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
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM CDT.


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
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday in Advent






The First Sunday in Advent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 245 God Loved the World 4:6
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 290 We Have A Sure 4:89

Age of Apostasy

The Hymn # 305 Soul Adorn Thyself 4.23
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 # 463 For All the Saints 4:31

KJV Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

KJV Matthew 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.


First Sunday in Advent - The Collects of Veit Dietrich
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, we bless and praise Thee forever, that Thou didst send Thy Son to rule over us poor sinners, who for our transgressions did justly deserve to remain in the bondage of sin and Satan, and didst give us in Him a meek and righteous King, who by His death became our Savior from sin and eternal death: We beseech Thee so to enlighten, govern and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may ever remain faithful to this righteous King and Savior, and not, after the manner of the world, be offended with His humble form and despised word, but, firmly believing in Him, obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Armor of Light

KJV Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Whenever I read about justification, I find this quotation – that justification by faith is the chief article of the Christian faith.

"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.
In the Synodical Conference, the next step after this quotation is to attack justification by faith, to attack faith itself, and to extol the idea of everyone being forgiven, absolved, justified without faith. And they call that the pure Gospel, not even comprehending that they are repeating the heresy of ELCA called Gospel Reductionism or the older heresy of Universalism.
Like John, Paul used night and day to symbolize falsehood and truth. The night was especially oppressive in ancient times because few used illumination, even in palaces. That may not have always been the case, but I have read of one palace where the pretender’s face could not be seen. Lacking streetlights and houselights, night was a good time for hedonism in all cultures.
As seen in Paul’s discussion in Galatians, tampering with the Gospel was not a small matter, but a major one. Especially dangerous was creating an alloy between false doctrine and sound doctrine, as if a little falsehood was harmless.

First of all, the word justification always means “justification by faith” in the Scriptures and in the Book of Concord. It is confusing, if not evil, to use a term differently from its use in the Scriptures. Merging terms is a trick of unionists and all false teachers. They glide from one thing to another and expect to dazzle people.

Baptism is not communion, and the Holy Spirit is not the Word. Baptism and communion are both sacraments, the visible Word, but they differ. I heard one worship expert say that babies should get communion because babies are baptized. Then perhaps babies should be ordained since babies are baptized. There must be a reason why God gave us forgiveness in different forms. Infant baptism is the purest form of the Gospel, as Luther said, because babies do not have the reasoning power to reject what God offers so freely, declaring them forgiven, taking away the power of original sin, planting faith in their hearts, and granting the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

That is clearly different from Holy Communion, where discernment is necessary and commanded by the Apostle.
The work of the Word is the work of the Holy Spirit, so we know from the Scriptures that when one is mentioned, the other is also included. That does not mean the Holy Spirit is the Word. We know what we do from the revelation of the Holy Spirit in the Word. It is very important to realize the divine power of the Word at all times and to recognize the effectiveness of the Word because the Holy Spirit.

The term monergism is used for the Christian faith. That means that God acts alone, according to the Scriptures.

The Atonement was Christ’s act on our behalf, taking on Himself the sins of the world. Before that time, people recognized sacrifice as atoning for sin. In the Greek cycle of tragedies, the human sacrifice of Iphigenia was seen as a terrible crime done to appease the gods. In Judaism, animals were sacrificed in the Temple. Their blood atoned for the sins of the people, leading them to understand the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

Monergism means that God acts alone in converting us through the Word and in justifying us. For adults, conversion means godly contrition created by the Holy Spirit at work in the Law, faith created by the Holy Spirit at work in the Gospel Promises. God creates that contrition and that faith. The trust generated by the Promises of God receive God’s declaration that we are forgiven because of Christ.

When people confuse the Atonement with justification by faith, they create a formula completely unknown in the Scriptures, the Confessions, and the theologians after Luther.

The Atonement means that Christ redeemed the entire world from sin, paying the price and releasing us from the dominion of Satan and death. This Atonement is also described in other terms, such as redemption (two different words), propitiation, expiation, and reconciliation. Each term has a history and associations with it.

The Word of God assures us that there is no human contribution to forgiveness and salvation. Whenever human effort, works, or merit get involved, people start to wonder if they have done enough. That is also a fine way to motivate people with the Law, saying, “Are you really worthy? Have you done enough?”

The Atonement and its associated words cannot possibly mean that “God declared the entire world forgiven.” That brash statement cannot be found in the Scriptures, Luther, the Confessions, and the post-Concord writers. Not until the Pietist Burk was such a notion in print (as far as I know at this point).

Moreover, in surveying all of orthodox Lutheran literature, the man who knew it best said (and I paraphrase for the moment) – justification only means justification by faith. No one is forgiven apart from faith. (Robert Preus, Justification and Rome)

The “reconciliation” use for absolving the world means simply that God is reconciled to the world by means of Christ’s sacrifice. That was the ultimate concern in ancient days. Unlike today, people had a great sense of their sinfulness and the need to pay for that sin. They believed in such things as a purging after death (Plato) and various forms of sacrifice. Many of the pagans went through initiation into secret or mystery religions where they engaged in various acts to participate in the revelation of the saving secret. One ceremony involved walking under a grate while a bull was sacrificed above, baptizing the initiate in blood.

Paul’s use of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5 is pure Gospel in showing that the price has already been paid by God’s grace. There is no act or virtue to earn this forgiveness. Christ has earned it. “Therefore be reconciled.” That is another way of saying – Therefore, trust in this sacrifice.

Satan accuses us in vain when we realize what justification by faith means. As Luther said, Satan does not want a single drop of our blood. He wants to own our emotions. That is our weakest area. When we take up the cross because of the Word, Satan is there to say, “See how your loving God abandons you. Why not join the free and open spirits who prosper, instead of living in the dungeon with the dead orthodox?”

Or Satan accuses us because of sin, to make us feel we will never be worthy of forgiveness. The false teachers know how to play that tune and they jump in with full force, offering formulas for confidence in forgiveness – formulas involving the Law. You need a cell group. You need the double tithe. You need my counseling, which is both valuable and costly.

Luther said to tell Satan, “I may well be 1000 times worse than you say, but my Savior has paid the price for my sins. Go away.” Anxiety over sin and depression over sin can lead people into self-destructiveness, since they imagine themselves “no good anyway.” Many pastors make shipwrecks of their faith that way, whether in anger or depression or anxiety.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve Service







Thanksgiving, 2009

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 6 PM Central

The Hymn # 558 All Praise to Thee 4.44
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 100 p. 144
The First Lection 1 Timothy 2:1-8
The Second Lection Luke 17:11-19
The Sermon Hymn # 574 Come Ye Thankful 4.9

Giving God Thanks

The Prayers and Lord’s Prayer p. 44
The Collect for Peace p. 45
The Benediction p. 45
The Hymn #361 O Jesus King 4.1

KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

KJV Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Giving God Thanks

1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Last Thanksgiving, few would have imagined that this country could go into this much of a decline, in every sense of the word. The suffering is almost universal, in spite of the happy-face efforts to say it is almost over.

That should make us reflect on our country’s origins, because the freedom and Christianity of our nation came from persecution and hardship.

The Pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower did not simply buy tickets and set sail, with the King of England waving goodbye at the dock. They had to sneak out of the country to have religious freedom. They left the women and children behind at the dock because of pursuit, then came back to get them. They suffered hardship in Holland before they finally left for America, a 67-day journey filled with storms, rogue waves, and utter misery. One man was washed overboard but grabbed a rope in time, and was finally hauled onto the deck. Later, while the ship was anchored, William Bradford’s wife fell overboard and drowned. Half the Pilgrims died in the first four months in Boston.

That was the hardship part. Persecution motivated them. England slowly moved toward the Protestant faith, starting with Henry VIII and his second wife, Ann Boleyn. Henry did not like dissent and burned Dr. Robert Barnes at the stake. His older daughter, Bloody Mary, murdered as many Protestants as possible, scattering many around Europe. His younger daughter Elizabeth, Ann Boleyn’s only surviving child, was a Protestant who tolerated the Catholics. Under King James I and the Stuarts (William I, II, etc), Catholicism was secretly promoted. North America was the last safe haven for Protestants, and sporadic persecution kept sending them across the Atlantic for the sake of freedom.

Few of us have known the hardship of one ocean voyage like that of the Mayflower and those ships that followed later. As Bradford said, when they landed, they had no one to greet them or help them. The Indians did cooperate, which kept them from starvation. There is a new kind of persecution at work today, based more on apathy and apostasy than old-fashioned burning at the stake and imprisonment. Apostates will not physically send others into exile, but they accomplish the same through nefarious means.

Paul’s apostolic work continued in the face of constant persecution, ending in prison and death. The Roman Empire considered the Christian faith another version of that troublesome tribe of Jews. The identification was not exactly wrong. Rome gladly went to war with many different nations, but they destroyed Jerusalem over religion. Other rebels had religious motivation, but the Jewish state and religion were almost identical, and that led to their city being surrounded, circumvallated (a wall around their wall), and leveled.

Rome saw Jewish rebels when they viewed Christian leaders, and they were not wrong. Paul and the apostles were all Jews. What would they say? “We are not Jewish Jews, but Christian Jews”?

Paul had the difficulty of dealing with the Roman Empire, which saw him as another troublesome Jew, while Jews fomented riots behind his back and Judaizers undercut his Gospel ministry. Add to that the hardships of travel (shipwrecks) and being whipped and jailed.

Yet Paul was thankful. His confession of faith:


1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

God’s will is not double-predestination, as the Calvinists teach. They claim, using a proposition central to John Calvin’s work, that God predestined a minority to salvation and a majority to damnation. (Some say before the Fall of Man, while others argue After the Fall, making them either infra or supra-lapsarians.) Understanding the rationalism of the Calvinists is important for comprehending the rationalistic leaps of UOJ people. Pietism took over Calvistic doctrine and copied Reformed cell groups among the Lutherans, one of the first but not the only time that Lutherans thought they could save themselves with false doctrine.

That predestination of the minority is not in harmony with this verse:

God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
God’s gracious will is to have all people saved and know the truth of His Word.

Walther quoted Luther on this and closed his Law and Gospel with Luther’s emphasis upon orthodoxy always bearing fruit, never doubting the fruit of the true Word of God when preached and taught.

Walther also said:

"When a theologian is asked to yield and make concessions in order that peace may at last be established in the Church, but refuses to do so even in a single point of doctrine, such an action looks to human reason like intolerable stubbornness, yea, like downright malice. That is the reason why such theologians are loved and praised by few men during their lifetime. Most men rather revile them as disturbers of the peace, yea, as destroyers of the kingdom of God. They are regarded as men worthy of contempt. But in the end it becomes manifest that this very determined, inexorable tenacity in clinging to the pure teaching of the divine Word by no means tears down the Church; on the contrary, it is just this which, in the midst of greatest dissension, builds up the Church and ultimately brings about genuine peace. Therefore, woe to the Church which has no men of this stripe, men who stand as watchmen on the walls of Zion, sound the alarm whenever a foe threatens to rush the walls, and rally to the banner of Jesus Christ for a holy war!"
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, p. 28.

Walther also wrote about the teaching office:

"True, the estate of teachers has, in general, been little respected, especially in ages gone by; and as far as the teachers of the Word of God are concerned, they are, of all men, most despised and even hated by the world. Nevertheless their estate and office is the most glorious of all, for the following reasons:--
1. The work of their office centers about man's spiritual welfare, his immortal soul.
2. They employ the salutary means and instrument in their work, namely, the Word of the living God.
3. They aim at the salutary and glorious end, namely, to make man truly happy in the present life and to lead him to the life of eternal bliss.
4. They are most wholesomely engaged in an occupation which entirely satisfies their spirits and advances their own selves in the way of salvation.
5. Their labor yields the most precious result, namely, the salvation of man.
6. Their labors have the most glorious promise of the cooperation of the Lord, so that they are never entirely futile and in vain.
7. Their labors have the promise of a gracious reward, which consists in a glory in the world to come that is unutterably great, exceeding abundantly above all they ever could have asked and prayed for in this life."
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 285.
Paul’s confession of faith goes on to say:

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

This is a one-sentence confession, concise and plain.

The Two Natures of Christ are taught – the man Christ Jesus is a person of the Godhead. The Christian faith teaches the Three-ness of the One God, and the Unity of the Three Persons, a mystery revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in the Word. This mystery cannot be proven or deduced by logic – it is revealed by God.

God’s gracious nature extends to all men, moving us to pray for all men, including leaders with no religion at all. God’s will that all be saved has moved people to face incredible hardships for their missionary work – not like today, where they live like royalty and have native servants do everything for them.

God’s gracious nature is also revealed in the God-Man Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world. This is a universal Gospel which we broadcast to all people. How God wills to be effective in the Word is His sphere of activity, not ours. He reveals the power of the living Word to us and lets us scatter the Gospel seed everywhere.

How can anyone measure this? One blog encourages another. One layman encourages another. But where does it stop? No one knows.

I often think of the pivotal biography, actually dual biographies of Cardinal Manning and Cardinal Newman, both in England, found in Eminent Victorians.
Manning played his cards well and ended as one of the most prominent men in the British Empire. He is forgotten today. His cardinal’s hat was already gathering dust a century ago. What did he leave behind except fleeting fame and toxic doctrine?
Private kingdom builders seldom think about the Gospel itself. It is a rabbit’s foot for them, a lucky charm to use when appropriate, sending as fending off pertinent questions about doctrine.

The apostles were thankful they had the message of salvation for the entire world. It is a message that transcends culture and withstands the attacks of time and error.

"The preaching of this message may be likened to a stone thrown into the water, producing ripples which circle outward from it, the waves rolling always on and on, one driving the other, till they come to the shore. Although the center becomes quiet, the waves do not rest, but move forward. So it is with the preaching of the Word. It was begun by the apostles, and it constantly goes forward, is pushed on farther and farther by the preachers, driven hither and thither into the world, yet always being made known to those who never heard it before, although it be arrested in the midst of its course and is condemned as heresy."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 202. Ascension Day Mark 16:14-20.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Trinity




The Lost Sheep by Norma Boeckler


The Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 281 The Savior Calls 1:29
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 436 1:33

Warning for the Indolent

The Hymn # 329 – Luther – From Depths of Woe 1:27
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 # 339 All Hail the Power 1:57

KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

KJV Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Prayer by Veit Dietrich
O gracious God, merciful Father, who dost bountifully forgive and show mercy unto all who truly repent of their sins: We heartily beseech Thee, dear Father, forgive us all our sins, and grant us Thy grace, that all we who call upon Thy name, each day abstain from all unrighteousness and sin, and turn unto Thee with all our hearts, that by the power of Thy Spirit we may daily be found in sincere faith and obedience, bringing forth fruits of true repentance: grant us also that, seeking and calling upon Thee in faith and confidence, we may find Thee a merciful God and Father, and be assured of Thy gracious help and blessing in every need of body and soul, until at length, by Thy grace, we obtain eternal salvation; through Thy dear Son, our Lord and Savior, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Warning for the Indolent

Many people are led astray because they do not follow the basic principle of “Scripture interprets Scripture.” Or they fail to challenge those who ignore this basic rule.

Some skeptics are going to say, “Where is this rule written?” The rule is derived from our knowledge that the Bible is the Book of the Holy Spirit, one truth expressed without error or contradiction. For that reason, the Lutheran reformers were reluctant to speak about “doctrines” revealed in the Word of God when there is really just one doctrine. Notice that dividing the revealed Word into multiple doctrines has made it easy for people to pick and choose, or to say one doctrine is more important that the other.

I was talking to a student at a Disciples of Christ/ Unitarian seminary about her studies. She bragged that both denominations worked together at the same school, not realizing that such mergers are a sure sign of institutional failure. I asked her how she could tell the Unitarians apart from the Disciples. That left her unfazed, so I asked about whether she believed in the Virgin Birth of Christ and His bodily resurrection. She said a few dismissive words and added, “Those are not important doctrines anyway.”

Dividing up one unified truth and dismissing parts of that revelation as “unimportant” are both essential to apostasy. Few seem to realize that Protestant departures from Luther were based upon jealousy. His books overwhelmed Europe during the Reformation. Zwingli was the first significant person to depart from Luther. Zwingli began the process that led to Calvin – as well as the Radical Reformation of the Mennonites and Amish. Zwingli had very little theological training as a Roman Catholic priest, so his Protestantism consisted of a rationalistic break with Luther. Zwingli rejected the efficacy of the Word and the Sacraments. Since Zwingli said baptism did not accomplish anything, the radicals said only a baptism after conversion – believer’s baptism – was valid. Zwingli died on the battlefield and Calvin later filled the void in Switzerland, repeating Zwingli’s errors.

All Zwingli had to do was place reason above the Word, to judge the Scriptures according to his human logic, and the process began. It is a basic method of interpreting the Bible and will always yield bad results. Just as bad, and often linked with rationalism, is emotionalism – judging it correct if it feels correct. (Our cattle dog Sassy grins in the midst of mischief, as if to say, “How can it be wrong when it feels so right?”)

And yet this is portrayed as harmless. If a wrecking crew showed up at a skyscraper and said, “We are only taking out the first storey,” people would be alarmed. Yet someone attacks the foundation of the Christian faith (the efficacy of the Word) and no one seems to stir. If someone is alarmed, it is denounced as legalism, fanaticism, hating every synod, etc.

This digression is important in understanding the parable for today’s Gospel lesson. Some passages in the Bible suggest an immediate return of Christ, so lunkheads have used those passages to say, “The Bible is wrong. Jesus has not returned.” Others, a little more subtle, have argued, “The delay of Jesus’ return was a problem already in the New Testament church.”

When people raise basic questions like this, I go to the plain words of Jesus. My niece heard that Hell and Satan did not exist, so I asked, “Did Jesus speak about both?” She said, “Yes.” I did not need to say another word, because children grasp these things immediately. My niece looked at her mother and said, “See?”

So it is with this concept of delay. As 2 Peter teaches, God’s time is not like our own. A day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day.

Secondly, although Jesus did speak of an immediate return, these additional passages also reflect the reality of waiting.

KJV Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

KJV Matthew 24:43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

KJV Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

KJV Mark 13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

The Mark 13 passage is closely related to the disciples’ failing to stay awake (watch and stay awake are two ways to translate the same Greek verb, which is the root for the name Gregory).

KJV Mark 14:34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. 37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? 38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

If God said that people could party until the return of Christ in 2050, they would. During that time there would be chaos, because everyone would enjoy carnal security.

But, as they say, a watched man watches himself better. Knowing that Christ can return at any moment, Christians are always on the alert, being watchful and praying.

This parable is a warning against carnal security, a useful term I found in Lenski. The term describes people who take the Gospel for granted and award themselves prizes for various historical accomplishments, all irrelevant:
1. I was a charter member of this church.
2. I am fifth generation in this synod.
3. My father was a DP.
4. I serve on 5 committees and 8 sub-committees.

In the parable, there are five wise virgins and five foolish ones. They are waiting for the arrival of the Bridegroom, who is Christ. The wedding is the end of time, which can be interpreted as our death or as the return of Christ, Judgment Day.
I remember one sermon where a tall, athletic man attended with his son. That was his last chance to hear the Gospel – he died suddenly that week.

Christ is always the groom in the Bible, and the Church is the Bride of Christ.

The wise virgins were prepared for the delay, but the foolish ones were not. One reader told me they used oil candles at their church. One day they ran out of oil and the candles were unlit. That would have been a good time to use this parable in the sermon.

When the Groom came, the foolish virgins wanted to obtain oil from the wise ones. The wise ones said, “Then we would not have enough.” The foolish ones had to go off to find some at a late hour, returning to find the door locked to them.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

We are supposed to imagine that Jesus would never say “no” to anyone, or judge and condemn anything wrong.

Nevertheless, the Scriptures divide people into two categories only – believers and unbelievers. There is no “nice guy” category to excuse false teachers.

This parable is taught by Jesus Himself to show us how people fall into unbelief over time, due to a lack of watchfulness.

The virgins were eager to be at the wedding, so they all had faith. However, half of them were not prepared for anything except the immediate.

As the Parable of the Sower shows, the living Gospel seed is choked by the cares of the world. God creates faith in our hearts by the Word, but He also warns us to nurture that faith through the Means of Grace (John 15). Deadwood will be pruned away and discarded.

Salvation depends upon faith, because through faith we receive the forgiveness of sin. The purpose of the visible and invisible Word is to convey Christ to us, to bring His benefits and blessings to us.

Those who spend a lifetime of deceit will often linger, as Paul Tillich and Pope Pius XII did, filled with dread. At that point they are so blinded and hardened that they cannot see what true repentance means. A deathbed conversion is possible but unlikely for someone devoted to serving his Father Below.

“Let us in” is not sufficient. The invitations for the marriage feast of the Lamb were sent again and again, the humblest gathered to fill the halls. The great, noble, learned, and foolish are too busy, too important, or too hedonistic to accept the gracious invitation. Only at the end, when the feast begins, do they realize their error. Like those who mocked the building of Noah’s Ark, they want a reserved seat once reality dawns on them – too late.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity




The Last Supper, by Norma Boeckler


The Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 245 God Loved the World 4:6
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 Peter 3:3-14
The Gospel Matthew 25:31-46
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 290 We Have A Sure 4:89

Age of Apostasy

The Hymn # 305 Soul Adorn Thyself 4.23
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 # 463 For All the Saints 4:31

Twenty-Sixth Sunday After Trinity
O almighty, eternal and merciful God, who by Thy beloved Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, hast established the kingdom of grace for us, that we might believe the forgiveness of our sins, in Thy holy Church on earth, since Thou art a God who hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: We beseech Thee, graciously forgive us all our sins, through the same, Thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV 2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

KJV Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Age of Apostasy

The lessons for the last Sundays in the church year focus on the end times and final judgment. The Gospel for today teaches about the relationship between faith and works. The epistle describes the Age of Apostasy.

Apostasy means “a falling away,” or - people who once believed in Christ no longer do.

One of the smokescreens used by false teachers is a deep, feigned concern for unbelievers around the world, especially those who can be visited after a stopover in France or Rio. The mission executives are so concerned that they travel all over the world for conferences to express their concern and oversee their workers. I know one ELCA pastor from Canada who felt it necessary to visit every country in the world to make sure no one was hungry. Meanwhile, millions were siphoned off to fund political lobbyists in DC, every state in the union, and in Canada.

The smokescreen works well because the end times are marked by apostasy, and no one wants to address, for instance, the anti-Lutheran dogma regularly taught by college and seminary professors, church officials, and magazine editors. The same attitude can be found in all the denominations. The older it is, the greater the percentage of leaders who oppose the confessional stance of that denomination. Ergo, the denominational leaders work together well, because they are united by the same unbelief. And they make sure that no one remind them of their origins.

When the Boston scandals erupted in the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Law was promoted to Rome, even though (or because) he was the central figure in creating the abuse prosecutions and lawsuits. The only one who was punished in the entire affair was the priest who said his church body was wrong. He was pilloried and kicked out of the priesthood.

The example is given to show that apostasy is worldwide and not just something for Lutherans to notice among their own.

So by mentioning “the lost” all the time, the apostates are able to keep attention away from their antagonistic doctrine and their abusive behavior.

KJV 2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

This is an era of scoffing and evil desire. Like the days of the Flood, people do whatever they wish. Many of the so-called conservatives are just as bad, and they are excused for it.

I reminded people that Creation is an “antiquarian” topic, according to the CG guru Paul Kelm (WELS). He warned pastors not to get “painted into a corner” on such topics when teaching the Word to prospects. Ockenga, the Evangelical leader behind the Billy Graham Crusades, Christianity Today, and Fuller Seminary said almost the same thing.

"Don't let the world paint us into a corner of antiquarianism on subjects like a six-day creation or verbal inspiration." Rev. Paul Kelm, WELS, "How to Make Sound Doctrine Sound Good to Mission Prospects," p. 13.

"The evangelical believes that Christianity is intellectually defensible but the Christian cannot be obscurantist in scientific questions pertaining to the creation, the age of man, the universality of the flood and other moot Biblical questions." Rev. Harold J. Ockenga, 12-8-57, news release quoted in William E. Ashbrook, Evangelicalism, The New Neutralism, Columbus: Calvary Bible Church, 1963, p. 8.

"Many Catholics hold what is known as 'moderate evolutionism,' that is, the theory that the human body evolved to a certain point from animals, and then God intervened directly and breathed into this living, animal body a human soul and so produced the first man and the first woman. Such a theory does not seem to be contrary to Catholic teaching, and Catholics are free to hold it." Kenneth Baker, S.J., Fundamentals of Catholicism, 3 vols., San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982, II, p. 142.

Creation and the Genesis Flood are two topics deeply embarrassing to conservative Christians today (Protestants and Catholics alike). They want to affirm their basic beliefs, but these two topics expose them to the scorn of the unbelieving world. Evolution and man-caused global warming are assumed facts today, from the National Geographic to the casual comments of students.

Avoiding the splinters of the cross, Christians back away from the foundation of the Scriptures – the efficacy of the Word, clearly taught in this epistle.

5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

As someone noticed, Creation was not always taught correctly in the early Church. (We can say the same thing about all doctrines, since false teachers were actively engaged from the beginning.) These variant teachings might be used as an argument that there are many versions, so any version is tolerable.

Creation and the Genesis Flood are Biblical doctrines only when understood as examples of God’s Word always being effective. And that is also a confession about Christ, since the Son of God is the creating Word of Genesis 1 (see John 1). Denial of the Six Day Creation is a rejection of John 1 and Christ’s power.

If we cling to the rationalistic concept of the universe slowly developing over billions of years, the Genesis Creation is embarrassing and the Flood is ridiculous. As one “conservative” minister said to me, before he joined the United Church of Christ, “How could God create in six days?” That deeply troubled him, someone rather enchanted by his own cleverness.

Already in the 19th century, Evangelicals fell all over each other to embrace a modified evolution, saying God created the world in six epochs, which lasted millions (later billions) of years. The evolutionists did not compromise. To this day they proudly get rid of any academic who believes in Creation. When the established Protestants gave up on Creation, they began the erosion process. What began as typical for liberal Protestants (anti-Creation, anti-Flood) became normal for the conservative Lutherans.

Creation and the Flood are the symptoms of the real issue, which is the power of the Word.

5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Two striking phrases stand out for us – they are willingly ignorant of… This means that the apostates choose to forget that God does all His work through the Word and never apart from the Word. This willing ignorance is the basis for the problems of today.

God created the heavens and the earth through the Son of God and Holy Spirit, for the Spirit brooded (soared) over the waters, Genesis 1. That revelation leaves no room for evolution. The day is clearly defined in the Old Testament. One Yale professor became known as “Old Yom” because he defended the concept of the “yom” – (day in Hebrew) being a 24 hour day only, and not an epoch of countless years. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” was true, but man’s work cannot be compared to God’s work. Once we measure God’s work by man’s reason, nothing is left of God. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.

6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

The Genesis Flood cannot be completely denied. Scientists allow only for local flooding in Biblical times and glaciers in North America. (Glaciers flow slowly downhill, but somehow they move rocks from valleys to the top of mountains, according to scientists. A flood, in contrast, can deposit an ocean liner on a mountain.) The Genesis Flood is frightening in its reality because the mountains themselves were covered with water. No land creatures survived, apart from the Ark. I mention, from time to time, that dinosaurs still exist in the ocean, as proven by the Japanese experience within our lifetimes. Too bad they dumped the smelly thing back into the ocean. Willing forgetfulness is the key.

This one verse is a reminded that God has the power to do what He accomplished before – by the Word. Man wants the honor, so God is forgotten.

7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

The fear of Judgment Day remains. My wife asked me about a new year being cited. Why is that year being named? There is always a new year. My Adventist relatives were in that denomination because a man named Miller predicted the end of the world twice, and he was wrong twice. He lost a lot of followers each time, but enough stayed to form a new denomination based on his error. And they still predict the end of the world from time to time. And they are still wrong and keep many followers.

8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

This verse alone shows how foolish it is to predict an exact time for the end, because God can shorten time or delay the Coming of Christ. Jesus warned too that no one knows the time except God the Father. The more Biblical and literal a sect pretends to be, the more likely it is that they will predict an exact date of the Coming of Christ.

These warnings are in the Scriptures so we do not grow lazy and inert about the Word. The fulfillment of the prophecies wake us up:

KJV 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

KJV 2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

KJV 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God wills that we have more time for repentance. “Not willing that any should perish” is a reminder that God’s will is gracious and merciful. The evil in this world is brought about by man, who often blames God. In contrast, God calls us to repentance, reminds us of His many promises, and justifies us by faith because of His grace in Christ.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

Because the Coming of Christ is like a thief in the night, with no warning, the Biblical warnings are given so that we are always alert, always awake. This lesson concludes with hope and the promise of “new heavens and a new earth,” where righteousness dwells.

Until that day comes upon us, we have the Means of Grace to convey Christ and His righteousness to us.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity




Justification by Faith, book cover art by Norma Boeckler. The book will be available in print version, either hardcover or paperback.


The Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #536 Awake My Soul 3.28
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 Thess 4:13-18
The Gospel Matthew 24:15-28
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #36 Now Thank We 3.40

Justification in Romans 4-5

The Hymn #316 O Living Bread 3.45
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 #354 In the Cross 3.84

Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank Thee that by Thy word Thou hast brought us out of the darkness of Papacy into the light of Thy grace: We beseech Thee, mercifully help us to walk in that light, guard us from all error and false doctrine, and grant that we may not, as the Jews, become ungrateful and despise and persecute Thy word, but receive it with all our heart, govern our lives according to it, and put all our trust in Thy grace through the merit of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

KJV Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Justification in Romans 4-5

KJV Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

I. Romans 4-5
Paul wrote according to the conventions of his time, and we still follow the same rules. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul did not write chapter and verses (which were added much later) but thematic passages. People will end their discussions at the end of Romans 4, or start at Romans 5. It is better to see how the Apostle created a transition from his argument about Abraham being the Father of Faith to his passage on justification by faith.

When we speak about doctrinal categories (loci in Latin) we cannot start with the assumptions, claims, and rules of a given group of people. As Chemnitz wrote so eloquently, when the issues are muddied up, we have to go to the source, the Scriptures themselves, and leave Creeds and confessions behind.

Thus people are always going to be confused when they start with Walther or the Wauwatosa theories of a small Midwestern sect. If they use terms never before mentioned by Christians or Lutherans, they are setting up filters by which people view the clear, plain meaning of God’s Word.

The issue in Romans 4 is how the righteousness of God came to Abraham, by the Law or by faith. The KJV word is “imputed” or “reckoned.” The Greek word could be translated as “counted”. In financial transactions it would be translated as “credited,” so the meaning is quite clear and strongly supported by many NT references.

KJV Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth [credited] righteousness without works,

The verb is also used in the sense of “to think” or “to conclude.”

KJV Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

II. The Issue in Romans 4-5

The issue in Romans 4-5 concerns righteousness through the Law or through faith.

Not to be forgotten is the earlier argument about moral law, which was addressed to non-Jews who knew this concept as residents of the Roman Empire. The legacy of Roman law is still with us and affects divorce law and other legal matters in America and Europe. (For instance, Scotland is based on Roman law while England is based on Common Law. This variation also occurs state by state in America.)

http://books.google.com/books?id=Y0pa0KOsvroC&pg=PA210&lpg=PA210&dq=Anglo+Saxon+Common+law+divorce&source=bl&ots=i5i-eUOuUx&sig=7iufC44G2XZvSBn47X_1nni0lfI&hl=en&ei=D7n2SoO2H8ye8Aae053zCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Anglo%20Saxon%20Common%20law%20divorce&f=false


We know Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles, but he was also active among Jews, responsible for many conversions.

So the argument about Abraham would be especially significant to Jewish Christians. Abraham was the precedent, the first of the Patriarchs.

KJV Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Paul was citing the well known passage from Genesis. The Torah (Five Books of Moses) were especially important for worship and teaching, then as now.

KJV Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

This—by itself—is the ultimate argument against Universal Objective Justification, but first of all it is proof against righteousness from the Law. Starting with Moses and the Law was useful for those Jews who resisted the Christian faith and for those Judaizers (like those visiting Galatia) who wanted to add Jewish ritual law to the Gospel.

Arguing from antiquity is a popular fallacy.
“The Christian Church has always taught the Immaculate Conception of Mary.”
“The Lutheran Church has always taught UOJ.”
One exception will demolish such claims.

If righteousness comes from the Law, then how could Abraham be counted righteous before the Law was given? Even more important, if righteousness is counted as obedience to the Law, then why is Abraham counted righteous for believing in God?

III. Twisting the Meaning of Faith
The Word of God was revealed to us to create faith in our hearts.

The manufacturers of straw men (setting up a false argument, a straw man, and demolishing it) like to say things like “faith is not a virtue” and “faith is not a work” and “faith is not magic that…”

The Bible consistently teaches faith in God as good and essential. This makes sense to most people. We want others to trust us. God says, “This is My Word, the truth for all ages.” God wants us to trust Him because His Word, His will, is gracious.

KJV Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word.

So many things have been said about UOJ to disparage faith. One minister even signed his post on UOJ – “an unbeliever.” Perhaps he thought it was a token of his great orthodoxy, but it was proof of his obstinate rejection of the plain meaning of the Word.

Faith is good. Salvation comes to believers, who receive what Christ has accomplished. The Word of God creates that faith.

KJV John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

KJV Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?


IV. Forensic Justification
The term forensic justification comes from legal terminology. I recall a license plate in St. Louis: - 4N6. I figured it was a lawyer or perhaps someone involved in the court system.

Melanchthon’s contribution to the Reformation was his early defense of justification by faith. Man is guilty of sin through the perspective of the Law, but God judges or counts us righteous for trusting in the righteousness of Christ.
The UOJ fanatics like to use the term “verdict” but they are always misplacing the verdict, trying to make the entire world absolved because Walther’s Pietism—and study of the Halle Pietist Knapp—moved him to echo a very popular doctrinal book. (Can anyone imagine people going along with global warming and evolution today? Look at all the books on those topics.)

The question not whether Christ has earned salvation for the entire world. The Atonement is universal and objective.

The question is how one receives the benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ.

Paul consistently teaches that faith in the Gospel justifies the sinner. God knows we are sinners but credits us with the righteousness of Christ through our faith in His Son.

KJV Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

The conclusion of Romans 4 is the opening of Romans 5:

5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The opening of Romans 5 also affirms that grace comes to us through faith, not through an imaginary absolution of the entire world, which is “forgiven but not really forgiven, until they individually realize or make a decision that the universal absolution is true.”

This double-justification scheme is clearly taught by the Halle Pietist Knapp, in a book with widespread and constant circulation in Europe and America, in its native German and in English. The double-justification wording, so loved by UOJ Enthusiasts (objective and subjective justification) was in print in America before CFW Walther landed in America. It was still being used in major Protestant seminaries at the end of the 19th century. However, its language did not become established in the Synodical Conference (LCMS, WELS, ELS) until Pieper published his Dogmatics in German.

The original doctrine of the Reformation is clear and compelling. The Gospel Promises create faith by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the Word, and nurture faith through the Word. God gives us the capacity to receive what Christ has earned for us, and He constantly strengthens that trust through His Means of Grace. We have peace with God, knowing we are forgiven, and we know how to renew and refresh that peace through the Word and Sacraments.

V. Objections from Romans 5

Strangest of all, UOJ Enthusiasts turn selectively to Romans 5 to make justification universal and divorced from faith.

Yet Paul used the term “some” rather than “all” in this chapter, just as Christ used the term “many” rather than “all.” (KJV Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.)

KJV Romans 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

The UOJ scheme seems to be true if only one verse is quoted, below, just like Romans 4:25 (“raised for our justification”)

KJV Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

The righteousness of Christ is preached to all men, but “many” are made righteous.

VI. Objections from Corinthians

The UOJ fanatics want everyone to think this chapter in 2 Corinthians supports their cause, but the last verse I am quoting takes away their thunder.

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

If everyone is already reconciled, then there is no reason for Paul to plead that the Corinthians be reconciled.

The Gospel Promises are the ministry of reconciliation, to show sinners that their trespasses were paid on the cross. The Gospel is the Word of Reconciliation, so that broken, contrite sinners realize that they have no works or virtue to contribute to forgiveness – Christ has accomplished that work Himself.

All the great Lutheran theologians missed the “absolution of the entire world” a gem not discovered until it was copied from the anti-Trinitarian Knapp (a Pietist, therefore influenced by unionistic doctrine from the Reformed) and Burk (another Pietist, son-in-law and publishing partner with Bengel). I believe Knapp was foremost in his influence, with Burk quoted by Hoenecke in support of the concept.

Quotations

"It is legitimate for Christians to use civil ordinances just as it is legitimate for them to use the air, light, food, and drink. For as this universe and the fixed movements of the stars are truly ordinances of God and are preserved by God, so lawful governments are ordinances of God and are preserved and defended by God against the devil." Apology to the Augsburg Confession Daniel Preus, Affirm, June, 1991, p. 5-8. [Translation of Gottfried Fritschel article on Justification] ed., Thedore Tappert, Lutheran Confessional Theology in America, 1840-1880, New York: Oxford University Press, 1972,
"This faith, encouraging and consoling in these fears, receives remission of sins, justifies and quickens. For this consolation is a new and spiritual life [a new birth and a new life]. These things are plain and clear, and can be understood by the pious, and have testimonies of the Church [as is to be seen in the conversion of Paul and Augustine]. The adversaries nowhere can say how the Holy Ghost is given. They imagine that the Sacraments confer the Holy Ghost ex opere operato, without a good emotion in the recipient, as though, indeed, the gift of the Holy Ghost were an idle matter." Article IV., Justification, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 139.
"Truly, it is amazing that the adversaries are in no way moved by so many passages of Scripture, which clearly ascribe justification to faith, and, indeed, deny it to works. Do they think that the same is repeated so often for no purpose? Do they think that these words fell inconsiderately from the Holy Ghost? But they have also devised sophistry whereby they elude them." Article IV., Justification, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 153.
"But just as the dissimilar length of day and night does not injure the unity of the Church, so we believe that the true unity of the Church is not injured by dissimilar rites instituted by men; although it is pleasing to us that, for the sake of tranquility [unity and good order], universal rites be observed, just as also in the churches we willingly observe the order of the Mass, the Lord's Day, and other more eminent festival days. And with a very grateful mind we embrace the prfitable and ancient ordinances, especially since they contain a discipline by which is is profitable to educate and train the people and those who are ignorant [the young peopele]." Article VII & VIII, The Church, #33, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 239.
"If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments...Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Romans 10:17: 'Faith cometh by hearing.' But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same..." [Luther, Bab Captivity, 3 sacraments] Article XIII, Number/Use Sacraments, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 309.
"Although concerning the saints we concede that, just as, when alive, they pray for the Church universal in general, albeit no testimony concerning the praying of the dead is extant in the Scriptures, except the dream taken from the Second Book of Maccabees, 15:14." Article XXI, Invocation of Saints, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 345. 2 Maccabees 15:14.
"James, therefore, did not believe that by good works we merit the remission of sins and grace. For he speaks of the works of those who have been justified, who have already been reconciled and accepted, and have obtained remission of sins. Wherefore the adversaries err when they infer that James teaches that we merit remission of sins and grace by good works, and that by our works we have access to God, without Christ as Propitiator." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 189. James 2:24.
"And just as the Word has been given in order to excite this faith, so the Sacrament has been instituted in order that the outward appearance meeting the eyes might move the heart to believe [and strengthen faith]. For through these, namely, through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Ghost works." Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV (XII), #70, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 409.
"Also they teach that since the fall of Adam, all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eteranl death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost. They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason." Augsburg Confession, Article II: Of Original Sin Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 43f.
"Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness is His sight. Romans 3 and 4." Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45. Romans 3 and 4.
"That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith, where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake. They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparation and works." Augsburg Confession, Article V, The Office of the Ministry, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45.
"Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God's will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: 'When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants.' Luke 17:10." Augsburg Confession, Article VI, The New Obedience, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 47. Luke 17:10.
"Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage." Augsburg Confesion, Article XVI, Of Civil Affairs, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 51.
"Also, we reject and condemn the error of the Enthusiasts, who imagine that God without means, without the hearing of God's Word, also without the use of the holy Sacraments, draws men to Himself, and enlightens, justifies, and saves them." Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 789.
"On the other hand, the enthusiasts should be rebuked with great earnestness and zeal, and should in no way be tolerated in the Church of God, who imagine [dream] that God, without any means, without the hearing of the divine Word, and without the use of the holy Sacraments, draws men to Himself, and enlightens, justifies, and saves them." Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, 80, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 911.
"...it has been unanimously taught by the other teachers of the Augsburg Confession that Christ is our righteousness not according to His divine nature alone, nor according to His human nature alone, but according to both natures; for He has redeemed, justified, and saved us from our sins as God and man, through His complete obedience; that therefore the righteousness of faith is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and our adoption as God's children only on account of the obedience of Christ, which through faith alone, out of pure grace, is imputed for righteousness to all true believers, and on account of it they are absolved from all their unrighteousness." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III. 4 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 917.