The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn #528:1-7 If God Himself Be for Me 4.49
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 1 Cor. 1:4-9
The Gospel Matthew 22:34-46
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
This Is My Body
The Hymn #378 All That I Was 4.4
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #659 Feed Thy Children 4.23
Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father: We are poor, miserable sinners; we know Thy will, but cannot fulfill it because of the weakness of our flesh and blood, and because our enemy, the devil, will not leave us in peace. Therefore we beseech Thee, shed Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that, in steadfast faith, we may cling to Thy Son Jesus Christ, find comfort in His passion and death, believe the forgiveness of sin through Him, and in willing obedience to Thy will lead holy lives on earth, until by Thy grace, through a blessed death, we depart from this world of sorrow, and obtain eternal life, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
This Is My Body
KJV Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
The Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion were given to the Church, not as something new, but based upon God’s gracious work with the People of God from the beginning.
The more we understand Biblical Judaism, the more we appreciate Christianity.
God’s promises and actions are connected with visible signs we can remember. For example, God promised never again to destroy the earth with a global flood. He gave proof of that promise with the rainbow.
KJV Genesis 9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
The rainbow is also in Revelation:
KJV Revelation 4:3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
Many people like to say what God could do, without looking at what God has done and continues to do.
There is complete continuity between the Old Testament sacraments and those of the New Testament. Removing or hiding the sacraments is the same as denying the revelation of the Old Testament.
In the apostolic era, which we are studying with the Epistle to the Galatians, the Scriptures were simply the Old Testament. Lenski thinks Galatians was the first Pauline epistle, before Thessalonians, and most assume the Gospels came later.
That does not mean that Christians invented the New Testament. The Pauline letters, inspired by the Holy Spirit, circulated among the Christian churches. For the Gospels they had the preaching of the Apostles. Unlike today, people had the capacity to memorize and recite entire books, so this was another way to circulate the Apostolic teaching when the disciples were not present.
As I mentioned before, the first task of every new Christian congregation was to obtain a copy of the Old Testament. That was their first unit, the foundation of all their preaching work. Jewish Christians naturally wanted to hear how Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament promises. Gentile Christians needed to learn the details so they could see that their Savior was promised at the beginning of time.
The first Gospel Promise:
KJV Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
So Christian worship was directly connected with the Old Testament promises and sacraments.
All those sacraments were meant to train people to understand and expect the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
For example, the rainbow is still our common reminder of that promise in Genesis. When we see that rainbow, it should remind us of God always keeping His Promises. It is not just the threat of a global flood, but all the Promises we should remember.
KJV Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
KJV Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
KJV Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
KJV Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
One way to find the Promises of God is to look up “fear not.” Fear is the opposite of faith, and fear is best countered by the Promises of God. Another way is to find the Gospel sections of the Old Testament, which are abundant. One of the most uplifting sections of the Bible is Isaiah 40ff.
Who Needs Sacraments?
The issue is not whether God needs sacraments, which is supposedly an argument against them. The sacraments are God’s will, which we cannot dispute.
The term itself is shorthand for God’s Promise connected with something visible. The rainbow is certainly a sacrament in that sense.
Mothers spray water into a room to scare monsters away. It is easy to tell children abstractly, “There are no monsters in there,” but it is easier to have a visible sign that a room is monster-proof. Children go through a stage where they imagine these monsters, later adopting the same monsters as their friends. In the meantime, mothers offer a visible sign and children are satisfied with it. From the perspective of the skeptics, this is no good because mothers do not need to spray water. But mothers know the reason is that children need the visible sign. Similarly, when children are anxious about Mom being gone a few hours, an old purse hanging on a hook is used to say, “This means I will be back in a few hours.”
Old Testament Sacraments
The Jews would never have left Egypt without the constant leadership of Moses and the terror of the Pharaoh. Even with a series of miracles, they were often struck with anxiety. So God gave them a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day. The miraculous activity they enjoyed all prefigured the promised Messiah.
To this day, the Passover Meal foreshadows the Christ. The spotless lamb is sacrificed to remember the Angel of Death passing over them, as long as blood marked the doorways. Wine and unleavened bread are basic to the Passover. Many churches use wine that says in Hebrew – Kosher for Passover.
The Apostle Paul, given the direct revelation of the Gospel, preached the Exodus as foreshadowing Christ and including the pre-Incarnate Son of God –
KJV 1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
The Apostle John recorded that Jesus preached on the meaning of one episode in the Exodus.
KJV John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
One of my battles with the Shrinkers in WELS concerned the liturgy. DP Robert Mueller claimed that the liturgy was invented in the Middle Ages, meaning it could be ejected from the worship service. Doubtless a liturgy-hating graduate of Fuller Seminary taught Mueller that great insight. Luther noted that Roman Catholic hating Protestants are like the man who defended his brother by stabbing at an attacking bear and killing his own brother by mistake. They think by attacking what they believe is Roman, they will defeat Romanism. Thus the liturgy, Creeds, baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, and the sacrament of Holy Communion are all condemned as Roman errors or Medieval traditions. This is bigoted and ignorant, from Zwingli, the self-taught theologian, who has many followers in the Lutheran Church today.
I brought this anti-liturgical bigotry up to a Jew who became a Missouri Synod pastor. I had attended a number of Jewish services, including a bar mitzvah. I was always impressed with the connection between Old Testament worship and the historical liturgy (which is not just Lutheran). I asked this Jewish Lutheran, “How can anyone deny the Jewish liturgical foundation for the apostolic era?” He laughed in response. It was not even debatable. The early Christians saw and understood, if they were Jewish, that they had been preparing for the Messiah since that first Promise, when the orchard thieves were expelled from the Garden of Eden. They carried over the liturgical tradition and enhanced it with the complete revelation of the Gospel.
Non-Jews were introduced to all those ancient actions and Promises, so they could see that they were not joining something newly invented by man (like all the fertility rites) but something revealed by God in the beginning.
Old Testament worship is always connected with something visible. The Torah scrolls are taken out and carried among the people during a Bar Mitzvah service, when a boy becomes a man and reads Hebrew in public.
Jewish worship garments are not confined to a business suit (Time of Gath). Traditional rabbis do not wear a Hawaiian shirt to lead a service (Community of Joy, ex-ELCA).
Old Testament worship, includes the visible with actions. God commanded these aspects of worship so people would see, experience, and remember. People do this today, apart from religious observance. Soldiers fire guns at funerals. If it is an Air Force funeral, the pilots fly the Missing Man formation.
In reliving the events of the Passover Meal, the Lord’s Supper connects the Exodus with the fulfilled promises of Jesus as the Messiah.
So we look at Holy Communion, not as rationalists who judge the Word of God, but as believers who realize God commands what is good and useful for us.
Paul’s epistles assume knowledge of the Gospels, which were preached among the people by the still-living Apostles, including Paul himself. And yet he also included the Words of Institution in his letter to the Corinthians.
The universal language of the Roman Empire was Greek. It was like English today. People spoke their own languages and dialects, but the prestige language, which united all the provinces, was Greek. The only records we have of the Last Supper are Greek, where Jesus clearly says two things essential in the Sacrament:
1. This is my Body. This is my Blood. His Word consecrated the elements, even before the crucifixion. The time element is divine. Abraham and others were justified by faith before the Atonement, receiving in faith the righteousness promised by God.
Jesus words mean that His body is truly present, His blood is truly present. To reduce these words to symbols alone is to deny the Word of God.
Those who say, “We do not know the moment of consecration” are idiots who do not understand the most basic foundation of the Word – God’s Word is effective. In the Absolution, do we not know when sins are absolved? In Holy Baptism, do we not know the Moment of Baptism? Perhaps the baby is truly baptized only when handed back, crying, to his mother.
The power of the Sacrament is in the Word. It is like the red glow of a metal wire heated up by a flame. That wire will start a fire, but no one thinks the wire alone did it. It is the energy within that wire. (Energy is the English transliteration of the NT word group – efficacious, efficaciously, effective, at work, etc).
2. Given for you, for the forgiveness of sin. This makes the Holy Communion a sacrament, not an ordinance. A sacrament means that God conveys what is promised. Sins are forgiven through Holy Communion. Those who deny this and make this an “ordinance” (law) are apostates who refuse to accept the grace freely offered in the Means of Grace.
No shock here – when Lutherans deny the sacraments, they also hide the sacraments, so people will join them and pay them money, without the scandal of God at work effectively through the Instruments (Means) of Grace.
No matter what man will say in denial, God’s promises are true. They are also effective. If we wage war against the Word, we harden our hearts by our own actions, but that is because God’s Word is so powerful. The more we deny the truth, the more we blind ourselves and harden our hearts against the truth.
One man demonstrated that kind of power in a different way. He decided. as a worker on high power lines, to take off his huge gloves for a minute. He had to grab something and literally burnt both arms off – lucky to survive at all. His lectures on safety, to say the least, were quite effective in his new career.
Those who corrupt and adulterate the Word of God are corrupted by their opposition and act out their doctrinal apostasy in various self-destructive ways. Walther himself pointed out that they lose faith first, then commit carnal sins so obvious that they are shunned by everyone. The first stage is doubt, then opposition, and finally serving Satan and murdering souls. My own private opinion is that many TV ministers begin with certain ideals but became truly Satanic in their demeanor and doctrine by constantly embracing what their Father Below promised Christ in the temptations – “bow down and worship me, and all this will be yours.” I see in the worst of them a Satanic anger and glee, as if they are saying, “No one can touch me and my vast empire.”
Humbling experiences point us back to the Word and the source of the grace God has promised us.
In Holy Communion we are reliving the Last Supper and remembering the crucifixion, as God intended. We do not merely talk about forgiveness but receive the visible Word individually, so we cannot possibly ignore what is being said and taught.
Holy Communion takes away our sin. The Gospel heals us and strengthens us against temptation. The very act of forgiveness reminds us of our daily need for this taking away of our sin.
In justification by faith, we realize what God does for us through the Gospel. When we justify ourselves by our works, we deny the Gospel and lose all sense of gratitude toward God.
Holy Communion teaches us that the Christian faith is the only religion where God gives to us rather than demanding from us.
"But when we are speaking of the subject itself, it is certain that the doctrine of gracious reconciliation, of the remission of sins, of righteousness, salvation, and eternal life through faith for the sake of the Mediator is one and the same in the Old and in the New Testament. This is a useful rule which we must retain at all costs: The doctrine, wherever we read it, in either the Old or New Testament, which deals with the gracious reconciliation and the remission of sins through faith for the sake of God's mercy in Christ, is the Gospel."
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 459.
"Therefore God, 'who is rich in mercy' [Ephesians 2:4], has had mercy upon us and has set forth a propitiation through faith in the blood of Christ, and those who flee as suppliants to this throne of grace He absolves from the comprehensive sentence of condemnation, and by the imputation of the righteousness of His Son, which they grasp in faith, He pronounces them righteous, receives them into grace, and adjudges them to be heirs of eternal life. This is certainly the judicial meaning of the word 'justification,' in almost the same way that a guilty man who has been sentenced before the bar of justice is acquitted."
Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 1989, II, p. 482.
"Yet these exercises of faith always presuppose, as their foundation, that God is reconciled by faith, and to this they are always led back, so that faith may be certain and the promise sure in regard to these other objects. This explanation is confirmed by the brilliant statement of Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:20: 'All the promises of God in Christ are yea and amen, to the glory of God through us,' that is, the promises concerning other objects of faith have only then been ratified for us when by faith in Christ we are reconciled with God. The promises have been made valid on the condition that they must give glory to God through us."
Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 1989, II, p. 495.
"Therefore this apprehension or acceptance or application of the promise of grace is the formal cause or principle of justifying faith, according to the language of Scripture."
Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., II, p. 502.
"We must note the foundations. For we are justified by faith, not because it is so firm, robust, and perfect a virtue, but because of the object on which it lays hold, namely Christ, who is the Mediator in the promise of grace. Therefore when faith does not err in its object, but lays hold on that true object, although with a weak faith, or at least tries and wants to lay hold on Christ, then there is true faith, and it justifies. The reason for this is demonstrated in those lovely statements in Philippians 3:12: 'I apprehend, or rather I am apprehended by Christ' and Galatians 4:9: 'You have known God, or rather have been known by God.' Scripture shows a beautiful example of this in Mark 9:24: 'I believe; help my unbelief.'"
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., II, p. 503. Philippians 3:12; Galatians 4:9; Mark 9:24.
"For we are not justified because of our faith (propter fidem), in the sense of faith being a virtue or good work on our part. Thus we pray, as did the man in Mark 9:24: 'I believe, Lord; help my unbelief'; and with the apostles: 'Lord, increase our faith,' Luke 17:5."
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., II, p. 506. Mark 9:24; Luke 17:5.
"But because not doubt but faith justifies, and not he who doubts but he who believes has eternal life, therefore faith teaches the free promise, which relies on the mercy of God for the sake of the sacrifice of the Son, the Mediator, and not on our works, as Paul says in Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, that the promise might be sure according to grace.'"
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., II, p. 507. Romans 4:16
"Thus when we say that we are justified by faith, we are saying nothing else than that for the sake of the Son of God we receive remission of sins and are accounted as righteous. And because it is necessary that this benefit be taken hold of, this is said to be done 'by faith,' that is, by trust in the mercy promised us for the sake of Christ. Thus we must also understand the correlative expression, 'We are righteous by faith,' that is, through the mercy of God for the sake of His Son we are righteous or accepted."
Melanchthon, Loci Communes, “The Word Faith.” Cited in Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, II, p. p. 489.