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 Central.


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

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, May 30, 2010

The Feast of the Holy Trinity


Matthew 28 by Norma Boeckler



The Feast of the Holy Trinity


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time



The Hymn # 246 Holy, Holy, Holy 3.35
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 Athanasian Creed p. 53
The Sermon Hymn #245 God Loved the World 4.6

Born From Above by the Word

The Communion 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 #27 Oh, Bless the Lord 4.21

KJV Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 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.

Trinity
O Lord God, heavenly Father: We poor sinners confess that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing, and that, left to ourselves, we die and perish in sin, since that which is born of the flesh is flesh and cannot see the kingdom of God. But we beseech Thee: Grant us Thy grace and mercy, and for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that being regenerate, we may firmly believe the forgiveness of sins, according to Thy promise in baptism; and that we may daily increase in brotherly love, and in other good works, until we at last 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.

Born From Above by the Word
The work of the Holy Spirit is the work of the Word, so this significant passage teaches us about how God creates a New Man in believers. Because this passage is so important, it has been distorted by false teachers.

For a long time, the most familiar phrase in Protestant America was “You must be born again.” For many, that only meant an adult conversion experience.

The passage itself does not emphasize what people are trying to say. Nicodemus was a Jewish religious leader who became a believer in Christ. We know that from the latter part of John.

KJV John 7:50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

KJV John 19:39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

The Gospel writer was intent on showing us that this Nicodemus was the same man who came stealthily to Jesus. Does anyone wonder why we have such clear details about the trial of Jesus? Naturally the Holy Spirit could reveal everything, but God also had eye-witnesses there in addition to Jesus Himself. I believe that is because their report had that much more credibility for the general masses later, when the Gospel was first preached among the Jews.

Born Again or Born From Above?
The key distinction here is between “born again” as an adult conversion experience and “born from above” as the work of the Holy Spirit in the Word. This is one of those passages where Greek grammar really matters.

The primary meaning of the Word is “from above,” and that is significant. Jesus is the One from above.

KJV John 3:31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

KJV John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

The word “from above” can mean “again,” but the idea of the dialogue is to show that Nicodemus did not understand the primary meaning of Jesus’ words. By the way, this also shows Jesus teaching in Greek, in spite of the ongoing myth that He spoke in Aramaic (a form of Hebrew), and that the Gospels were written in Aramaic at first (no evidence at all for this).

Helen of Troy is a pun in Greek, but not in English. Another pun has to be invented to make sense of the Homeric pun, “a snarer of men.”

The point of the dialogues in John is to show the wisdom of Jesus compared to the earthly misunderstandings of various people, who think primarily in terms of the flesh. The woman at the well (John 4) wanted that water Jesus promised, to save her the labor of drawing water. Peter wanted more than a footwash, once Jesus explained it to him.

So in John 3 we see Nicodemus understanding the word in a fleshly, materialistic way, as if a man could be born of a woman all over again. Even a child is going to say, “He is way off.” So we listen to what Jesus says to straighten Nicodemus out.

Born from above is the true meaning, because this gives God the glory in converting man with the Holy Spirit working through the Word. It is a spiritual rebirth and it is not limited to adults.

Born again is necessarily tied to “making a decision for Christ.” That makes man an active participant in conversion and also eliminates infant baptism as a sacrament and baptismal regeneration.

When I posted on Facebook that I found a favorable reference to Luther on the Net, someone immediately began attack that message about infant baptism. The opponent was baptized as a baby in the Lutheran Church. And she had many posts about it. I was going to say, “I rest my case. Lutherans do not read or accept Luther,” but I did not want to prolong the posts.

On the positive side, let’s look at what Jesus is teaching us about being born from above.

Jesus answered Nicodemus’ incredulous and foolish response this way:
KJV John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

This is another grammatical point. Water and Spirit are linked together in a special construction, which is more like this – Water/Spirit. They are not two separate births (or baptisms, since the Pentecostals invented a second Spirit baptism). They are one and the same.

Since God’s work is always through the Holy Spirit’s divine energy in the Word, the formula also means – Water/Word baptism, which is just what we say in the Catechism.

IV. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.
First.
What is Baptism?--Answer.
Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word.
Which is that word of God?--Answer.
Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Secondly.
What does Baptism give or profit?--Answer.
It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.
Which are such words and promises of God? Answer.
Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Thirdly.
How can water do such great things?--Answer.
It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.

Fourthly.
What does such baptizing with water signify?--Answer.
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?--Answer.
St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Spiritual Conversion
KJV John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

This is a great irony. Today the wolf-preachers preach the flesh and attract people who want more of the same. Whatever is born of flesh-preaching is flesh. That is why the great religious leaders of the moment leave behind wreckage, divided families (their own), and atheism.

As some of us know, time moves much faster in senior lane. We have the chance to reflect back on how quickly someone went from being a CG hero to a godless zero. It is sad, but all the warnings are there. The Gadarene swine are willing to jump off the cliff for more of the same. Many are called, but few are chosen.

KJV John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth [wills], and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

This is another pun, both in Greek and Hebrew, where the word for Spirit is the same as that for wind. The Holy Spirit is like the wind, powerful but invisible. God’s work is a mystery. God can overturn a powerful empire in five minutes.

The Battle of Midway is a good example. The Japanese wanted to draw our navy into a battle where we would be crushed. They had all the advantages, it seemed.

http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/the-battle-that-changed-everything-95211924.html

The Americans kept coming after the Japanese carriers and losing all their planes. The result was that the Japanese fighters were down on the waves when the last assault came. The Japanese lost three carriers in five minutes, the fourth carrier a few hours later. Japan never recovered from those five minutes.

This harmonizes perfectly with the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4). We do not know the final results of sowing the Word. We do know God is always at work in the Word. Whether babies are converted by infant baptism (the Visible Word) or adults are converted by preaching and teaching (the Invisible Word), we know that God creates and sustains faith by the Word.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Feast of Pentecost


By Norma Boeckler



The Feast of Pentecost


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 236 Creator Spirit 1:9
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 #237 All Glory Be 1:12

The Work of the Holy Spirit

The Communion Hymn # 341 Crown Him 1:70
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 #261 Lord Keep Us Steadfast 1:93

KJV Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

KJV John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

Pentecost
O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou almighty Son of God: We beseech Thee, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, through Thy word, that He may rule and govern us according to Thy will, comfort us in every temptation and misfortune, and defend us by Thy truth against every error, so that we may continue steadfast in the faith, increase in love and all good works, and firmly trusting in Thy grace, which through death Thou hast purchased for us, obtain eternal salvation, Thou who reignest, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.


The Work of the Holy Spirit

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

There are many ironies in the Christian Church today, and the Day of Pentecost is a good way to remember them.

The Pentecostals do not recognize this day. It is a Jewish holy day. It was then and remains so today. Therefore it is Biblical to recognize the Day of Pentecost in the Christian Church, but the Pentecostals do not honor the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. That would be Catholic, in their opinion.

The Baptists have an interesting name, because that implies they have a high opinion of baptism. But they do not. They consider baptism symbolic, an ordinance, and not the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Lutherans should have this right, but they do not. The Holy Spirit works only through the Word and never apart from the Word.

Therefore, only God-pleasing work will be done with the Word and nothing worthwhile can be done apart from the Word.

Lenski said many years ago, “Fads come and go, but only the Word will build up the Kingdom.”

If people had confidence in the Holy Spirit working through the Word, they would rebel against all the bad ideas foisted upon them. For example:
1. The entertainment model has been the focus of church fads for 30 years or more. The result is more bizarre efforts and worse results. They do not worship God but man, so their work is all man-centered.
2. People are sure something is wrong if the Word of God brings the cross, God said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways.” Isaiah 55.
3. Everyone forgets that people abandoned the Lutheran Reformation in droves, as soon as things got rough. Did that make it a failure, based on numbers? Why are people trying to subject the invisible church to Frito Lay marketing standards?

Holy Spirit Equals the Word of God
Many times the Scripture names the Father/Son relationship without mentioning the Holy Spirit. That is implied because we can substitute the Holy Spirit for the Word or the Word for the Holy Spirit in almost all cases.

Another way of expressing this is to say, If you want God to act, you need the Holy Spirit, that is, the Word of God. If you want God to be more effective, then the purer the Word, the more God’s wisdom and power are involved.

Too many want a Methodist style of Lutheran doctrine – gentle, irenic, never mentioning differences, full of love, absent of Law. Condemnation of false doctrine is always Law teaching, so many people say – “No more teaching against false doctrine.”

The most indolent parent will say, “Look both ways before crossing the street and don’t be careless (Law). I love you and worry about you (Gospel).”

All Gospel (which is really no Gospel) would be, “I love you, so you can do no wrong.”

Merging everything together is popular and bound to bring about praise and glory. I have college students who imagine that any sincerely held belief is valid. So I asked them, “Are you parting with – No one comes to the Father, except through Me?” and “By no other Name is anyone saved”?

Once someone enjoys the tepid waters of universal religion, Islam is just like Christianity (heard it in class once) and someone can be a Zen Christian (famous basketball coach).

Clarity – The Documents
We have this great privilege of listening directly to God speaking.

Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would come to “teach all things and to bring all things to remembrance.”

The apostles lived in an era where most things were committed to memory, because the printed book was yet to be invented. Written documents were very expensive and quite rare.

They had sharp memories, but that was enhanced by the Holy Spirit’s work in keeping Jesus’ teaching fresh in their minds and clear in His intention. That is why Paul spoke of “no other Gospel.”

Whatever we read in the Bible is God speaking to us directly. That is also true of the liturgy, which is from the Scriptures, and faithful hymns, which are often confessions of faith during a time of crisis.

God saw to it that His Word and will were directly communicated to His people, from Old Testament times on. The New Testament is from the same era as the apostles, and many documents are eye witness accounts:
1. The Gospel of John – written by Jesus’ favorite disciple.
2. Paul’s letters – written during his missionary journeys and from prison.
3. Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, including his travels with Paul.

Trivial things show how precise the Word of God is. For example, there are many historical details which had no evidence behind them until recently. Then, when evidence was dug up, it matched the Bible exactly. That is true, even down to such obscure things as “missing cities” named in the Old Testament. Invented by man? No, discovered by man again when the Ebla tablets – a lost civilization – were dug up.

Noah’s Ark has been found – again. I think this is the tenth one. There must have been a fleet of them. Perhaps it is. We do not need the timbers of the ark to prove it happened. Genesis tells us it did.

This certainty is important because God tells us that, through Christ, our sins are forgiven. Trust is everything. Someone can hear that message and not trust it.

“But in addition to what is thus preached, something else is needed; for even though I hear the preaching, I do not at once believe. Therefore, God adds his Holy Spirit, who impresses this preaching upon the heart, so that it abides there and lives.” Luther, Pentecost Sermon.

The Holy Spirit is the source of that divine energy which opens our hearts to trust in the Gospel promise of forgiveness. Truth itself does not convert people. If it did, the intricate structures of the cell, revealed by a scanning electron microscope, would convert every scientist to Creation. And they would wage war against evolution. But that does not happen. Nor will logic make people believe in Creation or the Trinity or the Sacraments.

God has bound His work to the Holy Spirit working through the invisible Word of preaching and teaching, the visible Word of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.

We are surrounded by heathen, and not all of them are ordained ministers. Therefore, the evangelism programs make me smile a bit because the opportunities present themselves without a program, without an outreach chairman.

The Gospel necessarily bears fruit, so any contact between faith and unbelief is itself a witness to God’s work in Christ. For example, I asked one apostate (CG guru) – “If an evangelism program fails to bring about visible results, is it because it was done wrong?” He immediately said “Yes!” and he was joined by the district VP, agreeing with him. Both were corrected at once, and the VP stuttered his continued confusion.

Therefore, the Word of God confronted two apostates who placed their trust in man’s alleged wisdom instead of God’s revealed wisdom. The Word can either convert or harden, enlighten or blind. Kindly old Methodist-Lutherans want to offend no one, but showing up the Shrinkers will offend the hardened hearts of unbelievers. That is an effect. The Word is effective and often brings hatred and revenge. But it also works to convert, as shown by the example following:

The Holy Spirit works through the Word at His own pace. Here is a good example. Two Hong Kong natives went to my church in Midland. Both of them went to a private Lutheran school in Hong Kong, because the Lutheran school was considered the best there. They had to take religion class, so they did, but hid comic books in their religion textbooks. They mocked Christianity the whole time in school. First the husband (before they were married) and then the wife went to a Billy Graham Crusade there in Hong Kong. They were individually converted and remained faithful Christians after that, even though their families thought they had turned their backs on Buddhism. That is a very big concern in Asia - the family. Leaving Buddhism meant they left the family and shamed them.
They realized afterwards that they were absorbing lessons about the Christian faith even while they were mocking it. They were the kindest people and very attentive during the sermons. They nodded when I talked about the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Two council members frowned during those same passages. Was the Word effective? You betcha.

The couple doubtless chose the Lutheran church first because they went to a Lutheran school. Their families had intended a first-class education, and the result was God working through the Word, first to annoy and amuse them, later to convert them.

Many people invoke the Holy Spirit without the Word. They are the Enthusiasts, who ascribe all kinds of activity to the Holy Spirit, apart from the Word and Sacraments.
1. He has declared the sins of the world forgiven (where is this recorded?) – UOJ.
2. He drifts in and out of the church’s work, sometimes helping a sermon and sometimes not – Calvinism.
3. He is only present when people speak in tongues, dance around, and fall off their chairs laughing – Pentecostalism.
4. He works through marketing methods – Church Growth.
5. He may not accomplish anything, but it is important to be radical about trying – Emerging Church.

John 15:1-10

KJV John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

This passage shows how the Holy Spirit works through the Word. Those who abide in the Word and Sacraments are fruitful. The only way we can abide with Jesus is through His Word, because He comes to us only through the Word.

A short time ago I planted fragrant rose bushes. I dug a hole and planted them. It rained two days, helping them get started. Rosemary B. asked, “Why is that one slanted?” I said, “Because I planted it that way and couldn’t straighten it out.” She thought it was some special secret. I was racing against the thunderclouds.

We have had consistent rain, so I watered only once. The result from two bushes is four roses in bloom and two more ready to bloom.

The rose bushes were fruitful, so I pruned them. That will promote more growth on top and additional root growth. Roses love to be pruned. The more they are pruned, the more they want to grow and be fruitful.

Grapes are the same. When the fruit is pruned away, and the deadwood removed, they grow even better. Grapes only grow on the vine, and God-pleasing results only come from the Word.

It may be God-pleasing to divide a congregation or a synod. The issue is not the results but the method. The only God-approved method is applying the Word. The cost of not applying the Word, not remaining with the True Vine, is deadwood, which will be thrown away, withered, removed, gathered, and burned.

This image from Luther should always be remember about the Means of Grace.

The Word conveys Christ to us, whether in preaching, teaching, or the Sacrament. When Christ is brought to us, we are also brought before Him. Each one of us has a Christian name, a believing soul. Is it possible to come before the King of Kings and not be changed by that experience? Is He not even more aware of us when we meet Him through the Means of Grace?

That is the great work of the Holy Spirit in the Word. He conveys Christ to us, creates and sustains faith in us, and daily forgives all our sins through the Gospel.

Quotations

"The purest and best part of the human race, the special nursery and flower of God's Church, is tender youth. Youth retains the gift of the Holy Spirit which it received in Baptism; it learns eagerly the true doctrine about God and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; it calls Him God with a chaste mind and with a simple, pure faith; it thanks Him with a quick and joyful heart for the blessings received from Him; in its studies and the other parts of life, it carries out the duties commanded it; and it obeys God and parents reverently. Particularly God-pleasing, therefore, are the studies of one's earliest age: prayer, obedience and praises which honor God, regardless of how weak and stammering its voice may be."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 9.

"Emphatically does Scripture state that the action of the Spirit covers the whole life from first to the last. He is the Spirit of Life for regeneration (John 3:5, 8): the Spirit of Sonship for adoption (Romans 8:15): the Spirit of holiness for sanctification (Romans 8:5): the Spirit of Glory for transfiguration (2 Corinthians 3:18); the Spirit of Promise for the resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Only through the Holy Spirit are men drawn to the Author and Finisher of their salvation." Arthur H. Drevlow, "God the HS Acts to Build the Church,"
God The Holy Spirit Acts, ed., Eugene P. Kaulfield, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1972, p. 15. John 3: 5,8; Romans 8:5; Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 1:13

"On the contrary, with the Anabaptists and the Reformed Church in general, the Mennonites are Enthusiasts, lay great stress on the immediate working of the Holy Ghost, who is said to 'guide the saints into all truth.' In his Geschichte der Mennonitengemeinden John Horsch, a prominent Mennonite, states that the Holy Spirit is the 'inner word,' who enables Christians to understand the Scriptures. Without the inner word, or the light, the Scripture is a dead letter and a dark lantern."
The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 260.

"It is God the Holy Ghost who must work this change in the soul. This He does through His own life-giving Word. It is the office of that Word, as the organ of the Holy Spirit, to bring about a knowledge of sin, to awaken sorrow and contrition, and to make the sinner hate and turn from his sin. That same Word then directs the sinner to Him who came to save him from sin. It takes him to the cross, it enables him to believe that his sins were all atoned for there, and that, therefore, he is not condemned. In other words, the Word of God awakens and constantly deepens true penitence. It also begets and constantly increases true faith. Or, in one word, it converts the sinner."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 145f.

"It is indeed a precious truth, that this Word not only tells me what I must do to be saved, but it also enables me to do it. [enables me to do it in italics] It is the vehicle and instrument of the Holy Spirit. Through it the Holy Spirit works repentance and faith. Through it He regenerates, converts, and sanctifies."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 132.
[The popular idea about the Word] "He sees that he must repent and believe, but by his own reason and strength he cannot. He learns further, that he needs the Holy Spirit to enable him to repent and believe, but, according to the current opinion, that Spirit is not in the Word, nor effective through it, but operates independently of it."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 131.

"The same divine Saviour now works through means. He has founded a Church, ordained a ministry, and instituted the preaching of the Word and the administration of His own sacraments. Christ now works in and through His Church. Through her ministry, preaching the Word, and administering the sacraments, the Holy Spirit is given. (Augsburg Confession, Article 5.)
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 30.

"To the Lutheran the sermon, as the preached Word, is a means of grace. Through it the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth. It is a constant offer of pardon; a giving of life, as well as a nourishing and strengthening of life. In the Reformed churches the sermon is apt to be more hortatory and ethical. It partakes more of the sacrificial than of the sacramental character. The individuality of the preacher, the subjective choice of a text, the using of it merely for a motto, the discussion of secular subjects, the unrestrained platform style, lack of reverence, lack of dignity, and many other faults are common, and are not regarded as unbecoming the messenger of God in His temple. Where there is a properly trained Lutheran consciousness such things repel, shock, and are not tolerated."
G. H. Gerberding, The Lutheran Pastor, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1915, p. 278.

"Even though the water which is used for holy Baptism continues to retain its natural essence and natural attributes after Baptism, it is nevertheless not just lowly [plain] water, but it is formulated in God's Word and combined with God's Word. Thus it is a powerful means through which the Holy Trinity works powerfully; the Father takes on the one who is baptized as His dear child; the Son washes him of his sins with His blood; the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews him for everlasting life."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 56.

"For just as we are born again through the Sacrament of holy Baptism, so also we are nurtured for eternal life through the Sacrament of this holy Supper. Just as we were taken into God's covenant of grace through the former Sacrament, so also through the latter Sacrament we are preserved in the very same covenant of grace. Just as the Holy Spirit awakens faith in us through the former, so also He strengthens and increases it through the latter. Just as circumcision typifies the former, so the Passover [paschal] lamb of the Old Testament typifies the latter."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 209.

"The efficacy of the Bible is that property by which the Bible has indissolubly united [Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13] with the true and genuine sense [Ephesians 3:3-4; Acts 8:30, 31, 34] expressed in its words the power of the Holy Spirit, [Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5] who has made it for all times the ordinary means by which He operates [Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:105, 130; 2 Peter 1:19; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17] on and in the hearts and minds of those who properly hear and read it [Revelation 1:3; Ephesians 3:3-4; John 7:17].
A. L. Graebner, Outlines of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1910, p. 12. Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 3:3-4; Acts 8:30f; John 7:17.

"The New Testament is the inerrant record of the revelation of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and of the truths and principles proceeding, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from that revelation. The Old Testament is in like manner an inerrant record, having the express and often repeated testimony and authority of Christ, of the preparatory and partial revelations made concerning Him before His coming. Hebrews 1:1."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 3. Hebrews 1:1.

"What testimony is given to the presence of the Holy Spirit in and with the Word? The words of Scripture are repeatedly cited as the words of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:16, 28:25; Hebrew 3:7; Psalm 10:15."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 288f.

"Is it the office of the Word simply to afford directions that are to be followed in order to obtain salvation? It is more than a directory and guide to Christ. It does more than 'give directions how to live.' It brings and communicates the grace concerning which it instructs. It has an inherent and objective efficacy, derived from its divine institution and promise, and explained by the constant presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in and with it. Romans 1:16; John 6:63; 1 Peter 1:23; Matthew 4:4; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 10:5-10; Isaiah 55:10."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 288.

"Thus the Holy Spirit works only through the Word. But the Word of the Gospel comes to man in two different modes."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, Elements of Religion, Philadelphia, Board of Publication, General Council 1919 p. 161.

(1) "He that believes and is baptized Shall see the Lord's salvation; Baptized into the death of Christ, He is a new creation. Through Christ's redemption he shall stand Among the glorious heavenly band Of every tribe and nation. (2) "With one accord, O God, we pray: Grant us Thy Holy Spirit; Look Thou on our infirmity Through Jesus' blood and merit. Grant us to grow in grace each day That by this Sacrament we may Eternal life inherit."
Thomas Kingo, 1689, "He That Believes and Is Baptized" The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #301. Mark 16:16.

"The Holy Spirit works through the Word and the Sacraments, which only, in the proper sense, are means of grace. Both the Word and the Sacraments bring a positive grace, which is offered to all who receive them outwardly, and which is actually imparted to all who have faith to embrace it."
Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1871, p. 127.

"This Word works in the Thessalonians what Paul states in 1:3; it came to them with the power of the Holy Spirit and much assurance (1:5); it turned them from the idols to the living God, to Him who raised up Jesus from the dead, the Savior from the wrath to ccome (1: 9, 10). This effect, wrought by the Word, convinces all believers, all who experience this blessed effect, that this is, indeed, God's Word."
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of Thessalonians, Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1937, p. 261. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 9, 10

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Exaudi, The Sunday after the Ascension





Exaudi, The Sunday after the Ascension


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 9 O Day of Rest 1:89
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 #237 All Glory Be 1:12
Stewards and the Oracles of God
The Communion Hymn # 341 Crown Him 1:70
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 #261 Lord Keep Us Steadfast 1:93

KJV 1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. 16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

Prayer
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy Holy Spirit Thou hast appointed us to bear witness of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: We beseech Thee, inasmuch as the world cannot endure such testimony, and persecutes us in every way, grant us courage and comfort, that we may not be offended because of the cross, but continue steadfastly in Thy testimony, and be found always among those who know Thee and Thy Son, until we obtain eternal salvation through the same, Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Gaost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Stewards and the Oracles of God
The epistle has two lessons for today – one emphasizing being stewards of God’s grace, and related to that – treating the Scriptures as the oracles of God.

The steward concept was known in the ancient world and even preserved in titles. A steward of a kingdom was one who ruled but only until the rightful king took the throne. The steward’s authority was derived from the royal claim alone, so he was to be faithful to that office and not a king in his own right.

Likewise, the steward of an estate was one who managed his master’s affairs to benefit the master.

Jesus said to his disciples:

KJV Luke 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Paul said,

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

The mysteries of God are those spiritual matters revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. These mysteries are not known by human wisdom or proven by man’s logic. Some examples are:
1. The Holy Trinity.
2. The Incarnation.
3. The Atonement.
4. Justification by faith.
5. The Real Presence.
6. Baptismal regeneration.

Oracles of God
A. They are from God alone.
B. Revealed and not deduced.
C. Not man’s to bargain with.
D. All powerful.
E. Powerful to convert
F. Powerful to harden and to blind.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ascension Day - May 13, 2010


Unless you believe as a child, you will not enter the Kingdom of God. Norma Boeckler.



Ascension Day


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Standard Time

The Hymn #215 Draw Us to Thee 1:3
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 47 p. 123

KJV Psalm 47:
1 O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.
3 He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.
4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.
God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.
8 God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.
9 The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.

The Lection Passion Harmony, TLH

The Sermon Hymn #225 Come Holy Spirit Come 1:39

The Sermon – Mark's Gospel

The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45

The Hymn # 200 I Know My Redeemer Lives 1:80


KJV Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

KJV Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Outline:
I. The Ending of Mark
A. Mysterious finds by the same man, Tischendorf. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
B. Used to undermine the traditional NT texts from the Byzantine Empire, 1100 years of Greek Christian rule. Constantinople.
C. First stage in undermining the authority of God’s Word.
D. That and the canon of the NT (books of the Bible).

II. Homiletics book.
A. Bad sermon – one that implied the Ascension actually happened.
B. This is not a liberal observance so conservative Lutherans make a point of recognizing it.
C. God accomplishes everything by His will, through His Word.
D. Doubting God means doubting His Word and His goodness. One may start at one point or another, but doubt will connect the points together. Atheists exult in the number of former ministers who fill their ranks, and these are activist haters of religion, especially the Christian faith.
E. Jesus upbraided the disciples. Important to realize that all preaching of the Word includes Law preaching – against doubting the Word.

III. We recite Psalm 47, and sing it in various hymns.
A. Did they know what they were singing? Not until it was fulfilled before their eyes.
B. God has gone up with a shout – only fulfilled in the Ascension and makes little sense apart from the Ascension.
C. Victory over sin, death, and Satan.
D. Justification by faith is essentially God declaring our sins forgiven because of Christ’s victory, and this declaration is received in faith, faith created by the Promises of God.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rogate Sunday


The Lost Sheep, by Norma Boeckler.



Rogate, The Fifth Sunday after Easter


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 202 Welcome Happy Morning 4:28
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #458 Our Father 4:50
Origin of Prayer
The Communion Hymn # 207 Like the Golden Sun 4:76
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657 Beautiful Savior 4:24

KJV James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

KJV John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

Fifth Sunday After Easter
Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Thy Son didst promise us that whatsoever we ask in His name Thou wilt give us: We beseech Thee, keep us in Thy word, and grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that He may govern us according to Thy will; protect us from the power of the devil, from false doctrine and worship; also defend our lives against all danger; grant us Thy blessing and peace, that we may in all things perceive Thy merciful help, and both now and forever praise and glorify Thee as our gracious Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Origin of Prayer
The Biblical concept of prayer should be clear, but it is one of the lines of division in Protestantism.

One of great Ohio Lutherans explained it well. Loy served a parish just north of Columbus, and his hymns or translations are used in The Lutheran Hymnal:


"The Christian's faith trusts in the ordinary means. Prayer is not a means of grace. Means of grace are divine appointments through which God uniformly offers blessings to all who use them. Faith is the means by which the blessings are received and appropriated. God gives us bread, when we ask it, not through the channel of prayer, but through the ordinary channels of His providence. He gives us grace when we ask it, not through prayer, but through the ordinary means appointed for this end, namely the Word and Sacraments. He who despises these will as little have grace as he who refuses to accept bread produced in the ordinary way of nature. Faith asks with confidence, and trusts in the ordinary means of God's appointment for the blessings asked." Matthias Loy, Sermons on the Gospels, p. 387.

Prayer is the result of faith, and faith is created by the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel.

No one can pray to Christ without faith, yet people are commonly told to pray to Jesus to come into their hearts. This command causes the confusion which mixes up so many people.

Throughout the Bible, the passages on prayer are based upon the Gospel Promises, which we see in this passage of John.

John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

This is one of many Promises of God.

The verse also shows why we pray in the Name of Christ. Whenever people try to establish a generic religion, they leave out praying in the Name of Christ. One Masonic Lodge member was disciplined for such prayers – he was the chaplain. The lodge wanted to make the point that they considered all religion equal, so they could not single out one religion. They have many established poems and speeches about this concept, too.

Jesus showed Himself as an example of prayer, and in this parting sermon, told His disciples that their prayers would be exactly like the Only-Begotten Son praying for them.

That is Gospel motivation rather than the Law. The second Promise provides more motivation:

24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

Strangely, people ignore what the Word of God says and substitute their own slogans. Man is always eager to substitute something inferior to replace the clear, plain meaning of the Word.

For example, people sometimes think “prayer changes things” is from the Bible, when it is a slogan and lacking the power of God’s Word. What exactly are things and how are they changed? That is terribly vague and yet it appears in gift shops everywhere.

The two Promises of Jesus are specific and clear:

1 Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
2 Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

The two Promises follow the Old Testament style of making the same statement a second time in different words. One explains the other:

The Lord is My Shepherd, I lack nothing. [literal] Psalm 23:1

The opening of the 23rd Psalm is far more expressive by having the dual statements. In addition, the words are poetic and suited for singing. Thus the Psalms are called the hymnal of the Old Testament. Many hymns are based upon the Psalms.

The sermons of Jesus in John’s Gospel have often been compared to Hebrew poetry. They repeat meanings in the same way, using different words, or adding explanations to those words (drawing water, John 4, bread of life, John 6, the Word in John 1, and the I AM sermons).

Short, simple, repetitive phrases are easy to memorize.

Throughout history there have been people who could memorize vast amounts of material and repeat them. FDR mentioned a poem to Churchill, and Winston began reciting the entire poem from memory.

“"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag," she said.

Churchill did the same with Shakespeare’s plays, mumbling them from the audience as the actors recited the lines, growling when lines were skipped in the editing of the staged version. (R. Burton told the Shakespeare story.)

Literature has always been spoken aloud first and read in books later. Many books were written in modern times with the expectation that they would be read to people in schoolrooms and in factories.

The books of the Bible are primarily works to be read aloud, so we can appreciate how the Holy Spirit inspired them to be simple, clear, and poetic in so many passages.

One version of the Promise today is three-fold:

KJV Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Prayer can be turned into Law, mistakenly, and it often is. Since the non-Lutheran Protestants teach prayer as the only Means of Grace (inviting Jesus into the heart), they also teach that more prayer (and more ardent prayer) leads to more grace. Rather than directing people to the Word and Sacraments, which the Reformed say are not effective, they tell people to trust in the volume and sometimes the agony of their prayers. Thus prayer becomes a work of man that earns God’s favor. If it is not done properly or often enough, they think God punishes.

Roman Catholic prayer is not much different, because devotion is taught as the way out of Purgatory, for the individual and for friends and relatives. We still have “The Suffrages” in the hymnal, but the name came from devotions given on behalf of those suffering in Purgatory, a mini-Hell for the semi-saved. Like the law demands of the Reformed, Roman Catholic demands are never satisfied. No one is told, “Prayer will earn release from Purgatory,” because no one is sure, and the uncertainty builds cathedrals and endows religious orders.

In contrast, the Bible teaches prayer as energized by the Holy Spirit, moving us to pray with the Gospel Promises, and helping us as we pray. Prayer is a work of God in man, not man’s work to please God.

How God Answers
There are no qualifications in God answering prayers. His timing and fulfillment are not the same as ours, as Is. 55:8-11 reveals. Just as we pray in faith, so also we wait in faith for God to answer.

Some people only want material blessings from their prayers, and God allows that, sometimes in great abundance. But since these are not worthwhile prayers, the abundance often becomes a curse because the cares the world separate the individual from the Word of God (Mark 4, Matthew 13, Parable of the Sower).

Some prayers are simply blasphemous, such as ordering God “to give us 10% growth in each of the next three years.” As Luther said, when God is told exactly what to do, He does the opposite.

For example, I stumbled onto one video sermon where the minister began with the I AM of Exodus, the Burning Bush. “What is your name?”

“Tell them I AM sent you.”

The minister said a few words about the power of God and began describing the Almighty as a personal man-servant, Who will do whatever we want. Of course, this wolf-preacher wore the grin of a man who found the key to Fort Knox next to his winning lottery ticket.

The real answer is far more mysterious than that. God may answer prayers in 10 or 20 years. When we look back, we can see how God worked according to His wisdom, in giving us more than we could hope or imagine.

KJV Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

So, when prayer is taught contrary to the Word, we find people making it into a work of man and one that benefits the individual in superficial, material ways. Many have combined their errors with the spiritual error of Eastern religions, as if one could tap into the powers of the universe for miraculous and surprisingly self-centered answers to problems.

On the Roman Catholic side, prayer is used to emphasize doctrine against the Gospel of salvation. Since God already justifies through faith in His Son, why would someone pray for release from Purgatory, as if the Atonement were incomplete without man’s work?

Jesus’ example is clear. He prayed for others, as He made clear in this passage.

When He prayed for Himself, He said,

KJV Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Often mothers and fathers teach their children how to pray, naming relatives and people in need.

Paul L. Holmer was considered one of the great philosophers on the Yale Divinity and graduate school faculty. He was a layman rather than a pastor, and he was a conservative Lutheran.

When people asked him why he believed in Christ, they expected a profound philosophical answer, one to satisfy their intellectual rigor. Instead, he said,

“Because my mother taught me.”

If they took a census on how children were nurtured in the Gospel, most would probably say the same thing – Because my mother taught me.

Rogate Sunday Quotations


Norma Boeckler

"Early in the morning it rises, sits upon a twig and sings a song it has learned, while it knows not where to obtain its food, and yet it is not worried as to where to get its breakfast. Later, when it is hungry, it flies away and seeks a grain of corn, where God stored one away for it, of which it never thought while singing, when it had cause enough to be anxious about its food. Ay, shame on you now, that the little birds are more pious and believing than you; they are happy and sing with joy and know not whether they have anything to eat." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 114. Trinity 15 Matthew 6:24-34

"This doctrine concerning the inability and wickedness of our natural free will and concerning our conversion and regeneration, namely, that it is a work of God alone and not of our powers, is [impiously, shamefully, and maliciously] abused in an unchristian manner both by enthusiasts and by Epicureans; and by their speeches many persons have become disorderly and irregular, and idle and indolent in all Christian exercises of prayer, reading and devout meditation; for they say that, since they are unable from their own natural powers to convert themselves to God, they will always strive with all their might against God, or wait until God converts them by force against their will; or since they can do nothing in these spiritual things, but everything is the operation of God the Holy Ghost alone, they will regard, hear, or read neither the Word nor the Sacrament, but wait until God without means..."
Formula of Concord, Free Will, 46, Triglotta, p. 899.

"The Christian's faith trusts in the ordinary means. Prayer is not a means of grace. Means of grace are divine appointments through which God uniformly offers blessings to all who use them. Faith is the means by which the blessings are received and appropriated. God gives us bread, when we ask it, not through the channel of prayer, but through the ordinary channels of His providence. He gives us grace when we ask it, not through prayer, but through the ordinary means appointed for this end, namely the Word and Sacraments. He who despises these will as little have grace as he who refuses to accept bread produced in the ordinary way of nature. Faith asks with confidence, and trusts in the ordinary means of God's appointment for the blessings asked." Matthias Loy, Sermons on the Gospels, p. 387.

"Prayer is made vigorous by petitioning; urgent, by supplication; by thanksgiving, pleasing and acceptable. Strength and acceptability combine to prevail and secure the petition." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., VI, p. 107. Philippians 4:4-7.

"The Lord's Prayer opens with praise and thanksgiving and the acknowledgement of God as a Father; it earnestly presses toward Him through filial love and a recognition of fatherly tenderness. For supplication, this prayer is unequaled. Hence it is the sublimest and the noblest prayer ever uttered." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., VI, p. 107. Philippians 4:4-7; Matthew 6:9-13.

"In like manner, St. Paul says that God's ability is thus proved, in that He does exceeding abundantly above and better than we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20. Therefore, we should know we are too finite to be able to name, picture or designate the time, place, way, measure and other circumstances for that which we ask of God. Let us leave that entirely to Him, and immovably and steadfastly believe that He will hear us." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III, p. 179f. Ephesians 3:20.

"Only begin this [prayer, self-examination], I say, and see how you will succeed in the task; and you will soon discover what an unbelieving knave is hidden in your bosom, and that your heart is too dull to believe it." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., II, p. 257. Mark 16:1-8.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Phony Love and Fake Unity Trump Orthodoxy -
The Pietists Claim

Many identify with the screaming woman,
burdened as they are by Harkey-leaders.


Harkey: "We want love as much as orthodoxy, yes, a thousand times more than what some men call orthodoxy." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 121.

"In the Lutheran Observer, January 2, 1863, H. Harkey wrote: 'Some say that unity must precede union. But the Bible demands that we unite. Hence those who magnify these differences [among Lutherans] are the greatest sinners in the Church.' This has always been the view of the General Synod: union, irrespective of doctrinal differences...all endeavors at union which disregard the divine norm of Christian fellowship are anti-Scriptural." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 19.

"And Paul commands that godless teachers should be avoided and execrated as cursed. Galatians 1:8; Titus 3:10. And 2 Corinthians 6:14 he says: 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what communion hath light with darkness?'"
Marks of Antichrist, 41, Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 517. Tappert, p. 328. Galatians 1:8; Titus 3:10; 2 Corinthians 6:14.

1 Corinthians 10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

"Wherever Lutherans unite with the Reformed, the former gradually sink to the level of the latter. Already by declaring the differences between the two Churches irrelevant, the Lutheran truths are actually sacrificed and denied. Unionism always breaks the backbone, and outrages the conscience, of true Lutheranism. And naturally enough, the refusal to confess the Lutheran truth is but too frequently followed by eager endorsement and fanatical defense of the opposite errors." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 68.

"Truthful separation is far better than dishonest union, and two churches are happier, and more kindly in their mutual relations, when their differences are frankly confessed, than when they are clouding with ambiguities and double meanings the real divergences." Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1913 (first edition, 1871), p. 326.

"If one associates much with heretics, one finally also makes oneself partaker of their false doctrine, their lies, and their errors; for he who touches pitch soils his hands with it." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 646.

"The orthodox character of a church is established not by its mere name nor by its outward acceptance of, and subscription to, an orthodox creed, but by the doctrine which is actually taught in its pulpits, in its theological seminaries, and in its publications. On the other hand, a church does not forfeit its orthodox character through the casual intrusion of errors, provided these are combated and eventually removed by means of doctrinal discipline." (A Brief Statement of the Missouri Synod's Doctrinal Position, 1932) Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 2.

"Unionism is characterized by these marks: It fails to confess the whole truth of the divine Word; it fails to reject and denounce every opposing error; it assigns error equal right with truth and creates the impression of church fellowship and of unity of faith where they do not exist." (Wisconsin Synod, Prayer Fellowship, Tract No. 10, 1954) Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 64.


"We have no intention of yielding aught of the eternal, immutable truth of God for the sake of temporal peace, tranquility, and unity (which, moreover, is not in our power to do). Nor would such peace and unity, since it is devised against the truth and for its suppression, have any permanency. Still less are we inclined to adorn and conceal a corruption of the pure doctrine and manifest, condemned errors. But we entertain heartfelt pleasure and love for, and are on our part sincerely inclined and anxious to advance, that unity according to our utmost power, by which His glory remains to God uninjured, nothing of the divine truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to the least error, poor sinners are brought to true, genuine repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience, and thus justified and eternally saved alone through the sole merit of Christ." (Closing of Formula of Concord, Trigl. p. 1095) Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 65.

"The real question is not what do you subscribe, but what do you believe and publicly teach, and what are you transmitting to those who come after? If it is the complete Lutheran faith and practice, the name and number of the standards is less important. If it is not, the burden of proof rests upon you to show that your more incomplete standard does not indicate an incomplete Lutheran faith." Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 890.

"Dr. Luther, who, above others, certainly understood the true and proper meaning of the Augsburg Confession, and who constantly remained steadfast thereto till his end, and defended it, shortly before his death repeated his faith concerning this article with great zeal in his last Confession, where he writes thus: 'I rate as one concoction, namely, as Sacramentarians and fanatics, which they also are, all who will not believe that the Lord's bread in the Supper is His true natural body, which the godless or Judas received with the mouth, as well as did St. Peter and all [other] saints; he who will not believe this (I say) should let me alone, and hope for no fellowship with me; this is not going to be altered [thus my opinion stands, which I am not going to change]." Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 33, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 983. Tappert, p. 575.



Mother's Day



Our visitor noticed blue jays nesting outside our bedroom window.

Since then we have had many rainy days. The mother blue jay does most of the nesting. I have seen her sitting there in the gloom, rain pouring down, her wings spread over her nest. The outside is cold and damp, but her wings and downy feathers keep the eggs warm and dry.

My window is only 20 inches from her nest, so she glares at me when I look at her progress. If I walk around the outside of the house, she distracts me from her nest by flying nearby and calling out "Jay!"

The blue jay is endowed by her Creator with a self-sacrificing love for her children. A philosopher would advise her, "You should serve your own needs first. Blue jay eggs are a dime a dozen. Take wing and find yourself." But her DNA code, like software, dedicates her to a nobler task.

I have been gathering photos from my high school graduating class, 1966. Some of our mothers are still alive, but many are not. My mother taught in the public schools, so she knew hundreds of parents, many of them fellow teachers.

That was the classic age in public education, when the children were safe. The teachers watched over us and made sure we were prepared for higher education. When I see photos of various students, I remember, "Their mother was a teacher too. I saw her at our house, or PTA, or community functions, or all three."

I just finished scanning our high school yearbook, when we were seniors. We are seniors once again, in a different sense. Instead of getting student discounts we are angling for senior discounts based on age.

Now that we have a world-wide financial crisis, my mother's comments about the Depression make more sense. She mowed lawns and cleaned houses to get through Augustana College, which took a long time while she was teaching in one-room country schools.

My mother grew up on a farm and remembered when electricity was brought to their farmhouse. She would say, "You don't know how good you have it." She was right. We did not. That generation learned frugality during the Depression and self-sacrifice during WWII and Korea. We benefited from both and took the advantages for granted.

When we asked Mom how she accomplished so much, she said, variously:
1. Grew up on a farm.
2. Went through the Depression.
3. Taught in a one-room country school.

I thought about that while I was trying to trim old newsprint. Mom could cut out articles with precision and file them methodically. Many of her books had a review from a major newspaper, taped into the front cover.

One of her many photo albums included a Mother's Day card, which I crafted in class, around fifth grade at Garfield. I wrote: "Congratulations for having a genius son." She must have enjoyed that card, because she kept it for 80 years.

My mother went through a long-term crisis as she lost her short-term memory. Many times she was agitated, angry, and confused. We moved her to our house in Minnesota and then to our home in Arizona, where she died at the age of 90. She turned into the ultimate mother at the end, happy and loving, still active, creating poems on the fly as we wheeled her around the care facility. She led us and the staff in a spirited rendition of "God bless America."

The hospital said, "The nurses all love your mom."

Our neighbors said, "All the children love your mom."

I lost count of the students who came up to me and said, "I had your mother as a teacher. She was the best teacher I ever had."

True genius comes from picking the right parents. As Lincoln said, "All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother."


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cantate, The Fourth Sunday after Easter


Cover by Norma Boeckler



Cantate, The Fourth Sunday after Easter


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 199 Jesus Christ is Risen Today 1:83
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 # 262 A Mighty Fortress 1:86

Three-fold Work of the Word and Holy Spirit

The Communion Hymn #308 Invited Lord 1:63
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 #187 Christ Is Arisen 1:45

Fourth Sunday After Easter
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst through Thy Son promise us Thy Holy Spirit, that He should convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: We beseech Thee, enlighten our hearts, that we may confess our sins, through faith in Christ obtain everlasting righteousness, and in all our trials and temptations retain this consolation, that Christ is Lord over the devil and death, and all things, and that He will graciously deliver us out of all our afflictions, and make us forever partakers of eternal salvation, through the same, Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

KJV John 16:5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Three-fold Work of the Word and Holy Spirit

In this parting sermon, Jesus promises once again to bind the Holy Spirit to His Means of Grace.

Naturally, the Bible is God’s revealed Word, so it is not a doctrinal textbook. That is why we do not have an orderly, library-like catalogue, but a unified revelation of truth, each part reflecting upon another part.

If we look at this part alone, we find all we need to know about the error of Enthusiasm, which separates the Holy Spirit from the Word.


Jesus sends the Holy Spirit.
First, we find Jesus saying that He will send the Holy Spirit.

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

This can only mean one thing – By the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

The Word of God refers both to the Scriptures and to faithful teaching and preaching. Besides this, God uses the liturgy, Creeds, and hymns to teach His Word.

God has made sure that there will be faithful pastors to study His Word, preach and teach it. The condition of a call is that the minister do this. All Lutheran pastors (in the past, at least) were read the appropriate passages from the epistles about the work of a called shepherd. So, even if a denomination is on the far edge of apostasy, the minister is obliged to be faithful to God’s Word and not the denomination’s embrace of a recent fad, whether it is social activism, socialism, or homosexual ordination and marriages.

A Lutheran minister may not teach Reformed doctrine, even if it is all the rage. He may not teach Pentecostalism or Roman Catholicism in any form, overt, covert or demi-semi-covert. He is not allowed, according to his promises, to teach what is popular at the moment instead of the content of the Word and the Confessions. That also means he must be studious with the Word and sound doctrine, and eager to apply this faithfully, such as calling on the sick and shut-in, visiting mission prospects, and carrying out a regular visitation of members.

The cross is always found with the Word, so a pastor is also obliged to bear the cross and teach it as well. In Europe, they used to tell the laity – no cross, no crown.

Not trusting the Holy Spirit in the Word, but trusting man’s word instead – that is clearly blasphemy. That is saying to God, “Thank you for the church and the office of the ministry, but I have to follow what the marketing people say. Thou art good up to a point, but Thou goest too far.”

And yet that sentiment, so often expressed, is exactly the opposite of the Epistle for today –

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

The Three-fold Work of the Holy Spirit Through the Word
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

I have to confess – I look this text up in Lenski every year, because the formulation is different and I want to give it justice. That is the point of repeating the lessons, so the minister and members have a deeper knowledge of the same texts.

Some people are converted from reading the Scriptures, but the Church is mainly a mouth-church, as Luther said. People become believers chiefly through preaching and teaching. Babies also become believers through the spoken Word – at their baptisms.

9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

All world religions and all false doctrine have this in common – they oppose sin with virtue. They identify sin with the law and think they can defeat sin with the law. The Emerging Churches also fall into that error, as if an x-ray that reveals a broken bone can also be used to heal that broken bone.

Jesus says sin is not having faith in Him. Most people have a concept of sin, but they do not know how to defeat temptation and sin until they hear the Gospel. The Gospel is forgiveness, and faith is justification.

Faith is not virtue but trust in God’s mercy, which is conveyed through the Gospel Promises. From faith and the Means of Grace will come the fruits of the Spirit. Another way to say this is – If you are diligent in hearing the Gospel and participating in Holy Communion, the Gospel will bear fruit in your life through the work of the Holy Spirit.
As one ancient writer said, “If the hem of the garment of Jesus can heal a woman, how much more will His body and blood heal us?”

The unforgiven person runs from God, but the person justified by faith loves God’s forgiveness in Christ. Although the Law has value apart from the Gospel (in guiding the nations of the world and showing us our sin) the Law cannot make us serve God willingly. That would be the equivalent of someone ordering everyone to be friendly. I sometimes see the photos of a little girl who has grown up now. She was the oldest of five children. When she went into the house and we were first-time visitors, she yelled at her brothers, “TRY to act normal.” That still makes us laugh, because the first-born sister’s attitude was, “You are not normal, but pretend for our guests.” That is how the law works on us.

However, the Gospel moves us to love God’s teaching and to obey God out of love rather than fear or compulsion. If the terrors of the Law kept people from sinning, then all the 12 step programs would work, and they do not.

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

How would this convict people of righteousness – Jesus going to the Father?

This is a summation of Jesus’ work. When He ascended as the risen Messiah, His public ministry was completed, so He sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost to rule and guide the Church.

The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word –
1. Jesus is the Son of God
2. This innocent Lamb of God suffered and died for the sins of the world.
3. His righteousness is ours through faith.
4. His Ascension is another sign of His divinity, majesty, and Sonship.

Victory over death is victory over sin. How can we not see this when Jesus is triumphant over sin, death, and Satan. His victory is ours.

The preaching of the true Gospel is a proclamation of the alien righteousness of Jesus. Lutherans use that term “alien” to show that it is outside of us (Extra Nose – just like the blog), and not from our own strength, merit, or virtue.

Those who come from non-Lutheran or Pietistic backgrounds know that there is always an implied Law command within their distorted Gospel. You are justified by faith alone, but you must also do this or refrain from doing that. Forgiveness is made conditional and that defeats the Gospel, turning Jesus into Moses and Moses into the Savior. Some outcomes are:
1. You must witness or else.
2. You must be friendly.
3. You must redeem society.

Soon the “must” part of the mixed message becomes the only message.

And yet, this does not obliterate the Law. Only a believer can say, “God commands what is good for us.” Once we see Torah as teaching (the real meaning of Torah), the Old Testament is full of Gospel and Gospel preparation – even in those odd requirements of kosher and temple worship. Everything in the OT points toward the Lamb of God and His blood sacrifice for our sins.

Notice that even in this one verse (8), Jesus teaches Law (not believing in Him), Gospel (righteousness coming from Him), and assurance (Satan has lost his power, because of the Gospel). Each explanatory verse teaches us what those phrases mean, but they are a puzzle to unbelievers.

Unbelievers will say, “This is not something I can process with my logic.” That is the idea. The Gospel is a mystery revealed by the Holy Spirit.

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

This verse gives us assurance that Satan’s reign is over. “One little Word (of God) will fell him.

One of the fables of this world is that Satan has won or is winning, so why not join him, enjoy his extraordinary pay, and quit worrying.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is confronted by Satan. “Come back to me and work for me.”

Christian says, “I worked for you before. I do not like your wages.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. KJV Romans 6:23.

Satan’s temptation is to make us think he is winning when in fact he is losing. The closer we come to the end of history, the more he will rage and capture as many as he can. Already we see a vast harvest through gambling, porn, drugs, and infidelity.

Satan’s greatest weapon is our emotions. As Luther said, Satan does not want a drop of our blood. He wants us to suffer emotionally, to be depressed, to want to give up, to fall into despair and say, “What is the use any more?” We are weakest in our emotions, which are so volatile. A lack of sleep, bad nutrition, physical pain, and financial reverses can make us tumble like a house of cards, doubting the goodness of God. Overwork is such a problem that it goes back to the Exodus, when Moses was warned against trying to do too much on his own.

Here we can see how the pure grace of the Gospel defeats the old evil foe. Christ has already won the victory and condemned Satan. Easter is that year-around celebration of His conquest of sin, temptation, despair, and death.

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Remember in your prayers - Norma Boeckler will have cataract surgery this week.

Gary Meyer will soon have double-knee replacement.