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 CDT.


Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity, 2011

By Norma Boeckler




The Sixth Sunday after Trinity, 2011


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 387:1-4 by Luther, 3:41
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 # 370 3:11

Righteousness of Faith or Pharisees


The Communion 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 # 209 Who is This 3:33

Sixth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we confess that we are poor, wretched sinners, and that there is no good in us, our hearts, flesh and blood being so corrupted by sin, that we never in this life can be without sinful lust and concupiscence; therefore we beseech Thee, dear Father, forgive us these sins, and let Thy Holy Spirit so cleanse our hearts that we may desire and love Thy word, abide by it, and thus by Thy grace be forever saved; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Righteousness of Faith or Pharisees

This is one of those lessons where the law salesmen can go on and on, and they often do. My main experience of this took place at Hybel’s Willow Creek Community Church in a Chicago suburb. We had trouble finding it, and a gas station nearby did not know it was a stone’s throw away. One reason was – the building does not look like a church at all, more like a mall. More importantly, no crosses mark the outside of the church in any way (sign, roof). No crosses were found in the worship area. “Woe to me if I preach not Christ crucified.”

Normally I would not have bothered with Willow Creek, but I felt obliged to go there. The Wisconsin Synod and Missouri Synod were both sending their pastors to Willow Creek to be trained in how to be better pastors. All the denominations do. So much to learn!

Hybels gave the message – not a sermon. He used this text. He began with a good section on the Law but never left the Law. Instead he continued with the Law of Pietism. He complained that not enough people were coming to the Wednesday night service, where they had “communion.” He said, “That is where we really worship.” He also bragged about a professional football player who vacuumed the carpets. Everyone had to have a menial servant role.

They also had a dizzying multi-media presentation on all the ways people could volunteer at Willow Creek. The rationale for all the activity is that people who help out also finance the church and attend services. There are statistics for creating busy-work for people to keep them happy and supporting the parish.

Needless to say, since this was a Seeker Service (imitated by WELS and Missouri, aka Emergent Church, like The CORE, Latte Lutheran, CrossWalk, and many others), there was not a real worship service to observe. There was no real hymn singing by the huge crowd there. They were passive observers. LI was with us, so he listened to Bach later to get over the bad experience.

When he criticized Willow Creek in a Northwestern College class, the professor said, “Have you ever been there?” (As if one must be physically present to offer an opinion on something widely discussed in the press!) LI said, “Yes, recently.” The professor changed the subject immediately.

Righteousness
Like Hybels, many are tempted to move from the righteousness of the Pharisees to the righteousness of Pietism, some system of works performed by man. Creating a man-made atonement based on works has been the life-blood of all false religion. The legal answer is quite popular and will never go away, because our default attitude is earning righteousness.

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The trouble with exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is this – they really had that system perfected. They were pious and observant of all the commandments, traditions, and unwritten rules. The modern Pietists (TV religious leaders and many clergy) are hedonists who put on a show when they have to. When they are with their select group, the never-tell buddies, they are quite different.

The question for all the Law people is how to be even more observant of the Law. Do they double-tithe mint?

One of them main themes of the Sermon on the Mount is the impossibility of man to claim perfection through the Law, since the Teaching (Torah) of God includes both the outward act and the inward motivation.

So Jesus gave examples from various stages of anger. Each one is greater than the next one, although the terms seem confusing. These are legal differences from that time, similar to manslaughter (causing a death carelessly) versus murder (causing a death on purpose) and special circumstance (lying in wait, carefully planning the murder).

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Lenski:
Thus Jesus takes up the sins of the heart against the Fifth Commandment, namely anger and its most common manifestation of calling ugly epithets. 1 John 3:15 shows us what Jesus has in mind: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” The usual exegesis regards this word of Jesus as a presentation of three sins and three penalties, the second being graver than the first, and the third graver than the second: for anger alone, the judgment of the court; for calling an ugly name in anger (“Raca!”), the court of the Sanhedrin; and for an angry curse (“Thou fool!”), hell-fire. But Jesus cannot have either such distinctions in the sins or in the penalties in mind. What about other sins such as to strike a person in anger, to wound him, finally also to kill him? What greater penalty could be inflicted beyond hell-fire? In v. 21 “the judgment” is evidently that of a civil court, remanding the murderer for execution. To what graver penalty could the Sanhedrin remand? What court of law could possibly try a case of anger, to which no expression had been given, and order execution for anger? And who would think that the great Sanhedrin would try a man for angrily calling an ugly name? The first two mentioned are civil courts, yet Jesus is evidently not repeating the folly of the scribes and Pharisees by making this commandment a mere civil law. What court could send a man to hell? These questions are not answered by the usual exegesis. No mention is made of the fact that in God’s sight anger is equal to murder and makes us worthy of hell.
Zahn is correct. Jesus is satirizing the casuistic method of the scribes and Pharisees. They would make such distinctions in transgressions, and these distinctions would turn out a farce when it came to designating the penalties. Since anger is equal to murder in God’s sight, the angry man would have to be executed by a civil court—if this commandment is to be considered in the superficial manner of the scribes and Pharisees. Well, then the man who uttered the angry epithet would have to be taken to a still higher court, say the Sanhedrin, which, however, could do no more than the lower court. If the angry epithet should be a trifle different, well, then hell-fire might be decreed. But by whom? There was no court higher than the Sanhedrin. According to this casuistry, what would be left for the crimes of striking, wounding, and actual killing? The purpose of this satire is to demolish the entire Jewish treatment of this commandment as a mere civil law. Civil courts cannot possibly consider the infractions that start in the heart and break out in ugly names. That is why the scribes and Pharisees omitted all these infractions and never instructed the people regarding them. They even taught as though Moses himself did no more for the ancients to whom, at God’s command, he gave the law. Against this gross perversion Jesus hurls his satire. By saying that anger is equal to murder and worthy of the death penalty and an angry epithet likewise Jesus shows how God judges these sins; and when for a similar epithet he decrees hell-fire, he shows that in the judgment of God hell is the penalty for all these sins, beginning with anger and on through to murder.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 218.


Luther has a funny example of this after discussing how all people are guilty under this description of wrath.

Here is man’s prayer, paraphrased, “O Lord. My neighbor has said things to dishonor me. And he has done some damage to my property. Therefore I am very angry and would cheerfully have him killed for this.”

The world is full of rage and revenge. We see the effects of it everywhere, especially in the visible church. Luther’s point is this – We have ways to address wrongs done to us. The government has the sword and the justice system to take care of those who do wrong.

That may not satisfy us. However, we do not have the right to get even and create our own system of justice. That violates God’s laws, because the soldiers and police and courts are there to accomplish this (without wrath) – fairly and evenly.

As he says, if they fail in their duty, as we see it, we do not have the liberty to set aside God’s universal justice for our petty claims.

Thus when I had a boy breaking into our home, stealing things, and engaging in petty vandalism, I phoned the police. They investigated and the damage grew. More things happened. There was not much I could do legally - without a lot of expense. I talked to law enforcement people who told me that the boy would be in deep trouble soon, because starting young is a very bad sign.
Vengeance and retribution is in God’s hands, not ours. We cannot take over from God and have harmony in this world.

Luther said, “Our petty complaints cannot be allowed to overturn God’s universal justice.”

Wrath in the Visible Church
This Gospel lesson was not recorded for unbelievers, who pay no attention to it. The spirit of revenge is a constant and is highly respected. It was explained in the movie “The Sting”, when con men rob the mobster. “If I let these con men rob me, and my associates find out, I will have to kill all my associates, or they will kill me for being a weakling.”

I kept explaining to my wife Chris during the English history movies, the ruler had to be aggressive and unforgiving of all foes--even a brilliant young woman like Lady Jane Grey. Otherwise, the frailest opponent became a rallying point for all the opposing forces in the kingdom or across the Channel.

The visible church is always engaged in hurting people in various ways. The extremes are the abusive cults, which do this in the Name of Christ. Sometimes they are abusive entities within a larger organization. I know of famous cases in all denominations, each one beyond belief.

The practice of hurting people does not excuse it in any way whatsoever. Unfortunately, the worst offenders are the most respected or feared clergy for being able to get their way. Some do it by being bullies. Others accomplish what they want by being toadies.

Rome and Constantinople parted ways, on one occasion, when one leader pinned a note of excommunication on the other’s robe, in the back. When the note was read, the pinned leader responded with his own excommunication. Eventually the tension between the two caused the fall of Constantinople and all of Europe was then under the threat of Muslim invasion.

Our Wrath
Jesus is teaching us that we must be different from the scribes and Pharisees, from all unbelievers, who gladly help their friends and never stop getting even with their opponents.

We cannot do this through works or by an act of will. The Gospel alone gives us the power to resist the temptation to be angry and vengeful. As Luther wrote in one sermon on this text, no harsh words are excused, even if we feel wronged. Violence is not the way the Christian faith is advanced.

Nevertheless, there are many who think they are doing God a favor by driving people out of the church, by excommunicating them, by shunning them, by heaping all kinds of verbal abuse on them.

The reason why big synodical meetings are so dull is this – they have endless unwritten rules about who must be honored and absolved for anything done and said. No one can question these rules. Getting excited about doctrinal error is a terrible sin. Thus the First Table of the Ten Commandments is set aside for the unwritten rules of man.

According to the Scriptures, which is a sin – attacking the Word of God, or questioning the institution?

Clearly it is a sin against the Holy Spirit to divorce the divine power of the Godhead from His Word, to say that man is required. Blasphemy is the worst sin of all, sinning against the majesty of God. Yet clergy and professors blaspheme in print and are rewarded for it, even after being challenged about their errors. They steal sermons from others and lie about, yet their superiors are ready to jump to their defense. “Lots of ministers are copying sermons today.”

There is no better job description on a clergy resume today than “heretic.”

Luther’s approach was simple – teach the Word and apply the Word, then accept the consequences. When people do not accept the consequences or fear the consequences, they water down the Word and change the revelation of God to fit the times and the leaders. For a short period of material security they give up the eternal peace that comes from the pure Gospel. Sometimes they hedge and modify so much that they ease themselves into the realms of atheism, having a hatred for the faith they once professed. God knows. Perhaps no one else saw it coming, but God did.

The wrath of man soon follows the application of the Word, because Satan cannot bear the true Gospel anywhere. If it takes root, he immediately begins to persecute it. Often the majority will side with their Father Below and drive out orthodoxy. That has happened many times before, without the name Lutheran attached to it.

When orthodoxy is driven from one location, it arrives in another. If God is indeed all powerful, as the Word teaches, this cannot happen without His permission. God allowed John Bunyan to publish most of his work from prison rather than from a denomination’s headquarters. But can anyone even read the bilge from a denomination’s headquarters?

Calming Our Wrath
The Gospel calms our wrath, because we do not have the power to do so. If that seems in doubt, consider what has provoked anger in the last month or so. Many times it is the least little thing, often a misunderstanding. Many causes are within us, because we are tired, hungry, sick, or in pain.

The Gospel leaven does its work. When we recognize how faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, works fall to the wayside. “He said this to me” is no longer something we need to have exact payment for, because all our similar sins are paid through the Atonement and forgiven through faith.

I content that all this universal absolution nonsense from the UOJ Pietists has caused enormous spiritual and emotional harm to people. First they are forgiven without faith, then they are excommunicated for questioning the teachings of man. The Bereans were praised for searching the Scriptures, but that is forgotten.

Because the Gospel creates and sustains faith, God is at work whenever the Means of Grace are applied, taught, extolled, practiced. Eternal life springs up in the midst of death, and no one can predict how this will happen, how people will become believers and love Him who first loved us.

Quotations

"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. Rom. 6:3-11.
"He [Paul] says: It is not the intention of the Gospel to teach sin or to allow it; it teaches the very opposite--how we may escape from sin and from he awful wrath of God which it incurs. Escape is not effected by any doings of our own, but by the fact that God, out of pure grace, forgives us our sins for His
Son's sake; for God finds in us nothing but sin and condemnation."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VIII, p. 142. Rom. 6:3-11.

"Paul does not teach that grace is acquired through sin, nor that sin brings grace; he says quite the opposite--that 'the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,' Romans 1:18. But because the sins of men which are taken away are so grievous and numerous, the grace which drowns and destroys them must be mighty and abundant also. Where there is a great thirst, a great draft is needed to quench it. Where there is a mighty conflagration, powerful streams of water are necessary to extinguish it...But these facts do not give us authority to say:...Let us injure ourselves and make ourselves ill that medicine may do us more good. Still less does it follow that we may heap us and multiply sins for the purpose of receiving more abundance grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols.,VIII, p. 142f. Romans 6:3-11; Romans 1:18

"On the other hand, we are outwardly oppressed with the cross and sufferings, and with the persecution and torments of the world and the devil, as with the weight of heavy stone upon us, subduing our old sinful nature and checking us against antagonizing the Spirit and committing other sins."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VIII, p. 145. Romans 6:6.

"But the fact is, all Christian doctrines and works, all Christian living, is briefly, clearly and completely comprehended in these two principles, faith and love. They place man as a medium between God and his neighbor, to receive from above and distribute below. thus the Christian becomes a vessel, or rather a channel, through which the fountain of divine blessings continuously flows to other individuals."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VIII, p. 145. Rom. 6:3-11.

"But if you possess faith, your heart cannot do otherwise than laugh for joy in God, and grow free, confident and courageous. For how can the heart remain sorrowful and dejected when it entertains no doubt of God's kindness to it, and of his attitude as a good friend with whom it may unreservedly and freely enjoy all things? Such joy and pleasure must follow faith; if they are not ours, certainly something is wrong with our faith."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 146. Titus 3:4-8

"Your first desire will be that all men may obtain the same knowledge of divine grace. Hence your love will not be restrained from serving all to the fullest extent, preaching and proclaiming the divine truth wherever possible, and rejection all doctrine and life not in harmony with this teaching. But take
note, the devil and the world, unwilling that their devices be rejected, cannot endure the knowledge of what you do. They will oppose you with everything great, learned, wealthy and powerful, and represent you as a heretic and insane."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 147. Titus 3:4-8

"Since the Word of God is this weapon [sword], it behooves us to make use of it at all times and to this end become acquainted with it both by means of public preaching and by earnest Bible study at home. Cursory reading must be supplemented by careful memorizing of proof-texts and strong passages. Only in this way shall we be able to make the proper use of the Word of God as a true weapon of offense at all times."
Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the New Testament, 2 vols., St. Louis: CPH, II, p. 292. Ephesians 6:17.

"The reference [the Votum] is simply to a disposition to trust and love God sincerely, and a willingness of heart and mind to serve God and man to the utmost. The devil seeks to prevent this state by terror, by revealing death and by every sort of misfortune; and by setting up human devices to induce the heart to seek comfort and help in its own counsels and in man. Thus led astray, the heart falls from trust in God to a dependence upon itself."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 111. Philippians 4:7.

"Take heed, then, to embrace the message of these words presenting the love and kindness of God to all men. Daily exercise your faith therein, entertaining no doubt of God's love and kindness toward you, and you shall realize His blessings. Then you may with perfect confidence ask what you will, what your heart desires, and whatever is necessary for the good of yourself and your fellow-men. But if you do not so believe, it were far better you had never heard the message. For by unbelief you make false these precious, comforting, gracious words. You conduct yourself as if you regarded them untrue, which attitude is extreme dishonor to God; no more enormous sin could be committed."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 146. Titus 3:4-8.

"Good works are to be performed without any thought of merit, simply for the benefit of one's neighbor and for the honor of God; until the body, too, shall be released from sin, death and hell."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 151. Titus 3:4-8

"This is the situation with him: the greater his external restraint from evil, the greater his inward hatred of him who restrains. His character is in the scales; when one side goes up, the other goes down. While outward sin decreases, inward sin increases. We know from experience that those youths most strictly reared are, when given liberty, more wicked than young men less rigidly brought up. So impossible it is to improve human nature with commandments and punishments; something else is necessary."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 268. Gal. 3:23-29

"Why do so many people in our country fall in with the preachers of fanatical sects? Because these sects spread the glamor of great sanctity about themselves. Alas! man regards the works of God as trifling, but esteems the works of men highly. That is nothing but one of the sad results of man's fall
into sin."
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, St. Louis: CPH, 1928, p. 372.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2011

Norma Boeckler




The Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2011


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 199 Jesus Christ is Risen 1:83
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 #200 I Know that My Redeemer 1:80

Material and Spiritual Provision

The Communion Hymn # 187 Christ Is Arisen 1:45
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 # 195 (Luther) Christ Jesus 1:46

KJV 1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

KJV Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Fifth Sunday After Trinity
O Jesus Christ, Thou Son of the living God, who hast given us Thy holy word, and hast bountifully provided for all our temporal wants, we confess that we are unworthy of all these mercies, and that we have rather deserved punishment: But we beseech Thee, forgive us our sins, and prosper and bless us in our several callings, that by Thy strength we may be sustained and defended, now and forever, and so praise and glorify Thee eternally, Thou who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Material and Spiritual Provision
KJV Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
Some will find it tempting to bypass the opening of the Gospel to move on to the miracle of the fish being caught.

The first three verses are the important part. “And He sat down and taught the people out of the ship.”

We are accustomed to having the speaker stand up, but rabbis sat down to teach. That is stated in the opening of the Sermon on the Mount.

KJV Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Many Lutherans, when they want to teach about Luther, describe his life and various events where he was prominent. Luther saw his primary role as preaching. His proclamation of the Gospel expressed his own faith and his knowledge of the Scriptures.

The Bible teaches this relationship between the Holy Spirit, the Father and Son. The Holy Spirit is always united with the Word, as Isaiah 55:8-11 shows. Because the Holy Spirit works only through the Word, the Holy Spirit cannot work apart from the Word.

Any other perspective on how God works is an attack on the Holy Trinity, on the majesty of God.

We have been watching many films about the Tudor monarchs (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth I). This is a frequent phrase – and against his majesty.

I thought majesty was just a synonym for king or queen, and it might well be. But they often said, “Against the king and his majesty.” Because the monarchs believed in the divinity of their role, that God placed them on the throne, any attempt to overthrow the king or queen was a personal attack “against the king” but also a religious attack “against his divinely appointed task.” Plotting to kill the king was going against God’s will.

Whether you are a monarchist or not, God’s Word has that majesty. The Scriptures rule over all men and all books. The Bible judges all books, so we call it the ruling norm. (The Confessions are the ruled norm, subordinate to the Scriptures.)

Questioning God’s Word and teaching against it is a crime against His Majesty.

KJV Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

When Jesus taught, it was not His own opinion or Word, but the will and the work of His Father, conveyed through the Holy Spirit. Although most of the references in the New Testament are to the Father/Son relationship, the Holy Spirit’s role in teaching, preaching, prayer, and the sacraments is always implied and sometimes emphasized.

Those who think God accomplishes evangelism through a new fellowship hall are gravely mistaken. They are really using the phony religious excuse to justify pleasing their Old Adam. And they are told, because I have heard this, “More people will come because of the building. People will give more, because of the construction work.”

I had a little mission in Sturgis, Michigan, where the members were still saying, 20 years later, “People said they would come to us when we had the building up. Where are they?” So I asked them, “Do you really believe in brick-and-mortar evangelism while doing nothing about the Word?” We began doing everything around the Word, broadcasting the Word, offering classes to the community about basic Christianity. Pastoral visitation was constant, and members began visiting each other’s homes, something that had not happened in a small town.

I see that people are still being asked the wrong questions about the worship service and about their congregations. Efficacy is assigned to everything except the Word of God, so all the emphasis is placed upon method, friendliness, freshness, happy-clappiness, and emotionalism.

God can take care of things faster and better than a monarch, because He is the true ruler of the universe. Those who attack the Holy Spirit by substituting their methods, gimmicks, and tricks will always be denied the one thing they desire the most. They are going to give the Gospel to the whole world, they tell us, and end up as open or secret atheists. Sometimes their empires collapse around them. Or they find their fame working against them when caught traveling with partners rather than spouses.

In This Lesson
We can see that Jesus had only the Word, lacking the required friendly ushers, greeters, parking lots, valet parking, and rock band. He pushed out from the shore and taught, because He could address a large crowd that way. The Holy Spirit was at work, both in the teaching and the reception of the Word.

The first part of this Gospel is significant, because people began to believe in Christ through His preaching.

To this day, Jesus comes to us through the Word and only through the Word. The Holy Spirit brings us together, through the Means of Grace, which must have their effect.

There are two prominent effects of this preaching in a short lesson. One is the faith of the fishermen. Because of the Word of God, they trusted in Jesus more than in themselves. He told them to cast their nets again. Simon Peter explained, “We are professionals. We have fished all out lives, and our fathers and grandfathers before us. We worked hard all night and caught nothing. But, because of your majestic command, which we trust more than ourselves, we will try again.” (Jackson Living Translation)

Faith in God is powerful, because it takes us away from trusting in ourselves. Only God’s Word can do that. On our own, we trust in ourselves to have the best answers. That is why God allows us to be humbled, to sink in our own foolishness, until we say, “Help, have mercy. You alone can solve this, gracious heavenly Father.”

We can have brilliant insights on our own, deep spiritual insights – all of them rubbish. The world is full of religions based upon the insights of a few charismatic individuals. This is Enthusiasm, whether it is cannibalism in one country or worshiping body parts in another. The entire papacy is a beautiful but deadly structure of Enthusiasm.

Our Old Adam defaults to Enthusiasm, so we have to be watchful about the pure Word of God, so it is not turned into an amalgam, Word of God/Word of man. Mercury and gold bond to each other instantly. If you want to ruin a ring made of gold, play with mercury and see that happen.

Faith in God is good, because God creates it through His Holy Spirit working in the Word. To overcome our obstinate self-centeredness is a miracle in itself. The composer of the Music Man called it “Iowa stubborn,” doing the opposite of whatever is suggested.

God overwhelms our obstinacy with His gracious promises. The more obdurate we are, the more we recognize how powerful the Word of God is, powerful in grace and mercy. Thus Paul, Augustine, and Luther were the greatest exponents of God’s grace, knowing how much they resisted until the Word converted them.

Nevertheless at Thy Word I will let down the net.
This is faith in God’s Word, a trust created by the Holy Spirit.

The Miraculous Catch
Jesus might have given Simon Peter and the others just enough fish to feed their families for a short time. That alone would have been good, not perhaps not enough to overcome fishing professionals. They could say, “Oh, we just should have waited a little longer until the fish came out to play. I’m glad we tried again. Hard work – that always does the job.”

Many people do that. God gives us favors and blessings and we say, “I was really smart. Look at what I did.”

But in this case, God sent them an enormous catch of fish.

6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

Lenski:
…In Luke, where Simon is the person dealt with, he is treated as one who has already been called and is assured that he will, indeed, catch men with the success shown to him in the great catch of fish when he obeyed Jesus’ word. This is the purpose of the miracle: an ocular demonstration of the unseen power and success of the Word. This miracle was therefore repeated after Jesus’ resurrection (John 21:1–14), and the repetition cannot be understood in its import without this miracle which is recorded in Luke’s Gospel. It was one thing to call the four apostles, it was quite another thing to demonstrate to them the power of the gospel they were to handle as fishers of men. And this demonstration was so necessary in view of the Jewish and the pagan world they were to conquer that Jesus repeated it for them before he ascended to heaven.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 276

The Professionals Were Wrong
Peter already had faith in Jesus. That is why they cast their nets again. But Jesus confirmed that faith and deepened that faith with the size of the catch. As Lenski noted, above, that was confirmed with the catch in John 21. The purpose was to show Peter what he would be doing with the Word, catching men in the net of the Gospel.

KJV John 21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. 15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Peter denied Jesus three times before the charcoal family. Jesus gave him a three-fold absolution before a charcoal fire.

Lenski:
Twice we are here told that it was “the third time” that Jesus asked Peter. The hint in the first question, “more than these,” connecting this catechism with Peter’s denial, is here clinched. Three times Peter denied Jesus; it is proper that now in this public absolution and reinstatement he should confess him and own his love for him three times in succession. This is the true implication in the repeated adverbial accusative “the third time.”
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1425

Next Effect of the Word
Peter realized the majesty of Christ when he fell down before Him and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” Everyone was astonished at the catch. Peter knew he was with God Himself, although he did not realize the full implications of that faith and knowledge. Later he would show his frailty in many ways, yet Jesus continued to strengthen him and restore him with the Gospel.

Not Fear, But Faith
Luke 5: 10b And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Spiritual and Material Blessings
The point of this miracle is to show us how the material blessings and spiritual blessings of God go together.

Fear keeps many Lutherans from doing what they should. Fear is strange, because it is seldom based upon facts and never upon faith in the Word. For instance, most people will run screaming from a bat, but bats are beautiful and harmless creatures. Their airborne sonar keeps them from running into people. When I first saw one fly at me in a church basement, I was shaken. Once I learned about them, I looked forward to seeing them close up. They were like fireflies in the backyard each night.

But, given the facts, God can change those facts in a moment, as He did with the catch of fish. For instance, the moment Chris lost her insurance coverage from work, we found an equivalent package from the place where I worked. I happened to know an expert who was the only one who could provide that kind of comprehensive knowledge. But I never knew that, could not have known that.

When we moved to Minnesota, a promise about coverage was broken. But it was a state where a special plan allowed excellent coverage under disability for a very good price. Thus it has continued, with the biggest fear today (medical coverage) countered by one happenstance after another. Or, as Tokien often asked, “Was it by chance?”

Effects of the Word
The Word of God is always effective. The more we teach and apply it, the more we see its effects. If some church leader says, “I can make the Word effective, or more effective,” he is schemer and liar, someone to avoid.
I find it strange that ministers trust in the value of plagiarizing the poofy sermons of a Methodist while distrusting a Biblical expert like Lenski. Why would they not want to enjoy the study of Luther’s work and crafting an original sermon each week?

Did Peter plagiarize from the neighboring pagans, who were far more successful at the time?

Some effects seem bad. People get angry and vindictive. But that is only because the Word has upset them. Being disturbed by the Word of God is one step toward conversion. The apathetic do not think about the Word. Agitated people go over, in their minds, what disturbed them.

Paul was so disturbed by the Gospel that he aggressively persecuted it. In turn, he was met with revenge, beatings, and riots where he went.

The most important effect of the Word is justification by faith. The Gospel of reconciliation must be taught for people to have faith in Jesus. As one reader observed in an email last night, the atonement is one action by God. Jesus paid for the sins of the world.

Justification by faith is another, separate action, one brought about by the Word. The atonement is preached and taught, creating and sustaining faith in Jesus. This faith receives the Gospel promises and all their benefits.

UOJ false teachers make hay with “not counting their sins against them.”

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

The rationalists say, “Oh, here it says the whole world is reckoned (counted) as righteous. That means the every single person has been forgiven.”

That is a nice misdirection of the eye, a trick used by magicians. Watch one hand while the other is palming the coin or moving the mirror. Cary Grant was fired from his first stage job for moving the spotlight beam onto the mirrors below. There was no appeal. (His autobiography, http://www.archieleach.com/)

But the Bible is quite clear about how WE are reckoned righteous.

KJV Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

If 2 Cor. 5:19 is combined with Romans 4:25 alone, UOJ seems to be a sure thing. But when the spotlight beam is broadened to show the entire picture, we can see the truth.

From justification by faith come all our blessings, chiefly in our family. Those blessings are impossible to measure. All the fruits of the Christian faith come from justification by faith, from the Means of Grace.

And God feeds our stomachs, too.







Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Norma Boecker






The Fourth Sunday after Trinity, 2011


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 452 The Son of God 1:10
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 #531 Come Ye Disconsolate 1:15

Faith in God, Mercy for Man

The Communion Hymn # 308 Invited Lord 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 # 413 I Walk in Danger 1:67

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

KJV Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

Fourth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, who art merciful, and through Christ didst promise us, that Thou wilt neither judge nor condemn us, but graciously forgive us all our sins, and abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul: We pray Thee, that by Thy Holy Spirit Thou wilt establish in our hearts a confident faith in Thy mercy, and teach us also to be merciful to our neighbor, that we may not judge or condemn others, but willingly forgive all men, and, Judging only ourselves, lead blessed lives in Thy fear, through Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Faith in God, Mercy for Man
Luther often described the Christian faith as having two parts – faith in God, good works for man.

This Gospel lesson is a perfect example of that summary. The text is aimed at believers who already know God’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus is not teaching that good works earn the favor of God, that they are necessary for forgiveness.

The Word of God conveys Christ to us, and therefore all His benefits. Those benefits are the Gospel, Christ crucified for our sins, plus all His promises and blessings as well. The power of the Gospel is revealed in the faith created by the Holy Spirit. This faith receives the forgiveness promised. No one needs to ask, “Am I forgiven?” Believing in Christ is forgiveness, complete and free. That is the justification by faith taught in Romans and throughout the Bible.

Inuitu Fidei !!!
One of the intellectuals in Glende’s circle began condemning Inuitu Fidei, which sounds like the faith of the Inuit tribe in Eskimo land. I imagine he meant Intuitu Fidei. That is the problem with getting things wrong all the time – there is a difference.

If a man tries to show off his meager Latin and makes everyone laugh at him, should he be trusted with the Gospel? I think not. The UOJ fanatics are having another round of self-serving posturing.

They are condemning Intuitu Fidei when they do not even understand it. They are using the two words in Latin (which they obviously do not comprehend) to slug people about faith again. Oh, they hate faith and cannot wait to rant about it. What else can the ignorant do when they teach, as UOJ and Universalism do, that the entire world is forgiven and saved, without faith? Period, end of story - to paraphrase WELS DP Buchholz!

KJV Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

On Romans 8:28 – Lenski –

“All things are working together for good,” all of them without exception operate together to produce “good” in the sense of what is beneficial for God’s lovers. This includes every kind of painful experience in Christian lives, all those that press groans from our lips and make us groan inwardly in unuttered and unutterable distress. Some of the things that Paul has in mind he states in v. 38, 39. The Old Testament story of Joseph is a striking example of the mysterious and the wonderful way in which God makes the evil done to us eventuate for our good. Another instance is the story of the persecution precipitated by Saul. It scattered the great congregation at Jerusalem to distant parts, it seemed to be a calamity but served only for the good of the church by planting it in a hundred new places to flourish more than ever.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Espistle to the Romans. Columbus, Ohio : Lutheran Book Concern, 1936, S. 551


Romans is supposed to be a profound doctrinal letter, and it is, but the letter is also plain and clear in its meaning. We know we are predestined, because we believe.

“Whom He elected, them he also invited to believe in the Gospel; and whom He invited to believe, them He also justified by faith; and whom He justified by faith, He also glorified.” (Jackson Living Bible)

The pretenders like to pile up their old Latin dogmaticians, whom they have never read, and fake people into feeling condemned for believing the Gospel. The only person I have met with a vast knowledge of the old dogmaticians is Robert Preus, and he wrote about justification by faith alone in his final book.

This is an important point, because justification by faith emphasizes the grace of God. We do not need to twist ourselves into intellectual contortions to figure out where we stand with God. God plants faith and nurtures faith through the Gospel. Those who abide in Christ, the True Vine, who remain with the Means of Grace, are loved by God for loving Him. “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Faith
Therefore, the Bible teaches faith in God, and we know God only through His Word. God comes to us and works in us only through His Word.

The Bible teaches us to trust utterly in God’s Word.

Our dogs have an interesting take on this concept of trust. I send them outdoors, through their doggy door, by lightly snapping my fingers. Their hearing is so keen that I do not even snap them. The Shelties jump up from a sleep and go outdoors on the deck. Somehow they can run full speed to the door and through it. Sassy Sue, the cattle dog/German shepherd, stops, as if to say, “Everyone but me, right?” I snap another time, so she heads out again, but stops. “There is a mistake. You cannot possibly mean me too. I love it inside.” I have to snap three times to get her out completely. Sassy Sue trusts my word, but still wants to debate my wisdom.

So man is, as well. We hear God’s Word and believe in His overwhelming love. But we stop and debate it, too. You send us as sheep among wolves? Not us? Just the apostles. No? Perhaps the saints as well, but not us. When we finally realize that we are included in “as sheep among wolves,” we trust the Gospel.

Sin
The Holy Spirit, working through the Word, teaches us that it is a terrible sin to lack trust in Christ.

KJV John 16:6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

If sin is not believing in Christ, then justification can only be – by faith. Justification cannot be – without faith.

The positive message of this verse is clear – faith in Christ is the foundation of conquering sin. First we are forgiven, fully and freely each day, through the power of the Gospel. Secondly, the Gospel gives us the power to resist sin and temptation.

Faith in God, Not the Synod, Not in Men
As Luther pointed out, this passage is turned around by man to mean the opposite of what it says.

We should have faith in God, but mercy toward man.

What has God done for us? He has covered our sin and shame with His love and mercy. He wipes out sin, blotting it out with the blood of the Savior, the spotless Lamb of God.

This mercy comes through grace and cannot be earned, but we are to show this same mercy toward man.

If we have faith in our complete forgiveness, because of God’s work in Christ, we can only show thankfulness to our neighbor.

But what happens? People express their faith in churches, in institutions, in denominations. We cannot have faith in both. If the institution can do nothing wrong, then infallibility is taken from God and His Word and bequeathed to man instead.

The Bible judges all books, all leaders, all denominations, all our thoughts and deeds.

Evil Law Sermon
We have a situation today where someone publishes a sermon for the entire world to hear, but he is above criticism. All the world can read it or listen to it, 24/7. The Internet is a marvel. But once published, people can only talk to the preacher individually. They better be members too (so he can discipline them?).
A man who gives an obvious works-sermon, which is not a sermon at all, should be grateful that people care for his soul and those of his world-wide audience.

Bad Offerings
One pastor published his horrible offerings, which were deep in the red zone. Next he condemned anyone for doing what he already had done – reveal his offerings to everyone. Tacky. Yes indeed. His effort to induce guilt and shame among his members came back at him, revealing him to be less than adequate, since numbers are everything among the Shrinkers.
Attacking the Clarity of the Word
1. “That is a grey area of Scripture.” Any Protestant who says that should be transferred to the Roman Catholic Church, because that is their argument. Moreover, the Roman Catholics use that argument to rely on the Pope, who alone knows what the Word of God really teaches. So the alleged Lutherans who say that line are really turning their sect into another papacy, giving infallibility to a Bored of Doctrine, filled with ignorant alcoholics, while taking infallibility away from the Scriptures.
2. “You do not know Greek; I do.” Those who claim that are all hat and no cattle, proud that they remember part of the Greek alphabet. The Word of God speaks clearly, when translated properly, in all languages. That may be why false teachers want bad translations, to add confusion. This particular argument is just a variation on #1 – the grey area of Scripture. The pastor is a little pope who will decide what it means, so be quiet and scrub the floors.

Infallibility of the Sect, DP, District, Board
Denominations rot quickly when they cannot address their own doctrinal errors but engage in dishonest PR efforts to make everyone seem happy and content. Church leaders have an obligation to report crime among their workers and to support the police in their investigations.

A much greater responsibility is detecting and addressing false doctrine. The leaders should rejoice in having Bereans who search the Scriptures for themselves and ask questions. But they are not. They do not want members and pastors to think too hard about anything. In fact, they condemn those who do, ensuring that the sect will plunge into darkness over time.

Notice how Luther’s directions about this passage are turned around by synods. We are to cover our neighbor’s sin, show every mercy, restore our neighbor however we can, and offer forgiveness rather than ridicule. (Ridicule is the reason why we have abortion on demand, because people would rather end a baby’s life than be shamed. When we hear of an early baby from a married couple, we should say “Good, they took responsibility, saved a life, and provided a home for the little one.” When a girl chooses to have a baby, in spite of all the pressures, we should not condemn her lack of self-control. After all, where is the baby’s father? Missing in Action? We should help that baby have the best possible start and provide for the needs of the mother and the child. So many adults have said, “I am glad my mother preserved my life and worked to raise me.” God gives those people a special blessing.

But this is what people do – for synods rather than individuals. They excuse the doctrinal errors of their synods and their synod leaders. They either fear retribution or they want to be rewarded for being loyal. Worst of all, they identify with the institution. If their founders or current leaders are wrong about anything, then their synod is not perfect. And they are not better than anyone else.
I asked SP Harrison on FB last night, since he was gushing about Walther, “Did Walther ever repent of the kidnappings or mob actions? Missouri is the only American Lutheran group started and continued as a cult.” I could not find the comment today. The “owner” can erase them. Perhaps I overlooked it. I am sure of this – no one responded so far.

False doctrine is always an attack on the majesty of God. “No synod is perfect” does not excuse false doctrine. That is a mis-application of this passage, as is “No translation is perfect.” Both statements are slick ways to excuse error. One step leads to the next.

For example, once the Little Three accepted the NIV and adopted their publications - to use it and pay Mr. Murdoch for quoting the NIV, the published got into the position of blackmailing everyone who used it in church publications. They all had to cease quoting the old NIV, which was bad enough, stop the current publications with the old NIV, etc etc. They made it favorable to force the use of the worst “translation” of all time, with invented words, inserted extra words, and completely wrong words employed.

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

This is completely warped in the modern understanding. We have to read the Word in its total context, not just as epigrams to support an ideology. This one was used by Carl Rogers, a former minister, who bragged he started a new religion. Saying that something was wrong was “judgmental.” The trained professions were quick to say “You are being judgmental,” which is really quite judgmental in itself.

This passage does not denounce judging between right and wrong. It means, as the parallel statement suggests, that we should not go around condemning people. We may fall into the same temptations and sins ourselves.

This is spiritual advice for believers. I had an experience with this, when a wife was struggling with her husband’s infidelity. It remained a private matter, ending up with a home visit and a long session about the meaning of forgiveness. The couple reconciled and became as loving as people who were newly engaged, laughing and smiling. They are still married.

When gossips run to the nearest neighbor to condemn someone, often without the facts, they ruin chances for reconciliation. They shame others and they make it easier to fall into the same sin.

The foundation for resisting sin and temptation is forgiveness, not condemnation.

However, that does not mean we excuse gross criminal action, and unrepentant sins. When murder is excused, for instance, it makes the next murder easier to bring about.

Church leaders spend the most time covering up the worst crimes. As one counselor said, “There are two causes. One is the desire to keep everything quiet. But also there is a sense of admiration that exists among these people. That makes it very difficult for abusers to face justice.”

Luther taught in the Large Catechism that such people should face judgment, to serve as a warning to others.

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

I have no doubt that the best way to achieve a choice church position today is to go against this verse completely. The idea is to exact revenge for the tiniest slight, to disparage people behind their backs, to find fault with those who question falsehood, and to bow and scrape to those who can help one’s career – until it is time to pull the rug from under them.

That is why the church institutions are in such a mess today. If someone questions a huge fee for professional fund-raisers, that person is shunned and excluded. Everyone is supposed to go along with everything, until all the lemmings are drowning in the sea. The chief lemming always wears a life preserver – always.

But this verse is a Gospel promise – that a life of mercy and forgiveness will be rewarded with that much and more. Did someone slight us years ago? That should not matter among believers. People have a way of sorting this out for themselves. If they are unrepentant, they will continue their self-destructive ways.

Many are not, so they take steps to reconcile with others. That is God’s desire, because He has provided the remedy for all sin. Husbands and wives can build up resentment or they can be patient and forgiving. This is the ideal training ground for children. The best way they can learn about forgiveness is to experience it with their parents and their siblings. That alone will provide a lifetime of blessing.

39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
Awareness of our sinful nature should always make us more forgiving. Otherwise we are no better than the Pharisees, who were kind to their own friends but not to others. Jesus did not pick out the Pharisees just to show what they were like in their time, but to keep us from being the same law-centered and works-righteous “saints.”

So mercy toward man begins with faith in God and the Gospel of Christ. People will persecute the pure Word of God and despise those who trust in it. But there is no better way to realize how valuable the Word and the Confessions are.

Five centuries later, the sermons of Luther (which are part of the Book of Concord) are just as true and insightful as they were in his day. He was excommunicated for his trouble, and he was hidden (as if dead) in the Wartburg Castle.

Quotations

Third Sunday after Trinity

"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of grace when one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV: 'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace. First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism. Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"
John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, 1934, p. 447. SA, IV, Concordia Triglotta, p. 491. Matthew 18:20.

"We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached, concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #54, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 417.

"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.

"No more splendid work exists than receiving and hearing the Word of God."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 302. Luke 10:38.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Third Sunday after Trinity, 2011







The Third Sunday after Trinity, 2011


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 652     I Lay My Sins on Jesus        1.24
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 #436    The Lord’s My Shepherd         1.33
Gracious Lost and Found
The Communion Hymn # 190    Christ Is Arisen    1:52
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 # 350    Jesus the Very Thought of Thee    1:53

KJV 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Third Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having suffered ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh: We beseech Thee graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ; and quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may abide in Thy word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Thy Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end Amen.

Gracious Lost and Found
These two parables introduce the Prodigal Son. Four of the most comforting passages include these three parables and the Good Samaritan. (The Good Samaritan has been turned into a works-sermon by the law salesmen, but just the opposite is true.)

One of the best ways to read any given text in the Bible is to study the beginning  and what follows. Although many sections stand on their own, as intended in the readings of the early Church, the context means a lot. I doubt whether people were so impatient then as they are now. A Gospel may be read out loud in two hours or so (Mark serving as a Broadway play).

Written manuscripts had great value because they were rare and expensive. That alone would make people treasure the written Word of God the way people treasure collectibles today.

For a time I followed the world of book collecting. First editions are rather rare, since no one knows if a book will sell. Moby Dick did not sell well, so the publisher did not replace the ones burned up in a warehouse fire. Demand makes a price go up even more. One Twain book was yanked and altered, so the very first printing, which I held in my hands, was worth $40,000. But the first Harry Potter was worth $160,000 – kept locked in a safe.

We should treasure the Word of God far more than ordinary books.

There is another parallel. First editions are almost always cheap editions, because little is expected in that gambling game called publishing. A row of first editions in a book store looks like a bookshelf in a Salvation Army store. The covers are rather ordinary and the slipcovers a bit worn.

Because the Word of God seems so ordinary to many, they overlook its value and pass it by, in favor of the latest soap opera novel or sports bio.

We should not pass by these two parables, since they emphasize the essential nature of the Gospel – Jesus welcomes sinners.

Setting

Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Here we have two groups of people. One group consists of the tax collectors (publicans) and the blatant carnal sinners. The term used does not mean sinner in the sense that everyone is a sinner, but someone so obviously engage in carnal behavior that no one can miss it. They know they have no righteousness in them.

The second group consists of Pharisees and scribes, holy and pious men who are good examples to everyone. They are models of rectitude, good citizens, and devout in all their religious practices. They trust in their own righteousness. They really belong with the angels in heaven, as Luther said, and not here on earth with blatant, carnal sinners.

These two parables are meant to comfort all sinners and to disturb those who trust in their own righteousness. Both examples are best understood by those who feel crushed by their sin and suffer from the terrors of the conscience.

That does not mean that these parables are only for hookers, gamblers, and drunks, but also for those who feel the weight of sin for whatever reason, or are weighted down by depression. Those who grew up in an atmosphere of accusation, criticism, and verbal abuse often suffer terribly from an overly-sensitive conscience, from never hearing comfort or love from parents.

I was sitting with a successful salesman, who was suffering. He spoke a few minutes, and I said, “Your father was a big success, but he was very critical of you, wasn’t he?” That diagnosis hit the switch and he responded immediately. His father was far too strict and demanding, far too careful about expressions of love and concern. In such cases, the comfort of Gospel is there but seems blocked by a wall of experience, as if God is saying, “This is not for you, because you are not good enough yet.”

Those who suffer emotionally are often as despised as some poor tramp parked on a bench in the park.

We can hear the sharp tongues of the Scribes and Pharisees, murmuring among themselves that Jesus not only associated with open, carnal sinners, but even sat down to dine with them – the ultimate compliment. What happened to the shunning so carefully taught in Pharisaic Judaism?

Shunning is still the main practice today. People make sure that they are no friends with anyone on the outs with the elite. All it takes is one word or question and the steel door of shunning is activated. Former friends show discomfort when a friendly hello is said. Emails stop. Unfriending on Facebook begins. Suddenly people ask, abruptly, “Why are you being so….?” One man was leaving his synod. A famous Lutheran seminary professor gave him the finger, in front of other students. When the exile returned, a group of people were suddenly friendly again.

The Mennonites did not invent this, but they brought its practice to a new, low level.  The Left practices it ruthlessly, but so does the Syn Conference. Self-righteousness is phony comfort – and only lasts a few years.

3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

Jesus knew what was in their hearts, so he rebuked them with a clear, obvious example. This kind of teaching can have two opposite effects. Someone who reads them as a works-promoting Pharisee will be offended and dismiss them. Someone who needs the comfort of the Gospel will dwell on their meaning and apply them.

The Gospel of forgiveness is healing and strengthening. When the doctor showed that I had high blood pressure, I received a sample of the medicine to treat it. The medicine tells the heart to stop working so hard. I took one pill with water and immediately felt the effect. It was almost instant.

With many medicines we forget to take the entire dose over a period of time. Antibiotics are like that. People start the regimen, feel better, and forget the stronger germs are just waiting for their moment to rebound. They do and the individual is twice as sick as before.

Obviously blood pressure medicine is needed every single day. Someone can skip a day or  reduce the dose, but there is a lot of risk behind such denial.

The Gospel is a daily medicine. We remains sinners in need of it and will always be sinners as long as we are on this earth, but the Gospel Promises keep granting us forgiveness, received in faith, based upon the Atonement of Christ.

Jesus gave an example to stop the mouths of the Scribes and Pharisees. No one can refute the earthly example. We are attached to the animals we own and the pets we have. No matter how short-lived they are, and their less than perfect behavior, we worry about them. Precious has never adjusted to domestic life. She is a jittery Shetland sheepdog who will jump at the sound of paper rustling. She was in trouble for not going outdoors, and she displayed guilt for her behavior. Later, she got up on the bed and cuddled during a Columbo movie. It’s difficult to stay unhappy with rescue pets, when we look at their past. No one wanted Precious or Treasure, but they have given us lots of affection and laughter. Sassy is a legend in two areas (Phoenix and NW Arkansas) because of her intelligence, personality, and skills.

How many shepherds would stay with their 99 sheep when one is lost and in peril? Jesus knew the answer to that. A shepherd would leave his flock with a companion and go out to seek the lost sheep.

A sheep by itself will find itself surrounded by predators and difficult land to cross. Where is the water and the food? Soon it will be food for others.

The best touch of this narrative is the concise description of finding the sheep.  
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

He does not lead it home, but carries it home on his shoulders. Likewise, God does not drive us to the pastures where we belong, using a whip or a staff, but carries us in His love. Those good things which happen are the result of His Word and His will, not our great skills and talents.

In addition, the shepherd with the lost sheep invites his friends and neighbors to join him in the celebration. “Rejoice with me.” No word is said about the weakness or foolishness of the sheep. Everyone knows what they are like.

So Isaiah said, “All we, like sheep, have gone astray, each to his own way.”


But there is a second conclusion to this story, in case people miss the impact of the example given. Jesus Himself applied the Word, which we must grasp and keep close to us in our understanding of the Gospel Promises:

7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Jesus is quite emphatic in saying that heaven rejoices more over a repentant sinner than over 99 righteous who do not need to repent. This is satire, because the Pharisees and Scribes are the worst sinners, sinning in their hearts for condemning Jesus and the open, carnal sinners. Doubtless the carnal sinners were filled with peace and comfort from believing in Christ and receiving His forgiveness, which did not mean Go and sin some more, but Go and sin no more.

The righteous (in their own minds) do not need to repent, so their hardened hearts do not see or comprehend the Gospel. They may say the words but the meaning is alien to them.

As I said before, the chief benefit of writing for the Net is re-uniting old friends. Some stay way in the background, because the Pharisees watch who associates with me. Others are routinely in touch with me. A little girl turned into a college student (overnight!) and we enjoy seeing that happen.

The true Gospel unites people and it also drives people apart. The Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword. It discerns all our thoughts, so some go by the wayside, content to cling to the familiar falsehoods. Others hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him.

Two advocates of Universal Objective Justification (Glende and Patterson) have excommunicated families for questioning UOJ. The families did what is expected. Hat in hand, they asked if they could please discuss some issues. The leaders avoided discussion. One DP (Englebrecht) even hid from the meeting. So they are left with this question, “If they were forgiven before they were born, why are they NOT forgiven now, for asking about doctrinal issues?”



Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Second Sunday after Trinity




The Second Sunday after Trinity, 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 #471 Jesus Thy Blood 4.6
Future Grace
The Communion 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 #657 Beautiful Savior 4.24

KJV 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Second Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy holy word Thou hast called us to Thy great supper, and we beseech Thee: Quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not hear Thy word without fruit, but that we may prepare ourselves rightly for Thy kingdom, and not suffer ourselves to be hindered by any worldly care, 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.

Future Grace

KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse.

Lenski:
The parable is thus seen to be historical, the “many” who were invited thus early were the Jews. They had this invitation in the old covenant and in the Old Testament; we might say that God sent them a written invitation. But we should here again abide by the parable which has in mind the Jews who were then living and their treatment of the invitation and does not intend to cover the previous generations of the Jews. While it is thus plainly historical, the parable is at the same time prophetic and reaches out to all future generations, whether of Jews or Gentiles. This appears in what follows.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 777

Through the Word, the Gospel brings Jesus and all His benefits to us.

The Gospel is a graceful invitation from the Holy Trinity to receive the benefits of God’s mercy. This is not a two-way contract, as some imagine, where God does something – offering Christ – and we do something in return - to complete the transaction, as they like to say. God proclaims His mercy to sinners, to the ungodly, in the Promises.

The First Promise (a synonym for Gospel in the Book of Concord) was Genesis 3:15. Although man was undeserving, God promised the Savior who would crush the head of Satan. This is called the First Gospel, which continued to be proclaimed throughout the Old Testament.

Abraham believed, and it was counted as righteousness.

KJV Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

The Parable

This parable is quite vivid, because it reminds us of the many who rejected the Word in the Old Testament, and how the Gospel moved on to new groups, and to future Jews as well.

I hear from a conservative Jewish Lutheran every single day. One would expect that his synod would say, “Here is a remarkable story, and someone with a unique perspective on the Gospel.” He is highly respected among orthodox Lutherans but the organization was not kind to him or his son, who became a pastor. Everyone must bear the cross, which often means enduring the ingratitude of others.

Likewise, I imagined that Lutherans would think it valuable to have someone in the parish with many years of extra academic work in church history and Biblical studies. Instead, it makes the MDivs angry, dismissive, and scornful. What could someone possibly learn from 8 extra years of study, plus the years of research that goes into writing books?

I have heard in two “conservative” Lutheran synods – “You quote Luther too much.”

And from various Lutheran sects that call themselves orthodox – “You are obsessed with justification.”

Some of the same people call justification by faith the chief article of Christianity, so they must think we should not wear it thin by studying it, researching it, and writing about it. My mistake.
This parable concentrates on justification by faith, how people ignore, reject, and make excuses about the Gospel.

Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

The word “certain” means this is a parable, and the man is God. The great supper reminds us that this is like a sought-after dinner invitation. Who would reject an invitation (not a command) to attend and enjoy a great feast?

There have been times when we were invited to great celebrations. When Marvin Schwan was giving away $800,000 a year to revise the Beck Bible, the chief con artist sponsored dinners where the choicest food was offered for free. After attending one, we were eager to attend the next, but the money was gone.

Likewise, one university sponsored a big Christmas feast, which was packed with choice foods – no limit. It was not a sit-down meal, but a luxury buffet. We looked forward to the next.

Also, people covet invitations to events where famous people will appear. So one would expect an invitation from God would trump anything, even a dinner or snack with the President. But the results are not the same.

17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse.

“He sent his servant” to invite them – that refers to Jesus Himself, called the slave (or servant) in Philippians 2. In other places we see the Old Testament prophets treated as servants, but this is one servant. As we see in John’s Gospel, the idea of Jesus being sent from God is a common theme. Just as He was sent from God, so He sent His disciples.

All things are now ready. The Kingdom of Grace is ready, and people are invited by the Gospel to enjoy what God has prepared for them at a great price, the sacrifice of His Son.

This does not call for “a decision.” The Gospel invitation creates faith, trust in God’s mercy. That is compared to a seed in many places, a growing trust. Or a graft, where the Gospel is grafted onto us, so that we now have the living Word as part of our being. Christ becomes part of us when the Word brings him to us.

The response is humorous, in the ironic sense. They were “as one” or unanimous in making excuses. The excuses are not the fault of the Servant, Christ, but come from the hardness of people’s hearts.

What they value most is seen in their excuses.

The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

This is funny, because the ground is not going to go away, and the invitation is now. God continues to pursue us with His grace and mercy, but rejecting the Gospel makes people more indifferent and cold toward it. People find it easier to find fault with the Gospel, to find fault with believers, and by hearing it with momentary faith distance themselves all the more from it.

America is saturated with Gospel messages, but people are joyful over the Gospel in parts of the world where churches and ministers are rare. Because we are saturated with every variety, sect, and heresy, people find it easy to ignore and find fault.

The lameness of the excuse is a mirror to the condition of that person’s soul, and it represents people who value their property or material goods more than the Gospel.

19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

Test-driving the oxen is another funny point. Of course, when we obtain something of value, we want to see it and admire it. A box may arrive in the mail with something we wanted to purchase. That is opened right away. We love driving a new car.

The parable reminds us that the daily cares will wait for us, while the eternal Gospel moves on, just like the rain. This is a big excuse today – that people have so much to do. I recall a hard-working German telling me, “That is my only day of rest.” He seemed to think that having his sins forgiven was work, another day of labor.

The third person does not even ask for an excuse –

20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

Why ruin a new marriage with this great banquet? This is a common thought today. Some want to trappings of a church wedding, but I frequently see this opinion – “I am spiritual but not religious.” That is another way of saying, “I have no confession of faith, just a vague sentimental idea of spirituality.”

Very few marriages start with the idea of a man and a woman pledging their love and then living together in the bonds of matrimony, an institution created by God. Instead, people wish to live together and then have cohabitation blessed by a minister or justice of the peace, sometimes after having several children out of wedlock first. They continue to dishonor God’s institution of marriage yet expect something good to come from it. This has multiplied to the point where these on-and-off parents (the father often absent or missing) do not know the basics about raising children or protecting them from harm. This has been played out in the current trial where a young girl was found wrapped in garbage bags in a waste area.

Our country once noted, in many official ways, that what we have is from God the Creator. He was acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence, implied in the Constitution, and thanked in the Thanksgiving Proclamation. Now we suffer the consequences of godlessness and paganism.

21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

The Christian Church began in turmoil, with persecution and excommunications. And they have not stopped. Jesus warned in John that His disciples would be thrown out of the synagogues, where they would offer this banquet invitation and show how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Promises. Even though the Gospel was persecuted, it moved on to create faith in new people. The very act of driving people away in persecution spread the message of Jesus.

People escaped along 55,000 miles of paved roads in the Roman Empire. If this had happened in an earlier day, the spread of the Gospel would have been regional at best.

They also used sea routes, even though they were treacherous. Paul was shipwrecked more than once, as he recorded.

The Gospel quickly spread from England to India. It began with the dregs of the Roman Empire and moved up slowly to the Emperor Constantine, who created a Christian capital city in the place called Constantinople. A Greek Christian Empire existed for 11 centuries, preserving the Gospel and Western culture. The foundation – slaves, beggars, prostitutes, homosexuals – converted by the Gospel, often tortured and sent to die in the stadiums, for sport.

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

God is so merciful that He will take anyone in through the Gospel. No one is selected by merit or outward righteousness.
A classmate from Moline confessed to me about his terrible sins in the past. He did not elaborate. He said my mother saved his life.

I pointed out that we are equally sinners. In fact, the outwardly righteous person may be a worse sinner than anyone else. Someone can do enormous damage from spiritual sins, such as false doctrine and ruining people through revenge. And that can be done without resorting to any outward, obvious carnal sin.

The carnal sinners have the advantage of knowing their sin. The spiritual sinners think they are really fine people but they trust in their own righteousness, not in the Gospel.

The Gospel pronounces all believers completely forgiven of all their sins. This is the power to battle against temptation. The Gospel strengthens us against temptation by restoring us in God’s eyes through the righteousness of Christ.