

The responses were alarming:
“He is my friend.”
“He is a nice guy – he isn’t a false teacher.” [The most successful false teachers are nice guys. In fact, they are downright charismatic.]
“I graduated in the same class as he did!”
“I drank a lot of beer with him.” [Proof that alcohol impairs judgment]
Friendship does not preclude the need to admonish false teachers. Friendship should motivate someone to do the very thing excused under the banner of friendship. As I have mentioned before, I can list false teachers (CGM) among the Lutherans who are now active, mouthy atheists.

The Rich Man
The portrait of the rich man in Hell teaches us many different lessons about the Afterlife. I am reminded of Luther’s statement that we can have trouble for a short time and eternal happiness, or happiness for a short time and eternal torment.
The rich man could see Lazarus enjoying the peace of eternal life, where there is no pain or sorrow, no tears.

KJV Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

The rich man, who never gave Lazarus a crumb, said, “Let him come to me a dip his finger in water and soothe my thirst. I am tormented in this fire.” Here we can see the great harmony of the Word.

KJV Luke 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Those we help in this life will speak for us in the Afterlife. Works follow faith as the fruit of faith. If we never help anyone, that speaks volumes about our faith in Christ.

The rich man had a lifetime of surplus, but he gave nothing to poor Lazarus. Now he longed for a drop of water.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

So no one from Hell is going to leave, and no one from Heaven is going to visit. The boundaries are fixed forever. There is no do-over after an abundance of mercy has been shown and God’s grace offered freely for a lifetime.
The rich man’s requests are important for understand salvation and the Word.
The first is to have Lazarus, scorned through his life, to speak to the rich man’s brothers, who were probably enjoying the estate:

27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

Moses and the prophets are sufficient to teach anyone about salvation. The Old Testament is full of Gospel promises. That is why many Jewish people believe in Christ.

The Reformed motivate people with the Law, saying such things as “How many people are you taking to heaven with you?” Just the opposite is stated here by Christ – “They have the Word of God. They can listen to the Word, instead of an ambassador from heaven.”

The rich man persisted. He must have made his money in sales:

30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Here is the clearest possible teaching about the effectiveness of the Word. Everyone would agree that seeing someone rise from the dead, as the rich man proposed, would be very special.

There may even be ironic humor here, since only one man is named here – Lazarus, in a parable. One man named Lazarus did rise from the dead – in John’s Gospel, but that did not convert the religious opponents. Instead they plotted to kill Lazarus with Jesus, to liquidate the proof that Jesus fulfilled all the Messianic promises.

KJV John 12:9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;

The miracle-mongers of today put on a great show, and say they inspire faith. But they really destroy faith. They pretend to take away the cross of illness, pain, and suffering. Those who are cruelly persuaded then become bitter that God will not give them permanent relief from their problems. All they need to do is offer the Word of God, and the miracles will follow. God certain provides daily miracles, as those of faith discern with their own eyes.

One of the greatest miracles of all takes place when the Word consecrates the elements, and Christ is present in both natures, human and divine, for Holy Communion. And yet this great miracle is denied and denounced by so many.

Not long ago we counted up the floods we have experienced first hand: the Mississippi in 1965, the Midland flood in 1987, the St. Louis flood in 1992-3, and the New Ulm flood in 1998. In normal weather, a bridge is taken for granted. During floods, bridges are often closed due to the dangers of crossing on one. Suddenly, a bridge is very important for a number of reasons. If all the bridges are out, all activities are curtailed.

God has given us a bridge to Christ – the Means of Grace – the Word and Sacrament. How do we know about forgiveness and have confidence in eternal life – we know that bridge has been provided. Not just one bridge but multiple bridges. Some declare – That is absurd – God does not need a bridge, let alone multiple bridges.

God does not need one, but man does, so God has firmly promised us multiple Means for obtaining His grace.

Quotations


"But the fact is, all Christian doctrines and works, all Christian living, is briefly, clearly and completely comprehended in these two principles, faith and love. They place man as a medium between God and his neighbor, to receive from above and distribute below."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 145.

"For if I love God I love also His will. Now, when God sends us sickness, poverty, shame and disgrace, that is His will. But what do we do under such circumstances? We thunder, scold and growl, and bear it with great impatience...But God does not want this. He wants us to accept His will with joy and love, and this we are too tardy in doing."
Sermons of Martin Luther, V, p. 26.

"The Word and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are materials with which He builds. Though the dwelling is not altogether completed, yet through His grace and love it is accepted of God."
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 322.

"To this end Christ is presented to us as an inexhaustible fountain, Who at all times overflows with pure goodness and grace. And for such goodness and kindness He accepts nothing, except that the good people, who acknowledge such kindness and grace, thank Him for it, praise and love Him, although others despise Him for it."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, V, p. 329.

"See, this is what James means when he says, 2:26: 'Faith apart from works is dead.' For as the body without the soul is dead, so is faith without works. Not that faith is in man and does not work, which is impossible. For faith is a living, active thing. But in order that men may not deceive themselves and think they have faith when they have not, they are to examine their works, whether they also love their neighbors and do good to them."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, V, p. 71.

"Thirdly, Christ shows love is still greater, in that He exercises it where it is lost and receives ingratitude from the majority; ten lepers were cleansed and only one thanks Him, on the nine His love is lost. If He would have made use of justice here instead of love, as men are accustomed to do and nature teaches, He would have made them all lepers again."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, V, p. 75

"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."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols. ed. Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 884. Genesis 24:1-4

"Love toward their mother is not so great in children as the love of their mother toward them, as the proverb has it: Amor descendit, non ascendit, Love is a plant that grows downward rather than upward."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 138.

"The first destroyers of their own children are those who neglect them and knowingly permit them to grow up without the training and admonition of the Lord. Even if they do not harm them by a bad example, they still destroy them by yielding to them. They love them too much according to the flesh and pamper them, saying: They are children, they do not understand what they are doing. And they are speaking the truth. But neither does a dog or a horse understand what it is doing. However, see how they learn to go, to come, to obey, to do and leave undone what they do not understand...These parents will, therefore, bear the sins of their children because they make these sins their own."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, I, p. 139.

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, III, p. 1411f.

"You must always have the Word of God in your heart, on your lips, and in your ears. Where the heart is idle and the Word does not ring out, the devil breaks in and has done damage before we are aware of it. On the other hand, such is the power of the Word if it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used that it is never without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devotion and purifies the heart and thoughts. For these are not inert or dead but active and living words. Martin Luther, What Luther Says, III, p. 1467.

"Consequently, I say to my worst enemies: Where it is only my own person that is involved, there I am very willing to help you and to do everything good for you in spite of the fact that you are my enemy and that all you ever do for me is to harm me. But where it is the Word of God that is involved, there you must not expect any friendship or love that I may have for you to persuade me to do something against that, even if you were my nearest and dearest friend. But since you cannot endure the Word, I will speak this prayer over you: May God dash you to the ground! I shall willingly serve you, but not in order to help you overthrow the Word of God. For this purpose you will never be able to persuade me even to give you a drink of water."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1480.

"The apostle does not mean to say that children are not to be rebuked or beaten, but that they are to be chastized in love; but parents are not to vent their furious temper on them, unconcerned about the way to correct the error of their children. For when the spirit has been cowed, one is of no use for anything and despairs of everything, is timid is doing and undertaking everything. And, what is worse, this timidity, implanted during the tender years, can almost never thereafter be eradicated. For since they have learned to be frightened at every word of their parents, they are subsequently afraid of even a rustling leaf or a tree."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412.

"In matters concerning faith we must be invincible, unbending, and very stubborn; indeed, if possible, harder than adamant. But in matters concerning love we should be softer and more pliant than any reed and leaf and should gladly accommodate ourselves to everything."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412f. Galatians 2:8.

"Doctrine is our only light. It alone enlightens and directs us and shows us the way to heaven. If it is shaken in one quarter (in une parte), it will necessarily be shaken in its entirety (in totum). Where that happens, love cannot help us at all."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 414. Galatians 5:10.

"But this tender mercy is to be exercised only toward Christians and among Christians, for toward those who reject and persecute the Gospel we must act differently; here I am not permitted to let my love be merciful so as to tolerate and endure false doctrine. When faith and doctrine are concerned and endangered, neither love nor patience are in order. Then it is my duty to contend in earnest and not to yield a hairbreadth."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 637f.

"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: 'He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you.' Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is given." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159. Tappert, p. 125. Romans 3:31; John 16:15.

"Moreover, neither contrition nor love or any other virtue, but faith alone is the sole means and instrument by which and through which we can receive and accept the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins, which are offered to us in the promise of the Gospel." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 31 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 925.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Feast of the Holy Trinity



The Shepherd and his sheep, by Norma Boeckler.


The Feast of the Holy Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

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 : http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ie.html
I made changes to Ichabod, which have helped.

The Hymn #246 Holy, Holy, Holy 3.35
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 Romans 11:33-36
The Gospel John 3:1-15
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Athanasian Creed p. 53
The Sermon Hymn #245 God Loved the World 4.6

The Little Gospel and Justification by Faith

The Hymn #378 All That I Was 4.4
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 #27 Oh, Bless the Lord 4.21

KJV Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 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.

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

Trinity
O Lord God, heavenly Father: We poor sinners confess that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing, and that, left to ourselves, we die and perish in sin, since that which is born of the flesh is flesh and cannot see the kingdom of God. But we beseech Thee: Grant us Thy grace and mercy, and for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that being regenerate, we may firmly believe the forgiveness of sins, according to Thy promise in baptism; and that we may daily increase in brotherly love, and in other good works, until we at last 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 Little Gospel and Justification by Faith
KJV John 3: 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.

Tuesday of Whitsun Week (after the Day of Pentecost) obscures one of the great passages of the Bible, John 3:16-21. The most famous passage of the New Testament is reserved for a day that is seldom observed today

Some think of John 3:16-21 as the Apostle’s summary of what Jesus said. There were no quotation marks in the original texts. The paragraph, 3:16-21, is the logical continuation of the discussion with Nicodemus, John 3:1-15.

The beauty of this passage is that it could easily be Jesus speaking or John summarizing, because there is no difference between the Word of Christ and the doctrine of the disciple He loved. But I agree with Lenski that everything points to this great passage being the actual words of Christ. The meaning may be the same, but the authority is even greater when we give credit to Christ for saying it.

I ran verses 14 and 15 together with 16 to show how the Little Gospel summarizes so well the discussion with Nicodemus.

Verse 14 – The crucifixion of Christ is like Moses lifting up the serpent to bring people back to life, by death trampling on death, as the Greek Orthodox say.
Verse 15 – Faith in Him means not perishing, but rather enjoying eternal life.
Verse 16 – The reason is encapsulated in the Little Gospel.

The Scriptures teach us that the Word of God conveys Christ to us, to show us the Gospel, to create and sustain faith.

A. For God so loved the world

First we have the motivation – For God so loved the world…
This is the mystery of God’s grace. It is a mystery because we only know it through the Holy Spirit’s revelation. Human reason cannot comprehend it. Proof is the attitude of all world religions toward God. In each and every case God must be appeased by man’s sacrifices and good works, self-torture and human sacrifice. God’s basic state is anger toward man, according to these pagan religions. His anger may be lessened, but man is always at fault, so more works must be done.

In contrast, Jesus re-emphasized what we know from the Old Testament. This was largely lost by His time, since Judaism had devolved into a religion of works, for many people. The Old Testament shows us that love is God’s basic attitude toward the world.

KJV Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

KJV 2 Chronicles 30:9 For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.

KJV Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

KJV Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

KJV Jonah 4:2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

In the fullness of time, God revealed how He would show that love.

B. that he gave his only begotten Son

This is the simplest clause, describing the crucifixion as an act of giving. This was foreshadowed in Genesis, when Abraham gave his only son on Mt. Moriah.

Genesis 22: 11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

For centuries God taught His people about sacrifice an only son, and providing a substitute. The Angel of the Lord told him about the substitute.

This Angel was not an ordinary angel, but the pre-incarnate Son of God, as we can tell from these verses:

KJV Genesis 22:15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

The Father-Son relationship was emphasized already with the first patriarch, the man of faith (Romans 4). So we see the father-son relationship on the human level with Abraham and Isaac, which helps us understand the giving of the Son by the Father.

The Little Gospel has always been used as a brief summary of the entire Bible, and we can understand why.

C. , that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

There are two alternative – perishing and eternal life. Dying might have been used as one alternative, but that would have been in harmony with many pagan religions and cults, where Hell does not exist. Eternal life is the alternative to perishing in Hell, always languishing in the knowledge of God’s power and deriving no comfort from it.

Eternal life is based upon one thing along – faith in Christ.

"Nowhere in the Bible is any man constituted or declared righteous ‘without faith, before faith.’” R. C. H. Lenski, Romans, Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis, 1963, p. 382. Romans 5:19-20.

"They [the false teachers] fared like a man who looks through a colored glass. Put before such a man whatever color you please, he sees no other color than that of the glass. The fault is not that the right color is not put before him but that his glass is colored differently, as the word of Is. 6:9 puts it: You will see, he says, and yet you will not see it."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 644.

"To this incline your ears, and be persuaded that God speaks through men and forgives you your sins; this, of course, requires faith."Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 200.


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


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


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


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

If the UOJ Stormtroopers had this verse alone, they might be able to shoehorn their favorite opinion into the clear meaning of the Word. Unfortunately for them, Scripture interprets Scripture. The verses following make hash out of their crypto-Universalism.

John 3:17 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.

Those who turn Jesus into the Lawgiver are mistaken, because God’s sole purpose was to send His Son for the salvation of the world. Those who believe are not condemned, but unbelievers are condemned already – because they do not believe in the Name of Christ.
Justification means the declaration of innocence. That cannot happen apart from faith, as all faithful Lutherans taught until the Age of Pietism mixed Calvinism with orthodox doctrine.

Unbelievers are condemned and God’s wrath rests upon them. It is true that God’s only-begotten Son has died for all people, but when the treasure of this Promise is distributed by preaching and teaching, man’s obstinate will and the snares of Satan cause the treasure to be brushed aside.

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 state of righteousness can only come from God, but righteousness is not declared to the entire world apart from the Means of Grace. That is the purest form of Enthusiasm – to say the entire world lives in a state of grace without the Means of Grace. Strangely, the Stormtroopers like Pope John (Moldstad0 the Malefactor condemn those who do not join them in teaching Universalism. Who has kicked out more pastors and congregations as a percentage of his realm than Pope John?

The Stormtroopers tell me, “Everyone in the world is forgiven, but they are not really forgiven until they have faith.” Forgiven but not forgiven = nonsense. Lutheran UOJ ends up with Universalism and complete doctrine apathy.

That is like the Roman Catholic Gospel of “forgiven, but not paid for, and you will pay for those sins for thousands of years in Purgatory.”

Separating the Holy Spirit from the Word is always going to lead to foolishness, because the errors arising are going to be defended, not the truth of the Word.

Jesus teaches us in Little Gospel about justification by faith, the simplest and clearest possible doctrine. Even though the unbelieving world hates God, God’s nature is love. That is a startling revelation but also a comforting one. The crucifixion of Christ is God giving His Son for us, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

To make His teaching even more vivid, plain, and compelling, the Savior gave us the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion to convey this forgiveness
in visible form, united with the power of the Word.