The Fourth Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 452 The Son of God 1:10
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
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
7. faith, 23
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.