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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.

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