Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central.


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sexagesima Sunday - Because We Are Liturgical and Confessional



Art by Norma Boeckler



Sexagesima Sunday, 2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #190 Christ the Lord 1:52
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 # 339 All Hail the Power 1:57

Broadcasting the Word

The Hymn # 308 Invited 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 #46 On What Has Now Been Sown 1:62

2 Corinthians 11:19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. 20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. 21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. 22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool ) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

KJV Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Broadcasting the Word

KJV Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.

This is the first and most memorable of all the parables of Jesus. For those believers who have spent time gardening or farming, the meaning is especially clear.

Lenski:

As far as we know, the first typical parable of all those uttered by our Lord is the one about the Sower.
5) There went out the sower in order to sow his seed.
With one stroke the central image is painted before our eyes. Every word is simplicity itself. The aorist “he went out” and the aorist “in order to sow” show us that the task was begun and finished. The article in ὁ σπείρων lends the participle a generic or representative sense, R. 764 on Matthew 13:3: “the man whose business is sowing.” Luke alone adds “his seed,” a cardinal term in the parable.
And in the sowing part fell along the path and was trodden down, and the birds of the heaven ate it up. And another part fell down on the rock, and after springing up it was dried up on account of not having moisture. And other fell in the midst of the thorns, and springing up with it the thorns choked it off.
Luke abbreviates as much as possible. The entire description is typically Palestinian. The grain is sown by hand. The patch is not extensive and is unfenced. Along its side is a path (not “road”), which perhaps divides it from a similar patch, and in sowing some may fall along this path and thus be trodden down by the feet of those passing and end up by having the birds of the heaven (unconfined, wild) eat it.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 442.

There is a paradox. The parables are easy to understand and impossible to forget. They are also concise. One occupies one verse and uses only 24 words in English:

KJV Matthew 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

But Jesus also gave as a purpose – that they might not understand and believe. Let’s face it, the Christian faith is often distorted and used in many ways. The last century has seen a time when the leaders do not face issues, so everything is even more muddled than before. Few pastors can discuss and present justification by faith because it is taught against by the great and mighty.

It is good to remember that the term “mysteries of God” applies to those articles of faith which God reveals to us by the Holy Spirit in the Word. An unbeliever can remember this parable and go all “Ooh and ah” over how marvelous it is, but he will never know the meaning of it until he is a believer.

The vast majority of “Biblical scholars” are like that. They have vast knowledge of the text and theories about the text, but no insight into its meaning. One Harvard ThD told an audience of pastors, “More people were converted to Christianity by the sword than by the Word.” I raised my hand and told him he was wrong. I said, “The Gospel spread miraculously by individuals teaching the Word, and it reached from England to India in one generation.” He asked, “How did I get it wrong.” I said, “You can’t help it. You went to Harvard.”

Afterwards, he insisted on talking to me. He was actually a believer who also had a degree and a teaching position. They pushed him out of the seminary and he took a parish. He was appalled at what the LCA was doing, already in the 1980s.

This little story shows how the Word of God identifies people and separates believers from unbelievers.

Unbelievers simply cannot understand the Gospel parables and never will until they trust in Christ for their salvation. Until that happens, they will find each passage of the Bible deeply disturbing or alienating if they are hardening their hearts to the Word.

Lenski on the purpose of parables:

The only thing that is thus left to Jesus is to speak “in parables” to those outside, who are still unbelieving after all his efforts. These parables the believers will understand because they possess the key to them in knowing the mysteries of grace. As far as the rest are concerned, parables have a double purpose: first, they are to prevent understanding as the ἵνα clause states: “in order that seeing they may not see,” etc.; second, that hope is not yet completely cut off, their judgment being only preliminary as yet. That is why Jesus does not turn from them completely but still speaks to them in these wonderful parables which, almost like nothing else, cling to the memory and the mind and keep insisting on their interpretation. So these parables are a last effort to reach “the rest.” On his second point Jesus does not, however, dwell.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 446

The Seed Falls on the Wayside
Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

This verse is quite memorable for gardeners because pathways do not foster seed growth. The ground is hard and broadcast seed will be eaten before it can start to take root and grow.

As Luther pointed out, these people believed at one time, but Satan came and took that faith away. I have seen that in action, where ministers that I knew went from some kind of faith to complete apostasy, through a variety of Satanic influences – not the spooky kind, but the white devil kind.

Luther used the term white devil for Satan at work without the red long underwear and pitchfork.

One Satanic influence is promoting a man for teaching false doctrine. That is the best way to ruin a minister. He is encouraged to study false teachers and those who encourage him lionize him as the best of a new generation. He believes it and sees some initial success, because people like wolf-preachers. In time this gets hollow and he gets more desperate. Eventually he sees everything in Christianity as baloney because he has lived on baloney and taught baloney. He has baloney spectacles, so he becomes a loud-mouthed anti-Christian atheist.

Some members use the congregation to do evil. They start out as believers as some point, but learn they can get away with more destruction in a church than anywhere else. I have known of people flitting to 20 different parishes to do that, getting more deeply disturbed all the time. The fact that they can do that in a church and not at work makes them all the more demonic in their energy and destructiveness. They know how to use the Jesus words to inflict damage. One faithful member said, “I understand those people, because I used to live to give grief to the pastor.”

This section is a warning to those who fall for “once saved, always saved” and “I am a Christian because I belong to a conservative church body.” Both are fallacies and only show how easily Satan begins to worm his way in before snatching faith away.


Rocky Soil
Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Many times I have seen seeds take on luxurious growth and fade away, because they have little or no roots. For instances, maple trees have a good start in gutters, where the rotting leaves provide moisture and food. But I have never seen a maple tree growing out of a gutter, beyond the first few inches.

We had a maple tree start near an elm stump in our yard in Moline. We gleefully mowed it down each week. But our de-forestation was neglected once or twice, and the sapling grew strong enough that no mower could take it on. Now it is a mature tree, about 50 years old – because it sunk deep roots into the soil.

The New Testament warns us against making too much of new converts, because they are not deeply rooted in the Word. Many celebrity converts are in the press for believing in Christ and in the press again for falling away (the meaning of apostasy). The publisher of Hustler magazine did that in a big way. So did Mickey Rooney and Bob Dylan. All three had their moment of Christian witness and the subsequent time of falling away.

Apostates are more opposed to Christianity than non-believers. Most people are indifferent but apostates are often very aggressive in teaching against the Gospel.

The reason I teach and publish apologetics is this – without knowing the opposition, believers get taken in by false claims and shallow evidence. For example, manuscript “errors” are used to make it seem as if we hardly know the text of God’s Word. In fact, the Old and New Testaments are the most faithfully preserved texts of the ancient world. In most cases, we have older and better texts of the Bible than we do of well known classics, which often date many centuries later than their first writing.

In short, the text of the Bible is 99.78% accurate, the variations coming from such things as spelling and closely associated words – forgive 7 times 7 or 70 times seven. How many times have you said, “Nine or nineteen?” and similar things. Greek is just like that, one word sound like another and easily substituted. Not one variation affects the doctrine of Christianity. But the Greek text is an easy start for false teachers because few can follow the arguments offered.

Therefore, being a Christian means first conversion by the Word, then a lifetime of learning and re-learning the basics. Luther studied the Small Catechism. A typical audience cannot recite the Ten Commandments. How does not follow the Word without knowing it? How can children face the temptations of our pagan country if they have no root in Christian doctrine and learning?
Controversy makes us more deeply rooted. I am very suspicious of those pastors who do not want to be upset over doctrinal debates. Some arguments are indeed silly and used as ways of avoiding real substance (on what day does Septuagesima fall?). In general, doctrinal conflict does exactly what Paul promised – it separates the good doctrine from the bad.

Choked by Weeds
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

I have had many plants grow among the weeds. We call some things weeds because they thrive under all conditions and take over with root growth, seed growth, and other little tricks. The common violet has several ways to reproduce and can spit seeds a distance from the first clump. Dandelions are really herbs, full of nutrition, but notorious for deep roots and flying seeds, big leafy rosettes than smother grass around them.

Plants will grow among weeds but they do not thrive and often are choked out altogether. Here we have the ancient and current temptation of believers, to be so wrapped up in luxury or the cares of this world that faith is throttled.

Children’s athletic leagues now use Sundays because it is “the only free day left.” Parents who go along with this are showing what is more important to them and their children. One Mennonite farmer put it this way, “If I cannot get my work done in six days, I won’t get it done in seven either.” His neighbors thought he was a slacker for taking one day of rest and worship.

People easily say to themselves, “I know the Gospel. I am a faithful member. I can cut back on worship.” However, the faithful look forward to hearing the Gospel again. Clergy can look at Sunday as work to be done or as a great privilege. They may preach with an invisible golf bag in the pulpit. It all depends on their initial attitude toward the Gospel – it is a treasure or a meal ticket?

Good Soil
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

The point of this parable is not to say that 75% failure rate is typical. No numbers are involved. Each bad example is a warning because the Word itself is living, a seed that is ready to grow. In gardening, the best seed is very high in germination rate. All it needs is some moisture. Try that with a packet of any seed. Put it in a moist towel overnight. It is not ready to come alive. It is alive. It is bursting with life and cannot help growing with some moisture. Bulbs are even more alive. They have to be kept cool because they sprout already in shipment, like potatoes. A bulb is actually a beautiful flower boxed up in an ugly package (see daffodil bulbs). Once in the ground, that daffodil leaps to the surface and unfolds.

The good soil does not mean “we take a good man and make him better,” as the Masons claim. It means that people listen with sincere hearts and receive the message of the Gospel with patience and understanding. “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

“Testing the soil” for the receptivity of the people involved is truly Satanic. Using that little motto has turned many ministers in manipulative servants of Satan. It has been called marketing the Gospel, using “creative means,” and many other things.

Broadcasting was originally a gardening term, not a media term. Throwing seed into the soil means using plenty of it. Bad things will happen, but the bad will be overcome by the good. We planted in abundance in Midland, and one adult in Germany still remembers harvesting beans from the pole bean teepee in our backyard.

The Gospel grows like that. At the moment it is tempting to say, “I am getting nowhere.” Years later the results are obvious, in spite of all the disappointments. Ministers live longer than just about any profession. So do teachers. It may be God’s way of showing pastors the damage they have done (for false teachers) or the good done by the Word.

This parable is easy to remember but will never be popular among the false teachers, because it glorifies God and the power of His Word.


QUOTATIONS
"The efficacy of the Word, unlike that of the seed, always has a result. The man to whom the Word of God comes, and who repels it, is not as he was before. Where long and persistently refused, hardening at last comes, Exodus 8:15; 9:12; John 12:40; Hebrews 4:1, and the Word becomes a 'savor of death unto death,' 2 Corinthians 2:16. Every word heard or read, every privilege and opportunity enjoyed, leaves its impress either for good or for evil. It is not so properly the Word, as man's abuse of the Word; not so much the efficacy of the Word, as the sin taking occasion of the efficacy that produces this result, Romans 7:8."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, Elements of Religion, p. 155.

"Christ compares the Word of God to a seed, to a grain of wheat sown in the ground. (Matthew 13:3-23) A seed possesses power and life in itself. Power and life belong to the properties of the seed. Power is not communicated to the seed only now and then, under certain circumstances, in peculiar cases. But the Word of God is an incorruptible seed, that is able to regenerate, a Word which liveth and abideth forever. (1 Peter 1:23)"
E. Hove, Christian Doctrine, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1930, p. 27. Matthew 13:3-23; 1 Peter 1:23.

"In this Gospel we see how God distinguishes Christians from heathen. For the Lord does not deliver these teachings to the heathen, for they could not receive them, but to His Christians...Satan also hears the Gospel and the Word of God, yea, he knows it far better than we do, and he could preach it as well as we, if he only wanted to; but the Gospel is a doctrine that should become a living power and be put into practice; it should strengthen and comfort people, and make them courageous and aggressive."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 103f. Matthew 6:24-34

"The first class of disciples are those who hear the Word but neither understand nor esteem it. And these are not the mean people of the world, but the greatest, wisest and the most saintly, in short they are the greatest part of mankind; for Christ does not speak here of those who persecute the Word nor of those who fail to give their ear to it, but of those who hear it and are students of it, who also wish to be called true Christian and to live in Christian fellowship with Christians and are partakers of baptism and the Lord's Supper. But they are of a carnal heart, and remain so, failing to appropriate the Word of God to themselves, it goes in one ear and out the other, just like the seed along the wayside did not fall into the earth, but remained lying on the ground..."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 J-209 II, p. 114. Luke 8:4-15 (par. Mark 4: Matthew 13:)

"The second class of hearers are those who receive the Word with joy, but they do not persevere. These are also a large multitude who understand the Word correctly and lay hold of it in its purity without any spirit of sect, division or fanaticism, they rejoice also in that they know the real truth, and are able to know how they may be saved without works through faith...But when the sun shines hot it withers, because it has no soil and moisture, and only rock is there. So these do; in times of persecution they deny or keep silence about the Word and work, speak and suffer all that their persecutors mention or wish, who formerly went forth and spoke, and confessed with a fresh and joyful spirit the same, while there was peace and no heat, so that there was hope they would bear much fruit and serve the people."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 J-211 II, p. 116. Luke 8:4-15 (par. Mark 4: Matthew 13:)

"Therefore they [fallen among thorns] do not earnestly give themselves to the Word, but become indifferent and sink in the cares, riches and pleasures of this life, so that they are of no benefit to anyone. Therefore they are like the seed that fell among the thorns...They know their duty but do it not, they teach but do not practice what they teach, and are this year as they were last."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 J-212 II, p. 117. Luke 8:4-15 (par. Mark 4: Matthew 13:)

"What business is it of mine that many do not esteem it? It must be that many are called but few are chosen. For the sake of the good ground that brings forth fruit with patience, the seed must also fall fruitless by the wayside, on the rock and among the thorns; inasmuch as we are assured that the Word of God does not go forth without bearing some fruit, but it always finds also good ground; as Christ says here, some seed of the sower falls also into good ground, and not only by the wayside, among the thorns and on stony ground. For wherever the Gospel goes you will find find Christians. 'My Word shall not return unto me void.' Is. 55:11"
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, J-206 II, p. 118. Luke 8:4-15. Isaiah 55:11.

"But now, since the prince of this world and the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the devil, are directly opposed to one another, and the Holy Spirit is not willing that anyone should parade his own deeds and praise himself on account of them, the holy cross must soon follow. The world will not consent to be reprimanded for its blindness. Therefore one must willingly submit and suffer persecution. If we have the right kind of faith in our hearts, we must also open our mouths and confess righteousness and make known sin. Likewise we must condemn and punish the doings of this world and make it known that everything it undertakes, is damned."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 120. John 16:5-15.

"Not that they shall preach that we shall not understand them; but it naturally follows that wherever the Spirit does not reveal them, no one understands them."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 123. Luke 8:4-15

"However, here the Lord speaks quite differently, and says: 'The Holy Spirit will convict the world in respect of sin, because they believe not on me.' Unbelief only is mentioned here as sin, and faith is praised as suppressing and extinguishing the other sins, even the sins in the saints. Faith is so strong and overpowering that no sin dare put it under any obligation. Although sins are present in pious and believing persons, they are not imputed to them, nor shall their sins condemn them."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 127. John 16:5-15.

"Godly and believing persons know their sins; they bear all their punishment patiently, and are resigned to God's judgment without the least murmur; therefore, they are punished only bodily, and here in time, and their pain and suffering have an end. Unbelievers, however, since they are not conscious of their sins and transgressions, cannot bear God's punishment patiently, but they resent it and wish their life and works to go unpunished, yea, uncensured. Hence, their punishment and suffering are in body and soul, here in time, and last forever beyond this life."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 131. John 16:5-15.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Septuagesima Sunday - Part II

By Norma Boeckler



Septuagesima Sunday, 2011

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 #657 Beautiful Savior 4:24

God Is Gracious, Not Fair

The 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 #277 I Heard the Voice 4:57

1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

KJV Matthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Septuagesima Sunday
Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Thy holy word hast called us into Thy vineyard: Send, we beseech Thee, Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may labor faithfully in Thy vineyard, shun sin and all offense, obediently keep Thy word and do Thy will, and put our whole and only trust in Thy grace, which Thou hast bestowed upon us so plenteously through Thy Son Jesus Christ, that we may obtain eternal salvation through Him, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

God Is Gracious, Not Fair
Luther said, humorously, “Mean-spirited people will use this parable.”

Lenski:

But the chief point is that these laborers insist on a definite wage, so much per day; and not until this agreement is reached do they go to work. Such a contract was not demanded by the other laborers who went to work later. These first laborers thus manifest a mercenary spirit. We hear the voice of Peter in 19:27, “What, then, shall be ours?”
Since this is a parable which was composed in order to teach certain facts about the kingdom, the entire first group of laborers is pictured as being mercenary. This is done, not only to show how in the end some first shall find themselves last, but also to accord these laborers the highest justification, such as it is, for their mercenary expectation that they ought to receive more pay than the rest (v. 12). Jesus lets this group alone work the entire day.
The moment we ask what is meant by the denarius we must consider a variety of interpretations. The interpretation of this detail necessarily involves the entire parable and centers in the main thing Jesus intends to teach. Thus, if the denarius is Christ himself as our sacrifice, the parable merely says that in the end all workers will be alike, no matter whether some were mercenary and murmured when they received their pay. We have the same result when the denarius is thought to mean the image of God, or as many still think, eternal life. This view leads those who interpret thus to dissociate the words about the first and the last spoken in 19:30 and 20:16 from the parable, or they interpret these words so that the first become last only by receiving a rebuke, and the last first by receiving no rebuke. Then Jesus should have said, “Thus there will be neither first nor last, but all will be alike.” It should not be difficult to see that these interpretations are unacceptable. How can anyone who has Christ, the divine image, or eternal life, murmur in the end? What can any man expect to receive more (v. 10) than these treasures? If this “more” is to be an especial degree of glory in heaven, the parable itself in no way mentions this glory. Then, too, these interpretations teach that by our labor we earn Christ, the image, or life eternal, a doctrine that is contrary to the teaching of Christ and of the Scriptures.
In the face of this Luther gives up the effort to interpret the denarius: Man muss nicht achten, was Pfennig oder Groschen sei. Few have cared to follow him. Melanchthon, Luther’s associate, found the solution. The denarius stands for the temporal blessings, the bona temporalia, of the work in the church; and the goodness (“because I am good,” v. 15) is life eternal and grants the bona spiritualia. The laborers who regard themselves first receive only the former and thus become last; the rest, who are considered last, receive both bona and are thus made first. No man who enters the visible church and accepts the call to work in this church shall be left without his due pay. The Lord will not have it said that any man worked for him without pay. The blessings of even an outward connection with the church are many. All her associations and her influences are highly beneficial. They shield us against evils that ravage the world and cause endless harm; they surround us with the highest morality and with all that is best for mind and for heart in this life. And often the church offers social, business, and other advantages of no mean value. They are all included in the denarius of the parable. But eternal life is not one of these.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 765

Not Fair!
The first appeal children learn is, “Not fair!” They apply the rule of the law, or tradition, to the upset being faced. Often law is debated by more law.

This parable offers us a bizarre example of hiring people to illustrate that God is not man, that He rules by grace rather than Law.

The parable is also a rebuke to those who trust in the righteousness of works, those who “labored in the burning sun.”

People remember this parable because the householder hired people for a specific wage at the beginning of the day. He continued to invite people to work during the day but made no specific promise after the first one.

At the end of the day, the first-hired reckoned they would get much more than the penny a day promised, because they worked all day and the others worked far less than they did. In terms of paying laborers, that was fair.

So they grumbled loudly to the owner, telling Him how unfair He was.

This is how we respond to God without the Gospel, or when we forget the Gospel. We say, “Not fair!” But God is gracious rather than fair.

This parable is an additional illustration of Isaiah 55, often called the Means of Grace chapter. God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.”

Mankind understands fairness in religion. That is why every world religion, every pagan religion of old, and every perversion of the Christian faith is based upon works earning God’s forgiveness.

In our natural (un-converted) state, we think this way. We easily revert to it too. People will mock believers and say, “Why do Christians have so many troubles if God is so powerful and loving?” That seems terribly unfair.

Believers also realize that they face constant temptations, which they never have if they believe nothing and do whatever they wish. That is also why the Christian frauds of today turn Christianity into a cornucopia of material benefits, since people will flock to have what their itching ears desire.

The grace of God means that He has taken care of our salvation, first by having His beloved Son Jesus die on the cross for our sins. Secondly, He appointed the Means of Grace so that we would be converted and sustained by the Word. He also saw to it that we would have His clear, infallible Word to be our guide, and faithful ministers and leaders to preserve the Gospel in each era.

One Catholic girl tried to defend Purgatory to Little Ichabod, many years ago. Her argument was right out of the Catholic textbook. “It’s only fair that we pay for our sins after we die. It’s not fair to have many sins forgiven, just the same as a few sins.”

LI said, “It’s not fair to have the sins of the world paid for on the cross. God is not fair. He is merciful.” The girl’s argument collapsed.

Owner’s Rebuke
The Owner’s rebuke is a lesson by itself.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

I run into this as a teacher. I am supposed to show students how to write better. Recently a student told me off for doing exactly that. About 90% of the class liked exactly what I did, but he saw it as evil. Thus many ordinary roles are seen as evil – parent, police officer, minister. Many people see ministers as condemning them. They also see the Scriptures as a message of condemnation.

On a much larger scale, people look at God as evil because He does not conform to their demands.

Christians do that too. Clergy will wheedle and play politics for the job they think they deserve. Or they cringe in their studies, afraid to do their job of rebuking with the Word, lest they find punishment instead of a free trip to the Holy Land.

The evil does not come from God but from the works-righteousness of the individual. Either the person turns away from the Christian faith because it is not a rewards program according to his demands, or he gives up on the Christian faith because the cross is “not fair” and evil people seem to get all the glory.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Septuagesima Sunday


Tyndale was burned at the stake to give us the first English Bible, which became the King James Version.




Septuagesima Sunday, 2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #479 Zion Rise 2:13
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 # 151 Christ the Life 2:78

On This Bedrock I Will Build My Church

The Hymn # 227 Come Holy Ghost 2:72
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 #409 Let Us Ever Walk 2:91

1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

KJV Matthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Septuagesima Sunday
Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Thy holy word hast called us into Thy vineyard: Send, we beseech Thee, Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may labor faithfully in Thy vineyard, shun sin and all offense, obediently keep Thy word and do Thy will, and put our whole and only trust in Thy grace, which Thou hast bestowed upon us so plenteously through Thy Son Jesus Christ, that we may obtain eternal salvation through Him, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

On This Bedrock I Will Build My Church

1 Corinthians 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
The New Testament constantly refers to the Old Testament, as we can see from this passage.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.


The Epistle begins with a comparison to an athletic event. This is an important corrective to “once saved, always saved.” Although Lutherans do not officially believe “once saved, always saved,” they often behave as if they do.

Luther called it using the Gospel as a pillow to fall asleep on. Relying on God’s grace for forgiveness, Lutherans find it easy to become indifferent to all matters of the Law and Gospel.

And, as many of you have found, others do not like the boat being rocked, even when it is starting to sink.

The Apostle said, this is like being in a race. Not everyone wins. He portrayed the Christian life as a constant struggle. He was in physical danger all the time, but also in spiritual danger, as we all are.

The spiritual danger is evident when we are ready to say, I am tired of this struggle – it is never ending. People will recognize over time that this is also the time when the worst part is over, when God changes things in an instant, as He can and does so often.

The conditioning for this battle is not much different from that of the Roman soldier then or the American soldier now. Armies never fight an enemy all the time. Some of the soldiers fight part of the time. Military units spend most of their time and energy training so they are ready for the battle. If they are not, the best intentions will matter very little.

When our second snowfall finished, I began shoveling a long uphill driveway two times a day. I shoveled four days in a row (twice a day) to have it mostly cleared, before the 24 inches fell in one storm, our last one of the season (we hope).

When I started on the new task, I found it much easier to shovel. In fact, I cleared a decent path in one session. Repeated bending, lifting and throwing had a positive effect.

God made us like that, both in the physical and spiritual realm. If we keep our muscles toned, we can do a lot more when a physical test comes. If we face the smaller spiritual battles, the larger ones are not overwhelming.

I am certain that each spiritual battle is preparation for later ones. Those who run from the easier battles, or remain silent, have no strength for additional tests and trials that come their way. That is why things continue to go downhill.

ELCA created such a crisis that people—even pastors and bishops—went back to their training and restudied the issues. It took a cultural earthquake to stir them into action. More threats have made them act with increasing firmness.

And yet there are still ELCA pastors who say, “If you oppose what the convention [note – the convention!] decided, then you deserve whatever bad things happen to you.”

In this era, the biggest spiritual trials will come from those who are closest to us in their confession of faith. The Baptists and Calvinists will not annoy or persecute us. The liberal Lutherans are busy enough with their problems. The conservative Lutherans, in contrast, will be a plague of locusts for years to come.

I have heard so-called leaders say, “I went through that struggle 20 years ago. Never again.” Instead of staying in shape, they got out the picnic basket and kegs and decided to party, celebrating the great victory when they were really giving up the race.

The struggle is good for us.

What do athletes want more than anything? Sore muscles. Soreness means the muscles have been challenged beyond their normal range. When they rebuild, they will be stronger.

In work, struggle is good for us. The worst thing people do for their children is pile on luxuries, expensive clothes, and trust funds. It all sounds so good and loving, but the most messed up kids are the ones with so much money they never have to work again.

They are always the worst students. I tell the poor ones – do not covet the rich kids. They cannot get themselves to study. Likewise, if an Indian reservation says, “We will pay all your costs,” an American Indian will have a terrible time in school. I saw it myself.

How about higher education staff? They are working in higher education, know all the standards. They must jump in and hit the books hard. No, they get free tuition, and they are often the worst students academically and also in behavior.

The spiritual struggle is similar – good for us. That is what Paul said

Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I agree with the theory that using the word “crown” is a reference to the first martyr, Stephen (crown in Greek). Paul compares the crown of victory worn by the runner of the race to the “crown of life” won for us by Christ on the cross and given to us, through justification by faith.

The crown worn by an athlete is not a lasting honor, but the crown given by the Gospel is incorruptible.

As a warning, Paul gave an example the Israelites, who fell in the desert, during the Exodus.

3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

This warning is also a Gospel message, for Christ is included in the Exodus narrative of Paul.

Lenski:
What happened in the case of the Israelites is thus analogous to what happens through baptism in our case. In both instances there is water. In the type, the cloud and the sea separate the Israelites from the Egyptians. In baptism we are separated from the world. Secondly, the type shows a unification—Israel was henceforth a separate and sacred body, set apart for God alone. So baptism now unites all the baptized into one body that belongs wholly to God. Similarly the flood immersed the evil generation of Noah’s day but bore aloft Noah’s family high and dry; in this it, too, typifies Christian baptism, 1 Pet. 3:21. It separated Noah from that wicked generation and set him and his family apart unto God. This it, too, did by means of water.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1963, S. 391

The “rock which followed” is a Jewish legend, so Paul used that image to show that Christ was with the Israelites. However, this word for rock means “bedrock” or “rock ledge.”

When Peter said, “You are the Christ,” Jesus made a pun on his name, but a pun which has been twisted by the Roman Catholics.

Jesus said, “You are a rock (petros) but on this Bedrock (petra) I will build My Church.”

The petra (Bedrock) followed them in the wilderness, so Jesus was saying:

I will build My Church upon My Death and Resurrection.



Quotations on Unionism 

"Front row center, among the 231 ELCA and Episcopal bishops gathered for a 'class photo' of their historic first meeting to discuss full communion, are (from left) Martin Marty, Presiding Bishops Browning [Episcopal] and Anderson [ELCA], and Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey." The Lutheran November, 1996     

"Dear Friends, AAL is committed to helping Lutherans and assisting Lutheran congregations. That has long been a primary purpose of the organization, as stated in AAL's articles of incorporation. In pursuing this intention, we've often gathered information that helps us to better serve Lutherans and their institutions." Richard L. Gunderson, Church Membership Initiative, Narrative Summary of Findings, 1993, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919-0001, 414-734-5721, June 30, 1993. 

"To the reader: This binder contains a summary of activities and findings of the Church Membership Initiative funded by AAL. A meeting in February, 1993 at Orlando involving congregational participants and church executives was phase three. This summary focuses on the findings of phases one and two. As is the nature of such studies, emphasis is on research and statistical analysis. Such studies do provide helpful indicators. Such an approach, however, cannot directly reflect spiritual reality, which must remain with the judgment of those dispensing the means of grace. Phase four--utilization of information coming out of the first three phases--is open ended for whatever church body [ELCA, WELS, LCMS] will determine such use to be." Rev. Wayne Borgwardt, Church Membership Initiative, Narrative Summary of Findings, 1993, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919-0001, June 30, 1993. Five copies at Martin Luther College (WELS). BV 4523 .C48 1993 c.5   

"In 1970 there were 500,000 more baptized members of Lutheran congregations than was the case in 1990. The Church Membership Initiative project was undertaken to understand and address this decline... Contact: Rev. Mary Ann Moller-Gunderson, Executive Director, Division for Congregational Ministries, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 8765 W Higgins Road, Chicago, IL, 60631, 312-380-2570; Rev. Lyle Muller, Executive Director, Board for Evangelism Services, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 1333 S Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO, 63122-7295, 314-965-9000; Rev. Wayne Borgwardt, Administrator for Worker Training, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 2929 N Mayfair Road, Milwaukee, WI, 53222, 414-256-3236; Mr. Douglas Olson, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919, 414-734-5721." Church Membership Initiative, Narrative Summary of Findings, 1993, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919-0001, June 30, 1993.     

"The IMAGINE 2000+ A.D. symposium involved the gathering of 61 growing congregations to describe their ministry. The congregations were grouped with other congregations of similar size and ministry setting." Church Membership Initiative, Narrative Summary of Findings, 1993, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919-0001, June 30, 1993. p. 12.   "Four people from each of 61 growing congregations gathered to share their congregational development experience, to react to the utility of toolbox items uncovered in Sections 2B and 2C above, and to exchange views with church body officials. Approximately 125 church body officials [ELCA, WELS, LCMS] and other guests observed these congregations and participated in the discussions." Church Membership Initiative, Narrative Summary of Findings, 1993, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919-0001, June 30, 1993. p. 20. 

"This does not mean that judicatory (ELCA synods, LCMS districts, WELS districts) and national expressions of the church bodies are not involved. They can play key roles in assisting congregations." Church Membership Initiative, Narrative Summary of Findings, 1993, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919-0001, June 30, 1993. p. 5.   

"In-person interviews were held with ELCA, LCMS and WELS national office personnel who are responsible for evangelism, outreach, North American activities, and ministries to people of color." Church Membership Initiative, Narrative Summary of Findings, 1993, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919-0001, June 30, 1993. p. 5.   "Congregational growth, stability, and decline patterns were analyzed for all Lutheran congregations within each of three church bodies (ELCA, LCMS, WELS)." Church Membership Initiative, Narrative Summary of Findings, 1993, Aid Association for Lutherans, 4321 N Ballard Road, Appleton, WI, 54919-0001, June 30, 1993. p. 9.   

"Dr. Mann remarked, 'he doubted not that there was much good in the constitution of the Melanchthon Synod; but he would not poisoned bread, though there was much good flour in it.'" F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 121.  

Harkey: "We want love as much as orthodoxy, yes, a thousand times more than what some men call orthodoxy." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 121.  
"In the Lutheran Observer, January 2, 1863, H. Harkey wrote: 'Some say that unity must precede union. But the Bible demands that we unite. Hence those who magnify these differences [among Lutherans] are the greatest sinners in the Church.' This has always been the view of the General Synod: union, irrespective of doctrinal differences...all endeavors at union which disregard the divine norm of Christian fellowship are anti-Scriptural." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 19.        

"Unionism and indifferentism mark the character of the General Synod from its very beginning. And how could this have been otherwise? The un-Lutheran spirit of the General Synod was not so much acquired as inherited. The Pennsylvania Synod, while promoting the Pan-Lutheran union, was at the same time planning a union with the Reformed! In 1819 and 1822 resolutions were passed to this effect." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 20. 
       
"The unionism which prevailed in all Lutheran synods since the days of Muhlenberg was freely indulged in also by the General Synod during the whole course of her history, in various ways, especially in the exchange of fraternal delegates and the fellowship of pulpit and altar." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 48. At Hagerstown, 1837, a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, a Reformedist, and a Methodist were received as advisory members. Two Lutheran ministers preached in the Reformed church, two others in the Methodist church, and Dr. Patton, of the American Education Society, in the Lutheran church." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 50. 

"Wherever Lutherans unite with the Reformed, the former gradually sink to the level of the latter. Already by declaring the differences between the two Churches irrelevant, the Lutheran truths are actually sacrificed and denied. Unionism always breaks the backbone, and outrages the conscience, of true Lutheranism. And naturally enough, the refusal to confess the Lutheran truth is but too frequently followed by eager endorsement and fanatical defense of the opposite errors." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 68.       
"Dr. Luther, who, above others, certainly understood the true and proper meaning of the Augsburg Confession, and who constantly remained steadfast thereto till his end, and defended it, shortly before his death repeated his faith concerning this article with great zeal in his last Confession, where he writes thus: 'I rate as one concoction, namely, as Sacramentarians and fanatics, which they also are, all who will not believe that the Lord's bread in the Supper is His true natural body, which the godless or Judas received with the mouth, as well as did St. Peter and all [other] saints; he who will not believe this (I say) should let me alone, and hope for no fellowship with me; this is not going to be altered [thus my opinion stands, which I am not going to change]." Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 33, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 983. Tappert, p. 575.    

"And all these are established by the words by which Christ has instituted it, and which every one who desires to be a Christian and go to the Sacrament should know. For it is not our intention to admit to it and to administer it to those who know not what they seek, or why they come." Fifth Part, Of The Sacrament of the Altar, #2, Large Catechism, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 753. Tappert, p. 447. 

"And Paul commands that godless teachers should be avoided and execrated as cursed. Galatians 1:8; Titus 3:10. And 2 Corinthians 6:14 he says: 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what communion hath light with darkness?'" Marks of Antichrist, 41, Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 517. Tappert, p. 328. Galatians 1:8; Titus 3:10; 2 Corinthians 6:14.     
    
"A new sacred classical music radio program soon will be available to radio stations across the country. The hour-long, weekly program, called "Joy," is an inter-Lutheran project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. "Joy" will be produced by KFUO-FM in St. Louis and will be funded by Aid Association for Lutherans, a fraternal benefit society. 'I'm excited about being involved in this project which is the first joint venture into ministry that has ever been done by these three Lutheran churches,' said the Rev. Richard Jensen, a member of ELCA communications staff and the Joy Advisory Committee. 'Joy is a program of sacred music. The focus is on the classics of sacred Christian music..." ELCA Newsbriefs Christian News, 12-9-91, p. 2.       

"There is a 'method in our madness' in securing such a high profile speaker. Regardless of the value of the message such speakers always bring in the numbers. Generally speaking, they seem to double the attendance of a convention." [Having Charlton Heston speak at the WELS Lutherans for Life convention] Rev. Robert Fleischmann, Commentary, National Director, WELS Lutherans for Life, 2949 N Mayfair Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53222 n.d. 

"Dedication: to a holy ministry, orthodox as Chemnitz, Calovius, Gerhard, and Krauth; spiritual and consecrated as Arndt, Spener, and Zinzendorf; active in the Master's service as Francke, Muhlenberg, Orberlin, and Passavant, this book is hopefully dedicated." G. H. Gerberding, The Lutheran Pastor, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1902, p. 2.  

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

"If one associates much with heretics, one finally also makes oneself partaker of their false doctrine, their lies, and their errors; for he who touches pitch soils his hands with it." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 646.  Pictured together: Rev. Carl Mischke, Rev. Ralph Bohlmann, and Bishop Herbert Chilstrom (ELCA). Lutheran Brotherhood, Bond, "Preparing the Church for the Next Century," Fall, 1991 68, p. 12.    

"Four speakers prominent in the field of leadership research shared their perspectives. Frances Hesselbein of New York City, president and chief executive officer of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, spoke on 'The Challenge of Leadership.' She noted, 'The church shares the same bottom line with all voluntary and human service organizations: changed lives.'" [Note: CG enthusiasts love Drucker management books. The four leaders of the conference were: a woman, a CG icon (in the words of Rev. James Schaefer, NWL), an ultra-liberal Reformed theologian, and a historical-critical expert from an ELCA seminary which once boasted of Lenski and Leupold as professors.] Lutheran Brotherhood, Bond, "Preparing the Church for the Next Century," Fall, 1991 68, p. 12.      

"William McKinney, dean and professor of religion and society at Hartford (Connecticut) Seminary, disagreed with the popular view that conventional Protestant churches have moved from mainline to sideline." [Hartford is very Reformed and very liberal.] Lutheran Brotherhood, Bond, "Preparing the Church for the Next Century," Fall, 1991 68, p. 12.  

"George Barna of Glendale, Calif., president of the Barna Research Group, a marketing firm specializing in research for Christian churches and parachurch organizations, laid out 'The Context for Leadership' with rather challenging facts about the society the church faces today." Lutheran Brotherhood, Bond, "Preparing the Church for the Next Century," Fall, 1991 68, p. 12.  

"The Lutheran Leadership Consultation, facilitated by Lutheran Brotherhood in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Lutheran-Church Missouri Synod (LC-MS) and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), was the first meeting of this type that included the three major Lutheran Churches as planners and participants." Lutheran Brotherhood, Bond, "Preparing the Church for the Next Century," Fall, 1991 68, p. 12. "Throughout the Consultation, Walter F. Taylor, Jr., Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, explored principles and examples of leadership in the Pauline epistles." [Trinity is an ELCA seminary which sponsored an insurance funded gay seminar.] Lutheran Brotherhood, Bond, "Preparing the Church for the Next Century," Fall, 1991 68, p. 13.  

"Take the Church Membership Initiative, lavishly funded by the Aid Association for Lutherans. The 'Narrative Summary of Findings' and the 'Research Summary of Findings' (1993) reveal an approach both shallow and complacent. There is no interest at all in underlying theological maladies." Professor Kurt Marquart, "Church Growth" As Mission Paradigm, A Lutheran Assessment, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Houston: Luther Academy Monograph, 1994, p. 141f.  "Its 'overall objective' is: 'To set in motion forces that will result in annual increases in the number of members of Lutheran congregations.' Why would any confessional Lutheran wish to 'set in motion forces' for 'annual increases in ELCA membership? The introductory page already alerts one to the hollowness of the talk about 'faithfulness to the substance of Lutheranism' (p. 3), by listing an ELCA official, a pastoress, as one of the sources of further information. 'Unchurched people feel good about their faith,' we are told, and the implication is that we should too."
Professor Kurt Marquart, "Church Growth" As Mission Paradigm, A Lutheran Assessment, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Houston: Luther Academy Monograph, 1994, p. 142.      
 
"The article in Christian News to which you refer escaped my attention until one of our other pastors called it to my attention soon after it appeared. Initially I even had difficulty relating to it. After thinking about it for a time I remembered that I was asked about a year ago whether the WELS would endorse or be in sponsor of such a program. My answer then was 'No" and still is. I have consistently taken the position with the fraternal benefits societies that 'pan-Lutheran' projects almost inevitably exclude us from participation because of our fellowship principles. The leadership of the fraternals has respected our position. So the statement by a member of the ELCA communications staff that this is the 'first joint venture into ministry' ever done by these three Lutheran churches is simply not factual. It has been called to the attention of those who made this statement." President Carl H. Mischke (WELS Synodical President), Letter to Pastor James Sherod, 1-3-92.       

"In such churches the occasional intrusion of authentically Lutheran doctrine, liturgy, and hymnody takes on the appearance of being a grudging gesture to a no longer useable past. The preaching of God's law and gospel gives way to the preaching of any truth that is true if it's true for you." Rev. Richard Neuhaus, (ELCA at the time), Forum Letter, 338 E 19th Street New York, NY 10003 November 26, 1989 p. 2.  "Then there is the church growth movement, which has made more devastating headway in LCMS than in ELCA (although it is evident enough in the latter). Today, it is said, Missouri has three seminaries-- St. Louis, Ft Wayne, and Fuller Seminary in California, the hothouse of church growth enthusiasms. The synodical and district mission offices are frequently controlled by church growth technocrats...But the idea that Word and Sacrament ministry is somehow validated by calculable results is utterly alien to the Lutheran Reformation...The triumph of style over substance, however, is all too evident in LCMS congregations that look like Baptists with vestments. As we have noted before, second-rate Lutherans make fourth-rate Baptists."
Rev. Richard Neuhaus, (ELCA at the time), Forum Letter, 338 E 19th Street New York, NY 10003 November 26, 1989 p. 2.      

"Pastors become disciples so they can make disciples. As a proud Pentecostal I thought I had everything because I belonged to a Full Gospel church. Little did I know how much I had to learn until I came together with other pastors--Baptists, Presbyterians, Plymouth Brethren, and Catholics. As a proud Pentecostal I had to become a humble elder of the church." Juan Carlos Ortiz, Call to Discipleship, Plainfield: Logos International, 1975, p. 100.
"The orthodox character of a church is established not by its mere name nor by its outward acceptance of, and subscription to, an orthodox creed, but by the doctrine which is actually taught in its pulpits, in its theological seminaries, and in its publications. On the other hand, a church does not forfeit its orthodox character through the casual intrusion of errors, provided these are combated and eventually removed by means of doctrinal discipline." (A Brief Statement of the Missouri Synod's Doctrinal Position, 1932) Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 2.        "Unionism is characterized by these marks: It fails to confess the whole truth of the divine Word; it fails to reject and denounce every opposing error; it assigns error equal right with truth and creates the impression of church fellowship and of unity of faith where they do not exist." (Wisconsin Synod, Prayer Fellowship, Tract No. 10, 1954) Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 64.    
     
"We have no intention of yielding aught of the eternal, immutable truth of God for the sake of temporal peace, tranquility, and unity (which, moreover, is not in our power to do). Nor would such peace and unity, since it is devised against the truth and for its suppression, have any permanency. Still less are we inclined to adorn and conceal a corruption of the pure doctrine and manifest, condemned errors. But we entertain heartfelt pleasure and love for, and are on our part sincerely inclined and anxious to advance, that unity according to our utmost power, by which His glory remains to God uninjured, nothing of the divine truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to the least error, poor sinners are brought to true, genuine repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience, and thus justified and eternally saved alone through the sole merit of Christ." (Closing of Formula of Concord, Trigl. p. 1095) Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 65.   

"The third mark of unionism, therefore, is this: A formula of unification is found which each of two hitherto separate churches may accept but which each of them interprets differently. An external bond is found for internally divided groups." (About Melanchthon using 1 Cor. 10:16 as the basis for uniting the Reformed and Lutherans, Luther's favorite text against the Reformed.) M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940, p. 19. 1 Corinthians 10:16.    
    
"The second mark of unionism, therefore, is this: Differences in doctrine are made to lose their divisive significance with a view to uniting hitherto separate churches." (about unification of all Protestant forces) M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940, p. 19.   

"Here we discover the first mark of unionism: A difference in doctrine which hitherto has been regarded as divisive, is suddenly made to lose its divisive significance." (About the Augsburg Confession, Variata, Real Presence) M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940, p. 19.   

"Doctrinal indifference is at once the root of unionism and its fruit. Whoever accepts, in theory as well as in practice, the absolute authority of the Scriptures and their unambiguousness with reference to all fundamental doctrines, must be opposed to every form of unionism." M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940, p. 20.  

"We find this attitude of tolerance quite frequently among unionists. It is often used to assuage a troubled conscience, one's own as well as that of others; for the unionist declares that every one may continue to hold his own private convictions and merely needs to respect and tolerate those of another. This attitude is totally wrong, for it disregards two important factors: (a) in tolerating divergent doctrines one either denies the perspicuity and clarity of the Scriptures, or one grants to error the right to exist alongside of truth, or one evidences indifference over against Biblical truth by surrendering its absolute validity; and (b) in allowing two opposite views concerning one doctrine to exist side by side, one has entered upon an inclined plane which of necess- ity leads ever further into complete doctrinal indifference, as may plainly be seen from the most calamitous case on record, viz., the Prussian Union." M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940, p. 20.  
 [Selnecker, who wrote "Ach bleib bei uns" (TLH #292) was bitterly attacked and severely persecuted by the Reformed, deposed when Augustus died, reduced to poverty, and not allowed to remain in Leipzig as a private citizen.] Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1911, p. 310ff.  

"The modern radical spirit which would sweep away the Formula of Concord as a Confession of the Church, will not, in the end, be curbed, until it has swept away the Augsburg Confession, and the ancient Confessions of the Church--yea, not until it has crossed the borders of Scripture itself, and swept out of the Word whatsoever is not in accord with its own critical mode of thinking. The far-sighted rationalist theologian and Dresden court preacher, Ammon, grasped the logic of a mere spirit of progress, when he said: 'Experience teaches us that those who reject a Creed, will speedily reject the Scriptures themselves.'" Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1911, p. 685.      

"The real question is not what do you subscribe, but what do you believe and publicly teach, and what are you transmitting to those who come after? If it is the complete Lutheran faith and practice, the name and number of the standards is less important. If it is not, the burden of proof rests upon you to show that your more incomplete standard does not indicate an incomplete Lutheran faith." Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia: 1911, p. 890.        
"The greatest single weakness, it seems to this reviewer, in Dr. Lindsell's battle line is in the area of fellowship. The soft spot is his failure to advise a fellowship practice that accords fully with Scripture, a failure that has ever been a weakness among the 'evangelicals.' Review of The Battle for the Bible, by Harold Lindsell, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976. Armin W. Schuetze, Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, October, 1976 73, p. 326. 

"CHIEFS CONFER: Waiting their turn to speak at a recent Lutheran leadership consultation are Dr. Carl Mischke, president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church...Bohlmann...and ELCA Bishop Herbert W. Chilstrom. At the July 18-20 event in Snowbird, Utah, in the Wasatch Mountains, 130 Lutheran leaders gathered to articulate a 'vision of leadership' for their respective church bodies." The Lutheran, (ELCA) September 4, 1991 p. 33.  

"Before God every activity of our faith is at the same time fellowship activity in the Communion of Saints." Doctrinal Statements of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Authorized by the Commission on Doctrinal Matters. p. 27.     

"In selecting specific individuals or groups for a joint expression of faith we can do this only on the basis of their confession." Doctrinal Statements of the Wisconsin E
vangelical Lutheran Synod, Authorized by the Commission on Doctrinal Matters. p. 29. 
   
"Dr. Martin Marty is pastor of the Missouri Synod Church of the Holy Ghost, Elk Grove, Illinois. At the same time he is associate editor of The Christian Century, a religious journal which denies the teachings of Scripture on Jesus Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, the atonement, the virgin birth, and other cardinal doctrines...Whether or not Dr. Marty as associate editor is directly responsible for the shaping of editorial policy, the fact remains that he has lent his name and sanction as a Lutheran to the blasphemies the unchristian Century prints. Again the question: How many may have had a stumbling block put in the way of their faith by this gross offense? And what will the MIssouri Synod answer for lending its membership and prestige to that kind of gross offender? Luke 17:1, 2." E. Arnold Sitz, Entrenched Unionistic Practices, A Record of Unionistic Practice in the LCMS Authorized by the Commission on Doctrinal Matters, Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod. p. 21.    

"In an essay on Unionism, Dr. F. Pieper, a former president of the Missouri Synod and successor of Dr. Walther as president of Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, in 1924 said to the Oregon and Washington District: 'The Holy Scriptures very emphatically and in manifold ways teach that all fellowship with false doctrine is forbidden by God and is harmful to the Church.' On II John 10, 11, he said: 'God here forbids Unionism, religious fellowship with those who are known to be false teachers.'" Carl Lawrenz, Chairman, Commission on Doctrinal Matters, Fellowship Then and Now, Concerning the Impasse in the Intersynodical Discussions on Church Fellowship, p. 20. 2 John 10, 11        

"Rev. Brenner tells us how unionists in the General Council chloroformed the conscience of the body. When they entered into working arrangements (in the distinctly religious sphere) with the Reformed churches, they glazed the matter over by reporting that 'the object of these conferences is purely that of counsel concerning the problems of foreign mission-work.' Only counsel; no fellowship; just consulting with one another. Thus does the camel push its nose into the tent. Let us keep our eyes open" (p. 98ff.) Carl Lawrenz, Chairman, Commission on Doctrinal Matters, Fellowship Then and Now, Concerning the Impasse in the Intersynodical Discussions on Church Fellowship, p. 23.  
      
"Only recently Dr. Martin Marty, a pastor of the Missouri Synod and an associate editor of the Christian Century, outlined with considerable frankness the program and methods whereby changes may be effected within church bodies that still are antiecumenical (to him this means, church bodies who decline to engage in joint worship and church work unless first confessional unity has been established). Writing in the Christian Century, he advocates a program whereby the ecumenically minded remain within their church bodies, but 'work for constructive subversion, encirclement, and infiltration, until antiecumenical forces bow to the evangelical weight of reunion.' Although they remain within their denominations, with whose principles they do not agree, they will 'somehow telegraph to the world who it is they serve and where their loyalties already lie' (Jan. 11, 1961, p. 45). These are the methods Dr. Marty openly proposes." Carl Lawrenz, Chairman, Commission on Doctrinal Matters, Fellowship Then and Now, Concerning the Impasse in the Intersynodical Discussions on Church Fellowship, p. 27.    

"Those who defend a false union assert that while practicing unionistic fellowship one can still cling firmly to the true confession, that unionism is not then synonymous with indifferentism. This is an illusion, even as experience has sufficiently shown that a false union opens the doors wide to indifferentism. And how could it be otherwise?" Adolf Hoenecke, Dogmatik III, p. 441f. Carl Lawrenz, Chairman, Commission on Doctrinal Matters, Fellowship Then and Now, Concerning the Impasse in the Intersynodical Discussions on Church Fellowship, p. 31.         
"$60,000 General world relief (through C.A.R.E. and Lutheran World Relief) Rev. Kennth Strack, chairman WELS Reports and Memorials for the Fifty-fourth Biennial Convention, Milwaukee: WELS, 1997. p. 165.    

"False ecumenism wants organizational unity instead of Scriptural unity." Waldo J. Werning, The Radical Nature of Christianity, Church Growth Eyes Look at the Supernatural Mission of the Christian and the Church, South Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1975, p. 101.   
"Unscriptural fellowship means acceptance of differences in doctrine, which are ignored by conducting joint religious acts and worship." Waldo J. Werning, The Radical Nature of Christianity, Church Growth Eyes Look at the Supernatural Mission of the Christian and the Church, South Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1975, p. 102f.   

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Transfiguration of Our Lord


By Norma Boeckler



The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn #294 O Word of God 3.31
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 2 Peter 1:16-21
The Gospel Matthew 17:1-9
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #135 Tis Good 3:81

Not Fables But History Revealed

The Hymn #307 Draw Nigh 3:72
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 #283 God’s Word 3:90


KJV 2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

KJV Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
O merciful and everlasting God, heavenly Father: We thank Thee that Thou hast revealed unto us the glory of Thy Son, and let the light of Thy gospel shine upon us: We pray Thee, guide us by this light that we may walk diligently as Christians in all good works, ever be strengthened by Thy grace, and conduct our lives in all godliness; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Not Fables But History Revealed

Lenski:

Peter does not tell the whole story of the Transr figuration. He does not use the accounts of the Evangelists, for he helped to inform them, and not they him. Thus all four accounts agree perfectly. The point of importance for Peter is “this voice”; “we on our part (the witnesses present) heard it conveyed to Jesus out of heaven.” Note that “voice” and “brought (conveyed)” are repeated. Peter has already noted the phenomenal character of this voice: τοιᾶσδε marks what it said and the kind of voice that it was, he again emphasizes “this voice,” and now stresses the fact that “we on our part heard it.” This is a direct revelation, directly made by the Father himself, directly received by the witnesses. Let those who will regard it as being merely a “myth.” This revelation attests the glory and the deity of the Son in his earthly life by a voice and a revelation that were so einzigartig. This is he whom Peter has truly named in v. 1, 2, 11, whose Parousia will come in spite of all scoffers, for whom Peter’s readers are to wait with unshakable assurance.
19) And we have as more sure the prophetic Word, to which you are doing well in giving heed as to a lamp shining in a dismal place till day dawns and a light-bearer arises in your hearts; etc. “And” adds in the sense of “and so” as when a resultant fact is added. When Peter says “we have as more certain,” etc., he refers to himself and to all the apostles as those who made known the power and the Parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ. This “we” in the verb does not refer to Peter and to his readers, for “you do well” follows.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1966, S. 291.


2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

This lesson reminds us that there is an enormous gulf between believers and non-believes. In a world where there are so many competing philosophies and religions, Christians say – “There is one truth, one history.”

The Gospel message of the entire Bible is a witness to these events and to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Luther said – the Bible is a sermon about one person, Christ.

The scoffers are always looking for problems, and they find them, because their obstinacy blinds them to the truth. There are many details in the Scriptures that cannot be verified, so these scoffers say, “This is all mad up, “ or “That cannot be true.”

There are thousands of historical details that can be verified, and many of the old puzzles have been solved, but that does not move the scoffers. So Christians are tempted to delve into rationalism to solve the problems of rationalism. That is just like drinking salt water to cure thirst – it only makes it worse.

The Word of God is revealed by men of faith to create and sustain faith. Luther pointed out that human reason is not the problem – just the way we use it. The magisterial use of reason places human reason above the Word. The person who makes human reason equal to or superior to the Word will always subordinate the truth of the Scriptures to his own perspective.

That can have comical results, even in science. My science textbook in 6th grade said missiles would not work in outer-space because they needed an atmosphere to push against. Writers, editors, and the publisher let that piece of ignorance through, which was made funnier by the fact of missiles being in space at that time. Likewise, radio waves would not work in outer-space.

So, when someone says, “This could not have happened because I cannot imagine it,” he is subordinating the Word to his reason. That is the reason why most Protestants reject the Real Presence of Christ, and they often make up strange explanations that are contrary to the Word. Several are:
1. There is no word for “is” in Aramaic. Jesus spoke Aramaic, so He could not have said “This is My Body.” However, our text is Greek and clearly says – “This is My Body.” He did not say – This seems to be, or This symbolizes My Body…
2. The communion elements do not convey forgiveness to the communicant. Jesus said “given for the forgiveness of your sin…”

This is why Lenski said, “Resist the beginnings.” Once rationalism works on the text, in an effort to prove the Word of God to scoffers, there is no limit to what can be peeled away by man’s limited mental powers.

I cannot imagine the Lord of Creation fashioning the universe by command, but Genesis 1:1 teaches that, John 1 enlarges upon it, and God sustains my faith in Creation by His Word, not because of “facts.”

The facts are the same for most observers, but how they are interpreted makes all the difference.

People are inclined to say, “This story means a lot to me,” and “I do not like this.” If man is the judge, a new canon develops. The Bible consists of those passages we like and excludes what we dislike or cannot understand at the moment.

But this is revealed truth, one unified message from the Holy Spirit.

The scoffers say, “But we can see individual voices, personalities in the Bible. So it did not drop down from heaven, infallible, inerrant.”

That is another stone of stumbling for people. They do not find Paul to be the romantic hero of gothic novel, but a real person with some annoying traits. The believer says, “God took this persecutor of the Faith and made him an apostle, and he knew his own faults so well.”

These ordinary men were made extraordinary because God chose them to bring His message to the world, to bear the cross of persecution in the Roman Empire. Because He chose them, He revealed the power and majesty of Christ to the apostles.

Here we are, ordinary people with all the flaws of the disciples, plus many more bonus weaknesses. We see their problems in their writing, which is fairly plain and unadorned, not at all like official church histories and convention essays.

So the Bible has two natures, which are united – very much like Christ. One nature is human (Paul, Peter, Luke) and the other is divine (the Holy Spirit’s inspiration). So the Bible is like Christ, human and yet without sin.

Some years ago, people fought for the Bible being infallible and inerrant. The opponents undermined this view by being embarrassed, silent, and above the fray. Now we know from the recent LCMS histories that the Seminex faction hated the inerrancy of the Bible and defined themselves as enemies of that view. But they hid that from everyone, as much as they could. They even called themselves “confessional Lutherans” while trying to destroy the Confessions and make the Creeds meaningless.

That put the burden on anyone trying to show what they were doing. If a professor of theology taught against the Virgin Birth of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, or the existence of Hell and Satan, he had already left the fold. But those were the very people who ruled the roost. How can people see through the long robes to view the clay feet of these plaster saints? Eventually they revealed themselves. Even SP Harrison, who has always worked with ELCA, has said ELCA gives Lutherans a bad name everywhere – but Missouri voted overwhelmingly to keep working with them.

ELCA has no reason to change when the “conservative” synods (LCMS, WELS, ELS) work with their big, apostate cousin. Unitarians do good works too and have the same theological and political positions as ELCA. Why not join with them? The Salvation Army collects money for the poor – why not work with them, too? Oh, WELS already does – with Thrivent money. As someone wrote to the blog – “But it was milk for the children.”

Likewise today, the enemies of God’s Word say nice, vague things in public but they do not believe, teach, or confess that God’s work is carried out by His Word alone.
17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

The eyewitness of the Transfiguration remind us that they were still weak in faith until the resurrection. They saw Jesus in His glory with Moses and Elijah, yet they still hid in the locked room after the crucifixion. God said, “This is My Beloved Son,” and yet they still feared man.

We can see that Christ strengthened with His Word, step by step, and transformed them by the miracles they experienced.

The Word and miracles go together. God still strenghthens us with miracles. Kurt Marquart liked to remind his students that Holy Communion was a miracle service. Ordinary elements are also the Body and Blood of Christ, after being consecrated by the Word. This miracle is provided solely to benefit, bless, and strengthen us believers.

Roman Catholics promote the papal mass. I used to wonder why the pope had to have his glorious services with thousands of people in attendance. Their own reason is this – they want everyone to despair that the Catholic Church has the mass and no one else does.

Although I give them points for spectacle, and it must be seen to be appreciated, the message taught is soul-destroying. The meaning of the Catholic mass is that it only removes some of the penalty for sin. No one is ever really forgiven. So this man-made law drives people to daily mass and many sacrifices to atone for their own sins, as if Christ did not pay the full price on the cross. A Roman Catholic is assured of non-forgiveness all his life and even after death, where even more is done for “the souls suffering in Purgatory.”

The LCMS and ELCA pastors joining the Roman Catholic priesthood, sometimes right out of seminary, speaks volumes about the training at those “Lutheran” institutions.

The comforting message of the Gospel is what God does for us, what He has paid for us, not what we do for Him and what we owe Him.

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

This lesson closes with the admonition that the Word of God belongs to Him alone and not to us. We do not have the freedom and license to make it sound the way we want. “Private interpretation” is simply the first branch in the road toward apostasy.

God always keeps the Gospel message alive somewhere, and persecution tends to drive it to new places and to make it more fruitful.

The fads of the moment do not last and do not bear fruit. Invariably they lead to an emphasis upon the Law and the necessity of works for salvation.

Quotations

Eternal Life
"For the papalists understand the word 'justify' according to the manner of the Latin composition as meaning 'to make righteous' through a donated or infused quality of inherent righteousness, from which works of righteousness proceed. The Lutherans, however, accept the word 'justify' in the Hebrew manner of speaking; therefore they define justification as the absolution from sins, or the remission of sins, through imputation of the righteousness of Christ, through adoption and inheritance of eternal life, and that only for the sake of Christ, who is apprehended by faith."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 467.
"And, in short, the meritum condigni is the Helen for which the Tridentine chapter concerning the growth of justification contends. For they imagine that the quality, or habit, of love is infused not that we may possess salvation to life eternal through this first grace but that, assisted by that grace, we may be able to merit eternal life for ourselves by our own good works. For concerning the meritum condigni Gabriel speaks thus: 'The soul shaped by grace worthily (de condigno) merits eternal life.'" [Kramer note - Scholastics taught that the good works of the unregenerate had only meritum congrui; the good works of the regenerate rewarded as meritum condigni, merit worthy with being rewarded with eternal life.]
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, 1971, I, p. 541.

"How is a person justified before God? This occurs solely by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ; that is, freely, not because of any works or merits of one's own but only because of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, who became the sacrificial victim and propitiation on our behalf. By this sacrifice, man obtained forgiveness of sins and became righteous; that is, God-pleasing and acceptable. His righteousness was imputed to man for Christ's sake, and man becomes an heir of eternal life when he believes with certainty that God gives him these blessings for the sake of His Son."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 105.

"Christian righteousness is the forgiveness of sin, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and acceptance to eternal life. It is free, not the result of any virtues or works but is given solely because of Christ, the Mediator, and apprehended by faith alone."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), 1994. p. 106.
"Scripture therefore uses these words, 'We are justified by faith,' to teach both: 1) What the reason (or merit) for justification is, or what the blessings of Christ are; to wit, that through and for the sake of Christ alone we are granted forgiveness of sins, righteousness and eternal life; and 2. How these should be applied or transferred to us; namely, by embracing the promise and relying on Christ by faith alone."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), 1994. p. 107.

"The second argument is that 'God desires all men to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4), and He gave His Son for us men and created man for eternal life. Likewise: All things exist for man, and he himself exists for God that he may enjoy Him, etc. These points and others like them can be refuted as easily as the first one. For these verses must always be understood as pertaining to the elect only, as the apostle says in 2 Timothy 2:10 'everything for the sake of the elect.' For in an absolute sense Christ did not die for all, because He says: 'This is My blood which is poured out for you' and 'for many'--He does not say: for all--'for the forgiveness of sins.' (Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28) Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 25 p. 375. 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 2:4; Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28 "His gifts and works in His Church must effect inexpressible results, taking souls from the jaws of the devil and translating them into eternal life and glory."
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 220.


"In this epistle lesson Paul gives Christians instruction concerning the Christian life on earth, and connects with it the hope of the future and eternal life, in view of which they have been baptized and become Christians. He makes of our earthly life a death--a grave--with the understanding, however, that henceforth the risen man and the newness of life should be found in us."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 141.
"Therefore, whoever would have a joyful conscience that does not fear sin, death, hell, nor the wrath of God, dare not reject this Mediator, Christ. For He is the fountain that overflows with grace, that gives temporal and eternal life."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols V, p. 331.

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f.
"In all simplicity and without any disputing, children believe that God is gracious and that there is an eternal life. Oh, what a blessing comes to the children who die at this time! Such a death would, of course, cause me extreme sorrow, because a part of my body and the mother's body would die. These natural affections do not cease in the pious, as those who are without feeling and are hardened imagine, for such affections are the work of divine creation. Children live with all sincerity in faith, without the interference of reason, as Ambrose says: There is lack of reason but not of faith."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 142.

"To be converted to God means to believe in Christ, to believe that He is our Mediator and that we have eternal life through Him."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 343. Acts 26:20.
"The Church has no word of its own. Whatever is not taken from Scripture is not the 'Word of the Church,' but what Luther bluntly calls 'prattle.' Also other books can exert a divine power and efficacy, but always only inasmuch as they have absorbed God's Word. Of Scripture Luther says: 'No book teaches anything concerning eternal life except this one alone' (St. Louis edition XIV:434)."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans. Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950, I, p. 315.

"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: 'He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you.' Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is given." Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159. Romans 3:31; John 16:15.

"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you. Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is received through faith...Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost, so that now we are able to think aright."
Augsburg Confession, Article III, #11, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159.

"This power {the Keys} is exercised only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, according to their calling, either to many or to individuals. For thereby are granted, not bodily, but eternal things, as eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, eternal life. These things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, as Paul says, Romans 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Therefore, since the power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, it does not interfere with civil government; no more than the art of singing interferes with civil government."
Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, #8, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 85. Romans 1:16.

"This righteousness is offered us by the Holy Ghost through the Gospel and in the Sacraments, and is applied, appropriated, and received through faith, whence believers have reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, the grace of God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 16 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 921.

"Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment, and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end."
Augsburg Confession, Article XVII, Of Christ's Return to Judgment, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 51.