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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Invocavit - The First Sunday in Lent.
Matthew 4:1ff



Invocavit Sunday, The First Sunday in Lent, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #148   Lord Jesus Christ               3:61
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 # 146               Lamb of God                        3:62


the Two Kingdoms

The Hymn # 153                 Stricken Smitten                  3:63
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 154     Alas and Did My Savior             3:14

KJV 2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

First Sunday In Lent

Lord God, heavenly Father, inasmuch as the adversary doth continually afflict us, and as a roaring lion doth walk about, seeking to devour us: We beseech Thee for the sake of the suffering and death of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to help us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and to strengthen our hearts by Thy word, that our enemy may not prevail over us, but that we may evermore abide in Thy grace, and be preserved unto everlasting life; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Two Kingdoms – Of Christ and Satan


KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

This verse illustrates what Luther said about the Two Kingdoms. One is the Kingdom of God; the other is the Kingdom of Satan. They are perpetually at war with each other, one striving against the other.

Some people confuse this with the Two Regiments, another issue. That is Luther’s distinction between the spiritual regiment (the Church) and the material regiment (government, armies, the police). One has the Gospel, the other has the power of the sword. Luther saw the problems with the Church trying to be the government, which was a foundational problem for the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican controlled lands in Italy were the most corrupt and held back the progress of the country.

To show the original parallelism in the first verse, it is good to say, Jesus was led by the Spirit and tempted by Satan.

Lenski:
In view of 3:16, 17, “by the Spirit,” cannot mean “by Jesus’ own spirit” but must mean by the Holy Spirit who had come upon Jesus and remained upon him permanently for his ministry. This passive verb, however, in no way expresses a reluctance on the part of Jesus to meet the tempter. It intends to bring out the very opposite: the willingness of Jesus to do the divine will. It does even more: it wards off the idea that Jesus entered into this temptation of his own accord when at this very beginning of his ministry it might have been wise to avoid such a decisive test. We often rashly subject ourselves to temptation. Jesus was led into his ordeal by his Father’s own Spirit. And this means that the temptation had to occur, and at this very time. It was God’s own will that this mighty battle should be fought now.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 138.

When we have a balanced view of the Scriptures and see the Bible as a whole, we can understand how one passage keeps us from going to extremes about one particular emphasis.

The temptation of Jesus emphasizes His human nature. The modernists today like this a lot. They turn it into a psycho-drama where Jesus is engaged in a battle within Himself, imagining all these things while starving in the desert. Of course, they have to ignore the whole point of the Bible to say this, but the modernists today are no different from the false teachers of the past. Each generation picks an approach to use, often exclaiming that it is a brand-new discovery when it is actually a rehash of past mistakes.

Clearly both natures of Christ are taught in the Temptation, but the human nature of Jesus is what we see most clearly. That is an important corrective to the tendency to make Him only divine, with only one nature, and not the unique person of Christ, human and divine.

The Gospel ceases to be the Good News when Jesus is either just a man or purely divine. The human nature of Christ means that He sees and understands our temptations, which were His as well.

The Hebrews passage fits this Gospel lesson so well, because it urges us to continue on the path to eternal life. The divine efficacy of the Word of God is followed by the compassion and understanding of Christ, who was tempted every way we are tempted (human nature), and yet was without sin (divine nature).

KJV Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

The First Temptation
KJV Matthew 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

These temptations are a prelude to the final temptations, as Jesus faced His death and said, “Let this cup pass from Me.” Therefore, we understand His human nature better during the crucifixion if we compare the time of temptation.
Jesus never lost His divine nature, but most of the time it was not in the forefront. He allowed Himself to be treated as an ordinary human because that was the Father’s will – and His.

Thus Satan truly tempted Jesus, who was in the tempter’s power. Some people get wound up and say, “Jesus was incapable of sinning.” If that is so, then there was no temptation. (Our friend from years ago said he was never tempted before he became a Christian because he did whatever he wanted. That is the other side of this issue. We used to call children like that “godless,” which is a good description.)

The temptation of Jesus is best understood in realizing that Jesus felt the power of Satan’s trials but maintained the divine will to resist and to defeat Satan. This also became apparent during the crucifixion, when Jesus was under the power of Pilate and the religious opponents, under the power of Satan, and yet reigned victorious over them. He could have destroyed them with legions of angels but yielded to the divine will to die for our sins.

This first temptation is easy to understand, even though we have an abundance of food. When we have not eaten for a long period of time, whether through illness or other causes, the idea of food can become a sudden obsession. It is all we can think about. When crowds of people are starving, they are driven mad with rage over the prospect of getting some of it. The famous Indian war in Southern Minnesota began when the Indians were denied their food allotment. The original Dr. Mayo took part in the battle and might have canceled the future Mayo Clinic by dying – over food allotments.

If you are the Son of God…
We can identify with this temptation, because it comes in another form. If you are a Christian, if God really loves you, then prove it.

This can eat away at us, when problems come our way, especially when they come because of the Word. It is easy to say, “I would be happy without this trouble.” God does not take away the trouble, as Luther said more than once, but God changes the heart rather than the affliction. That is how the martyrs and apostles faced persecution and death. That is how believers face the ultimate enemy, death.

The temptation is that we should prove that God is God by bending Him to our will, when He uses the cross and other troubles to show us His gracious will. 

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Jesus answered Satan and defeated him at this point with the Word of God. Man does not live by bread. The believer can say, because of Jesus, “You can starve me to death, but life comes from the Word, which never fails and unites me with Christ in eternity.”

This is the constant battle we face, because it is material versus spiritual, Satan versus God. The dark forces say, “Look at our money and prestige.” Believers admit, “We are poor and scattered, despised and scorned, especially by apostates within the visible church.”

But God’s Word says throughout, Better a short time of turmoil and eternal peace than a short time of peace and eternal turmoil. Knowing that gives us peace in the midst of anxieties, temptations, turmoil, afflictions, and the cross. Although Paul is accused of patting himself on the back, we can be glad that the Spirit moved him to say those things we find in 2 Corinthians. We get some feeling for what he suffered gladly for the sake of the Gospel.

The man who played Superman, Christopher Reeve, said suffering had no meaning. But the believer says, “The cross sanctifies suffering.”

Today, if a Lutheran clearly teaches justification by faith, his friends desert and rebuke him. They give him the silent treatment, which can be very painful. Sometimes it takes months to sink in – so and so won’t speak to me or write to me and won’t even say why. So-called friends will betray, cajole, ridicule, and scold. They will drive away a faithful person, clergy or laity, and then complain, “He deserted us – so he deserves even more scorn.”

I know from reading on the Net that many people face the same treatment, based on the battle being fought at the moment. The traditional Christians, who have about 1950 years behind them, are suddenly the outsiders, the mad dogs to be driven away and sued with animosity and spite. Their spiritual supervisors say, “We will take away your beautiful church, which you own and you kept up, and lock you out of it. Maybe we will give it away to someone else. Maybe we will just lock it up forever and let it stand empty.”

That is a bitter pill for those who think happiness is a church building. Many have found their faith renewed by these episodes. What they took for granted was wrenched from them so they had to re-evaluate what mattered.

Chemnitz wrote, “These are the last days of an insane, old world.”

Knowing that, Chemnitz labored to present the Gospel in its purest form. No one has equaled him since.

The Second Temptation
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

In this temptation Satan immediately takes the weapon used against him and employs it against Christ. He took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple, which was so high that it made people dizzy to look down. I think it was Josephus who said one could hardly see to the ground, it was so high. What better place?

Satan expertly quoted from the Scriptures, to challenge Jesus to throw Himself down and let the angels rescue Him and set Him down gently in safety, because the Word promised as much.

This is the temptation Christians face when the false teachers use the Word of God to defeat the meaning of the Scriptures. The best example lately is quoting Romans 4:25 to contradict Romans 4:24. The answer is not to be awed by anyone or any authority - except the Word.

The plain meaning of the Word trumps all the fancy footwork of false teaches, who have dozens of citations that fit their claims. I saw that done better times 100. When I used the Vatican owned library in Columbus, Ohio, they had centuries of tradition to back up every claim. On the topic of Mary alone they had an entire range of library shelves. One recent work had 3 thick volumes. As Eduard Preuss said, after he went from UOJ to Roman Catholicism, “Give me the sources and I can prove anything.” And he was a brilliant expert in doing that – just not a student of the Word.

Bad Biblical interpretation is especially toxic, because it imposes a poisonous meaning upon the Word when God’s grace is being questioned and examined.

Jesus answered with the appropriate verse, rebuking Satan:

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

The believer needs to know the basic passages of the Bible that teach fundamental Christian truths. John 3:16 is a good example. If the “expert” has claims that contradict John 3:16, then the appropriate question is, “Should we expel the Little Gospel from its place in Christian theology? You are so angry about faith and against believing, so why are you fighting against the obvious meaning of John 3:16 and Romans 4:24-25?”

Invariably there is a bonus for the person who embraces false doctrine. They are getting something from it. Taking that away is dangerous and it can be scary, because the rage that follows is truly Satanic.

God promises:

KJV Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Third Temptation
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Lenski:
Luther says that he who in the first temptation showed himself as a black devil, and in the second as a light, white devil, using even God’s own Word, now displays himself as a divine, majestic devil, who comes right out as though he were God himself. Satan drops his mask and appears as the prince and ruler of this world. He no longer operates with the appeal, “if thou art a son of God,” suggesting some ungodly way by which Jesus is to prove that he is such a son. Cunningly he accepts the fact that Jesus is a son, even the one chosen to be the Messiah, and on this Satan rests the final temptation.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 153.

Satan truly is the Prince of This World. We see that in slaughter, corruption, false doctrine, paganism, and especially in all the evils of the world rewarded beyond comprehension.

Perhaps people think Jesus could not be tempted by such things, but Jesus knew what was ahead of Him – the cross. Here He is truly the Hero, the Example for us all. He scorned the easy path and bore the cross for us.

He was destined to say this again, when Peter tempted Him in a similar way, rebuking Jesus for predicting the cross and suffering –

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

KJV Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. 21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

So many walk the tightrope today. They do not want to give up the esteem of the visible church while claiming to be faithful to the Word. I have witnessed people doing mental gymnastics to defend the worst false teachers. Why? Because a break away from the rulers of the denomination will mean punishment and retribution, for them and their families. Their fears about reprisals should tell them all they need to know about defending such thugs, but that seldom happens. They walk the tightrope and praise themselves for being faithful, even while supporting the worst kind of falsehood.

As Luther said, fear is the opposite of faith. Those who think the Word is weak and the synod is all-powerful will shrink from the Word of God. After all, the Word brings the cross. They do not see that their hatred of the cross is also a loathing of the Gospel. They may think themselves shepherds of the sheep, but they are only fattening the sheep for a later slaughter.

Every rebuking of false doctrine is a rebuking of Satan. Every compromise with false doctrine is a compromise with Satan.



INVOCAVIT

Temptation


"He shows, moreover, that it is customary in Scripture to call temptation and tribulation in this life a fire. As the furnace tests the vessels of the potter, so also tribulation tests unjust people."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, III, p. 254. 1 Corinthians 3:15.

Sins Against the Third Commandment

"The sins which militate against the Third Commandment are the profanation of the Sabbath through neglect and contempt of the ministry, through Judaic and superstitious observance of the Sabbath, or through a shifting of the ministry into the kingdom of this world. The faithfulness of those who teach is the virtue by which the ministers of the Church, aware of their modest skill in Christian doctrine, carefully and zealousy discharge and steadfastly protect all the duties of the faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God in teaching, debating, comforting and setting their hearers an example of true devotion and of all the virtues. The other extreme are faithlessness, heedless teaching or negligence in office, or deserting the ministry because of excessive anxiety or concern over one's own weakness."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 71f.      

"Those, however, who set the time, place and measure, tempt God, and believe not that they are heard or that they have obtained what they asked; therefore, they also receive nothing."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 172.  
"So it is with all Christian; where faith is not continually kept in motion and exercised, it weakens and decreases, so that it must indeed vanish; and yet we do not see nor feel this weakness ourselves, except in times of need and temptation, when unbelief rages too strongly; and yet for that very reason faith must have temptations in which it may battle and grow."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 254.                 

"That temptation occurs before God's Word is heard; this after we hear the Word, namely thus: when we know that God has promised help in the time of any trouble, but are not content with it, go forward and will not abide His promise, but prescribe time, place, and manner for His help; and then if He does not come as we expect and desire, faith vanishes."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 366.  

Faith Is Trust

"He who holds fast to the Word alone, trusts and abides in it, does not doubt that what the Word says will come to pass; he who does not dictate aim or time or means and ways, but resigns all freely to God's will and pleasure as to when, how, where, and by whom He will fulfill His Word; he, I say, has a true living faith which does not nor cannot tempt God."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 367.  

Nature of Faith

"The second characteristic of faith is that it does not desire to know, nor first to be assured whether it is worthy of grace and will be heard, like the doubters, who grasp after God and tempt Him. Just as a blind man runs against a wall, so they also plunge against God, and would first gladly feel and be assured that he can not escape out of their hands."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 66.                 


Power of Faith

"Behold, so powerful is faith, to obtain all it wants of God, that God considers it done before the asking. Of this Isaiah says, 65:24: 'And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.' Not as though faith or we were worthy of it, but in order that he might show His unspeakable goodness and willing grace, thereby to stir us to believe in Him, and comfortingly look to Him for every good thing, with joyful and unwavering consciences, which do not stumble after Him nor tempt Him."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 69.  

[ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy] "This is spoken to all Christians, for every Christian must have temptations, trails, anxieties, adversities, sorrows, come what may. Therefore He mentions here no sorrow nor trial, He simply says they shall weep, lament, and be sorrowful, for the Christian has many persecutions. Some are suffering loss of goods; others there are whose character is suffering ignominy and scorn; some are drowned, others are burned; some are beheaded; one perishes in this manner, and another in that; it is therefore the lot of the Christian constantly to suffer misfor- tune, persecution, trials and adversity. This is the rod or fox tail with which they are punished. They dare not look for anything better as long as they are here. This is the court color by which the Christian is recognized,and if anyone wants to be a Christian, he dare not be ashamed of his court color or livery."   
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 79.  

Temptation Tests People
"When the Gospel begins to assert its influence, everybody wants to become a Christian. All seems well, and everybody is pleased. But when a wind or rainstorm of temptation comes on, people fall away in droves. Then sectaries arrive, as worms and bugs, gnawing and polluting the fruits of the Gospel, and so much false doctrine arises that few stay with the Gospel."   
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 37. John 4:46-54.              

Contempt for the Means of Grace

"Observe, then, the depreciative, contemptuous, and scorning ring in the words of the Reformed when they speak of the sacred Means of Grace, the Word and the Sacraments, and the grand majestic ring in the words of the Lord and the apostles when they speak of these matters...The true reason for the Reformed view is this: They do not know how a person is to come into possession of the divine grace, the forgiveness of sin, righteousness in the sight of God, and eternal salvation. Spurning the way which God has appointed, they are pointing another way, in accordance with new devices which they have invented."
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 152f.            

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