Laetare Sunday, The Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2011
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 151 Christ the Life 2:78
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #429 Lord Thee I Love 2:54
Children of Freedom, of the Gospel
The Communion Hymn #508 Thou Whose 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 # 45 Now the Hour 2:95
KJV Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Fourth Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son didst feed five thousand men in the desert with five loaves and two fishes: We beseech Thee to abide graciously also with us in the fullness of Thy blessing. Preserve us from avarice and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things perceive Thy fatherly goodness, through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God world without end. Amen.
Children of Freedom, of the Gospel
It has been well said that, although he is at a loss because he is so far away from the Galatians, the fertile mind of Paul, in his attempt to separate them from all legalism, finds another effective mode of approach. From personal appeal he turns to a clear case that is recorded in Scripture, which is illustrative of both bondage and freedom, the account of Hagar and Ishmael and of Sarah and Isaac. To the subjective and personal Paul thus adds the Scriptural and objective.
The use of this Scriptural account has been termed a rabbinical argumentation by which Paul seeks to turn the arguments of the rabbinical Judaizers against themselves. But this is not an argumentum ad hominem, not a turning of the Judaizers’ guns against themselves. The argument is not merely negative, it is powerfully positive. Nor does Paul convert the history into an allegory. He uses the history, for only as historical fact has it the power of conviction that Paul needs. But this Paul does: he brings out God’s own thoughts that are embedded in this history as they teach and instruct us Christians for all time. This is far beyond the old or the new rabbis. It is divine reality. How the Old Testament histories ought to be read, not superficially for their mere externals, but for their real content, Paul shows us in many places, notably in Rom. 4 (Abraham), Rom. 5:12, etc. (Adam and the patriarchs before Moses), also Gal. 3:16 (Abraham having the covenant hundreds of years before Moses and the law came into existence).
The substance as well as the absence of a connective indicate the beginning of a new section. Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not hear the Law?
The question at the head of this exposition is arresting. The Galatians and certainly those who were becoming enamored of law as a means of salvation had heard the Law. But that is exactly to what Paul refers: hearing the Law and yet wanting to be under law. “Tell me,” Paul says, “how this can possibly be.” Whatever one may say about the old Jews (2 Cor. 3:14, 15), the Galatians had at least learned to read the Torah without such a darkening, blinding veil. Distinguish between “under law” without an article and “the Law” with the article, here in the sense of the Torah, the Pentateuch, “Moses” (2 Cor. 3:15; John 5:46). “Under law” is under law in general, a state which these Galatians were trying to achieve by getting to be under the Mosaic ceremonial system. One gets under law by means of some legal system or other.
The fact that “the Law” refers to the Pentateuch we see from what follows, namely the story of Hagar who lived long before the ceremonial law was given (3:17). Paul is citing one of the histories of the Pentateuch. The Books of Moses were constantly read in the synagogues; they were divided into paraschas or regular lections, the other Old Testament books were likewise divided into sections, their lections being called haphtharas. The early Christian congregations continued this practice of reading the Old Testament until the New Testament canon was gradually formed when lections were selected from these New Testament writings. We see no reason for excluding reference to these readings in the Christian assemblies, nor for intensifying “do you not hear” as meaning, “do you not understand?”
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Columbus, O. : Lutheran Book Concern, 1937, S. 232.
This is one of the great passages about Law and Gospel. The non-Lutheran Protestants do not pay attention to Law and Gospel, and they tend to fall into the diagnosis of Law (correct) and the prescription of more Law to fix the problem (not correct).
The difference between Law and Gospel is the same as X-ray versus medicine. An X-ray only identifies the problem. The X-ray does not heal anything. They tried. In the old days of medicine, X-rays were promoted as healing. That maimed a number of people and probably led to many cases of cancer. Likewise, fascination with radium led people to drink “perpetual sunshine” or radium water, with disastrous results.
Paul’s brief letter to the Galatians is a frontal attack on salvation by the Law. The great divisions of the Scripture relate to each other:
Law and Gospel
Faith and Unbelief
Works and Grace
Sin and Forgiveness
The Kingdom of God versus the Kingdom of Satan
Every religion has law in it, and that law is always a reflection of the origin Law of God revealed in the Old Testament. Pagan religions add their own laws, and these laws are often at war with the Word of God.
This was the great challenge of Paul’s ministry. He was not teaching against the Law of God itself, but the misuse of the Law, salvation by the Law, with man-made traditions added as well.
We are vulnerable to Law motivation and Law salvation because our natural state is oriented toward the Law. People are easily led into salvation by the Law and they get angry if that is questioned.
Salvation by the Law is never comforting in the long run, so people increase the Law requirements with the thought that they have fulfilled them.
Thus the era of Pietism focused on works and the Law rather than God’s grace and the Gospel. Out of that era came a Holiness Code, which made certain outward acts forbidden of all Christians. Of course, this code varied. It included tobacco and alcohol, but the German Pietists never included alcohol as a sin. Gambling was naturally bad, so even Old Maid was a sin, because playing Old Maid could lead to gambling. (I don’t see any Old Maid websites, enticing people!)
Some denominations were overwhelming Pietistic. Baptists and Methodists were very much against drinking any alcoholic beverages, including wine in Holy Communion (which they denied anyway and neglected even in its altered state).
We live in a Baptist county now, and the Christian faith is very important to the typical resident here. One example of Pietistic legalism is rather obvious. Every restaurant is considered a private club, because this is a semi-dry county. No one can buy alcohol in a store, but every restaurant (private club) has a bar. The bars are quite prominent. Customers must sign a book as club members every time they eat, even if they do not drink. The government sends people around to make sure the customers sign the book. The employees insist because they will be in trouble if snitches are there who do not get asked to sign the book. So I sign in as William and Katy, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, Sam and Ella, etc.
Most importantly, this does nothing to stop alcoholism. It drives people across the state line to buy it, and it puts drinking in front of everyone as they enter most restaurants.
Jesus came to give us the Gospel and to plant faith in our hearts. That faith is faith in Him, in His power to forgive and His compassion to absolve our sins.
Notice that when Jesus rebuked His disciples, He did not say, “O ye card-players” or “O ye drinkers.” He berated them for their lack of faith. “O ye of little faith.”
Lack of faith in Him is the beginning of all sin. So it is tragic that Lutherans have spent the last 30 to 50 years making faith bad.
I often discuss this with laity who are perplexed that this happened. It was cleverly done in the name of grace.
When a class was asked about salvation, one person answered, “We are saved by faith.” A pastor responded, “By grace!” One does not replace the other. That is like correcting a person about baptism by saying “Communion!” How is one forgiven of all his sins?
Grace describes God’s attitude toward us. Instead of demanding that we pay for our sins, He has His beloved Son pay the price for us. Knowing we are still sinners, as long as we live, He forgives us because of Christ.
We receive this forgiveness through faith. “O ye of little faith” is a rebuke against our weak and faltering faith. The Gospel promises of forgiveness, the declaration of God’s grace, the examples of God’s work – all move us to trust His Word.
Luther called this the “unfree will.” The Holy Spirit works upon us to convert us to faith in the Savior. We can exercise our will in rejecting the Word and following false teachers. People do that all the time. But faith is a creation of the Word. We are New Creations through the Word of the Gospel.
Therefore it is a great shame that a generation or two of Lutheran pastors have taught against faith in Christ. The longer they prattle about forgiveness without faith, the more extreme they get. They are blinded by their own false doctrine, like those drug-addled celebrities who think their jabbering is profound wisdom. For example, how can anyone say babies are born justified, before baptism? Yet Eduard Preuss was quoted saying that, as if that settled matters.
Using Martin Luther as an example – he talked about praying to Mary in his early years. That never settled it for Lutherans or for me. He grew away from the Marian piety he was taught in the priesthood.
But why do people cling to unfaith? They are taught unfaith and loyalty to people, rather than the Word, instead of the Word.
Throw away all the books in the world, and the Bible is still clear. We are declared forgiven by faith, not by works.
Those who follow false doctrine are be-deviled by the results of their bewitched state. They say they are all Gospel, since everyone is forgiven in advance and saved too! – but listen to their words – they are all condemnation and Law. Tim Glende’s infamous blog is a good example of unwarranted and unsubstantiated accusations, holier than thou while posing with Katy Perry and proud of it.
They imagine forgiveness without faith is all Gospel, but their words betray them. They brag about their works and demand works. Everyone has to do more and pay more. In the name of grace and salvation, they enslave people and abuse people, just as much as the famous abusive sects. They are no different because they have the same Lord and Master, the Prince of this World, Satan, their Father Below.
Our Gospel Comfort
We know through the Scriptures that God has provided many aids for us in our weakness. His grace-filled forgiveness comes to us through the Means of Grace. Do you doubt? Here is the visible sign of His forgiveness – His body and blood. Do you question His presence? Every rainbow is a sign of God’s promise in ancient times, never to command a global flood again.
A forgiven person is a forgiving person. Where the Gospel abounds, the fruits of the Gospel also abound.
"Christ is speaking here not of the word of the law, but of the Gospel, which is a discourse about Christ, who died for our sins, etc. For God did not wish to impart Christ to the world in any other way; he had to embody him in the Word and thus distributed him, and present him to everybody; otherwise Christ would have existed for himself alone and remained unknown to us; he would have thus died for himself. But since the Word places before us Christ, it thus places us before him who has triumphed over death, sin, and Satan. Therefore, he who grasps and retains Christ, has thus also eternal deliverance from death. Consequently it is a Word of life, and it is true, that whoever keeps the Word shall never see death."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 177. John 8:4659.
"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), p. 107.
"What is the difference between Christianity and paganism? Paganism has no sure Word of God and no true faith in Christ. It is unsettled. In place of the one true God, pagans worship various factitious deities and countless idols with ceremonies, works and sacrifices selected according to human judgment. They imagine that they compensate for their sins with this worship, pacify their gods and make them gracious and purchase, as it were, blessings from them."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), p. 19.
"What is the reason for certainty in Christian doctrine?...7. the hatred of the devil over against this doctrine;
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), p. 21.
"Creation is the external action of God by which God, seeing all other things, visible and invisible, fashioned them out of nothing with this plan of His that He might establish for Himself an eternal Church to acknowledge and praise Him and in which He might dwell forever."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), p. 45.
"The good angels are spiritual beings, created in the beginning after the image of God; that is, they are intelligent, truthful, just and free. They are not part of another species or the souls of people; and they are immortal, ordained by God to praise Him and to be servants of the Church and protectors of the devout, Hebrews 1, Psalm 34, Psalm 103, and Psalm 104."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), p. 47. Hebrews 1; Psalm 34; Psalm 103; Psalm 104
"There are eight sins which militate against faith: 1. Epicurean and Academic doubts about God, His providence and the certainty of the doctrine handed down through Christ and the Apostles. 2. A lack of faith toward God. 3. In regard to the forgiveness of sins, to entertain doubts as to whether we arein the grace of God or if we please God. 4. Despair. 5. Stubbornness of presumption. 6. Confidence in human aids. 7. Superstition. 8. Witchcraft."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), p. 65f.
"The sins which militate against the Third Commandment are the profanation of the Sabbath through neglect and contempt of the ministry, through Judaic and superstitious observance of the Sabbath, or through a shifting of the ministry into the kingdom of this world. The faithfulness of those who teach is the virtue by which the ministers of the Church, aware of their modest skill in Christian doctrine, carefully and zealousy discharge and steadfastly protect all the duties of the faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God in teaching, debating, comforting and setting their hearers an example of true devotion and of all the virtues. The other extreme are faithlessness, heedless teaching or negligence in office, or deserting the ministry because of excessive anxiety or concern over one's own weakness."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), p. 71f.