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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reformation Sunday, 2011



The Festival of the Reformation, 2011


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #260   O Lord Look Down                1.4
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 # 262 A Mighty Fortress            1:86

The Righteousness of Faith

The Communion Hymn #259                Flung to the Heedless Winds 1.64
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 # 261     Lord Keep Us Steadfast            1.93

KJV Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

KJV Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Collect
O almighty, eternal God: We confess that we are poor sinners and cannot answer one of a thousand, when Thou contendest with us; but with all our hearts we thank Thee, that Thou hast taken all our guilt from us and laid it upon Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and made Him to atone for it: We pray Thee graciously to sustain us in faith, and so to govern us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may live according to Thy will, in neighborly love, service, and helpfulness, and not give way to wrath or revenge, that we may not incur Thy wrath, but always find in Thee a gracious Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Righteousness of Faith

The Formula of Concord, The Righteousness of Faith, Solid Declaration:
8] Therefore, in order to explain this controversy in a Christian way by means of God's Word, and, by His grace, to settle it, our doctrine, faith, and confession are as follows:

9] Concerning the righteousness of faith before God we believe, teach, and confess unanimously, in accordance with the comprehensive summary of our faith and confession presented above, that poor sinful man is justified before God, that is, absolved and declared free and exempt from all his sins, and from the sentence of well-deserved condemnation, and adopted into sonship and heirship of eternal life, without any merit or worth of our own, also without any preceding, present, or any subsequent works, out of pure grace, because of the sole merit, complete obedience, bitter suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Christ alone, whose obedience is reckoned to us for righteousness.

10] These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves.


KJV Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Lenski:
“The angel has  “the everlasting gospel to preach” the noun and the infinitive repeat and thus emphasize the gospel and the idea of good news. We need not ask what this gospel is, for its content is stated in v. 7. The older Protestants regarded this first angel flying in midheaven as a prophecy of Luther and his gospel, and to this day Rev. 14:6, 7 is the regular pericope for Reformation Day. Sometimes it was thought that Luther was prefigured by the third angel. The other two were thought to be Wycliff and Huss. When commentators reject this interpretation they do so without sufficient reason. The text for Reformation Day is well chosen, for the fathers of Reformation days selected it not because they identified the first angel wholly with Luther. The Reformer, too, preached only the old apostolic gospel. The angel with the eternal gospel is the messenger from heaven for the whole New Testament Era and thus most certainly includes a man like Luther who once more made the eternal gospel ring out in all its saving power and purity in the whole wide world despite all the devil’s effort to hush his voice. Use the text as the fathers intended it to be used, and all is well. If any made the angel apply only to the Reformer, their only fault lay in the narrowness of their interpretation.” Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Revelation. Columbus, O. : Lutheran Book Concern, 1935, S. 428.

This quotation, which I used last year, is an important one to consider, because Lenski recognized the importance of recognizing all apostolic preaching as angelic, not limiting the symbolism to Luther alone.

Many key figures contributed to Luther’s understanding of the Gospel and to his ministry of teaching and preaching. However, the celebration of Reformation should not be about people but about the Gospel itself, its meaning and comfort.

I spent several hours going through the history of doctrine to clarify some details about justification by faith. Many authors are simply rationalists who like to banter about details from history, using extensive footnotes to show how well read they are, how brilliant they are. The pages are dry and sterile, although they do give up some interesting facts.

According to the Folio Book Club, the Medieval era is quite popular with its readers. The period includes roughly ten centuries between the Fall of Rome (the Western Roman Empire) and the Fall of Constantinople (the Eastern Roman Empire).

During that time, in Western Europe especially, the Gospel of Christ was replaced gradually with a religion of Mary. He became the angry law-giver and judge, while she became the divine person who brings comfort and forgiveness, especially to those suffering in Purgatory.

The Medieval religious leaders discovered, like today’s leaders, that there is a lot more money in pounding people with the law than there is with teaching the Gospel. Medieval dramas were designed to scare people to death. Their only comfort was to reach Purgatory, where they would suffer for their sins. The hope of Purgatory, still being taught today, is that prayers and donations and good works among the living would reduce the time of those already dead. Upon death, the best hope for that individual would be an endowment of masses to be said to reduce the time of suffering. Also, wearing a device, such as a scapular, would reduce time.

The result of this law religion was corruption. Many people focus on the way things looked at that time, but they overlook the cause. The Scriptures were given to us to convey Jesus the Savior to us, to give us the Gospel of God’s grace. When the Word of God is used to abuse and exploit people through the Law, those who mishandle the Word are blinded and hardened. They turn everything inside out, hating good and loving evil.

KJV 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

This shows the efficacy of false doctrine, since the Word of God becomes a Word of condemnation for those who abuse it. The Medieval papacy confirmed the truth of this passage and remains true today. In the last few years an effort has been made to appear more Biblical and Jesus-centered, but that only emphasizes the gulf between the Gospel and the religion of the law. Putting a veneer of the Gospel on the law is simply more deception and leads to more corruption.



The response of the Vatican to the Reformation was murder. Those who wanted to teach the Gospel were hunted down and burned at the stake or put into prison. As Chemnitz observed in An Examination of the Council of Trent, the Church of Rome tried to argue using the Scriptures at first. They were clobbered in the early debates, so they began to turn against the Scriptures as “unclear, insufficient, and incomplete.” Where have those words been used against the Bible lately? Yes, among the “conservative” Lutherans who say, “That is a gre-e-e-e-ey area of Scripture.” (God speaks unclearly!) And they add, “The synod is doing a study on that.” (The Scriptures need a human source because the Scriptures are insufficient.) Naturally, we need demographic studies from non-Christians to explain ministry strategies to us, to complete the incomplete picture revealed in the Bible. In other words, God needs man.

KJV Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Whatever the perfect law of God says, it says to those who are under the law. Therefore, there is no possible way for people to claim salvation by works or salvation under the law, whether this is according to the Jewish law, civic righteousness, or ecclesiastical customs. For instance, there is an unwritten law that the sons of famous clergy are automatically excused from the 10 Commandments and necessarily deserve an exalted place in the church structure. This has led many denominations to reverse their doctrinal stance in only one generation because the favored sons turn against the traditions and gladly overthrow their mother church from the inside. That happened at Fuller Seminary, too, where the son of the founder went off the school and came back an apostate. The school that daddy Fuller founded to protect everyone against liberal doctrine became a source of liberal doctrine as all the old fuddy-duddies were given their walking papers and encouraged to go.

In the LCMS, Fibby became the Concordia St. Louis seminary president because his father, Louis Fuerbringer, was a faithful and humble teacher. Fibby hired a team of apostate professors over the years and resigned early so he could be replaced by Tietjen before a conservative, (more or less) Jack Preus, became Synod President. Other human forces were at work, but the unwritten law was primary – the son of a respected leader already had the office for his asking.

No matter how much man loves the law for his justification, no one is justified by the law. Having a huge congregation  is not justification for unfaithfulness in teaching. Drawing in large donations will not absolve one of sins. Nor should giving millions be interpreted as Lutheran indulgence, to let a centi-millionaire indulge himself. (How well has that worked? The corrupt wealthy are absolved with the right gifts and the Gospel is corrupted even more, with disastrous results, except for some pretty buildings.)

If someone wants to bring up the law, the very act of using law excuses will accentuate sinfulness. “The law always condemns.” Or, two images come from Pilgrim’s Progess. One is sweeping the room vigorously. The more the law sweeps the dirt, the cloudier the air becomes. The second image is the man who runs full speed and knocks Christian down, repeatedly. Christian cries out, “Show me some mercy.” The man responds, “I am the law. I have no mercy.”

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

These two verses are brilliant and memorable, because the law is named to show that the only righteousness can be without the law. This is a play on words, since the Law has two possible meanings. The Greek word for law means “law,” but Hebrew word Torah can be used for the Five Books of Moses, for all teaching from God, and for the Law (commanding and condemning).

The Law and the Prophets are the Five Books of Moses and all the prophetic books (major and minor prophets). The Writings are the Psalms, Proverbs, etc.

The Law and Prophets reveal the Gospel to us, and the Gospel is faith in Jesus Christ. The only righteousness possible is faith in Christ. These two terms are welded together, faith and righteousness.

Only those who pixelate the Bible--by focusing on a phrase from one verse, out of context, against the meaning of the passage--can separate righteousness from faith. That is why one entire section of the Formula of Concord is called  The Righteousness of Faith.

The implication from this verse alone is clear. No one is justified, forgiven, apart from faith. That also means that believing in Christ is forgiveness of sin.

This is the first step in realizing what a comfort the Gospel is. The wise guys who populate the church bodies have all kinds of warnings, which diminish and twist the meaning of the Gospel.

I recall one that was in many of the dogmatics books from mainline theologians, famous men (who had to be correct). They were always saying, “But no one should make forgiveness or salvation contingent upon faith.” The mainline theologians, supposedly loathed by the “conservative” Lutherans, teach the same thing – that God has absolved the entire human race, every single person, apart from faith. And – ah – that is the grace of God – the Gospel.

Notice the weasel words here in the LCMS missional website –


A good statement would be impossible to interpret two ways, but this is ambiguous. A UOJ advocate would say, “Yes, the center of faith is the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that the entire world was pronounced forgiven the moment Christ died, or the moment He rose from the dead. It was one of those moments, anyway.”

But someone who only knew justification by faith alone would overlook the camouflage words and think, “They really mean it.”

The effect is to take away the power and comfort of the Gospel. How do I know that I am forgiven of all my sins? The Gospel is clear – If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and confess Him as risen from the dead, your sins are forgiven. Believing in Him is forgiveness of sin – no strings or conditions attached.

The law-oriented sects always say – “But you must do this or give up that…” The Catholic Church says, “Works must be added to faith, and no one is ever sure of how many works are needed.”

The Bible is full of affirming passages, to show how complete this forgiveness is:

KJV Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Here we see how powerful the spirit of Enthusiasm is in the Lutheran Church today. This passage is twisted to say “all have sinned” and “all are justified.” In fact, the NNIV that the WELS leaders love so much has incorporated this error, adding a word not even found (the second all) in their earlier, odious NIV of 1984.

Romans 3:23-24
New International Version (NNIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all (sic) are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:23-24
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Justification can only happen through the Gospel Word, whether in teaching and preaching (the invisible Word) or in the Sacraments of absolution, Holy Communion, and Holy Baptism – the visible Word.



The New Testament term “justification” always means God’s declaration through the Gospel Word.

Enthusiasts blaspheme against the Holy Spirit by separating the Spirit from the Word. God’s abundant grace simply flows to all people, but that creates a fur-ball of contradictions. If everyone is forgiven, why must they believe to be really forgiven? Why are those who question this Universalism excommunicated, since they were born forgiven and remain forgiven, even without faith? The Hottentots are forgiven (Ed Preuss) but the justification by faith believers are kicked out. My only advice is this – “Do not think about it too much.”

Getting back to the actual meaning of the passage –

for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

This is a beautiful passage of comfort, because it means that I have forgiveness in spite of all my sins, weaknesses, and shortcomings. Human society says, “You are a bad person because you upset people.” God says, “You are a bad person, no matter what anyone thinks, if you lack faith in My Son Jesus Christ. You have no forgiveness, even if everyone admires your business, your donations, and your smooth manners.”

God says in this passage, “All are sinners and every single person is lacking My glory, but I declare believers forgiven freely through the release from slavery won by Christ.” (Jackson Living Bible)

Here is a case where two different words are used for one word, redemption, in English. In some places redemption is the price paid by Christ. In this case it means being set free.
Sin makes us slaves, but the Gospel Word of Christ sets us free because of His work for us.

through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

The propitiation is the Mercy Seat from Exodus 25:17-22. This solid gold slab on the Ark of the Covenant was sprinkled with blood.

As we often see in the Scriptures, many statements of the Gospel are grouped together, so we can see this more clearly. For a Jewish believer, this symbolism is especially powerful, for faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ means we are declared righteous and forgiven – through the forbearance of God. In other words, not because we deserve this, but because of His love and mercy.

Because Christ was publicly crucified, everyone can see that God’s righteousness comes to us through this atoning blood sacrifice, which fulfilled all the sacrifices made up to this point in the Temple. He is the spotless Passover Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world.

through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

The apostates (mainline theologians) do not like to have Christ as a Substitute, atoning for our sins. They rail against that, but Paul reveals that this shows God’s justice, in providing for the redemption (payment, release) of our sins.

UOJ is once again destroyed in a few words – God is the justifier of that person who believes in Christ. Not by works, but by faith, the law of faith. “Therefore, we declare that a man is declared, by the Gospel, forgiven of his sin through faith – without any works of the law.

Faith in Christ is forgiveness. Not believing is a rejection of Christ and God’s mercy shown forth in His Son.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity:
Matthew 22:34-46




The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2011




Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 239     Come Thou Almighty King                        2:72
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 #269            O Lord Our Father                  2:56     

David’s Son, David’s Lord

The Communion Hymn # 315:11-15            I Come O Savior             2:66
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 #651               Be Still My Soul               2:17

KJV 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We are poor, miserable sinners; we know Thy will, but cannot fulfill it because of the weakness of our flesh and blood, and because our enemy, the devil, will not leave us in peace. Therefore we beseech Thee, shed Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that, in steadfast faith, we may cling to Thy Son Jesus Christ, find comfort in His passion and death, believe the forgiveness of sin through Him, and in willing obedience to Thy will lead holy lives on earth, until by Thy grace, through a blessed death, we depart from this world of sorrow, and obtain eternal life, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

David’s Son, David’s Lord


Matthew 22: 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

The Passover tradition includes four questions being asked. The audience asks the rabbi or the head of the household three questions. The rabbi asks the fourth question. The idea is to test someone’s grasp of the Torah.

This happens in Matthew, with Jesus asking the fourth question.

The two parts of this Gospel lesson have this in common. Both show continuity with Judaism. This shows the union of the Old and New Testaments.

In the first part, Jesus was asked the greatest commandment. He answered –

Matthew 22: 37bThou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

As everyone knows, a similar summary was given by a lawyer in Luke, part of the introduction to the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

KJV Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

In fact, it is also known in rabbinical tradition that famous rabbis summarized the Old Testament exactly the same way. This leads the rationalists to say that Jesus was just a rabbi whose reputation was inflated by others, especially Paul.

Historical Sidebar – Pietism and Rationalism
Where does this rationalism come from? In Europe, the center of rationalism was Halle University. The school was established to promote Pietism, and its charitable institutions attracted a large, admiring audience across the world. Pietism emphasized Biblical studies but also avoided doctrinal debates. They promoted working with non-Lutherans in missions and charities.

It only took one generation for Pietism to become rationalistic. Georg Christian Knapp was considered the last of the Pietists, but he taught that the Trinity was not in harmony with the Scriptures. Tholuck, who was Adolph Hoenecke’s mentor at Halle, was a Universalist who imagined that everyone was saved.  American Lutheran leaders were taught at Halle (Muhlenberg, Bishop Stephan, Hoenecke) or profoundly influenced by Pietism.

In America, this shift from Pietism to rationalism took place in a generation or two. The WELS college designated for preparing men for seminary, Northwestern College in Watertown, Wisconsin, became the center of Seminex rationalism, producing the core leaders of the future ELCA.

Ralph Gerke and Richard Jungkuntz were considered LCMS martyrs for the Seminex cause. The OT prophet-like photos were often in Seminex publications. First they lost their jobs at Watertown, where they were admired as teachers, even though they taught against the Scriptures. College kids tend to idolize their professors.

Gerke and Jungkuntz moved to the LCMS where they were rewarded for being rationalists with doctorates. Jungkuntz was chairman of the board of the break-off seminary, which also served as the seminary for the Metropolitan Community Church, the exclusively homosexual/lesbian denomination.

That means Jungkuntz (who married a WELS professor’s daughter) arranged for and encouraged a joint partnership with a church body devoted to sharing the joys of Sodom. That influence carried over to ELCA, which made the lavender agenda the chief cause of the entire denomination. One reader of the blog, known only as 29A, wants people to remember, and I quote – “The radicalism of ELCA came from WELS, from its own college, from Jungkuntz, Gehrke, and their followers.”

Jungkuntz, while still in WELS, feared that UOJ would be lost or forgotten by his denomination. Unfortunately, it got even worse. UOJ became the springboard for the Church Growth Movement, a convenient way to hide rationalism and unionism. The Emergent Church toadies are more of the same.



The Bible Defeats Rationalism
The Bible defeats rationalism by opposing its foundations. As Luther taught, the Bible is the Book of the Holy Spirit, a book that judges all other books. Nothing shows the spirit of a teacher more than his attitude toward the Scriptures. When someone begins to rant against the inerrancy of the Bible, he is revealing himself as a rationalist.

But there is another way they give themselves away. That is where people must be far more careful, because their methods are so clever. They rave against the efficacy of the Word by saying, as the first VP of WELS has done in print, “Yes we know the Word is efficacious, but we make it effective with our methods.”

Or they say, “According to studies, a church will do better if…”

Or, “We have to market the Gospel.” They are so bold that they even expose their attitudes with such language. (Marketing is no longer a popular major at one business school. It was once the most popular major. Lutherans love to jump on abandoned band-wagons and yell about how clever they are.)

The Word never lacks the power and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. When people listen attentively and humbly to the Word, this power is made known in God’s grace.

However, when people quote the Word to abuse it, the Holy Spirit’s power becomes one of condemnation, blinding, and hardening them. Thus their proud manipulation turns them into rationalists and eventually into atheists.

The laity have the good fortune of not being exposed to professors who glorify their own theories, who become authorities just for having a position at a school. After a period of time, no one can question that person’s teaching because that threatens the idol.

Luther dealt with that, too, because most of the theologians of his age were opposed to the Gospel and brilliantly argued their case as experts.

Today we have the Gospel cited by the Emergent Church types (who dress like bums), the Roman Catholic Church, and the modernists – all to their own advantage, giving people what their itching ears want to hear.

The Bible Brings Jesus To Us
The Word of God has one purpose – to bring Jesus to us. The saving message of the Bible is “Trust only in Christ for salvation. Believing in Him is forgiveness of sin. Forgiveness is salvation and eternal life.”

Luther often thought about a phrase of Scripture all day long. Each lesson gives us a chance to think about the passage for the entire week. Repeating the lessons each year means we get to know the passage better each time, awakening us to new insights provided by the work of the Holy Spirit.

This statement of Jesus is a clear example of the Two Natures of Christ. The religious leaders saw a man, an honored rabbi, teaching about the Torah. But Jesus asked them a question that plainly taught them about His divinity.

Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

How can the son of David call his own descendant “Lord”? That can only be from the Messiah being from the House of David (human nature) and the eternal Son of God (divine nature).

The statement itself draws from the history of human warfare. When one nation conquered another nation, the defeated king was used as a footstool for the victorious one.

One of the most ferocious warriors of all time, Bayezid, was reduced to spending his captivity in a large bird-cage.


This statement from the Psalms looks ahead to the end of time, when all things will be brought into subjection under Jesus as the king of kings, the lord of lords. There will be no opponents left, no enemies still raving against the Gospel. That is when every knee will bow, on earth, in heaven, and beneath the earth. Even the jibbering demons of Hell will have to acknowledge the truth, but without the saving benefits of faith.

When events seem overwhelming and defeating, this statement from 2,000 years ago, about the future, is still true.

We have the Messiah on, 24/7. Each time I get near the kitchen, a different part is playing. The Gospel is sung from every part of the Bible, using the actual words of the Bible. Each passage reminds me of Luther’s words – how can anyone be sad when these truths are known?

And that is why we need to hear the Gospel at all times. Our trust in the Word gets battered by events and by other people. Our Old Adam is inclined to say, “That may be true, but…” All “yes, but” statements are really “no” statements.

Sin, for most people, is dominated by images of carnal sin. Many churches have flailed away at carnal sin, with so much energy that they never get close to Jesus’ definition of sin.



KJV John 16:8 And when He (the Holy Spirit) is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on Me.

The purpose of the Holy Spirit in the Word, in all preaching and teaching, is to say, “Lack of complete faith in Jesus in a sin.”

This is the root, the foundation of all other sins.

In contrast, faith in Christ is the basis for the fruit of the Spirit. All the qualities of life that people desire are the God-generated, Word-fueled products of the Gospel.

KJV Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

If you want more of these in your life, trust in the Gospel. Listen to and read the Gospel. Hear the Gospel sung in faithful hymns and music. Become a Bach expert. He scratched on his music – Jesus Help Me, and To God Alone Be Glory.

We know someone who uses art to portray the Gospel. There is nothing like handing a book like The Story of Jesus in Pictures and hearing someone gasp at the full-color art.

Quotations

"The New Testament is the inerrant record of the revelation of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and of the truths and principles proceeding, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from that revelation.  The Old Testament is in like manner an inerrant record, having the express and often repeated testimony and authority of Christ, of the preparatory and partial revelations made concerning Him before His coming.  Hebrews 1:1."
            Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia:  General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 3. Hebrews 1:1.              

"The Old Testament dealt with the promises of God to the chosen people. Thereby God placed Himself in 'covenant' relation to Israel (berith).  This relation, like the promises and the gifts of God to Israel, is always onesided. It is always God's covenant, not Israel's, and not a mutual agreement, not a suntheke.  This promise and covenant indeed obligates Israel, and Israel assumes these obligations, but the covenant emanates entirely from God."
            R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Columbus:  Lutheran Book Concern, 1938, p. 235. Hebrews 7:22;                 

"In view of their spiritual meaning the psalms are really lovely and sweet; for they are comforting to all depressed, wretched consciences, who are in fear of sin, the anguish and agony of death, and all sorts of trouble and misery.  To such hearts the Book of Psalms is a sweet, comforting, lovely song, because it sings and preaches the Messiah, although one merely reads or recites the words without notes.  Nevertheless, the use of notes or music, as a wonderful creation and gift of God, helps greatly to produce this effect, especially when the people sing along and do so with fine devoutness...Thus David, too, often dispelled, or at least checked or weakened, the evil spirit for Saul with his minstrelsy (1 Samuel 16:17ff.).  For the evil spirit is not at ease when one sings or preaches God's Word in true faith.  He is a spirit of sadness and cannot stay where a heart is spiritually joyful (joyful in God and His Word).
            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II,  p. 981. 1 Samuel 16:17ff.  




Saturday, October 22, 2011

Luther's Sermon on David's Son and David's Lord.
The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity.
Matthew 22:34-46





Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity; Matthew 22:34-46

A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil. [The following sermon is taken from volume V:170-183 of The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI, 1983). It was originally published in 1905 in English by Lutherans in All Lands (Minneapolis, MN), as The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 14. This e-text was scanned and edited by Richard P. Bucher, it is in the public domain and it may be copied and distributed without restriction.]

1. This Gospel consists of two questions. In the first the lawyer on behalf of the other Pharisees asks Christ: Which is the great commandment in the law? In the second the Lord asks the Pharisees and the lawyer: Whose son is David? These two questions concern every Christian; for he who wishes to be a Christian must thoroughly understand them. First, what the law is, and the purpose it serves; and secondly, who Christ is, and what we may expect from him.

2. Christ explains here to the Pharisees the law, telling them what the sum of the whole law is, so that they are completely silenced both at his speech and his question, and know less than nothing of what the law is and who Christ is. From this it follows, that although unbelief may appear as wisdom and holiness before the world, it is nevertheless folly and unrighteousness before God, especially where the knowledge of the two questions mentioned above is wanting. For he who does not know how he stands before the law, and what he may expect from Christ, surely has not the wisdom of God, no matter how wise and prudent he may pretend to be. Let us therefore consider the first question, namely: What the law is; what it commands and how it is to be spiritually interpreted.

3. When the lawyer asked Christ, which was the great commandment in the law, the Lord said to him:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets."

4. As if the Lord would say: He who possesses love to God, and love to his neighbor, has all things, and therefore fulfils the law; for the whole law and all the prophets point to these two themes, namely: how God and our neighbor are to be loved.

5. Now one may wish to ask: How can you harmonize this statement, that all things are to be comprehended in these two commandments, since there was given to the Jews circumcision and many other commandments? To answer this, let us see in the first place how Christ explains the law, namely, that it must be kept with the heart. In other words, the law must be spiritually comprehended; for he who does not lay hold of the law with the heart and with the Spirit, will certainly not fulfil it. Therefore the Lord here gives to the lawyer the ground and real substance of the law, and says that these are the greatest commandments, to love God with the heart and our neighbor as ourselves. From this it follows that he, who is not circumcised, who does not fast nor pray, is not doing it from the heart; even though he may perform external acts, he nevertheless does nothing before God, for God looketh on the heart, and not on our acts, I Sam. 16, 7. It will not profit a man at all, no matter what work he may perform, if his heart is not in it.



6. From this arises another question: Since works are of no profit to a man, why then did God give so many commandments to the Jews? To this I answer, these commandments were given to the end that we might become conscious whether we really love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and in addition our neighbor as ourselves; for St. Paul says in Rom. 7, 7 (3, 20), that the law is nothing but a consciousness and a revelation of sin. What would I know of sin, if there were no law to reveal it to me? Here now is the law that saith: Thou shalt love God with thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. This we fulfil if we do all that the law requires; but we are not doing it. Hence he shows us where we are lacking, and that, while we ought really to do something, we are doing nothing.

7. That the Jews had to practice circumcision was indeed a foolish ceremony, yea, a command offensive to reason, even though it were given by God still today. What service was it to God, to burden his people with this grievous commandment? What good was it to him, or what service to a neighbor? Yea, and it did not profit the Jew, who was circumcised. Why then did God give the command? In order that this commandment and law might show them whether they really loved God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind, and whether they did it willingly or not. For if there were a devout heart, it would say: I verily do not know why God gave me circumcision, inasmuch as it does not profit any one, neither God, nor me, nor my neighbor; but since it is well pleasing to God, I will nevertheless do it, even though it be considered a trifling and despised act. Hence, circumcision was an exercise of the commandment, Thou shalt love God with all thy heart.

8. It was also a foolish command God gave to Abraham, to slay his son, Gen. 22, 2. For if reason had been the judge in this, both it and all mankind would have come to no other conclusion than this: It is an unfriendly and hostile command, how can it be from God, since God himself said to Abraham that he would multiply his seed through this son, and it would become as innumerable as the stars of the firmament and as the sand by the sea. Therefore it was a foolish commandment, a grievous, hard and unbearable commandment. But what did Abraham do? He closes his senses, takes his reason captive, and obeys the voice of God, goes, and does as God commanded him.

By this he proved that he obeyed from the heart; otherwise, even if he had put his son to death a hundred times, God would not have cared for it; but God was pleased that the deed came from his heart and was done in true love to God; yea, it came from a heart that must have thought: Even if my son dies, God is almighty and faithful, he will keep his word, he will find ways and means beyond that which I am able to devise; only obey, there is no danger. Had he not had this boldness and this faith, how could his fatherheart have killed his only and well beloved son?

9. The Jews later wanted to follow this example and, like Abraham, offered their children unto God, hoping thereby to perform a service well-pleasing to God; but it was far from it. These poor people came to the conclusion: The service of Abraham was pleasing to God, therefore will ours also be, and consequently they killed one child after another. 0, how many healthy, noble and beautiful children perished! The prophets protested against this service, they preached, warned and wrote against it, telling the people that it was deception, but all was in vain. Yea, many a prophet lost his life because of this, as the history in the books of the kings shows.

10. But why was this service of the Jews displeasing to God? For the reason that it did not come from their heart, and was not done out of love to God; but they simply looked upon the service, and did it without the command and word of God; but God saith: My dear sirs, I was not concerned about the fact that Abraham offered up his son, but that he proved by this act that he loved me with his whole heart. There must be first love in the heart, then follows the service that will be pleasing to God; for all the works of the law tend to the end thereby to prove our love to God, which is in the heart; which love the law requires, and will have above everything else.



11. We are also to notice here that all the works of the law are not commanded merely for the purpose that we simply just perform them; no, no; for if God had given even more commandments, he would not want us to keep them to the injury and destruction of love. Yea, if these commandments oppose the love of our neighbor, he wants us to renounce and annul them. Take the example of this, I recently gave you: Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, leading them for forty years through the wilderness, and not one of them was circumcised, although it was commanded them. Where was their obedience to the commandment? Was God not angry with them because they did not obey his commandment? No, there was a higher commandment in force at that time, namely, that they were to obey God who commanded them to come out of Egypt in haste to the promised land. By their marching they daily obeyed God, and God accepted it as obedience; otherwise he would have been angry in that they did not keep his commandments. Both the need and the love were at hand, which set aside all commandments, for it would have been unbearable to endure the pain of circumcision and at the same time the burden of the journey. Therefore love took the place of the commandment of circumcision, and thus should all commandments be kept in love, or not at all.

12. In like manner Christ excused his disciples, as is recorded in Matthew 12, 3-4, when the Jews accused them of transgressing the law, of doing on the Sabbath that which was not lawful to do on the Sabbath day, when they plucked the ears of corn and ate them. Then the Lord gave them to understand that they were doing no wrong, as if to say: Here is no Sabbath; for the body needs food, necessity demands it; we must eat, even though it be on the Sabbath. Therefore the Lord cited the example of David, which he laid before the Jews, and said, "Have ye not read what David did; he and 'they that were with him, when he was an hungered, how he went into the house of God and ate the shew bread which was not lawful to eat, nor for those that were with him, excepting for the priests?" 1 Samuel 21, 3f. Then David ate the bread, though he was not a priest, because hunger pressed him to do it. Neither did Ahimelech the priest violate the law in giving the bread to David, for love was present and urged him to give it. Thus even the whole law would have had to serve David in his need.

13. Therefore, when the law impels one against love, it ceases and should no longer be a law; but where no obstacle is in the way, the keeping of the law is a proof of love, which lies hidden in the heart. Therefore ye have need of the law, that love may be manifested; but if it cannot be kept without injury to our neighbor, God wants us to suspend and ignore the law.

14. Thus you are to regulate your life and conduct. There are in our day many customs, many orders and ceremonies, by which we falsely think to merit heaven; and yet there is only this one principle, namely: the love to our neighbor, that includes in it all good works. I will give you an example we recently heard. Here is a priest or monk, who is to read his prayers or the rules of his order, or to hold mass, or say penance. At this moment there comes a poor man or woman to him who has need of his help and counsel. What shall this priest or monk do? Shall he perform his service, or shall he assist the poor man? He should therefore act prudently and think: True, I am required to read my prayers, hold mass, or say penance; but now on the other hand, a poor man is here; he needs my help and I should come to his rescue. God commanded me to do this; but the others man devised and instituted. I will let the mandates of men go, and will serve my neighbor according to God's commandment.

15. However, very seldom do we think that the precious service of holding mass and reading prayers should be put in the background; and such a humble service, as you regard it, should have the preference. But what is the reason? The reason is that these dream-preachers, who have nothing to present to us but the ordinances of men, have made us so timid and fearful that we came to the conclusion, if we did not regulate ourselves in everything according to their preaching, heaven itself would fall. Yea, they would rather let ten poor people starve than fail to say one mass.

We find even today many monks or priests who rather let a poor man freeze, than violate their statutes and ordinances. So lamentably and miserably have they been deceived by their godless preachers and teachers, and by their superiors, who with their statutes and devilish ordinances have drawn, and are still drawing, them away more and more from the law of God to our own notions.

16. These are the principal fruits of unbelief and godlessness, which, as the Scriptures declare, provoke God. Should not God be angry with me, if he commands me to show my neighbor love, and I go and follow my own or other people's dreams? It is as if a master said to his servant: Go and work in the field, and the servant went and desired to wash the dishes. Should not the master rightly be angry with such a servant? Thus it is also with God. He wants us to keep his commandments, and to regard them more than the commandments of men, and all the commandments to be subservient to love, so that all be comprehended in these two commandments, of which the Lord here speaks in this Gospel: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself."



17. Do you want to do something pleasing to God, then do it out of genuine love. That the Jews practiced circumcision, fasted much, prayed much, and performed other like services, was not pleasing to God, for it did not come from the heart, as this commandment requires: Thou shalt love God with all thy heart. Thus it will be also with you, even though you should belong to the Carthusian friars, or to a still more exacting order; all would avail nothing, if you had not the love of God. From this you are to conclude, all works are nothing, that do not originate in love, or are against love. No commandments should be in force, except those in which the law of love can be exercised.

18. From this it now appears what a misleading calling that of the monks and priests is, in that they wish to merit heaven through their works alone, and they also bind the people to do good works, in order that they may thereby merit heaven, which is a cursed and godless service. Hence, as already stated, the law is to be only an exercise to prove our love; otherwise, aside from love, God never inquires about works, no matter how excellent they are.

19. You can now see how many people know what the law means: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. Surely they are few who know it, and fewer still who keep it. How can they keep that which they do not know? We are blind and our nature is totally blind, and so is also human reason. It knows nothing so imperfectly as that which the law of God requires.

20. Now here Christ shows the Pharisees and the Scribes a twofold kindness. In the first place, he dispels their blindness and teaches them what the law is. In the second place, he teaches them how impossible it is for them to keep the law. Their blindness he dispels, in that he teaches them what the law is, namely: that love is the law. Human reason cannot comprehend this nowadays any more than the Jews did then, for if it had been possible for human reason to comprehend it, the Pharisees and Scribes, who at that time were the best and wisest of the people, could have understood it; but they thought it consisted alone in performing the external works of the law; in giving to God, whether it be done willingly or unwillingly; but their inward blindness, their covetousness, and their hardened heart they could not see, and thought they thoroughly understood the law and were fine fellows, holy and pious people; but they stood in their own light. For no one is able to keep the law unless his nature is thoroughly renewed.

21. Therefore consider it an established fact that reason can never understand and fulfil the law, even though it knows the meaning of the law. When do you do to another what you want him to do to you? Who loves his enemy from his heart? Who loves to die? Who willingly suffers disgrace and shame? Dear sir, point me to a man who enjoys to have a bad reputation or to live in poverty! For nature and human reason flee entirely from this, are afraid, terrified and shocked; and if it were possible, as far as it were in their power, they would never suffer such misfortune. Human nature alone will never be able to accomplish what God in this commandment requires, namely, that we surrender our will to the will of God, so that we renounce our reason, our will, our might and power, and say from the heart: Thy will be done. And indeed, nowhere will you find a person who loves God with his whole heart and his neighbor as himself. It may indeed happen that two companions live friendly together; but even there hypocrisy is hidden, which continues until you are wounded by him; then you will see how you love him, and whether you are flesh or spirit. This commandment therefore requires me to be friendly with all my heart to him who has offended me; but when do I do this?

22. Thus Christ desires to show us that we preach the law rightly, only when we learn from it that we are unable to fulfill it, and that we are the property of the devil. This we learn from experience, and it is shown now and then in the Scriptures, especially by St. Paul when he says in Romans 8, 7-8: "Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," and it follows, that they who are in the flesh cannot please God.

23. Hence, take to thyself this commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and think upon it, contemplate it, and search what kind of a law it is; how far you are from fulfilling it, yea, how you have not yet even made a beginning to suffer and to do from the heart what God demands of you. It is pure hypocrisy, if anyone wants to creep into a hiding- place and think: Oh I will love God. Oh, how I do love him, he is my Father! How gracious he is to me I and the like. Yes, when God does our pleasure, then we can easily say such things; but when he sends misfortune and adversity, we no longer regard him as our God, nor as our Father.

24. True love to God does not act in this way, but in the heart it thinks and with the lips says: Lord God, I am thy creature; do with me as thou wilt; it matters not to me. I am ever thine, that I know; and if thou desirest, I will die this very hour or suffer any great misfortune; I will cheerfully do so from my heart. I will not regard my life, honor and goods and all I have, higher and greater than thy will, which shall be my pleasure all my days. But you will never find a person who will constantly regulate himself according to this commandment; for the whole life you are living in the body, in the five senses, and whatever you do in your body, should all be so regulated as to be done to the glory of God, according to the regulations of this commandment, which saith, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind." As if Christ said: If you love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, then nothing will be lacking; you shall experience it in your daily life, namely: when everything you do, whether you wake or sleep, whether you labor or stand idle, whether you eat or drink, is directed and done out of love to God from the heart. In like manner your mind and thoughts will also be directed wholly and entirely to God, so that you will approve of nothing you are not certain is pleasing to God. Yea, where are those who do this?

25. And this part where he says, "With all thy mind, argues powerfully against the writings and teachings of man, upon which he especially depends, and thinks thereby to obtain a merciful God and merit heaven. Such imagination of the human reason draws us in a wonderful manner from this commandment, so that we do not love God with all the mind; as has been done hitherto, and is still done at the present day. For these priests and monks think nothing else than that God is moved by the mass and by other human inventions; but he abhors it and does not desire it, as is said in Isaiah 29, 13: "In vain do they serve me, because they are teaching such doctrines which are only the commandments of men." 'Mat. 15, 8-9. The commandment here requires you to consider nothing good that is against God and against everything he has commanded or forbidden. It thus requires, you to give yourself wholly and entirely to him in all your life and conduct.

26. From this you can conclude, there is no human being who is not condemned, inasmuch as no one has kept this commandment, and God wants everyone to keep it. There we stand in the midst of fear and distress, unable to help ourselves, and the first knowledge of the law is, that we see our human nature is unable to keep the law; for it wants the heart, and if it is not done with the heart, it avails nothing before God. You may indeed do the works outwardly, but God is not thus satisfied, when they are not done from the heart, out of love; and this is never done except man is born anew through the Holy Spirit. Therefore God aims to accomplish through the law nothing more than that we should in this way be forced to acknowledge our inability, frailty and disease, and that with our best efforts we are unable to fulfil a letter of the law. When you realize this, the law has accomplished its work. This is what Paul means when he says in Romans 3, 20, "Through the law is the knowledge of sin."

27. From this it appears clearly that we are all alike, and are one in the inner wickedness of the heart, which the law reveals, when we look into it rightly. Therefore we might well say, If one is good, then all are good. Therefore no one should accuse another. It is indeed true that in public and gross sins there sticks a deeper sin; but the heart is alike bad, unless it be renewed by the Holy Ghost. But what shall I do when I once recognize my sin? What does it profit me? It helps me very much, for when I have come thus far, I am not far from the kingdom; as Christ says to a scribe in Mark 12, 34, who also knew that the works of the law were nothing without love.

28. But what shall we do to get rid of our bad conscience? Here follows now the other part of this Gospel, namely, who Christ is and what we can expect of him. From him we must receive and secure freedom from a wicked conscience, or we shall remain in our sins eternally, because for this purpose is Christ made known and given by the Father, in order that he might deliver us from sin, death, from a wicked conscience, and from the law.

29. We have now heard what the law is, and how through the law we come to the knowledge of sin; but this is not enough, another has a work to do here, whose name is Christ Jesus; although the first, the law, must indeed remain; yea, it is necessary. For if I have no sense of my sins, I will never inquire for Christ; as the Pharisees and scribes do here, who thought they had done everything the law commanded and were ready to do yet more; but of Christ they knew nothing. Therefore, first of all, when the law is known and sin revealed through the law, it is then necessary that we know who Christ is; otherwise the knowledge of sin profits us nothing.

30. But the law is known, when I learn from it that I am condemned, and see that there is neither hope nor comfort anywhere for me, and I cannot even help myself, but must have another one to deliver me. Then it is time that I look around for him who can help, and he is Christ Jesus, who for this purpose became man, and became like unto us, in order that he might help us out of the mire into which we are fallen. He loved God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, and submitted his will to the will of his Father, fulfilled the law in every respect; this I could not do and yet I was required to do it. Therefore, he accepts him; and that which he fulfilled in the law, he offers me. He freely gives me his life with all his works, so that I can appropriate them to myself as a possession that is my own and is bestowed upon me as a free gift. He delivers us from the law, for when the law says, Love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself, or thou wilt be damned, then I say, I cannot do it. Then Christ says: Come to me, take me and cling to me by faith; then you shall be rid of the law.

31. Now this is accomplished in the following manner: Christ has through his death secured for us the Holy Spirit; and he fulfils the law in us, and not we. For that Spirit, whom God sends into your heart for the sake of his Son, makes an entirely new man out of you, who does with joy and love from the heart everything the law requires, which before would have been impossible for you to do. This new man despises the present life, and desires to die, rejoices in all adversity, and submits himself wholly and entirely to the will of God. Whatever God does with him, is well pleasing to him. This Spirit you cannot merit yourself, but Christ has secured and merited it. When I believe from the heart that Christ did this for me, I receive also the same Holy Spirit that makes me an entirely new man. Then everything God commands is sweet, lovely and agreeable, and I do everything he desires of me; not in my own strength, but by the strength of him that is in me, as Paul says in Philippians, 4, 13: "I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me."

32. But you must take heed, that you do not undertake to secure this faith in Jesus Christ by your own works or power, or that you think lightly about this matter; for it is impossible for the natural man; but the Holy Spirit must do it. Therefore beware of the preachers of selfrighteousness, who simply blabber and say: We must do good works in order to be saved. But we say that faith alone is sufficient to this end. Our good works are for another purpose, namely, to prove our faith, as you have already frequently heard from me.

33. Now this is the purpose of the question the Lord put to the Pharisees: What think ye of Christ; who is he and whose Son is he? But their answer, in that they say, He is the son of David, the Lord rejects and obscures their answer and refers to a passage from the Psalm, in order to leave them in doubt; so that no one is able to answer him a word.

34. However, when David calls Christ his Lord, in that he says in Psalm 110, "But the lord said unto my Lord, 'Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool,'" it is to be understood that David speaks of him both as God and man, for according to the flesh alone he was the son of David. Paul also joins these two when he says in Romans 1, 1-4: "I am called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, which he promised afore through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh; who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." But it is something to know that Christ is Lord; for this has might and power and is especially comforting in the time of affliction. But concerning this I have said more elsewhere and will therefore now close, and pray God for grace.



Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity:
Ephesians 4:1-6

Norma Boeckler, artist



The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #  44                    Ye Lands             2:41
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 #203            Morning Breaks            2:70     

Unity through the Word

The Communion Hymn # 315            I Come O Savior             2:66
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 #  467     Built on a Rock                   2:83

KJV Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

KJV Luke 14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6 And they could not answer him again to these things. 7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not exalt ourselves, but humbly fear Thee, with our whole hearts hear and keep Thy word, and hallow the Lord's day, that we also may be hallowed by Thy word; help us, first, to place our hope and confidence in Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who alone is our righteousness and Redeemer, and, then, so to amend and better our lives in accordance with Thy word, that we may avoid all offenses and finally obtain eternal salvation, through Thy grace in Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God. world without end. Amen.

Unity Through the Word


KJV Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

This is one of the great, classic passages in the Bible.

Two things happen with numbers. The first is the naming of the Holy Trinity within two verses. This shows how clearly the teaching of the Trinity was embedded in the earliest Christian documents.

Only a few years after the resurrection of Christ, Paul routinely invoked the Trinity, listing all three Persons, or emphasizing the Father/Son relationship, or naming the Holy Spirit in other references. In several places Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are named together. Besides this, Paul gave divine attributes--such as faith, hop, and love—in groups of three.

But within these verses is another great emphasis, always found in Paul – the oneness of the true Church through unity of doctrine.

The Evangelicals have this saying that comes from Spener – Pietism – “Doctrine divides.” Spener did not want people arguing about sound doctrine. I asked an avid translation of German works – What did Spener teach about this or that? He said, “Name it and he probably wrote it someone. He was prolific but not consistent.” Spener liked working with non-Lutheran Protestants, which is where he got his ideas.

In the name of love, unity of doctrine does not matter to Pietists.

However, this is confused with legalism. The Lutheran groups today argue about legalistic issues because they all agree with ELCA about everyone already being forgiven. Since they are really in union with ELCA, both in teaching and in actual ministry work, they protect their franchises with legalism.

  1. Can someone pray with his aunt who belongs to another Lutheran group?
  2. What if she is dying in a hospital bed?
  3. What about husbands and wives who belong to different franchises?

They fuss over little matters to avoid the big doctrinal issues. They “filter out a gnat but swallow a camel.”

I asked one WELS member, “When are you going to admit that you are just as involved in Lutheran World Relief—with ELCA—as Missouri?”

All that fussing comes from using legalism to avoid dealing with the basic doctrinal issues, including the most important one – the Gospel itself – justification by faith.

Doctrine does divide – it divides the sheep from the goats. Paul said there must be heresies and divisions to prove or test what is the sound doctrine revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Word.

Lenski:
1) First, doctrine which consists of the clear statement of the divine facts on which alone faith rests. Next, admonition which presents the obligations involved in the faith that relies on the doctrine and thus deals with life and conduct in detail. The two stand in a vital connection, which fact also appears where the admonitions are supported by brief doctrinal additions.
After having set forth the great doctrine of the Una Sancta‚ Paul now tells his readers how their lives should be shaped in order to accord with the facts of this doctrine. This is very fitting after having shown that by faith in Christ they are all one in Christ in the Una Sancta although they were formerly Jews or Gentiles. Paul’s first admonition to the Ephesians is an exhortation that they keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (v. 1–3). He elucidates and strengthens this first admonition by an explanation of the organism of the church which is so fitted together as to constitute a great unity in its members, their activity and work producing and conserving unity (4–16).
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Columbus, O. : Lutheran Book Concern, 1937, S. 504.

It is a great mistake to think there are many doctrines in the Bible, simply because we deal with one small area at the time. The Lutheran Reformers were careful to emphasize that there is one unified truth that unites the entire revelation of God’s Word. No one can bargain for or swap out a particular part of that doctrine without sacrificing the whole.

That is why the two foundational concepts of the Scriptures cannot be ignored or set aside with anything taught. If they are, everything based on the absence of those foundational concepts is in error.

That is one way to test what is being taught.

The two foundational concepts are:
  1. The Holy Spirit’s exclusive work in the Word – never apart from the Word, never preceding the Word.
  2. The efficacy of the Word – either as the Word of grace or the Word of condemnation and rebuke. The Word is never ineffective or without result and always accomplishes the divine will.

Many Protestants talk about Holy Baptism as an ordinance (law) that makes it a witness to our faith but not a divine act through the Word that takes away sin. Associating with them in worship and teaching (stealing their sermons) is the same as denying the foundational concepts of God’s Word. In effect – that mocks the Word of God, no matter how it is portrayed by the crafty salesmen of gimmicks.

I often read through the arguments of Universal Justification, even when they claim to have “both parts”! Absent always – the efficacy of the Word, the Means of Grace. Present always – this UOJ is true because Uncle Fritz said so.

Unity is not from organization or from men controlling others, but from the same doctrine of the Scriptures.
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

As he did with the Philippians he started with behavior and moved into unity of doctrine and the true nature of the Gospel.

Man’s wisdom would be like this – You are fussing among yourselves. Stop it now. (The Law)

But when we consider the Gospel, the ordinary irritations of life fall away as trivial and not worth mentioning.

Paul was his most joyful when he was imprisoned for the faith. He spent a long time in prison due to a crisis in the Roman government. That enabled him to write longer and to lead the Christian Church through his helpers.

2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

In this verse he invoked the characteristics of Christ, which are conveyed to us through the Gospel and not through the Law. Considering what Christ is like and what God has done…

Ephesians 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The unity of the Spirit is not a vague concept since the Spirit is often used in place of the Word and the Word always possesses the divine power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit. Thus the unity of the Spirit is the unity of the Word of God.

As Luther said – never even argue with someone who denies the inerrancy of the Word. There is no basis for any debate – it is a waste of time. Unity of teaching means we also enjoy the peace which is the fruit of the Gospel. That peace is not a worldly peace, lacking the cross and absent afflictions from our mortality, but a divine peace from forgiveness.

In short, Luther shows us in many sermons that believing in the Gospel is forgiveness, a simple plain idea taught from the very beginning of the Bible. As one of my students wrote this week, the Gospel began with Genesis 3:15.

Therefore, since all our sins are covered through Christ, and He sends them completely away, justification by faith, we are to do the same with others. That is the basis for unity, love, peace, and joy.

That bond is universal and transcends the limits of denominations. I cannot make everyone an orthodox Lutheran but I know others will listen to Luther’s doctrine because Luther’s teaching is the Gospel from a believer for believers. God will accomplish His purpose that way, just as He moved John Bunyan to write the greatest work of English, apart from the KJV, Pilgrim’s Progress, based on the Bible and Luther’s commentary on Galatians.

4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

God’s Word assumes a unity, not a diversity. That unity can only be derived from and based upon the Word of God, the Book of all books, the judge of all books.

5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

God is not divided. Man divides Him – or thinks he can do that.

Quotations

"Since, therefore, so much depends upon God's Word that without it no holy day can be sanctified, we must know that God insists upon a strict observance of this command-ment, and will punish all who despise His Word and are not willing to hear and learn it, especially at the time appointed for the purpose."
            The Large Catechism, Preface, #95, The Third Commandment, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 607. Tappert, p. 378. Exodus 20:8‑11.                

"Since it is God's gracious purpose to remove every hindrance to conversion by the means of grace, and it is still possible for a man at every point to continue in his opposition to God, a man is never without responsibility over towards the grace of God, although he may mock and say that, since God is the one who does everything for our salvation, then a man has no responsibility himself, as we see in Romans 9:19.  Cf. Theses 17 and 18."
            U. V. Koren, 1884, "An Accounting," Grace for Grace:  Brief History of the Norwegian Synod, ed., Sigurd C. Ylvisaker, Mankato:  Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1943, p. Romans 9:19.              

"It is God the Holy Ghost who must work this change in the soul.  This He does through His own life‑giving Word.  It is the office of that Word, as the organ of the Holy Spirit, to bring about a knowledge of sin, to awaken sorrow and contrition, and to make the sinner hate and turn from his sin.  That same Word then directs the sinner to Him who came to save him from sin.  It takes him to the cross, it enables him to believe that his sins were all atoned for there, and that, therefore, he is not condemned. In other words, the Word of God awakens and constantly deepens ture penitence.  It also begets and constantly increases true faith.  Or, in one word, it converts the sinner."
            G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia:  Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 145f. 
                        Law Causes Contrition          
"In like manner Moses must precede and teach people to feel their sins in order that grace may be sweet and welcome to them.  Therefore all is in vain, however friendly and lovely Christ may be pictured, if man is not first humbled by a knowledge of himself and he possesses no longing for Christ, as Mary's Song says, 'The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away,' Luke 1:53."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 149.

                         Gospel Only for Humble Sinners
"All this is spoken and written for the comfort of the distressed, the poor, the needy, the sinful, the despised, so that they may know in all times of need to whom to flee and where to seek comfort and help."       Sermons of Martin Luther II,  p. 149.