The First Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 427 How Firm a Foundation 2:18
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 #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.
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
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.