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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity





The Fourth Sunday after Trinity


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 452 The Son of God 1:10
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 #531 Come Ye Disconsolate 1:15

The Firstfruits of the 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 # 413 I Walk in Danger 1:67

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

KJV Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

Fourth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, who art merciful, and through Christ didst promise us, that Thou wilt neither judge nor condemn us, but graciously forgive us all our sins, and abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul: We pray Thee, that by Thy Holy Spirit Thou wilt establish in our hearts a confident faith in Thy mercy, and teach us also to be merciful to our neighbor, that we may not judge or condemn others, but willingly forgive all men, and, Judging only ourselves, lead blessed lives in Thy fear, through Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Firstfruits of the Spirit

Romans 8: 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.


Lenski on this passage: “We come to the final result of justification by faith as it is depicted by Paul. This is the great consolation section of Romans.
It presents a world view that is at once so lofty and so profound as to leave behind all non-scriptural conceptions. The whole creature world is made to depend on what God does with his children. Going back to the fall of Adam which plunged the creature world into vanity and corruption, the Christian hope is made nothing less than the fulfillment of the expectation of even this creature world. In the midst of a groaning world we pray, but one far greater, the Spirit himself, makes our prayers what they should be. For above this vast whole, so sadly deranged, is the hand that makes all things work together for good to us according to his eternal purpose, the realization of which is sure. Paul is stirred into asking triumphant, challenging questions, the answer to which is Christ and the love from which no power whatever is or will be able to separate us. With this triumphant assurance Paul closes.”


The problem many think about and discuss is the evil of this world. In the 19th century, the entire world was going to become Christian, so there was great optimism. But we are back to the perspective of the Apostolic Age, where Christians were a minority in a decline, corrupt empire.

People would like to believe everything will be rosy because they believe in Christ the Redeemer. However, two forms of evil remain.

Two Forms of Evil
One is the corruption and pain of this present world because of the sinfulness of man. Evil produces even more evil, and nothing seems to be too base to promote, sell, and spread for the corrupting of others. For instance, the methamphetamine trade in this country is completely destructive yet continues to grow and spread its effects. I have had students with meth acne is class, another one with bad teeth who had a student walk up to her and ask where to buy more meth. The assumption stated was – you have bad teeth so you must know where to buy meth.

An individual could also talk about the senseless violence in the world, the acts of greed and selfishness. Man’s sinfulness finds many ways to express itself, and we remain sinful ourselves.

"Therefore God must lead us to a recognition of the fact that it is He who puts faith in our heart and that we cannot produce it ourselves. Thus the fear of God and trust in Him must not be separated from one another, for we need them both, in order that we may not become presumptuous and overconfident, depending upon ourselves. This is one of the reasons why God leads His saints through such great trials."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 21. Luke 2:41-52.

"Therefore, such a trial of the saints is as necessary or even more necessary than food and drink, in order that they may remain in fear and humility, and learn to adhere alone to the grace of God."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 40. Luke 2:41-52.

"Secondly, God permits His saints to suffer these trials as an example for others, both to alarm the carnally secure and to comfort the timid and alarmed...But when we see and hear that God has in like manner dealt with His saints and did not spare even His own mother, we have the knowledge and comfort that we need not despair in our trials, but remain quiet and wait until He helps us, even as He has helped all His saints."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 40f. Luke 2:41-52.

"Nor does He send such trial upon you in order to cast you off, but that you may the better learn to know and the more closely cling to His Word, to punish your lack of understanding and that you may experience how earnestly and faithfully He cares for you."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 44. Luke 2:41-52.

"Not only is Christ hidden from the world, but a still harder thing is it that in such trials Christ conceals himself even from His church, and acts as if He had forgotten, aye, had entirely forsaken and rejected it, since He permits it to be oppressed under the cross and subjected to all the cruelty of the world, while its enemies boast, glory and rejoice over it, as we shall hear in the next Gospel."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 67. John 10:11-16.

"We should take to heart and firmly hold fast to these words and keep them in mind when in sorrow and distress, that it will not last long, then we would also have more constant joy, for as Christ and His elect had their 'a little while,' so you and I and everyone will have his 'a little while.' Pilate and Herod will not crucify you, but in the same manner as the devil used them so he will also use your persecutors. Therefore when your trials come, you must not immediately think how you are to be delivered out of them. God will help you in due time. Only wait. It is only for a little while, He will not delay long."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 77. John 16:16-23

Ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy "This is spoken to all Christians, for every Christian must have temptations, trails, anxieties, adversities, sorrows, come what may. Therefore He mentions here no sorrow nor trial, He simply says they shall weep, lament, and be sorrowful, for the Christian has many persecutions. Some are suffering loss of goods; others there are whose character is suffering ignominy and scorn; some are drowned, others are burned; some are beheaded; one perishes in this manner, and another in that; it is therefore the lot of the Christian constantly to suffer misfortune, persecution, trials and adversity. This is the rod or fox tail with which they are punished. They dare not look for anything better as long as they are here. This is the court color by which the Christian is recognized, and if anyone wants to be a Christian, he dare not be ashamed of his court color or livery."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 79. John 16:16-23.

Apparent Evil – The Cross
Another form of evil is the pain associated with bearing the cross. No matter where the Gospel is taught in its truth and purity, it is persecuted. And this persecuted is most difficult when it comes from the great, saintly, and wise.

"If we would be Christians, we must surely expect and count on having the devil, together with all his angels and the world, as our enemies. They all will bring misfortune and sorrow on us For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and where it produces fruit, the dear, holy cross cannot be wanting."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 357. Large Catechism


KJV Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

This cross is blessed, the great irony of the Gospel. Those who seek the praise of everyone will not experience the cross, but they will also lose the Gospel in small steps.

"But when our good work is followed by persecution, let us rejoice and firmly believe that it is pleasing to God; indeed, then let us be assured that it comes from God, for whatever is of God is bound to be crucified by the world. As long as it does not bring the cross, that is, as long as it does not bring shame and contempt as we patiently continue in it, it cannot be esteemed as a divine work since even the Son of God was not free from it--(suffering for the sake of the good He did) --but left us an example in this. He Himself tells us in Matthew 5:10, 12: 'Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake.. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.'" Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976, p. 55. Matthew 5: 10, 12.; Romans 2:6-10

"Not only is Christ hidden from the world, but a still harder thing is it that in such trials Christ conceals himself even from His church, and acts as if He had forgotten, aye, had entirely forsaken and rejected it, since He permits it to be oppressed under the cross and subjected to all the cruelty of the world, while its enemies boast, glory and rejoice over it, as we shall hear in the next Gospel." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 67. Second Sunday after Easter John 10:11-16.

Fallen Corrupt World
There are many perspectives about pain, suffering, and evil in this life. I get to teach about humanism, pantheism, naturalism and other isms in a philosophy class. There are many ideas but only one viewpoint is correct – the Biblical one.

Man cannot redeem himself or the world, although God provides for all believers being a blessing to others.

Christ paid the ransom for our souls. Lenski thinks “redemption” is too weak in English today, because the word used was also applied to slaves being purchased and set free.

The purchase price was the cross, the suffering and humiliation of Jesus for the sake of the world. God so arranged this so that man would understand a blood sacrifice and see that the perfect Son of God made that sacrifice for us, as the spotless Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

For that reason, no one has to ask, “What else do I need to do?” or “Am I worthy to be forgiven?”

Christianity is the only religion where man receives from God instead of giving to Him or appeasing Him. That affects our worship, where we receive grace through the Means of Grace.

Here is an interesting anecdote of someone receiving from God. The jail was sprung open by an earthquake, so Paul and the others could have escaped. The jailer was terrified he would be killed over this, and he realized it was an act of God.

KJV Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

What must I do?
The answer is “Believe on Christ” – trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation. They taught him the Word of God. He and his entire household (all his) were baptized, even the children and babies.

Believing is not “doing” so much as receiving. However, this passage is deadly for all those who would have Paul say, “You are already forgiven.”

In fact, the Universal Objective Justification fanatics use the jail cell as their analogy. Their message is “The cell is already unlocked. You just have to walk out.” Notice how that parallels Decision Theology with a little twist. UOJ is close to Universalism while sounding like Decision Theology.

"Objectively speaking, without any reference to an individual sinner's attitude toward Christ's sacrifice, purely on the basis of God's verdict, every sinner, whether he knows about it or not, whether he believes it or not, has received the status of a saint. What will be be his reaction when he is informed about this turn of events? Will he accept, or will he decline?" J. P. Meyer, Ministers of Christ, A Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1963, p. 103f. 2 Cornithians 5:18-21. [GJ – Does anyone wonder now why the UOJ fanatics love Baptist theology and worship?]
Because of our fallen nature, we are naturally inclined to add works to faith, to guarantee the forgiveness of sin or our worthiness. But then the Gospel is no longer the Gospel but the Law.

This justification by faith continues in the life of the believers. We are in constant need of forgiveness and the message of God’s grace. We are not forgiven because we promise to be good or because we can refrain from sin. God’s forgiveness produces the fruit of the Spirit, which strengthens us against temptation and makes us holy. Luther often used justification and sanctification together because forgiveness necessarily leads to the consequences of forgiveness – all coming from God, Who creates faith through the Word, strengthens faith through the Gospel, and moves us through His grace to lead God-pleasing lives and to do God-pleasing works.

Luther and Lutherans have been condemned for not emphasizing good works, but that is a false charge. It all depends on the order and the implications of that order. If someone is forgiven because of good works, which can including praying hard enough or having outward manifestations like tongue-speaking, then the assurance of forgiveness must come from man’s work rather than God’s Instruments of Grace.

So we have hardships from the sinful, fallen nature of the world and also from bearing the cross. But our groaning is not like those who have no faith. We have the first fruits of the Spirit and enjoy the blessings of the Gospel.

Surely the greatest of all is knowing that Jesus is our Savior, Who has taken away our sin and pronounces forgiveness upon us through the Gospel. All other blessings follow from this, and those blessings show in our families and friends, our network of believers across the world.
KJV Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is
1. love,
2. joy,
3. peace,
4. longsuffering,
5. gentleness,
6. goodness,
7. faith, 23
8. Meekness,
9. temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Third Sunday after Trinity


Word and Sacrament, by Norma Boeckler



The Third Sunday after Trinity


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 652 I Lay My Sins on Jesus 1.24
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 The Lord’s My Shepherd 1.33

Rejoicing in Heaven

The Communion Hymn # 190 Christ Is Arisen 1:52
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 # 350 Jesus the Very Thought of Thee 1:53

KJV 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Third Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having suffered ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh: We beseech Thee graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ; and quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may abide in Thy word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Thy Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end Amen.

Rejoicing in Heaven

“This chapter and the next one are Luke’s two immortal parable chapters which are filled (with the exception of one brief section) with parables, none of which have found a place in the other Gospels, the entire group being arranged in an obviously natural order, in the order in which Jesus spoke them.”

“Luke 15” – when we hear that chapter mentioned, we should immediately think of the three parables in a row, each one showing us how God reaches us, how God acts alone, how God shows us His lovingkindness.

If we ever doubt God’s mercy and forgiveness, Luke 15 answers those doubts in three specific ways. The Gospel for today offers two. As Lenski say, these are doubtless in the order they were given. One follows the other naturally.

I think of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin as the introductions for the Prodigal Son. The Lost Sheep engages the men, because it was their job to find the wandering sheep and rescue them. The Lost Coin involves women, because everyone has cleaned up an entire house looking for one lost item.

“Luke again offers only enough information to indicate how Jesus was prompted to utter the following parables. The time, the place, and the other circumstances are immaterial. Once before, in 5:30, the same class of men raised the same objection. See 3:12 on the publicans; the ἁμαρτωλοί (obvious or open sinners) were classed with them, being notorious sinners of various kinds in a society that was very different from ours, in which the Pharisaic, ostentatious type of holiness dominated the public and by contrast made men like these tax collectors, etc., practically outcasts.

One of the marked features of Jesus’ ministry was the attraction of these outcasts to him. The Pharisees and the scribes only scorned and damned them, but the holy Jesus had a way of salvation open for them, one that, indeed, condemned their sins in no uncertain terms but at the same time opened the divine way of remission for all sins. So they drew near to him in numbers (πάντες - all) and did this continuously at the present time as the periphrastic imperfect states. They kept drinking in his words eagerly, therefore we have the durative present infinitive.”


Only two forms of righteousness can be found in the entire world. One is righteousness from within, which we earn for ourselves. The other is righteousness from outside of us, which we receive through faith in Christ.

All world religions (except the Christian faith) teach righteousness from within, or works righteousness in one form or another. False teachers within Christianity also promote righteousness from within. It is our default attitude and so natural, in the bad sense, that we must be constantly warned against it.

The scribes and Pharisees had those attitudes and they surface again in the visible church.

In contrast, Jesus spoke God’s Word to everyone, showing them that righteousness came from faith in Him. This attracted enormous crowds to Jesus and made the religious leaders jealous. The religious leaders also feared losing their influence on the crowd, their pose of being super-pure examples of righteousness. They made everyone else feel inferior and loaded down with guilt, their only hope being a series of righteousness-earning works of their own. Loading works onto people burdened with sin only makes them feel more hopeless.

In Luther’s words, the only reason for the crucifixion was Jesus’ teaching that righteousness came from outside, from Him, rather than from inside, from works done to merit salvation. That alone caused the fury and the need for revenge among the religious opponents. That also drew the crowds.

Similarly, Luther taught the Gospel and repudiated the works righteousness of the Medieval Church. Everything by Luther was a best-seller all over Europe. The pope’s answer was, “Find him, kill him.” Luther had to be kidnapped and hidden away as if dead to survive the pope’s wrath. Even in 1530, 13 years after the Reformation started, Luther had to avoid the Augsburg gathering to stay alive.

The Lost Sheep
Many people know the characteristics of sheep. As one Lutheran wrote me, “If a sheep found a hole in the fence, the rest of the flock would follow him out that hole and get lost.” In contrast, our dog Sassy will come outside and wander around, but she comes back to the sound of my voice or just shows up at the back door, cooling herself in the shade.

The Bible describes us as sheep – “All we, like sheep, have gone astray.”

KJV Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

In this part of the parable, Jesus puts each person in the role of a shepherd with 100 sheep, 99 safe, one wandering away and lost. This is His way of showing us His role as the Good Shepherd, which is so clearly described in John 10.

KJV John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. 19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.

The response of the Good Shepherd is completely from God, not from the wandering sheep, who is lost and bound to die in its confused state:

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

1. He leaves the safe flock in the desert to find that one lost sheep.
2. He pursues the lost sheep until He finds it.
3. He places the sheep on his shoulders, rejoicing.
4. He invites his friends and neighbors to rejoice with Him.

The Law is all condemnation, but the Gospel is all forgiveness. The false teachers answer the problem of sin with more Law, as indicated by the key words – must, have to, in addition to. Some cleverly blend faith with works, the essential of Roman Catholic salvation: works must be added to faith, and those works are never enough, so plenty of work and suffering is left for Purgatory.

The true Gospel is God’s work alone. God comes to us through the Means of Grace. When we are lost, He pursues us until He finds us. Rather than meet us with even more condemnation, which we already feel, He rejoices. He gathers the invisible Church to rejoice with Him in this one lost sinner who is found again.

Each person can identify with the tender mercies of God because we have all found one of our animals in a pickle, one way or another. We see the fright and confusion. The animal hears our voice and feels calmer. We speak softly and happily, and we rejoice that the animal is safe. We even tell our friends.

How can we not see Jesus as the Good Shepherd when this is taught so clearly and supported by hundreds of Biblical passages? He is the Shepherd and we are the sheep, weak-willed and prone to wander. God does condemn our lack of trust in Him, but He also builds that faith with His repeated forgiveness and guidance. He rejoices in forgiving, which is the nature of God. “God is love.”
And yet this parable is not without the condemnation of the Law, because the scribes and Pharisees are justly condemned for their works-righteousness, which is not unknown today in the church –

7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

The forgiven sinner knows the mercy of God, while the works-righteous person has no concept of mercy and shows none.

KJV Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

The Lost Coin
The lost coin captures the same concept with another example. Here is some important background, children and adults. Homes were very dark, even in the daytime. In a barter society, cash was valuable. A coin today is just another hunk of metal. We can often find coins under the couch cushions and everywhere else. I just picked up about 60 cents in coins from a parking lot. A coin in Jesus day was quite valuable in comparison, and a candle would not be burnt in the day (or night) unless there was an emergency. The woman has lost one coin out of 10, but makes sure she finds it.

We all lose things and go through files and bookcases looking for the lost objects. This is not simply aimed at women, but it shows the feeling Jesus had for his audience that he would use a male oriented parable and a female oriented one, to include everyone.

The lost coin prompts the woman to do three things:

8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?

I once vacuumed a car, removing the entire back seat, because a little boy lost the black gun from Darth Vader in the black blackness of a black Fury III with black upholstery and black carpeting. After vacuuming I examined the dust bin of the Kirby and found the gun. We rejoiced.

Recently I have heard of two soothers lost in similar circumstances. One was described on Facebook as a tragedy in three acts.

The happiness and relief of finding the lost object is common to us all, so Jesus reminds us that justification by faith is not the cause for condemnation by God but a reason for heaven and earth to rejoice:

9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Second Sunday after Trinity


Cover design by Norma Boeckler.
Book ready for Lulu publication.


The Second Sunday after Trinity


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 361 O Jesus King 4.1
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #471 Jesus Thy Blood 4.6

Excuses Lead to Evangelism

The Communion Hymn # 462 I Love Thy Kingdom 4.21
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 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Second Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy holy word Thou hast called us to Thy great supper, and we beseech Thee: Quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not hear Thy word without fruit, but that we may prepare ourselves rightly for Thy kingdom, and not suffer ourselves to be hindered by any worldly care, through Thy beloved Son. Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Excuses Lead to Evangelism
This Gospel lesson teaches, with a certain amount of humor, how people turn away from the Word, and yet that leads to evangelism.

This is a parable – as indicated by the words – “a certain man.”

The great feast includes both the Kingdom of God and Holy Communion. The anti-sacrament people like to go lite on Holy Communion, because it is just an ordinance to them. However, the sacraments are essential to the Kingdom of God. We can tell that from the placement of the sacraments in the Gospels and the frequency of their mention in the New Testament.

For example, the baptism of Jesus is the beginning of His public ministry. He also indicated the inclusion of children in baptism when He said, “Let the children come to Me, and do not forbid them [literally – excluding from membership] for to such belong the Kingdom of God.” He also said, “Whoever does not believe as a child will not enter the Kingdom.”

The importance of Holy Communion is indicated by its careful description in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul, its meaning described in John, and many more references in Paul.
The largest portion of each Gospel is devoted to the crucifixion of Christ, and the Last Supper is a central element in that series of events. We do not memorialize any other part of the Passion of Christ. The Last Supper epitomizes the meaning of the Gospel – “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.”

The feast is also important because our important and favorite events are marked by eating and celebrating together. We consider invitations to these events to be very significant by themselves.

Many people fuss over the lack of believing Christians, as if that is the fault of God. They want a different formula or a reason for this happening. Of course, the New Testament is full of explanations, but that does not please these people, who seem to put on itching powder every morning.

The invitation is the same word as “call.” Jesus called His disciples. When I translate Greek with a student, I always insist on them using the verb “phone,” to get them used to connecting the Greek root with actual verb. That does sound strange – Jesus phoned His disciples. But that does convey what happened. If I phone someone to hear the Wannamaker Organ (Philadelphia), that is significant by itself. What happens to that invitation is another matter. Actually I was invited to that concert and I was unable to attend – just like the parable. The disciples were called to be apostles, and they trained men who were called to be pastors.

The general call or invitation is the Holy Spirit’s work through the Word:

The Third Article.
Of Sanctification.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?--Answer.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
So – Number One. The Gospel invitation goes out, and that invitation is expressed in many different ways by many different voices representing Christ.

Those who were invited in this parable were also united – they all had an excuse.

· The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
· And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
· And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

All three excuses are flimsy.
· The purchased land is not going to move or go away.
· Test-driving the oxen would normally precede the purchase.
· Would his wife not allow him? Family matters are often an excuse, and that was offered as one when a man left the Lutheran church to please his wife, who became very antagonist toward Lutheran orthodoxy. She did not mind lukewarm Lutheranism but she despised Lutheran orthodoxy.

The excuses are material reasons for avoiding the spiritual invitation of the Gospel. We can see how wrong that is, and yet that is often the reason behind the refusal.

Years ago, I met with one couple who had been at church. They were offended by two things. We had a building fund – that really annoyed them. They also did not like the absolution, pronouncing forgiveness. They did not want to learn – they wanted to condemn. They found reasons, and I did not see them again.

Jesus is teaching us that excuses will always accompany the Gospel invitation. That is not a reason to give up. It is not for us to judge and decide, based on false assumptions, that we are discouraged.

The gracious invitation, in this parable, was not merely ignored. It was refused with reasons given. There the wrath of God was incited. “None of them shall taste of My supper.”

To gather for the feast, the Master gave these instructions:

Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

The four groups suggest every possible person – among the least likely. Even today they are the invisible population. People know they are present, but look past them.

Brenda Kiehler, who slowly succumbed to a bone disease, had to rely on help for almost everything. When she typed, she used one arm to pick up the other. She said, “The Gospel is all that I have, so I cling to that. I don’t have money or health or anything else.”

When large groups are suggested the Bible, as this parable does, it does not mean only those named, but everyone. The four groups are like the four corners of the world. Or someone would say today, “I looked North, East, West, and South for that.”

When the four groups do not fill the banquet hall, God says,

23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Lenski has many interesting comments based on the strange responses to this parable. Over the ages it has been tempting to invent a lot of things about it.

Because the initial invitation is refused, representing official Judaism, the call goes out to the least likely, and finally people are compelled to come in from the highways and hedges. That is to say – no place on earth is spared.

I was surprised to find out that the most pages read on my blog came from mentioning the Christian who evangelizes the Muslims from a location in America. That seems to be an unlikely quest, one hardly worth trying and certainly one filled with danger.

And yet it is being done while many people raised in the Christian faith take it for granted, the worst of them being Scribes and Pharisees of the visible church – the theology professors in the divinity schools and seminary. (The academic theologians are almost always atheists – but are the official denominational theologians any better?)
The parable reveals the grace of God. Rather than limit His call to His chosen people, He has extended it to all across the earth. The less likely one is to become a believer, the greater the call to that person.

Through persecution and hardship the call is extended. For example, those who are beset by the spiritual conflict of false doctrine are the very ones who value sound doctrine the most. It is not calm but emotional hurricanes that make people seek shelter.

The Reformation was an era of conflict and persecution, warfare to destroy the Lutherans and kill their leaders. That was also when the best hymns were written, the best books published.

When Lutheran doctrine became divided by false teachers, The scandal was so great that Lutherans could not agree among themselves at religious conferences. Their opponents said, “Why should we debate you? You are not in agreement among yourselves.” God raised up another group of religious leaders to give us the Book of Concord.

The temptation is to say, “No we cannot debate these issues. That would divide us.” But the Scriptures say there must be divisions to prove what is acceptable and good in the eyes of God.

I cannot remember a single religious document that worries about institutional issues, such as the budget, the numbers, the emotional calm of the organization. In other words, they never worried about the man-made structure. They concentrated on the doctrine – whether it was in harmony with God’s Word or not.

That is the very thing mocked by people today, within the fold and without.

The apostle John wrote:

1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

Doesn’t that sound strange in the context of today’s attitudes? There is an assumption that a good church or a good believer will be one where the unbelieving world smiles and pronounces its blessing. Just the opposite is true. There will always be an attitude of scandal, derision, and mockery.

We know this is true from the catcalls within the visible church.

“You have a Martin Luther complex.”

“You are a legalist.”

“How many members do you have?”

“Why are you so small if you are following His Word?”

Meanwhile the false teachers are in the driver’s seat – even better – they are being driven in a limo while scattering coins among the poor.

So there is a constant choice for believers, between loving God’s Word and loving the world’s opinion. The two cannot be reconciled in this life.

The gulf is so great that I speak to a group of people and see who the opponents of the Gospel are by the way they respond visibly. They scowl, fold their arms, and find fault. Yesterday my grandson and I practiced the look. We scowled at each other, looked down, scrunched up our arms, and glared. Behind his “look” was merriment, so he laughed in between.

Opponents of the Gospel do not laugh. They get even, And they get even many times over.

Once apostasy takes over, people will not tolerate any minister except an apostate. He must be as lost as they are, a belly server and flatterer.

In the old ULCA, which preceded the LCA, many congregations would only call a Mason for a pastor. The brother Masons were so powerful that they would not consider anything else. If you think that is strange, the Secretary of the LCA, George Harkins, was told he would never get anywhere in the older organization, the ULCA, unless he became a Mason. He never did and he never became the president, which he was well qualified to do (apart from belonging to the Lodge).

Now that seems absurd because it is tough to find a Mason younger than 80, but it opened the door to free-thinking, secretive apostasy. Since money flows to false doctrine, the loot confirms false doctrine as good in the minds of materialistic people. How can it be wrong if a Mason just built a new sanctuary for us?

I know of that happening in WELS and in Missouri, while WELS made fun of Missouri for being soft on the Masonic Lodge.

One of the great comforts of this parable is to show that we are not rubbing shoulders with the elite who scorn the Gospel, but with the riff-raff, who were compelled by the Gospel call to come to the feast.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The First Sunday after Trinity


As Luther wrote, the birds sing praises to God each morning, and they do not know where their next meal will come from. By Norma Boeckler


The First Sunday after Trinity


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 427 How Firm a Foundation 2:18
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 #429 Lord, Thee I Love 2.54

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

The Communion Hymn # 311 Jesus Christ 2:79
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 #347 Jesus Priceless Treasure 2:77

KJV 1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

KJV Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

First Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not, like the rich man, hear Thy word in vain, and become so devoted to things temporal as to forget things eternal; but that we readily and according to our ability minister to such as are in need, and not defile ourselves with surfeiting and pride; in trial and misfortune keep us from despair, and grant us to put our trust wholly in Thy fatherly help and grace, so that in faith and Christian patience we may overcome all things, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

The apostle John is associated with the church at Ephesus, which was a center of the Christian faith and the mother church of many others. Jesus commended His own mother to John’s care, so we know how important John was to Jesus’ ministry. According to tradtion, John lived to an old age and was known for saying to the believers in Ephesus – Love one another.

The apostle must have placed a great deal of importance on faith, since this lesson begins:

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

The “we” refers to the apostles. John is teaching as an apostle. Lenski has this interesting point about this verse – knowing and believing go together. Someone who believes this love also knows it to be true. Faith in God’s love produces an effect, so this love is experienced.

The charismatics and Pentecostals have drawn the wrong conclusion, based on their Enthusiasm, dividing the Holy Spirit from the Word. They count an emotional response as their key to the certainty of salvation. In contrast, we can rely on the objective truth of the Means of Grace. They create the bridge which brings Christ to us and us to Christ. We know we are forgiven through the Word and Sacraments, so we also trust in this message.

The 1960s were an institutionalized version of Enthusiasm. Anything was true if someone felt good about it. Anything was bad if someone felt bad about it. That meant there could be no truth. Eastern Pantheism is another version of this fallacy.

The verse before is significant –

KJV 1 John 4:15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

Like Romans 10, the point is knowing and confessing, because that confession shows what we trust.

KJV Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

This Christian faith we share is confessional. We confess the truths together, and those eternal truths remain so in spite of anyone’s emotions.

What does scandal or offense really mean? Someone hears some part of the Word and has an emotional reaction against it. For instance, Paul’s commands about women usurping authority and teaching men – they can be taken two ways. One is a continuation of God’s Word, consistent with the Old Testament and God’s will. That also insures that men will remain spiritual leaders instead of defaulting to women and sneaking away to the pub.

Taking offense or being scandalized involves seeing those verses as oppressive, dangerous, and something to be overturned. That is an emotional, anti-confessional response. But it is not limited to women. The libraries are filled with theological books written by supposed male believers who reject the Atonement of Christ and write against God’s Son dying for the sins of the world. The official ELCA doctrinal text says the death of Christ has no meaning. But since they also reject the divinity of Christ, His Two Natures, and His virgin birth, that follows. We know it is true (I guess) because the authors feel it is true. It is true for them, so they do not need to address their complete departure from the Christian tradition.

That same group, plus their fans, are yelping about the current state of affairs in ELCA. From paganism comes pagan behavior.

Faith, belief, trust – all covered by the same word in Greek – are found throughout John’s Gospel and his epistles.

The Gospel and Epistles of John are so easy to understand, and yet they are profound in their spiritual meaning. I always suggest John’s Gospel for learning a new language and for understanding the Christian faith.

This lesson is a classic in the Christian church.

I also remember it as the first one I read in a giant church—over 3000 members—when I was a student assistant in seminary. It was very traditional in those days. Now they perform homosexual weddings and brag about it. If anyone wonders why I sound the alarm about cultural degeneracy, they might want to check out that old church in Kitchener, Ontario. People I know are still there and one of my confirmation students is on the district staff, his wife serving as the pastor for the chapel at the seminary.

I remember being almost unable to breathe during that reading, which just had to use the term “fear” more than once.

Fear is the opposite of faith, and love comes from faith.

This lesson is another example of how words can be moved around. Love does not convert people, but it is the primary fruit of the Gospel.

KJV 1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Through faith we receive all the benefits of Christ, chiefly the declaration that our sins are forgiven.

In contrast is the parable about the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man did not pay attention to the Word of God. Because of that, he had no love for his fellow man, Lazarus, who lay outside, longing for a few crumbs of food.

Love cannot exist without faith, because agape-love is fueled by God’s agape-love.

As sinners, we are inherently selfish and self-centered. That never goes away completely. Those who pretend otherwise are deceiving themselves, as the Apostle John has written.

KJV 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

However, God’s selfless agape-love is revealed perfectly in His sacrifice of His Son for the sins of the unbelieving world. He did not wait until the world believed in Him, nor did He demand that the world be good enough for such a sacrifice. He first gave His Son and then entrusted the Gospel to the apostles, so that His agape-love Word would convert unbelievers and energize the same agape-love, first toward Him and then toward his neighbor.

The Gospel Promises produce faith and that believing heart responds with love toward God for this great and gracious gift of forgiveness. Knowing that our sins are forgiven and that God has done everything for us, materially and spiritually, we are moved by the Gospel to care for our neighbor.

Here the perversity of human nature can be viewed.

The Word of God belongs to Him alone and cannot be adulterated or changed in any way whatsoever. Nevertheless, people are amazingly patient toward those false teachers who distort and undermine the pure Word of God. In fact, the more they work against the revealed Word of God, the more people adore what they have to say and reward them for saying it.

I have visited and observed several me-centered churches. One time it was to help bring a young woman back from that sect, if possible. The other time was to see how this famous CG church operated in Phoenix. What disturbed me the most was the so-called sermon based on the personality of the speaker. The audiences literally cooed with approval as the two different ministers talked about themselves. People love what Luther calls wolf-preaching. Some of the wolves even brag about how they rip and devour the flock, living in splendid luxury while demanding everything from their victims.

God’s Word says – confront those who hate and abuse the Gospel. There is no room for any toleration of false doctrine. It is a cancer or gangrene that can only spread. The apostolic age shows that false doctrine.

We are to be patient with the faults of others, but unbending about the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit.

The contemporary attitude, which was no different during the Reformation, is this – we should be flexible about God’s Word but inflexible in defending false teachers, because of friendship or kinship. That is always going to be the attitude of the church as a human institution, just the opposite of being confessional.

It takes constant attention and study to remain true to God’s Word. Otherwise, it is clear that an entire group of people (a congregation, a synod, a nation) will move in the direction of the charismatic and manipulative leaders. When that happens, the Bible is still quoted but only in ways that will support that new direction away from its meaning.

The Roman Emperor Nero was so degenerate that he rode through the streets of Rome with his “wife,” a young man. The people said, according to Seutonius, “If only his parents had been the same.” (Obviously, there would have been no Nero.) Even then, as Rome fell apart, the intellectual leaders were disgusted. But in America, it is now a Constitutional right. In many denominations, it is also the will of God and the heart of the Gospel.

16b God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Lenski pointed out that agape-love is a rare word in the ancient world, hardly used at all. The Word of God has given us a metaphor about God, one so familiar that we forget where it is from – God is love. The one attribute of God which describes Him more than any other is – love, agape-love, a love based on compassion and mercy rather than our notion of justice.

“God so loved the world” means that God wanted to rescue the world from its degenerate, corrupted ways. Instead of destroying everyone in His wrath, He sent His Son as the Gospel. Those who believe in Jesus also abide in love and abide in God. This is the divine consequence of the Means of Grace, so we do not need to measure whether it is true by our emotions. We know it is true and rejoice in its blessings.

17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.

Boldness follows faith, just as fear drives out faith.

Put another way, if we trust our emotions, we throw faith away.

If we believe in Christ, we have boldness on the Day of Judgment.

Boldness is mentioned a number of times in the New Testament. When the apostle said there was no other Name by which anyone is saved, the audience responded:

KJV Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Paul wrote:

KJV Ephesians 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.


1 John 4:17b - because as He is, so are we in this world.

We are like Christ in this world because through faith we have His righteousness. We belong to Him. He is in us and we are in Him. Since He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, no power is greater than His.

The apostolic age faced the enormous power of the pagan, degenerate Roman Empire and began its gradual conversion, relying on the Word of God alone. Persecutions only spread the Gospel faster.

The fish originated as a secret sign of Christians. One person meeting a stranger would draw part of a fish, using his staff or a stick. If the other completed the fish sign, both knew the other was a believer. Fish in Greek (ichthus) spells out the titles of Christ
Jesus
Christ
Son of
God
Savior.

That was one of the first confessions. One woman recently wrote, “Now we are no longer afraid to confess the truth.” Boldness comes from relying on the Word and trusting in Him.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Final Verse




Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!