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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.

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.


"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.

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