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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.



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