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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 10 AM Central

The Hymn #361 O Jesus King 4.1
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 Galatians 5:25-6:10
The Gospel Matthew 6:24-34
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #123 Our God Our Help 4.3
The Good Samaritan Is Christ

The Hymn #371 Jesus Thy Blood 4.6
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 #657 Beautiful Savior 4.24

Galatian 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden. 6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

KJV Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee for all Thy benefits: that Thou hast given us life and graciously sustained us unto this day: We beseech Thee, take not Thy blessing from us; preserve us from covetousness, that we may serve Thee only, love and abide in Thee, and not defile ourselves by idolatrous love of mammon, but hope and trust only in Thy grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Fruit of the Spirit
Galatian 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
I combined the Epistles for the last two weeks because we missed last week’s service and the two selections are in sequence.

The key to understanding this lesson--and all related passages--is simple, but profound. A correct understanding here means that the great division in Christianity is made clear. On one side are the Enthusiasts. On the other are those who understand the work of the Holy Spirit.

When the Bible speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit, it is always associated with the Word of God. The two are never separated.

Notice how easily people take a passage like this into another realm. When the Spirit is separated from the Word, they look for special signs they have the Spirit. The emphasis is then man-centered. Pentecostals think they have to smile all the time and make plenty of money. As Luther said, and we confess, they talk about Jesus but take away the bridge to Jesus. The Savior comes to us through the Means of Grace.

In the Epistle selections for this Sunday and last Sunday, Spirit and flesh are contrasted, along with Law and Gospel. The situation in the congregation was quite serious. The Gospel was being adulterated by people who wanted to impose Law conditions on the members so those people would be deserving of salvation. The logic was compelling – Jesus was a Jew who obeyed the Torah. So were all the Apostles. The early Church preached in the synagogues until they were expelled, literally thrown out, as Jesus predicted in the Gospel of John.

Our Old Adam wants to have something to offer God – merit, works, obligations, and so forth. When people are weak in the faith, false teachers easily lead them into error. One person said, “I have to witness or God will not let me grow as a Christian.” All the “have to” and “must” language is Law.

Whenever Law is added to the Gospel, the Gospel is turned into Law. The effect of the Law-Gospel confusion is going to be crushing, because the obligations mount up. Or they create vanity, pride, and obstinacy – Look at what I have done for God. In fact, many false teachers are excused for “all they have done for the church,” as if God’s work needs propping up while His Word is being disparaged and diminished.

So why do we have Law and Gospel, flesh and Spirit?

The Law is good, useful, and spiritual, but limited in effect. No one is saved by the Law. The Law cannot produce healing or any good work (on its own). When the Law does influence good works, it is because (third use of the Law) it is reflecting the Gospel, just as the moon has no light of its own but reflects the sun (Luther’s insight).

In this situation, false teachers were making Jewish ritual law mandatory, and that included circumcision. This imposed a load of guilt on people for the wrong reasons. It also encouraged the legalists to think of salvation as conformity to the Law. Both effects were harmful, so that is why Paul used such strong language against it.

Luther used his commentary on Galatians to drive a permanent wedge between all the Protestants (called Evangelicals at first) and the Roman Catholics. He used every possible argument to remove any possibility of mixing Law and Gospel. That is why the Formula of Concord spends so much time on this topic. And Walther left a permanent impact on America with his Law and Gospel lectures – which he gave but did not write down. The lectures were transcribed and published in German, then English.

The Law attacks the flesh, showing us our need for guilt. It is like a medical diagnosis, showing us what is wrong. But the Law also makes people proud when they misuse or misunderstand it. They are like the people who say, “I am in perfect health.” That is so far from the truth that medical examiners mistrust anyone who claims that remarkable achievement. I even saw that written on one report – The client claims (underlined) to have no medical conditions. In fact, he had several which were relatively minor. Why would someone lie about that – deliberately so?

The Law stirs up wrath and opposition. As soon as the Law is announced, even with our own resolutions, we rebel. And yet, we yearn for Law salvation, which is another sign our flesh belongs to our Old Adam.

The confusion of the apostolic era is very much like the invasion of Pietism among the Protestants. In both cases, earnest false teachers wanted to have outward signs of inner salvation, so they invoked the Law to produce those good effects. They turned the “want to” of the Gospel into the “have to” of the Law.

For example, the Bible does not say, “You have to pray or else.” Instead, all the passages encouraging prayer are accompanied by assurance of God’s love, power, and compassion – His faithfulness to His people.

What Paul offers, in contrast, is the Gospel and its fruit. The fruit of the Spirit can only come from the pure Gospel, not the Gospel mixed with Law.

Galatians 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The list is written to indicate there are many other works of the flesh. That is one way of saying, “If you want what can be seen, then here is what our flesh has to offer, an endless list.” The Law is like the broom sweeper of Pilgrim’s Progress, who stirs up the dust until it chokes everyone.

The Gospel is pure forgiveness and comes to us through the Word and Sacrament. The Gospel announces what Christ has accomplished for us, earning our forgiveness, distributing this treasure through the Means of Grace. A good illustration is infant baptism. The Sacrament is brought to the baby. How offended are those who want a child to “make a decision” or perform some obligation to earn membership in the Kingdom – along with a contradictory claim that babies do not sin or know sin until age 7! (My answer in two words – Terrible Twos. Also – have you ever changed a diaper when a baby resisted with all his might?)

The Holy Spirit distributes the treasure of the Atonement through preaching, teaching, and the Sacraments, but many spurn this treasure in various ways. Faith means trusting in the Word of God, in His Promises. Faith receives what God freely offers in the Means of Grace. Man’s pride tries to change this, making the Christian faith “reasonable” or conforming to a new set of man-made rules, such as Zwingli’s “The Holy Spirit does not need a vehicle, like an oxcart.”

So the baby receives the Gospel in Holy Baptism and the parents nurture this Spirit-Word faith as the child grows. The growing child learns more about the sin and the Gospel as he grows. From the Gospel, and the Gospel alone, will come the fruit of the Spirit. “Do this or else” will not produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The fruit of the Spirit is nine-fold, a trinity of trinities, reminding us of the Three-ness of the One God.

love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, 23 Meekness, temperance.

Those who want an abundance of love will find it as a product of the abundance of the Word, because the Spirit is never without the Word, and the Word is never without the Word. Love does not convert people to the Gospel, as Luther observed. Love is a product of the Gospel. All those trying to love-bomb people into the Kingdom are using the Law. “The ushers have to be friendly or the sermon will have no effect.” What a tragic disrespect for the power of the Word. (Do the silk ribbons saying usher or greeter have to be a cheery color, too?)

Joy is not the same as happiness. The unbelieving world wants us to believe that joy comes from material happiness, in spite of all the contrary evidence. Joy is best represented by the father of a family of five. I don’t know how he managed on his salary, yet every phrase seemed to start with “I am thankful to God for…”
Where people look for joy as a product of material blessings, believers experience joy as a result of the Gospel proclamation. Joy is often experienced in the midst of the cross, because the work of the Spirit is so clear and the vanity of the world so obvious.

Peace – everyone yearns for peace, and the Word directs us to that peace. The Scriptures never address peace apart from forgiveness and salvation. Inner peace can only come from the forgiveness won for us through Christ and received in faith. With that peace, the world may be in turmoil but the heart is calm. Luther’s best phrase is – God does not take the trouble from your heart, but your heart from the trouble.

Much more can be said later about the final six fruits of the Spirit.

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