Lutheran Worship and Resources



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

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

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

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

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

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Martin Chemnitz Press Books

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Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity



Cover by Norma Boeckler

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #479 Zion rise 2:13
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 2 Corinthians 3:4-11
The Gospel Mark 7:31-37
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #469 Glorious things 2:26

Ministration of Righteousness

The Hymn #442 Lord of glory 2:61
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 #508 Thou whose almighty Word 2:72

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

KJV Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Twelfth Sunday After Trinity
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast created all things: We thank Thee that Thou hast given us sound bodies, and hast graciously preserved our tongues and other members from the power of the adversary: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy grace, that we may rightly use our ears and tongues; help us to hear Thy word diligently and devoutly, and with our tongues so to praise and magnify Thy grace, that no one shall be offended by our words, but that all may be edified thereby, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Ministration of Righteousness
This Epistle is one of the great Bible passages on the importance of the Gospel, without denigrating the Law.

The history of Christian doctrinal conflicts is full of extreme positions being taken, usually as a reaction to some error or weakness. A reaction to a weak position does not create a strong, orthodox position. It often generates another problem to be faced.

Luther properly divided the Scriptures into Law and Gospel. Unionistic Protestants like to say there are few differences between the Lutherans and them, so why not just agree with them? That is like saying men and women have hundreds of similarities, so why not overlook the differences and declare one gender?

The differences between Lutherans and other Protestants add up, and so do the differences between Book of Concord Lutherans and the rest.

Let’s start with Law and Gospel itself. No other Christian confession emphasizes this so much. In fact, they really do not use those categories in any consistent way. For example, Karl Barth—theologian of Fuller Seminary—began one of his volumes this way: “The gift is a demand.” So he was saying (via his mistress Charlotte Kirschbaum, who wrote most of his Dogmatics) that the gift of salvation imposes a Law demand on all believers. For Lutherans, that is a clear confusion between Law and Gospel, turning the Gospel into Law.

Non-Lutheran Protestants impose Law demands on believers to prove outwardly that they are believers. For example, they must not smoke, drink alcohol (not even communion wine) use tobacco, dance or watch dancing, or participate in the theater in any way (including Disney movies). The essence of Lutheran Pietism is a list of outward signs of inward sanctification, while relaxing doctrinal standards and neglecting the Means of Grace.

Among Lutherans, Law/Gospel confusion can be found in various forms.

To emphasize the greatness of the Gospel, some Lutherans become anti-Nomians and declare, “There is no Law. It is obsolete.” This is appealing because anti-Nomian attitudes lead to hedonism, universalism, UOJ.

Clever anti-Nomians even use Paul’s inspired words to turn his doctrine upside-down. They say, “The Law is a pedagogue or tutor that leads us to Christ.” So the Law no longer has any function once we are believers. But I have found these anti-Nomians are the most legalistic people around, and quick to condemn anyone who does not fall for their claptrap. Oh, they have shiploads of Law for those people.

That is where the anti-Nomian position harmonizes the UOJ of WELS/ELS/LCMS with the Gospel reductionism of ELCA. They have the same message – “Everyone is forgiven by God’s grace.” Each sect says they others are bad because of outward behavior, either promoting sodomy or not promoting sodomy, advocating close communion or advocating open communion. But the apostates of each group like working together because they agree on basic doctrine – Everyone is forgiven, everyone saved – the Gospel is telling people this message that they are already forgiven, saved, going to heaven.

Paul’s message in this lesson is very much condensed, which is why Luther saw more Gospel in the Epistles than in the Gospel narratives themselves.

In II Corinthians, Paul is defending himself against false teachers by teaching the congregation what a faithful ministry is. The accusations were about the shortcomings of Paul, including his chronic illness (which is never disclosed to us).

Those now familiar with Pietism can see the Pietistic argument – “You are outwardly defective in these ways so you are not a real minister or the right one.” America is Pietistic to a fault, which is why a lying murderous scoundrel has to be buried as a saint to make his followers feel good. I finished watching the latest Kennedy funeral thinking, “He was just too good to be sullied by association with the rest of us. Heaven may need some new laws passed before he will step inside.”

“Our sufficiency is of God.” Those familiar with the efficacy of the Word know what this means. A careful reading will show a perfect harmony between faithful ministry, the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word, and the effectiveness of the Gospel.

A wrong (Reformed) view of the Gospel is that we must make it alive, germane, relevant, appealing. A good Reformed minister, like the late D. James Kennedy, is one who is good at packaging and selling the Gospel. I mention him because I liked him and admired what he did – to an extent. I did not admire his doctrine at all.

Opposition to the Word never takes the form of “I hate the Scriptures.” People will say, “The announcements are too short or too long.” And they work over the minister and each member of his family. This is funny when a member of the church is busy wrecking it, because the same people then say, “He is a charter member of this church,” conferring sainthood on demonic activities. But such are God’s ways, that He turns destructiveness into new blessings and moves the Gospel to another place and new people.

“Our sufficiency is of God” is just the opposite of worrying about “how well we are doing.” Looking for outward signs of success is typically Pietistic and bound to lead into doctrinal error and apostasy. The Old Adam wants an Old Adam minister who appeals to his carnal nature with spiritual-sounding words.

6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

There are many ways to rewrite this and keep the same meaning. Ministers of the Gospel are ministers of the Holy Spirit. The Law kills but the Holy Spirit gives eternal life through justification and salvation.

9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

We Are All Paul Gerhardt Now:
Going Galt in Obama's America


Everyone has been deeply affected by the economic crisis, losing income and equity at the same time. My friends have been laid off or had their wages severely cut. I expected the same.

Teaching income decreased by 50% almost overnight. I expected some decrease, which is why I began again with life insurance. For several months, I was actually too busy teaching to get involved in sales. But both schools are expanding their faculties to have full staffs when the Boomers retire or reach room temperature. Enrollments are probably weak, too, although no one is saying so. Educators in Phoenix are being bumped at all levels, whether in public schools or higher education.

So we are short-selling our house and moving near our son's family in Arkansas. We expect to be there fairly soon. The politicians have fulfilled one promise - affordable housing is available everywhere.

All my work is online, so moving anywhere with broadband is relatively easy. I will still be blogging, conducting worship services, and teaching.

I have been greatly encouraged by some recent trends in one corner of Lutherdom, especially by the number of readers who want to do something about anti-Confessional strategies. For the last few years, a few drama queens have tried to paint me as the Freddy Krueger of WELS, but their convention voted otherwise. I see church institutions as representing a lot of individual moments where people respond to doctrinal issues or duck them. Naming the anti-efficacy error and citing the Means of Grace are both good indications for the future of WELS, if pastors and laity follow up.

"Going Galt" is a new trend. That means producing less income to starve the government of tax revenue. Or, in many cases, finding ways to live on far less income.

Readers can contribute to the move by donating to Bethany Lutheran Church, 6421 W. Poinsettia Drive, Glendale, AZ, 85304.

More details will follow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Cover by Norma Boeckler


The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #197 Where Wilt Thou Go 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 Corinthians 12:1-11
The Gospel Luke 19:41-48
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #237 All Glory Be To God 1:12

Justification by Faith Alone

The Hymn #192 Awake My Heart 1:22
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 #200 I Know My Redeemer Lives 1:80

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Eleventh Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not forget our sins and be filled with pride, but continue in daily repentance and renewal, seeking our comfort only in the blessed knowledge that Thou wilt be merciful unto us, forgive us our sins, and grant us eternal life; 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.


Justified by Faith Alone

Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

We are born Pharisees. Our inherent nature is to be Pharisaical. Knowing this, Jesus made this particular sentence the ending for two different parables.

The other is even more pointed, for the Savior puts us all in that situation.

KJV Luke 14:8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Pharisee and the Roman Empire Tax Collector (Publican)

I love the old words in the KJV. Some people want to tamp them down and make everyone sound like a surfer dude from California. The KJV is one of the two foundations of the English language, along with Shakespeare.

Many writers still refer to the publican, but those raised on the NIV cannot grasp what that term means, though Google gives 5 million hits on the word.

Crucial to the story is the seething resentment felt toward tax collectors for the Roman Empire. They were contractors, or tax farmers (the French term). They got to keep the extra and could extract large amounts from people. Added to that insult was the reminder that the taxes supported the hated Roman Army in their land. The destruction of Jerusalem, predicted by Jesus, came from a religious revolt where the Jews first defeated a small Roman Army. That got Rome’s attention, and they came in for a long siege, leaving “not one stone on another.”

So this parable is told making the most evil and hated person the very man commended by Christ. And he is another Jew.

Two men went to the Temple to pray, so they were both Jews. The Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other men, naming carnal sins and the tax collector as an example. Secondly, the Pharisee prayed about his good works, rather humorous – as if God is gratified.

Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. Clearly his prayer was an example of exaltation. If it sounds odd to listeners to hear so much self-praise – how many times have similar words been used by laity and pastors alike? My special favorite is bragging about one’s parents and grandparents, as if good works were retro.

Naturally the false teachers certify their virtue by naming all the glorious things they have produced or bought or leased, such as sub-woofers, enormous sound systems, large campuses with multiple buildings. They photograph well. I stepped into Saddleback Church while a “paid-for conference” was going on. It was simply a large boxy room, an assembly hall with a stage.

But we also have to look at our tendency to justify ourselves, as this Pharisee was doing. That is easy to detect when we name the great things we have done, especially for God, instead of being thankful God has given us the opportunity to glorify His Name in various ways. Since anything done in faith glorifies God, nothing legitimate should be looked down up. Luther often mentioned the ordinary servant cleaning the floors (in faith) glorifying God just as much as anyone else. That was especially important then, because Germany was so class conscious. In fact, when the German scientists came over to America to build our first rockets (which we neglected after Goddard invented them), Werner von Braun would not worship with his fellow Lutherans because that would be unseemly. He joined a Presbyterian church. So Luther was really confronting the pride of his own congregation when he taught them how ordinary workers and even babies glorify God in faith.

Is the pastor of a large congregation better than someone shepherding a small one? Attitude suggests they are much better, but that is not Scriptural. I enjoyed an article by the pastor of a large church who subbed at a small one for several months. He was going to turn things around with his superior management skills. He confessed in the article that the most he accomplished was getting the church a bit cleaner. (I could have done that. In fact, I have done that. I mastered the art of buffing floors, changed bulbs, killed weeds, swept, etc.)

The Tax Collector
In contrast to the publican, the tax collector did not look up into heaven, but beat himself on his chest and said:

God be merciful to me a sinner

One man justified himself while looking down on the carnal sins of others (not realizing that our interior sins are often the worst and least obvious).

The other man, in faith, asked God for the forgiveness of his sins. Jesus said – The tax collector went home justified, but the Pharisee did not.

One reader and participant in our services gave me an edited copy of the Brief Confession of the LCMS. All he had to do was eliminate the ridiculous wording of the “entire world being forgiven of its sins” and the paragraph was sound doctrine.

Christ has earned our forgiveness with his death on the cross. The Gospel message is all forgiveness. Forgiveness does not require the Law. However, the Law teaches us how much we need the Savior.

One minister shocked (in a positive way) a member by saying, “I know I am going to heaven.” The member asked him about why he was so sure. The minister, a leader in the ELCA evangelism program said, “Because I love Jesus and I am a good person.” The poor confused member thought that was a good answer, because it was the Old Adam of the pastor speaking to the Old Adam in the member.

Now there is a Pietistic answer packed with false doctrine and Pharisaical works-righteousness. “I love Jesus” is the proof of one’s relationship to Christ, according to the Pietists. “I am a good person” is the Pietistic requirement of works. It is easy to see why the Pietism of ELCA dissolved into various kinds of activism, all promoted in a very sentimental and vague way. I read the comments of an ELCA pastor I knew at Yale. He concentrated on his feelings without mentioning he supported homosexual activism by having a “Reconciled in Christ” congregation. The latest actions “had to be passed because of hurt feelings, alienation,” and other psychobabble.

How much different it would be to have a mainline minister say, “We love Jesus because He first loved us.” Pietistic pride is just the opposite of the Scriptural message.

Would it not be a great change for the confused conservative Lutherans to extol the Word of God as the absolute and sole foundation for all Gospel work? And to let God accomplish what He will without trimming, hedging, watering down, and adulterating the Word?

I am reading Reu’s book on Luther and the Scriptures, thanks to the person who found a bargain copy and told me how to get one at almost double the price! (Only $9, but still…) Reu’s content is not new to me. I have admired his writing for a long time. I enjoyed being reminded of Luther’s complete trust in the Word and Will of God.

In the last 50 years, people have defended the inerrancy of the Word in various denominations. One Lutheran group (FELLP), like Fuller Seminary, could not even support genuine inerrancy. Fuller began with a weak version of inerrancy and soon repudiated that version, in angry and venomous words. They didn’t have time to argue inerrancy – they had a “mission” to accomplish. This is the main idea – inerrancy means nothing unless the Word is also effective.

To say the Word is inerrant and say it is dead without man’s help (Reformed view of the Word) is to render the entire argument meaningless.

The Word of God is not only a perfect revelation of God but also a powerful, two-edged sword. The Word is not an iron statue that merely points the way (Reformed view) but a divine energy moving people to do His will. Simply reading the Word of God has a powerful effect on people.
Preaching against false doctrine is Law preaching, and it has a powerful effect. Denouncing false teachers and quoting them will always make them angry, often angry enough to get even. That anger will make them think over what they have taught, leading them to repentance or to greater hardness of heart.

Luther’s Reformation began because he said – The pope is teaching false doctrine. People and knew the Gospel, even though it was hardly taught. But some did teach the Gospel and Spalatin helped Luther understand forgiveness. No one in Luther’s time was saying, “But the pope is against the Gospel. Some of our great theologians are completely in error.” That ignited the Reformation.

Luther was unmovable about obeying and believing the Word of God in its entirety. The Formula of Concord quotes him (with approval) saying that those denying the Real Presence will expect no fellowship with him. How different that is from the new WELS VP who suggested that his fellow pastors had much to learn from those same false teachers. That is how Valleskey became seminary president, by saying the same things.

Meanwhile, in the LCMS, the St. Louis seminary president sat in awe of Leonard Sweet and put a video up on their website so everyone could see him with his mouth hanging open, listening to the Space Cadet Methodist.

False teachers are filled with pride. They also fill their followers with the same kind of pride.

Genuine humility is an attribute of Christ:

KJV Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Paul referenced the humility of Christ:

KJV 2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

James commended this attitude among Christians:

KJV James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

Those who have received much in their spiritual gifts should also share in those gifts, even if it comes at a price. We should say, “Look at what God has done,” not at what we have done.

Forgiveness of sin comes from God’s grace. First He willed that His son died for our sins. Then He provided pastors and teachers for His Word and sent them out with the Gospel. Like Jonah, many thought they would go the opposite direction, but God willed otherwise.

The Gospel is God’s grace. We are forgiven our sins because of His love and mercy for us. In His Word, He has given us thousands of examples of this love and mercy. Best of all, He has bound His Holy Spirit to the Word, so we never doubt the source and power of the Gospel in the Means of Grace.

This lowliness or humility of Christ - which is commended in the Gospel for today – how do we receive it? Christ comes to us in the Gospel, the invisible Word of preaching and the visible Word of the Sacraments. He imparts His nature to us, so we are not only justified by faith, but we are also made more loving, patient, generous, kindly, and peaceful – and more humble.


Quotations

"The Third Article the adversaries approve, in which we confess that there are in Christ two natures, namely, a human nature, assumed by the Word into the unity of His person; and that the same Christ suffered and died to reconcile the Father to us; and that He was raised again to reign, and to justify and sanctify believers, etc., according to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, III. #52. Of Christ, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119. Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:19ff.

"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.

"Now we will show that faith [and nothing else] justifies."{that faith justifies italicized} Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. 69, Of Justification
Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 141.

"We do not believe thus {that faith is just a beginning of justification} concerning faith, but we maintain this, that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God. And because 'to be justified' means that out of unjust men just men are made, or born again, it means also that they are pronounced or accounted just. For Scripture speaks in both ways. [The term 'to be justified' is used in two ways: to denote, being converted or regenerated; again, being accounted righteous.] Accordingly we wish first to show this, that faith alone makes of an unjust, a just man, i. e., receives remission of sins."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. 71, Of Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 141.

"It is, therefore, needful to maintain that the promise of Christ is necessary. But this cannot be received except by faith. Therefore, those who deny that faith justifies, teach nothing but the Law, both Christ and the Gospel being set aside."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #70. Of Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 141.
"In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul discusses this topic especially, and declares that, when we believe that God, for Christ's sake, is reconciled to us, we are justified freely by faith."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. 87, Of Justification Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 147. 2 Corinthians 5:19ff.

"But since we receive remission of sins and the Holy Ghost by faith alone, faith alone justifies, because those reconciled are accounted righteous and children of God, not on account of their own purity, but through mercy for Christ's sake, provided only they by faith apprehend this mercy." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #86. Of Justification.
Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 147.

"The Gospel teaches that by faith we receive freely, for Christ's sake, the remission of sins and are reconciled to God."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XV. #5. Human Traditions, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 317.

"Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably conjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men."
Augsburg Confession, III. 1. Of the Son of God, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45.

"Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and pray: Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses. Not as though He did not forgive sin without and even before our prayer (for He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it). But this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept such forgiveness."
The Large Catechism, The Lord's Prayer, Fifth Petition, #88, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 723. Matthew 6:12

"This article concerning justification by faith (as the Apology says) is the chief article in the entire Christian doctrine, without which no poor conscience can have any firm consolation, or can truly know the riches of the grace of Christ, as Dr. Luther also has written: If this only article remains pure on the battlefield, the Christian Church also remains pure, and in goodly harmony and without any sects; but if it does not remain pure, it is not possible that any error or fanatical spirit can be resisted. (Tom. 5, Jena, p. 159.) And concerning this article especially Paul says that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."
Formula of Concord, SD, III. 6, Righteous of Faith before God, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 917.

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

"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 us in the promise of the Gospel."
Formula of Concord, SD, III 31, Righteous of Faith before God, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 925.

"For good works do not precede faith, neither does sanctification precede justification. But first faith is kindled in us in conversion by the Holy Ghost from the hearing of the Gospel. This lays hold of God's grace in Christ, by which the person is justified. Then, when the person is justified, he is also renewed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, from which renewal and sanctification the fruits of good works then follow."
Formula of Concord, SD, III 41, Righteous of Faith before God, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 929.

"But to believe is to trust in the merits of Christ, that for His sake God certainly wishes to be reconciled with us."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, IV. #69. Of Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. p. 141.
"#305. Why do you say in this article: I believe in the Forgiveness of Sins? Because I hold with certainty that by my own powers or through my own works I cannot be justified before God, but that the forgiveness of sins is given me out of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also true justification. Psalm 130:3-4; Psalm 143:2; Isaiah 64:6; Job 25:4-6 (Q. 124)."
Kleiner Katechismus, trans. Pastor Vernon Harley, LCMS, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1901, p. 164ff.

"#306. What is justification? Justification is that activity (Handlung) of God by which He out of pure grace and mercy for the sake of Christ's merits forgives the sins of a poor sinner who truly believes in Jesus Christ and receives him to everlasting life."
Kleiner Katechismus, trans. Pastor Vernon Harley, LCMS, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1901, p. 164ff.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity



The Trinity, by Norma Boeckler


The Tenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #142 A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining 1:21
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 Corinthians 12:1-11
The Gospel Luke 19:41-48
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #236 Creator Spirit 1:9

The Holy Spirit and the Word

The Hymn #479 Zion Rise 2:13
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 #264 Preserve Thy Word 2:55

KJV 1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

KJV Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. 45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; 46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. 47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, 48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

Tenth Sunday After Trinity
Almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy Holy Ghost hast revealed unto us the gospel of Thy Son, Jesus Christ: We beseech Thee so to quicken our hearts that we may sincerely receive Thy word, and not make light of it, or hear it without fruit, as did Thy people, the unbelieving Jews, but that we may fear Thee and daily grow in faith in Thy mercy, and finally obtain eternal salvation, 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 Holy Spirit and the Word
Fortunately for us, Corinth had a lot of problems, and Paul addressed them in his two epistles.

This particular problem involved their false understanding of the Holy Spirit.

First, I will restate what the Scriptures and Confessions teach about the Word and the Holy Spirit.
I. God’s Word is never separated from the Holy Spirit, so the Word always has a divine effect. Exactly how God works through the Word remains a mystery. One person may hear the Word of God and snicker about it for years, but find himself converted to faith in Christ in moments. Another person is baptized as a baby, taught the Gospel by his parents, and grows in understanding of the Christian faith.

II. Isaiah 55 teaches that God’s Word is always effective, so anything we say or do contrary to that teaching is false doctrine. There are many other passages teaching the same effectiveness, using different words. Hebrews 4 is another.

III. The word-group for effective is prominent in the New Testament, but this area has been neglected by all the modern scholars. Hardly anything is in print about the foundational concept of the Christian faith. Believers and those just beginning should be pointed to the Scriptures with a firm conviction that the Word is never without the Spirit and the Spirit is never without the Word.

IV. Separating the Holy Spirit and the Word is called Enthusiasm. Just as the efficacy of the Word is foundational for the Christian faith, Enthusiasm is the basis for all false doctrine, including the pagan religions of the world. Enthusiasm is repeatedly condemned by Luther and the Concordists in the Book of Concord.

Clearly some in Corinth were parading their supposed gifts of the Holy Spirit and holding themselves superior to the others. In addition, this led to a defense of ecstatic worship and anything coming from that as “from the Holy Spirit.” The typical believer was scorned while the Enthusiasts thought it proper to say “Jesus be cursed” in moments of ecstasy in worship.

Modern equivalents are the Pentecostal movement and the mainline version, the charismatic movement (where Pentecostals in faith stay within their denominations). One of the best descriptions of Pentecostalism came from a construction worker who said to his wife and later to me, “I know all about speaking in tongues, dancing in the spirit, and being slain in the spirit – that is how they worship the devil in Africa.” Ecstatic religions are not just from Africa. Fertility rites and sacred prostitution are part of ecstatic religions. But Pentecostalism came to America from Africa. It is not a racial weakness either. Blacks who grew up in liturgical Lutheran or Roman Catholic churches are quite scornful of putting on a show. I have talked to several who thought the noise and dancing were displays of entertainment, not worship.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

This is very important to understand in the negative (first part) and the positive (second part).


Part One, 1 Corinthians 12:3
False doctrine and blasphemy do not come from the Holy Spirit. In modern terms, our feelings do not verify the doctrine. Nothing trumps the teaching of God’s Word. The nice guy argument, and “he’s my friend” and “I drank a lot of beer with him at seminary” – all are irrelevant. Also, there is no Holy Mother Synod in the Bible. There is no institution to be defended because the only criterion is the Word of God, which judges and rules over everything. The Scriptures are the ruling norm of faith and conduct.

Part Two
Faith is the result of the Holy Spirit working through the Word. Therefore, anyone who says “Jesus is Lord” has been converted by the Word and shows the work of the Holy Spirit. (Some offer false confessions, as denounced by Jesus in Matthew 7:15ff, but Paul is talking about sincere faith here.)

Believers Glorify God
The Word of God and Lutheran authors have a lot to say about believers. Echoing Paul, they write that everything done in faith glorifies God, whether it is a baby soiling himself (Luther) or people going about their ordinary work. I find it strange when Lutheran clergy try to hold themselves above others, as if they have a greater portion of the Holy Spirit. They have the added burden of being held accountable for their stewardship of the mysteries (doctrines) of God.

Pastor’s Comment on UOJ
A WELS pastor phoned me, catching up on various things. He was struck—in a negative way—about the recent NPH book on being a Lutheran. The author (clearly a Shrinker, in my opinion) spends all his time on justification without faith and no time on the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. The pastor was confirming what Luther said about false doctrine supplanting sound doctrine. False doctrine is a weed that looks like sound doctrine, but it is sterile and useless. Many times in gardening I saw evidence of the slogan that “every good plant has a weed that looks like it.” I planted corn once and never realized the birds ate all my seed. I saw alleged corn plants growing where I turned over the soil and I rejoiced. I had lots of sun (Columbus) and plenty of rain. Soon I had a 8 foot stand of weeds growing – not one stalk of corn.

The Creating Word
Our trip to Los Angeles reminded me again of the power of God’s Creation. The scenery near the ocean is spectacular. The current theory is that continental drift led to land smashing against the coast. I am not qualified to say, but I wonder of the drifting took place suddenly during the time of the Genesis Flood. Regardless of how or when it happened, clearly God created our entire universe through the Word. “Nothing was created apart from Him.” (John 1)

The more I see of our Southwest, the more apparent the Genesis Flood is – especially when looking at the Grand Canyon, scoured out by the racing of gravel, stones, and boulders in a torrent of water.

There is a direct connection between the Creation and believers. Paul calls all believers “new creations,” rather than “new decisions.” The Word is so powerful that the Gospel creates faith and sustains faith.

That knowledge of God’s Word keeps us from despairing about our failings, which are many, and bragging about our accomplishments, which are few. Though the Gospel received in faith, we are declared innocent because of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross. As one pastor said in rejecting UOJ – “There’s the Atonement and faith in the Atonement. Don’t throw in a bunch of stuff I can’t find in the Bible.”

As we can see in the Holy Spirit and the Word, the two are never separated, but they are not the same. Also, the Atonement and justification go together, but they are different. The Atonement is Christ’s one-time sacrifice for the sins of the world. Pronouncing an individual innocent (justified) is another work of God, not to be confused with the Atonement. The Atonement remains true even if no one ever believed it. But the Atonement is not justification. The Atonement is not a declaration of the whole world being innocent and guilt-free. God has provided Gospel teachers to distributed this treasure to individuals through the Word and sacraments. Babies are too young to be taught sanctification and the non-reciprocity of the second genus, so God places faith in their hearts with the Holy Spirit working with the Word in infant baptism. Their faith is genuine because they do not have the skill of adults in rationalizing away the mysteries of God. Infants grow in understanding and learn to hold fast to the doctrine of the Word.

Everything accomplished in the true Church is done by the Holy Spirit, and all work of the Holy Spirit is the effective work of the Word. Those who seek an abundance of the fruits of the Spirit will find that coming from an abundance of the Word. Anything else is sowing sparingly (mixing in man’s wisdom) and therefore reaping sparingly.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity



The Lost Sheep, by Norma Boeckler


The Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #39 Praise to the Lord 3:1
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 Corinthians 10:6-13
The Gospel Luke 16:1-9
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #370 My Hope Is Built 3:11

Making Friends, According to Jesus

The Hymn #294 O Word of God Incarnate 3:31
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 #316 O Living Bread 3:45

KJV 1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

KJV Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 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.

Ninth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, who hast bountifully given us Thy blessing and our daily bread: We beseech Thee, preserve us from covetousness, and so quicken our hearts that we willingly share Thy blessed gifts with our needy brethren; that we may be found faithful stewards of Thy gifts, and abide in Thy grace when we shall be removed from our stewardship, and shall come before Thy judgment, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Making Friends, According to Jesus
Luke 16: 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 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.

This Gospel lesson is one of those shockers, if we misunderstand it. Luther said, “It will make a lot of money for the monks and priests, if we let them.”

I like this Gospel lesson because it shows how Jesus taught. This is a passage for believers. The ordinary crowd of gawkers who wanted miracles would never understand this. In fact, there are enough unusual details to make any pastor go back and study the text.

First of all, we have the example of the unjust steward. He is presented as non-believer who is good at one thing, taking care of himself. There is a little humor in this story too.

Steward is the KJV for household manager. Since this man was very rich, he had a manager to take care of the daily needs of the estate. Things were not going well, so the rich man was ready to fire the steward. He was calling for an audit of the accounts.

This is funny – the steward knew what he was facing, so he said, “What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.” The steward was too much of an accountant to get a job doing manual labor. He was too proud to beg, so he was stymied about getting new job.

This is the part that stymies everyone at the first hearing or reading. The unjust steward went over the accounts and marked them down to make friends with the people doing business with his master.

Even more surprising, the rich man commended the steward for being so crafty.

The biggest shock is Jesus’ conclusion –

Luke 16:9 : for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 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.

Mammon is a Hebraic word meaning money. As Luther wrote, Mammon is having money enough for our needs and to help our neighbors.

The story does not commend the steward for being dishonest. He is good at what he does. Luther’s example is funny. “She is a flirt, and the whole world follows after her.” That is not saying – Be a flirt, but – She is a skillful flirt.

So at first the steward is in trouble for doing a bad job, but when he showed himself wily and manipulative, his rich master thought, “Now there is a guy who knows the ways of the business world.”

We should not be shocked at this. Crowds gathered to shout “Run, OJ, run” when he was trying to escape justice. Congressmen will face prison for their misdeeds and their hometowns will greet them with applause and treat them as martyrs. The same thing has happened in the Lutheran Church. If a man is questioned for his known infidelities, he is “being persecuted” and an array of officials will slime anyone who engages in this persecution. And, if a pastor is fired for not doing his job, for being a poor steward, he is admired for grabbing his job back, even if his arrogance and greed are likely to finish off his congregation. As Luther wrote, “The world loves wolf preaching.”

All this sounds so bad, so why did Jesus use a bad example to teach a lesson?

Luke 16: 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 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.

The qualifier is important – the children in this generation. That is, in this life on earth, the unbelievers are wiser than the believers.

Some examples are all too obvious. Why would entire Lutheran denominations give themselves over to Reformed doctrine? Even worse, why would all the clergy and laity watch passively as it happened? That has been the story of all the synods in America for the last 30+ years. The participants knew what they were doing and lied about it. The rest knew it was happening and chose to be silent.

Here is an interesting example. The Seminex leader, John Tietjen, insisted on a female assistant when he was made bishop of Metro Chicago for ELCA. So they canned him. Even the Seminex supporters thought Tietjen was foolish! So they arranged for a Texas call to get him out of town and give him a living until retirement. In Texas ELCA tried to fund a big new Church Growth congregation. Tietjen, who was good at opposition, organized the ELCA pastors to oppose it. ELCA gave up and started it in Yorba Linda, California (where we are going Wednesday). That mega-church-to-be failed miserably and Tietjen looked like a wise man (for once).

Any unbeliever would say, “Why would a church spend all that money to promote the opposite of what it believes?”

An unbeliever would also ask, “Why would any church let its schools go to rot and ruin? They are the training ground for the next generation?”

In secular jobs, people are actually polite to their supervisors, even if they do not like them very much, for good reasons and bad. In the church, just the opposite in true, and people destroy their own congregations to get even with a pastor who teaches the Word and refuses to be their hired hand.
This Gospel lesson emphasizes good works, as many other passages do. Luther divided the Christian faith into two parts – our relationship to God (faith) and our relationship to our neighbor (good works). The Scriptures do not contradict themselves, so good works passages are always about the outward man (what we do) while the faith passages are about the inward man (what we believe).

There is a relationship between what we believe and what we do. Often our actions betray what we really believe.

Unrighteous mammon is money, so making friends with money means doing good things for our neighbor in need. There is the reason why our nation is overwhelmingly generous toward others, even our recent enemies. The Christian faith moves people to share with others. A disaster anywhere in the world will generate giving, not only from individuals and groups, but also from our government.

When money fails – when we are dead – our actions will be reflected in the Final Judgment. That parable emphasizes what we did here on earth, feeding, clothing, visiting. In other words, those people will stand up for us and say, “He visited me in the hospital. She sent food when we needed it. They got us past a bad time in our lives.”

Luther was fond of saying, “God has done everything for us, providing for our spiritual and material needs with great generosity. There is nothing for us to do except care for our neighbor.” That happens in sharing the Word, which occurs naturally in our daily discourse, and also in caring for our neighbors’ needs.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity



Figs, by Norma Boeckler


The Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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


Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #528:1-7 If God Himself Be for Me 4.49
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 8:12-17
The Gospel Matthew 7:15-21
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #528:8-15 If God Himself Be for Me 4.49

Good Fruit from Sound Doctrine

The Hymn #378 The Saints on Earth 4.8
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 #659 Feed Thy Children 4.23

The flowers are in memory of Bethany Joan Marie Jackson, who would have been 35 today.

KJV Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Eighth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank Thee that Thou hast caused us to come to the knowledge of Thy word. We pray Thee: graciously keep us steadfast in this knowledge unto death, that we may obtain eternal life; send us now and ever pious pastors, who faithfully preach Thy word, without offense or false doctrine, and grant them long life. Defend us from all false teachings, and frustrate Thou the counsels of all such as pervert Thy word, who come to us in sheep's clothing, but are inwardly ravening wolves, that Thy true Church may evermore be established among us, and be defended and preserved from such false teachers, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Good Fruit from Sound Doctrine

Matthew 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

This Gospel lesson reminds us that Christ spoke harsh words against false teachers. In fact, the harshest words in the New Testament are spoken by Jesus.

So why have Christians absorbed the idea that their religion does not allow for anything critical to be said about another confession? Lutherans got this idea from Pietism, because Spener copied his ideas from the Reformed and also agreed to a certain extent with their doctrine. To work together for charity, the Lutherans dropped their opposition to Reformed doctrine, although the Reformed never dropped their key difference with Lutherans – chiefly the efficacy of the Word in the Means of Grace. That is not a minor difference but the foundation of all Christian doctrine.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing – that image is not exactly gentle, but it is meant to convey the proper warning. Even today people hear – he is a nice guy. Jesus did not warn about sheep in wolves’ clothing but wolves in sheep’s clothing. Identifying the key attribute of false teachers (he is a nice guy, everyone likes him) is not a defense against the charge of opposing God’s Word. No one has ever opposed God’s Word while appearing evil, starting with Satan in the Garden of Eden. He spoke softly, appeared fair, and seemed logical in his discourse. He looked for openings and exploited them – Did God really say – do not touch the fruit? What a great way to move from touching the fruit (no rules there) to eating it (and be like God Himself).

Ravening (ferocious or ravenous) wolves tear up the flock. They come from within the flock and outside of the flock, as Paul warned in his farewell speech to the Ephesians.

KJV Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Sometimes the Scriptures emphasize doctrine and other times works. In this passage, Jesus said we should measure false teachers by their works, which is just the opposite of man’s inclination. People excuse the horrible histories of false teachers and make excuses for them. But Jesus taught and still teaches:

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Nothing good can come from teaching contrary to God’s Word, and nothing bad can come from teaching in harmony with God’s Word.

Thanks to the Church Growth Movement from Fuller Seminary, I have heard conservative Lutheran ministers say, “Yes they are false teachers, but we can learn a lot from them. We cannot forego their great insights just because they belong to another denomination.”

I have called the Growthers “Shrinkers” because of their fruit. They have done nothing for the Christian faith in America, and their great leader, C. Peter Wagner, has admitted as much.

Another aspect of false doctrine is its ability to bewitch people. The more they get involved with it, the more immune they are to any suggestion it is wrong. I see that with people hypnotized by Roman Catholicism, which is a clever imitation of the Christian faith, but a complete repudiation of God’s Word. And I see the same enchantment with the version of Church Growth called The Emergent Church, where new extremes are the norm.

The agricultural comparisons in this lesson should make sense to anyone with a slight acquaintance with gardening. You will know them by their fruits.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

The Shrinkers say they are “spoiling the Egyptians,” stealing the great treasures of Fuller Seminary (which repudiated inerrancy a long time ago, but—no surprise—ferociously supports women’s ordination). Using the language of Jesus, they are gathering grapes from thornbushes. I once had to cut down 9 foot thorn bushes. I found no grapes there, but I did come in with a lot of thorns all over me.

The Comfort of This Lesson

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

This lesson does not simply teach against false teachers, making it clear that a bad tree (false doctrine) only produces bad fruit.

Jesus also teaches us that a good tree only produces good fruit. The “sound” in sound doctrine can be read as “healthy” doctrine. This is in perfect harmony with the natural law concept of the Scriptures. God commands what is good for us.
The pure Word of God is healthy and brings forth only good fruit.

I used to grow a lot of roses. Before I needed more sun. Now I need less sun and more soil. But I learned a lot from growing dozens of roses in Columbus and New Ulm.

There are plenty of bargain roses and mishandled roses. They grow most of the time but they never produce beautiful flowers because their stock does not allow for that. My all-time favorite remains Double Delight, for its color and perfume. It bloomed generously and everyone loved the flowers. For that reason it was also rare. If I did not order it months in advance, the suppliers were sold out.

Likewise, to grow giant sunflowers, I bought the more expensive Russian sunflower seeds. We had contests (based on Mark 4) to see which child could grow the biggest sunflower heads. The sunflower family is quite large, so many varieties are rather small and inconspicuous in their blooms. It was always impressive to see a small child with a sunflower disk bigger than a dinner plate, with hundreds of striped seeds in beautiful spirals (which reveal the Fibonacci numbers).

Because we carry the Old Adam with us, we do not like the cross that accompanies the teaching of the pure Word of God. But Jesus teaches that only good can come from the pure Word of God. How can suffering and rebuke be the good fruit of the healthy plant.

First of all, unchallenged doctrine makes us lazy and apathetic about the Scriptures. Whenever people praise themselves for being in a perfect church, they are starting to neglect the Word of God. Just recently, a Missouri pastor said he was in the best church because it was least influenced by Pietism. I thought, “Now there is a Pietistic claim.” First of all, Walther began as a Pietist, although he tried to break away from it. Secondly, the primary errors of the Synodical Conference (UOJ and consecration) come from the Reformed view of the Word, denying its efficacy. And those false views entered through Pietism, that is, through Walther the primary political and doctrinal leader. Instead of dealing with the error as it grew, the saint-worshipers encircled their statue of Walther and made his voluminous writings the norm for all doctrine, preferring him to the Book of Concord and Luther.

Secondly, God may want us somewhere else. Like Jonah, we can set our own plans, but that express whale to Ninevah is going to pick us up anyway, whether we like it or not. The only way to evade the trip is to adopt false doctrine and make peace with the Synagogue of Satan. Many religious leaders have chosen that route, which may be why the New Testament uses the term – making shipwrecks of their faith.

KJV 1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

Third, God may want us where we are, even though we cast longing eyes on another place. Luther and Gerhardt both emphasized that carrying out our duties properly is God-pleasing. We should ask for no more. Some people destroy their lives by aiming for glamour and excitement when the best of life is a series of little events, with family and friends, or seeing what God can do over time in a congregation.

I can tell who reads Luther, the Book of Concord, and the Scriptures. They will allow that they may not see any results at all, but they trust God will accomplish His will through faithfulness to His Word. Like WWII heroes I know, they avoid calling attention to themselves.

Luther himself (Paul Gerhardt, even more) was a failure when looking at his imaginary resume. Luther’s Reformation went backwards during his own lifetime. His associates did more harm to sound doctrine than the pope and Turk put together. People fell away from the Reformation as soon as the going got tough. When Luther died, the Roman Catholic emperor died and did his best to destroy the remainder of the Reformation. However, it was just that crisis that created the Book of Concord, which we should see as our best one-volume sermon helper, Bible commentary, and devotional guide.

The hymn writer Paul Gerhardt had a lifetime of horrible experiences (loss of spouse and most of his children, defenestration for going against Reformed doctrine, living on charity, etc), but he turned them into poetry that created Christian hymnody – some say even more influential than Luther.

In both cases, sound doctrine produce good fruit – to the glory of God.

Trinity Eight Quotations
Matthew 7:15-23


"Just as true doctrine is the greatest gift we can enjoy, so false doctrine is the most baneful evil that can beset us. False doctrine is sin, it is the invention of Satan, and it imperils and destroys salvation. False doctrine is every teaching contrary to the Word of God. Scripture enjoins upon us to proclaim only the truth."
W. A. Baepler, "Doctrine, True and False," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 501.


"No false dogma has ever been spread in the church which was not put forth with some plausible show, for sheep's clothing is the show of false religion (says Chrysostom). Indeed, the weaker and more ruinous the cause is, the more arguments it needs, sought everywhere and in every way possible, as though to cover it over with paint or to swathe it with medicine. For Pindar [famous Greek lyric poet, 518-438 B.C.] says, 'For a just cause three words are sufficient.' Therefore the papalists have gathered very many and varied arguments in order to establish purgatory."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, III, p. 325.


"Paul calls all false spirits bold and proud. Yes, in their filth with their protectors they are proud and impudent, otherwise they are the most cowardly villains that can be found. When they are to appear and answer for their conduct, they produce a single answer. Among themselves they are bold, and venture to catch God in His own Word; but when it comes to the test, they simply despair."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 1983, V, p. 204.

"For every sect has always had one or more particular hobbies and articles which are manifestly wrong and can easily be discerned to be of the devil, who publicly teach, urge and defend them as right certain and necessary to believe or to keep For the spirit of lies cannot so conceal himself, but that he must at last put forth his claws, by which you can discern and observe the ravenous wolf."
Sermons of Martin Luther, IV, p. 282f.


"For this reason one should not be too credulous when a preacher comes softly like an angel of God, recommends himself very highly, and swears that his sole aim is to save souls, and says: 'Pax vobis!' For those are the very fellows the devil employs to honey people's mouths. Through them he gains an entrance to preach and to teach, in order that he may afterward inflict his injuries, and that though he accomplish nothing more for the present, he may, at least, confound the people's consciences and finally lead them into misery and despair."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 322.


"It is not enough that we preach correctly, which the hireling can also do; but we must watch over the sheep, that the wolves, false teachers, may not break in, and we must contend for the sheep against the wolves, with the Word of God, even to the sacrifice of our lives. Such are good shepherds, of whom few are found."
Sermons of Martin Luthe,r III, p. 34.


"There are other wolves, however, who come to us in sheep's clothing. They are the false prophets, who under the form of pious and religious instruction feed pure poison to the sheep of Christ. Against these Christ warns us, that we may be constantly on our guard, lest with sugar-coated words and flattering religious expressions they mislead us, deceive us, by their cunning, and draw us to themselves, as He says in Matthew 7:15: 'Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.'"
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 35.


"The world desires such wolf preaching, and is not worthy of anything better since it will not hear nor respect Christ. Hence it is that there are so few true Christians and faithful preachers, always outnumbered by the members of the false church."
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 385.
"For nothing can feed or give life to the soul, which is not the doctrine of Christ. Although the hireling does not himself slay and destroy he does not restrain the wolf. Therefore, because you neither point out nor teach this shepherd, you shall not and ought not to be heard, but you shall be shunned as a wolf."
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 58f.


"Thus too, if our confidence is to begin, and we become strengthened and comforted, we must well learn the voice of our Shepherd, and let all other voices go, who only lead us astray, and chase and drive us hither and thither. We must hear and grasp only that article which presents Christ to us in the most friendly and comforting manner possible. So that we can say with all confidence: My Lord Jesus Christ is truly the only Shepherd, and I, alas, the lost sheep, which has strayed into the wilderness, and I am anxious and fearful, and would gladly be good, and have a gracious God and peace of conscience, but here I am told that He is as anxious for me as I am for Him."
Sermons of Martin Luther, IV, p. 86.

"No work is so evil that it can damn a man, and no work is so good that it can save a man; but faith alone saves us, and unbelief damns us. The fact that someone falls into adultery does not damn him. Rather the adultery indicates that he has fallen from faith. This damns him; otherwise adultery would be impossible for him. So, then, nothing makes a good tree except faith."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 475. Matthew 7:15-23.


"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."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, 1959, II, p. 644.


"You cannot of a truth be for true doctrine without being unalterably opposed to false doctrine. There can be no 'positive theology' where the God-given negatives have been eliminated from the Decalog."
Norman A. Madson, Preaching to Preachers, Mankato: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1952 Preface.


"Every departure from God's Word, every error, is dangerous to the soul. There is a fearful, diabolical power in error; for every error is the devil's work, and through fellowship with error a person puts himself under the influence of the devil. Here human reason is helpless."
Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 42.


"Even the history of the world shows how great is the power of the devil's kingdom. The world is full of blasphemies against God and of wicked opinions, and the devil keeps entangled in these bands those who are wise and righteous [many hypocrites who appear holy] in the sight of the world. In other persons grosser vices manifest themselves. But since Christ was given to us to remove both these sins and these punishments, and to destroy the kingdom of the devil, sin and death,it will not be possible to recognize the benefits of Christ unless we understand our evils. For this reason our preachers have diligently taught concerning these subjects, and have delivered nothing that is new, but have set forth Holy Scriptures and the judgments of the holy Fathers."
Apology Augsburg Confession, Article II: Of Original Sin, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119. Tappert, p.