Ash Wednesday, 2011
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Time
The Hymn #552 Abide with Me 2.11
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 1 p. 123
The Lection Joel 2:12-19
The Sermon Hymn # 17 O Worship the King 2.44
The Sermon – Ashes and Treasures
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45
The Hymn # 429 Lord, Thee I Love 2.54
KJV Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? 18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
KJV Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst manifest Thyself, with the Holy Ghost, in the fullness of grace at the baptism of Thy dear Son, and with Thy voice didst direct us to Him who hath borne our sins, that we might receive grace and the remission of sins: Keep us, we beseech Thee, in the true faith; and inasmuch as we have been baptized in accordance with Thy command, and the example of Thy dear Son, we pray Thee to strengthen our faith by Thy Holy Spirit, and lead us to everlasting life and salvation, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen,
Ashes and Treasures
Portrait One –
Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Portrait Two -
Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.
We have two portraits of repentance here. One is true repentance based upon God’s mercy. The other is phony repentance, based on making a show for people to see.
Phony repentance is quite popular, fun to view and attractive to the Old Adam. In one movie a man dragged around a heavy burden as he climbed up a mountain with everyone else. He was paying for his recent sin. Suddenly he let them all go crashing downward, because he felt forgiven. That is a pathetic picture of worldly contrition, as Walther calls it, putting on a big show, its foundation coming from a false view of God.
The Roman Catholic Church and all false views of sanctification depend on this idea of man paying for his sins (but never enough) and redeeming himself with good works. Nothing seems quite so attractive and knowing that someone can pay for his sin immediately afterwards. As customers used the say at my father’s doughnut shop, “The doctor says I should not be eating this.”
Doing, paying, and earning all detract from the glory of God.
Godly repentance has two parts. The first is Godly contrition, true sorrow for sin related to violating God’s Word. The Ten Commandments cover all possible sins, so we should always be suspicious when new commandments are invented and enforced instead of the original Ten Commandments.
Godly contrition is depends upon the Gospel, because repentance is not “feeling sorry” but contrition and faith in the Promises of God.
Our Old Adam wants us to think we feel sorry enough and express that with enough energy, the debt is paid. Knowledge of sin against the Word is good, and that is a useful, practical step. That knowledge comes from the work of the Holy Spirit, not from us.
But the true remedy for sin can never be the Law and Godly contrition alone. That stops with the diagnosis of the illness, lacking the treatment and the healing.
The Gospel portion is the most important and the only solution. Only through the Gospel can we find forgiveness and strengthening against temptation.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16), because we do not utterly trust in our Savior. That is quite different from the normal conception of sin and forgiveness, because the typical view is Old Adam’s: “I have done something wrong, so I feel terrible. Now I must do something to make up for it.”
That attitude obliterates the work of Christ in dying on the cross for our sins. Even worse, that attitude overshadows and supplants the Biblical teaching of justification by faith. Believing in Christ alone is forgiveness.
That trust comes from the Promises of God being preached and taught. That Word-created faith embraces and treasures the forgiveness promised.
In all kinds of relationships, forgiveness is essential. Without that, no relationship can last. Peace of mind comes from forgiveness, the peace God bestows because God is the true cause and the guarantor of forgiveness.
We know we are forgiven of our sins because of the objective truth of the Gospel conveyed to us by the Word. That means:
1. Forgiveness is not based on how sorry we are. Sorrow does not earn forgiveness. Christ has already atoned for our sins.
2. What we do to deserve forgiveness. Christ has done that.
3. Promises we make, since God keeps His and we do not keep ours.
Forgiveness comes from the power of the Gospel, which does even more than take away sin, so that it is forgiven and forgotten by God.
The Gospel heals us because it is God’s divine medicine for strengthening our souls. The many examples of physical healing and raising three people from the dead are metaphors for what the Gospel does for us. We taken from being dead in Christ, unable to do anything to help ourselves, to being restored, given new life, and strengthened.
The Gospel strengthens us against temptation. The Law can make us feel the weight of sin and its condemnation, but it cannot heal and cannot strengthen us. Yet both work together, Law and Gospel, because we need both.
"For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints or all holy and consecrated garments upon a heap, still that would help us nothing; for all that is a dead thing which can sanctify nobody. But God's Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour, then, God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. Therefore I constantly say that all our life and work must be ordered according to God's Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled."
Large Catechism, Preface, #91, Third Commandment, Concordia Triglotta, 1921, p. 607. Tappert, p. 377.
"For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which could not attain ourselves."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #38, Concordia Triglotta, 1921, p. 689. Tappert, p. 415.
Luther: "True, the enthusiasts confess that Christ died on the cross and saved us; but they repudiate that by which we obtain Him; that is, the means, the way, the bridge, the approach to Him they destroy...They lock up the treasure which they should place before us and lead me a fool's chase; they refuse to admit me to it; they refuse to transmit it; they deny me its possession and use." (III, 1692)
The. Engelder, et al., Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 5.
"These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves. This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the Father, and are eternally saved." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 10 Righteousness, Concordia Triglotta, 1921, p. 919.
"Early in the morning it rises, sits upon a twig and sings a song it has learned, while it knows not where to obtain its food, and yet it is not worried as to where to get its breakfast. Later, when it is hungry, it flies away and seeks a grain of corn, where God stored one away for it, of which it never thought while singing, when it had cause enough to be anxious about its food. Ay, shame on you now, that the little birds are more pious and believing than you; they are happy and sing with joy and know not whether they have anything to eat."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 114.
"These means are the true treasure of the church through which salvation in Christ is offered. They are the objective proclamation of faith which alone makes man's subjective faith possible (Augsburg Confession, Article V). The Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration, Article XI, 76) states expressly that God alone draws man to Christ and that he does this only through the means of grace."
Walter G. Tillmanns, "Means of Grace: Use of," The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, 3 vols., Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1965, II, p. 1505.
"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the HS came...."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279.
"Thus we see what a very splendid thing Baptism is. It snatches us from the jaws of the devil, makes us God's own, restrains and removes sin, and then daily strengthens the new man within us. It is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this state of misery to eternal glory. For this reason everyone should consider his Baptism as his daily dress, to be worn constantly. Every day he should be found in the faith and its fruits, suppressing the old man, and growing up in the new; for if we want to be Christians, we must practice the work whereby we are Christians. But if anyone falls from baptismal grace, let him return to it. For as Christ, the Mercy Seat, does not withdraw from us or forbid us to come to Him again even though we sin, so all His treasures and gifts also remain with us."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 61.
"(3) Hollazius (ib.): 'The Word of God, as such, cannot be conceived of without the divine virtue, or the Holy Spirit, who is inseparable from His Word. For if the Holy Spirit could be separated from the Word of God, it would not be the Word of God or of the Spirit, but a word of man. Nor is there any other Word of God, which is in God, or with which the men of God have been inspired, than that which is given in the Scriptures or is preached or is treasured up in the human mind. But, as it cannot be denied that that is the divine will, counsel, mind, and the wisdom of God, so it cannot be destitute of the divine virtue or efficacy.'"
Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 505.
Roman Catholic Indulgences
"Indulgences are, in the Church, a true spiritual treasure laid open to all the faithful; all are permitted to draw therefrom, to pay their own debts and those of others."
Rev. F. X. Schouppe, S.J., Purgatory, Illustrated by the Lives and Legends of the Saints, Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1973 (1893), p. 195.