Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central.


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mid-Week Advent Service, December 21, 2011

The Means of Grace, by Norma Boeckler


Mid-Week Advent Vespers


The Christmas Eve service will be at 7 PM Central.
We will be traveling south to be with our son’s family on Christmas Day,
so there will be a printed sermon but not a service on Christmas Day.

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #81                 Jesus Thy Manger            3:60
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody                   Psalm 92                    p. 143
The Lection                            John 15:1-10

The Sermon Hymn #90            Come Your Hearts            3:83

The Sermon – In the Likeness of Sinful Flesh

The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                            p. 45
 The Hymn # 558     All Praise to Thee               2.9

KJV Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

In the Likeness of Sinful Flesh
Lenski:
It is easy to follow the thought of v. 1–11: 1) because of our connection with Christ, the Spirit freed us for living in the spirit, v. 1–4; 2) we differ entirely from those who live in the flesh, v. 5–10; 3) the Spirit will bring even our bodies to spiritual perfection, v. 11. This objective elaboration is followed by a statement of obligation and by a promise, v. 12–17.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Espistle to the Romans. Columbus, Ohio : Lutheran Book Concern, 1936, S. 493.

The Bible clearly distinguishes between two groups at all times. Those who believe in Christ are forgiven their sins, justified by faith. Those who do not believe in Christ are condemned for their unbelief.

The Gospel of John is plainly teaches that we exist in condemnation until the Gospel plants faith in our hearts so that we rely entirely on Christ for forgiveness and salvation.

That is one of many places where people like to take the wrong turn. This forgiveness through the Gospel is used as an excuse for any kind of sin. I remember the LCA saying, “They are sinners like any other,” in talking about homosexuality. I have heard that same concept repeated in WELS lately. Like all falsehoods, that is a half-truth that is more deceptive for being partially true. While we remain in sin as long as we live, the sin of Sodom is constantly mentioned as the worst kind. Paul, in Romans 1, gives that the example of the primary degradation of mankind, when God “betrays” or turns over man to his own base desires.

The smart-aleck apostate answer to that is – Paul had hang-ups about this. But it applies to the entire Bible, not just to Paul. He converted the dregs of society and reminded them what they used to be – so salvation was not an excuse to “sin more that grace may abound.”

Naturally, once grace is divorced from the Means of Grace, everything and everyone is forgiven. That is why people fall into the Antinomian (anti-law, there is no Law) attitude that prevails all over the West today.

Paul, following Christ, does not exterminate the Law in teaching the Gospel. Paul’s exposition here shows that the righteousness of faith is the answer to our sinful nature.

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Flesh versus Spirit means unbelief versus faith in the Gospel. The Pentecostals may think that Spirit means their kind of Spirit-baptism, but it combines faith in Christ which can only come through the Spirit working in the Word. Faith begins with the Spirit working in the Word and faith is sustained by the Spirit at work in the Word.

When Paul says “Spirit,” he is including the Word of God, justification by faith, and the Sacraments.

Many people miss the connection between the Spirit, the efficacious Word, the Means of Grace, and justification by faith. Therefore, they also miss the point of sanctification – the Christian life – which is fueled by the Gospel and led by the Spirit. We are not converted to live the life of unbelief.

The hedonists (pleasure-seekers) or Antinomians (no law) use the Gospel to live as if there is no Word of God, using grace as an excuse.

Walking after the Spirit means following the Word. Jesus said, “Guard the Word.” He did not say, “Now that you are forgiven, do whatever you want in the name of grace.”

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Lenski:
The Holy Spirit is thus significantly called “the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus.” This is the life we live with Christ, which makes us alive (6:8, 10, 13), the end of which is life eternal (6:22, 23). So its creator, the Spirit, is called “the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus,” for the fact that we have it “in Christ Jesus” is shown in 6:1–11, and is stated in 6:11. This spiritual life constitutes the life of our inner man and animates our “mind” and moves our will to will the good law of God and not to will the base things of the sin power (6:15, etc.).
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Espistle to the Romans. Columbus, Ohio : Lutheran Book Concern, 1936, S. 496.

The life of the Gospel is constant forgiveness, blessings, and the energy to do what pleases God.

Paul used himself as the example as the chief of sinners, since he persecuted the early Christians. Note that this also makes unbelief the most heinous sin of all, the foundational sin.

When people are indifferent about faith in Christ – as if all religions are equally good – it is an incitement to fall into unbelief again. Tolerance of the wrong kind becomes indifference and atheism. At some point the tolerance is expressed by condemning anyone who claims salvation in Christ alone.

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

This is a great Christmas text, especially for those who say Paul did not teach the Virgin Birth of Christ.

If you ever doubt the clarity and conciseness of the Word, then consider the doctrinal lessons in this one verse. I will simply outline some of the themes that could be developed into separate chapters or books:

  1. What the Law could not do – The Gospel at work in the Means of Grace, overcoming our inherent weakness, original sin.
  2. God sending His own Son – the divinity of Christ and His sinless life, which meant He died as the Redeemer and not as a sinner. Pre-existence of the Son.
  3. In the likeness of sinful flesh – the humanity of Christ, therefore the Two Natures, divine and human, in the One Person. Incarnation. Virgin Birth.
  4. And for sin – The Atonement, the Two Natures of Christ defeating sin by Christ becoming sin to redeem mankind.

Lenski:
“In likeness of flesh of sin” is one of those exact Scripture phrases which admit of no change. “The likeness of flesh” would be Docetism, Christ would then be without real flesh; “the flesh of sin” would be Ebionitism, Christ would then have had sinful flesh; but “likeness of flesh of sin” is gospel doctrine, Christ assumed our flesh but not its sinfulness. Paul has just used the term “flesh” (the law was weak through the flesh) in the sense of our corrupt nature; if he had continued in this strain and had written that God sent his Son “in the flesh,” the sense would be that Christ appeared in our sinful nature. This thought he avoids by writing: “in likeness of flesh of sin.” The likeness of the flesh of sin is the flesh without sin, John 1:14.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Espistle to the Romans. Columbus, Ohio : Lutheran Book Concern, 1936, S. 500.

These three verses in Romans 8 illustrate what Luther said about the Epistles being more concentrated Gospel than the Gospels themselves are. Of course, we need the Gospels to be that narrative about Jesus so we know about His birth, baptism, ministry, miracles, atoning death, and resurrection. Because those narratives involve historical detail, we have more words devoted to establishing the foundation.

The Pauline epistles are great teaching devices. We should never be so intimidated by the depth of his writing that we neglect reading his inspired letters over and over. The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word, never apart from the Word. The most reliable commentary on the Bible is – the Bible. Let one passage explain the other.

Second to the Bible is the Book of Concord and Luther’s Sermons. It is better to read a few reliable books than to be immersed in a sea of mediocre works.


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