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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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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.

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