Art by Norma Boeckler.
The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn #479 Zion Rise 2:13
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 #427 How Firm a Foundation 2:18
Romans 5 and Justification by Faith
The Communion Hymn #314 Lord, Jesus Christ 2:49
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 # 508 Thou Whose Almighty Word 2:72
Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden. 6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
KJV Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee for all Thy benefits: that Thou hast given us life and graciously sustained us unto this day: We beseech Thee, take not Thy blessing from us; preserve us from covetousness, that we may serve Thee only, love and abide in Thee, and not defile ourselves by idolatrous love of mammon, but hope and trust only in Thy grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Romans 5 and Justification by Faith
Highpoint of Romans 4
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
The Holy Spirit revealed through Paul that Abraham was the first of many, not just a single figure in the Bible. The Word of God teaches us that we are also counted righteous (imputation, reckoning) if we believe on Him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. The entire sentence should be quoted and cited and not just Romans 4:25 in a misleading way.
Romans 4:25 explains the glorious work of God in the Atonement (delivered for our offences) and the resurrection. There is no claim that the world was absolved of its sin and forgiven the moment Christ rose from the dead.
“Our” transgressions, “our” being declared righteous, as in other similar expressions, speak of the believers alone because in them the purpose of Christ’s death and his resurrection is fully realized. The fact that Christ died also for those who deny him and bring swift destruction on themselves (2 Pet. 2:1) does not need to be introduced here. The two “our” prevent us from making “because of our justification” signify the justification of the whole world instead of “our justification,” “our” referring to us believers (personal justification). It is this justification with which the entire chapter deals and constantly also emphasizes faith.
Lenski, R. C. H. (1936). The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (328–329). Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern.
Transition to Romans 5:1-2
The highpoint of Romans 4 is the transition to Romans 5:1-2, the classic statement of justification by faith. All of Romans 4 should be read as the introduction to Romans 5 – that is, as an extended explanatory passage teaching faith in the Word of God. Very much like the Gospel of John, Paul begins with a spiritual truth and expands upon it by repetition, giving more and more meaning to the term as it is repeated and explained. Justification by faith in Romans 3, 4, and 5 is like the Bread of Life in John 6 or the Good Shepherd in John 10.
KJV Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
To derive justification without faith (UOJ) from Romans 4:25, right in the middle of Paul’s justification by faith chapters, is an act of criminal dishonesty. The Missouri Synod absorbed the toxins of UOJ slowly, not even reflecting them in their 1905 catechism. Once established as a doctrinal norm, UOJ sped the transition to the doctrines of Enthusiasm and the works of the flesh.
Even more dishonest is using Romans 5, which begins explicitly with justification by faith, to promote justification without faith.
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
The particle “therefore” is critical to understanding Romans 4. The word signals that Paul has already established justification by faith in the previous section. In chapter 5, Paul is elaborating on what that means for people who believe in the Savior. In other words, justification by faith is the singular theme of Romans 4 - not the imaginary absolution of the world found in Walther, the Brief Statement, and subsequent Synodical Conference teachers. Only in justification by faith can we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. This peace is not the world’s peace, but the peace of having our sins forgiven through faith in the Gospel. That is precisely why Luther taught that faith is justification.
That does not make justification a work, as anxious Walther disciples want to claim. God creates and sustains individual faith through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Word. God creates the faith, which is a gift, and declares us forgiven of our sins. This alone glorifies God, unlike UOJ, where people are instructed to make a decision after being told that Hitler, Mao, and Judas Iscariot are guilt-free saints, thanks to UOJ. A study of the word “peace” in the New Testament shows that the word is always connected with salvation. Justification by faith means forgiveness of sin and peace with God, Who is seen as He is – loving, kindly, and merciful.
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace
Someone who does not grasp this clause should not be allowed to teach or preach as a Lutheran, for these words condense the preaching office of the Church, according to the Scriptures and the Confessions. Simply put, these words remind us of the efficacy of the Word in the Means of Grace. God has united His grace to His appointed instruments or means. Therefore, it is impossible for anyone to receive God’s grace apart from His instruments – the Word and Sacraments.
Forgiveness is grace, because we have not deserved forgiveness for any or all of our sins, much less a complete and free forgiveness from God. However, the false teachers of UOJ want us to agree that God has already bestowed His grace upon the entire world by absolving the world of its sin, without the Word and Sacraments, without any means, without faith.
The UOJ opinion is a version of Calvinism, which divided into two streams of Enthusiasm. In its original form, the audiences were told, like UOJ – you are already saved, now believe what is already true. Breaking with double-predestination Calvinism. the Arminians argued for man’s decision, so they typically say, “God has done this much for you. Now you must complete the transaction by making a decision for Christ.” This is called synergism, making man part of the formula. True Calvinism is rare, except among the UOJ fanatics. Most people in the Calvinist tradition favor the Arminian decision for Christ. Both forms of Calvinism are Enthusiasm, inheriting from Zwingli a mockery of the efficacy of the Word, a rejection of God acting through the visible Word of the Sacraments. As a result, the UOJ philosophy of the LCMS, WELS, and ELS finds itself at home with Pietists, Baptists, Pentecostals, and Presbyterians.
Romans 10 ( to be considered later)—the Means of Grace chapter in this epistle—explains why all the blessings of the Gospel come from the Word alone and never apart from the Word. The combined efforts of the Enthusiasts, in making the Word attractive, germane, relevant, and relational all betray a profound lack of trust in God’s appointed Means of Grace. Reaching for an effective method, as they claim, they shun the Holy Spirit’s work in favor of man’s alleged wisdom.
Faith receives the grace of God, and the Bible teaches us consistently how important this faith is. Faith is the most frequently found word in the New Testament, often extolled by Christ.
Examples of faith:
KJV Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
KJV Matthew 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
KJV Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
KJV Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
KJV Luke 18:42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.
Three Statements of God’s Grace
KJV Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
“Christ died for the ungodly!” is used as support for UOJ, but that can be tested by reversing the meaning – Christ died for the godly! That makes no sense – even Unitarians would reject that statement. Christ died for the unbelieving world. The UOJ philosophy combines the atoning death of Christ with justification, creating an amalgamation that is false to both. As unbelievers, continuing in sin, we have no strength. Only the Gospel Promises can give us strength through this gracious forgiveness received in faith. Trying to convert others through love or relationships is a denial of God working through the Word.
Paul is reminding us that God provided for our forgiveness and salvation before we could even imagine it.
Lenski, Romans 5:6
The aorist “Christ died” is historical and appears again with emphasis in v. 8. It is true that Paul is addressing the Roman Christians, and that his “we” includes himself, and we may admit that all of them came to faith after Christ had died. Yet Paul’s words are not restricted to these believers, to their ungodliness before they came to faith. The preceding
chapter deals with Abraham who was justified exactly as were these Roman believers but was justified a thousand years before Christ died. With him Paul in chapter 4 combines all his seed of the old covenant era who also lived before Christ’s death. That should not be overlooked when discussing chapter 5. The fact that Christ died for the ungodly applies to all believers from Abraham, yea from Adam, onward. Ungodliness was the characteristic of all of them before they believed, and for them Christ died as he did for us later believers, not as those who would eventually become godly people but as originally being ungodly people. The fact that his death occurred at a specific time in history makes no difference as far as its relation to the ungodliness of even the believers for whom he died is concerned. Rev. 13:8.
Lenski, R. C. H. (1936). The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (344–345). Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern.
KJV Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
The Scripture often describes God’s work in groups of three. This is the second of three statements, each one offering more perspective. Weakness is an attribute of sinfulness, an obvious attribute of those who remain in sin and have no power to leave it, even though they participate in numerous self-help programs. We are alike in that regard, having no strength on our own – weak, fallible, and flawed. But Christ died for us sinners, and because we are justified by faith, we are spared from God’s wrath through the sacrifice of our Savior.
KJV Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
The terms “reconciled” and “reconciliation” are useful for the UOJ Enthusiasts, because they want to have entire world forgiven by an exchange, one for the other, the literal meaning of the word. Atonement is an English construction from at-one-ment. The original Greek term was used for making change, such as four quarters for a dollar, but it is misleading to take a secular term and apply a doctrinal meaning to it, without regarding the context and the rules of Biblical interpretation.
Grace only comes to us through the Means of Grace, so if we imagine this verse promises grace without God’s appointed instruments of grace, the premise must be wrong. The Bible is not logical, according to man’s rules of logic, but it is consistent, without error or contradiction, as Luther said in his Large Catechism (Baptism).
The UOJ premise takes this verse to mean that the moment Christ died on the cross, His righteousness was exchanged for man’s sinfulness, one for the other, God’s Great Exchange, so that the entire world became absolved from sin.
God established the reconciliation (the Atonement) so that man was reconciled to God, knowing his sins were redeemed on the cross. This was, as Lenski stated, man’s need. God already loved the world, but man remained a weak sinner, an enemy of God, until the Gospel was preached to him. The distinction between the Atonement and justification is made twice in two verses.
1. Were reconciled, being reconciled. The objective act of God’s work on the cross is true, whether anyone believes it or not. Being reconciled means being justified by faith.
2. By whom we have now received the Atonement (reconciliation).
Receiving is also used by John’s Gospel as synonymous with believing.
KJV John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
KJV John 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Lenski, Romans 5:10:
God always loved the world (John 3:16). It was this love which dated from all eternity that caused him to give his Son into death for the ungodly world (v. 8). God needed no reconciliation, nothing to change him, for God is love—why should he change? The whole trouble was with us, with what we had made ourselves (enemies), with the state into which we had placed ourselves (sin, godlessness). The view is inadequate that, as it so often happens in the case of men, so it happened in the case of God and of us, that we had mutually fallen out with each other, and that reconciliation was completely one-sided, even doubly so: we were wrong, we alone; a change had to take place in our case, and we could not make it ourselves, God had to make it. It took the sacrificial death of his Son to do it.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Columbus, Ohio : Lutheran Book Concern, 1936, S. 352.
KJV Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Many is not the same word as all, and yet the UOJ fans cannot comprehend this important difference. All have sinned (verse 12), but many (verse 16) are justified by faith. This passage is directed especially at those who are justified by faith, to show the results of forgiveness.
Does verse 18 declare that every single person on earth has been declared forgiven, given the status of guilt-free saints? The free gift of salvation is offered to all and is available to all.
KJV Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
If Paul meant to say that everyone is already justified, without the Word, then he must be confused in his use of “many” once again. The false premise is the confusion of the universal Atonement, objectively true, and the distribution by the Holy Spirit of this treasure, through the preaching of the Gospel.
To declare everyone forgiven without the Gospel is a complete negation of the preaching office and the ministry of the Word in all forms. That negation is the reason why UOJ is never explored and never really defended. The talking points are simply repeated endlessly and the Book of Concord Lutherans are attacked as outside the Kingdom.