The Feast of the Holy Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time
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I made changes to Ichabod, which have helped.
The Hymn #246 Holy, Holy, Holy 3.35
The Confession of Sins
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.
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.