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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Sacraments Defined

Fourth Sunday after Trinity.
Romans 8:18




The Fourth Sunday after Trinity, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn # 452     The Son of God                1:10
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 #531            Come Ye Disconsolate            1:15

Expectation for the Truth Revealed

The Communion Hymn # 308            Invited Lord                1:63
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 # 413     I Walk in Danger                   1:67

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

KJV Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.



Fourth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, who art merciful, and through Christ didst promise us, that Thou wilt neither judge nor condemn us, but graciously forgive us all our sins, and abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul: We pray Thee, that by Thy Holy Spirit Thou wilt establish in our hearts a confident faith in Thy mercy, and teach us also to be merciful to our neighbor, that we may not judge or condemn others, but willingly forgive all men, and, Judging only ourselves, lead blessed lives in Thy fear, through Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



Expectation for the Truth To Be Revealed


Lenski:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present period are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us.
“For” = in order that you may understand the better what has just been said about our suffering together with Christ and our also being glorified together with him. All of this will become clearer when we view ourselves in the midst of the entire suffering creature world which longs for our glorification at the last day. Do not occupy your mind exclusively with the little suffering which you individually endure but see this vast creature world groaning, and we with it, but having all its hope centered in us as the sons of God, centered upon us and on our deliverance. This is a mightier thing than the deliverance of us Christians only; and the more we see its vast proportions and the way in which God has bound up the whole creature world with us, his sons, the truer, surer, greater our own hope and assurance will become. “I reckon,” Paul writes and expresses his own personal conviction with the purpose of implanting the same conviction and insight into his readers.
From our suffering together with Christ, from the cross, the suffering we endure for Christ’s sake, Paul turns to our suffering in general, much of which is not for Christ’s sake, some of which is due only to our own sins and our faults which necessitate chastisement (Heb. 12:4–11), some of which is due to evil men, and some of which is incidental to our earthly existence. The only kind of suffering in which we glory (5:3) and can glory is that endured for Christ’s sake.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Columbus, Ohio : Lutheran Book Concern, 1936, S. 529.


This epistle teaches us about the paradoxical nature of the Christian faith. A paradox is a seeming contradiction. There are many passages about peace in the Bible, almost every single one referring to the peace that comes with forgiveness of sin. Many people strive for that kind of peace, so why would the Gospel talk about and promise suffering?

Paul is talking about suffering and the cross. Lenski has divided the topic of suffering into three categories:
  1. Suffering because of the Word – the cross.
  2. Suffering because of our own sins and mistakes, which bring chastisement (Hebrews 12:4-11. Peter distinguishes between this and the cross in 1 Peter.)
  3. Suffering from evil people, which is part of living in this sinful world.

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

The current measuring stick for congregations is now entirely material. Are the bills paid and the budget big? Is everyone happy? Are the numbers always improving?


Rob Bell became famous for having one of those huge churches, but he had to resign once his denial of Biblical truths became known. I published about him but had to look up his name. He was trained at Fuller Seminary.


Some obvious flaws in Bell’s thinking are found here:


Luther wrote about this topic, showing that the Bible does not teach about glory, but about the cross. The message of the cross, suffering because of the Word, is a constant in Luther’s sermons, just as it is central in the message of Jesus.

That is the contradiction. People want success for their denomination or parish, but the foundational requirement from God is faithfulness to His Word, which brings the cross.

Doubtless everyone thinks that being a Christian in a Christian country, with freedom of religion, should be rather peaceful. But that is not so.

The reason is plain. As soon as the Holy Spirit takes root in a person, through faith, Satan wants his original disciple back. Children may experience this. Adolescents do, and adults never stop experiencing this warfare. Luther called it Two Kingdoms – the battle between Christ’s Kingdom and Satan’s.

But already in this one verse, Paul describes the situation and offers Gospel promises. The suffering now (the cross) is nothing compared to the glory to be revealed.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Even in our sinful state we wait for the time when all truth will be revealed. This is a burden, to belief in this truth and to see it case aside with such scorn and hatred. Where we want to see faithfulness to that truth, we find rejection.

I have learned to spot atheistic posts on the Net. I read a few to see what their line of thinking is. But they are all too predictable and a pitiful lot at that. Their Father Below rewards them for now, but he will have his harvest soon enough.

The hard part, as Luther observed, is to find this same attitude among the great and wise leaders of the church. Luther was a nothing  in the church at the time, easily stopped and killed – like Huss, Tyndale, and Robert Barnes.

Lutheran orthodoxy is clearly defined in the Augsburg Confession, which is little more than a booklet. Anyone can grasp all the important parts. Some later articles are not too interesting to us, because they involve the Medieval Church. But the basics are expressed with child-like simplicity, in brief but powerful statements.

People know that, but where is that taught among the great and wise today? That is part of the suffering today, not only to experience the blindness, but to feel the hatred and scorn for the truth. The Lutheran papacy is no better than the Roman papacy of the Reformation.

Once people worried about keeping their pastors, because they saw that as a good thing. Now a minority can work with the district presidents or bishops to get rid of the faithful. This is a regular occurrence.

And it is no different, among the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Methodists, and the rest.

I do not agree with them, but I see the same basic battle – faith versus unbelief, the obvious confessions or documents of that group versus the obvious apostasy of the leaders. And they richly reward their apostates with money from…the faithful.

Meanwhile we can easily see a massive retaliation against the Christian faith world-wide, whether in Africa or China. As one member said long ago, “In the West, the persecution takes the form of indifference.”

Although we wait for the manifestation of the truth, the fact remains that this truth will come out at the end.

KJV Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This great confession and hymn and poem in Philippians is clearly expressing the end of time, when every truth will be revealed for all to see.

This is the paradox – that everything in this world was created by Christ the Creating Word (Genesis 1 and John 1). That is what everyone loves – what they see. But they do not like the Creator and scorn the Messiah.

Although the Son of God became flesh to reveal the grace and mercy of God, He was met with rebuke, suffering, and the cross.

When the Holy Spirit has revealed this to people through the Word, everything makes sense, from the beginning of Creation until now. However, we are still weak and frail, easily made timid or confused the difference between the truth we know from the Word and the things we see around us.

When people say they are disillusioned by the visible church, I say, “Good! It was an illusion. Now you see the truth.”

Others would rather have the false peace of protecting the illusion, which leads to ever more absurd statements, such as, “The Holy Spirit appointed him, so I cannot disagree. That is like arguing with God Himself.” That reasoning comes straight from Roman Catholicism but it is current today among Lutherans – and also rewarded by them. (Likewise – Pope Pius IX punished everyone who argued against his infallibility, except his son – the cardinal, and rewarded all those who promoted his divine status. The Ultramontanes, as they are called, have been in control ever since.)

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

It seems shameful, that the minority must defend the basic Gospel, justification by faith, in the face of opposition. But there are only three main attacks against the Christian faith:
Against the divinity of Christ.
Against the humanity of Christ.
Against justification by faith.

Many of my counterparts, in various denominations, are arguing the divinity of Christ through the authority of the Scriptures.

Lutherans supposedly have no issue with the divinity of Christ, but the leadership opposes justification by faith (while pretending to teach it).

In either case the defenders have the opportunity to see the Word tested and defined, their own trust in the Scriptures growing with each battle.

Salesmen call it The Takeaway. Tell people, “You cannot afford this,” and they say “Yes we can!” Tell them, “You are not ready to decide,” and they will say, “I have decided.” Salesmen even pull the item or the contract away while saying those words.

The Takeaway works with the Gospel, the liturgy, the Creeds, the hymns. When someone takes away what we took for granted, we hold onto it all the more.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Third Sunday after Trinity.
Luke 15:1-10





The Third Sunday after Trinity, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 652      I Lay My Sins on Jesus                   1.24
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 #436    The Lord’s My Shepherd                1.33

You Are the Silver Coin

The Communion Hymn # 190      Christ Is Arisen         1:52
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 # 350      Jesus the Very Thought of Thee  1:53

KJV 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Third Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having suffered ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh: We beseech Thee graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ; and quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may abide in Thy word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Thy Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end Amen.

First Luther Sermon on Luke 15:1ff

Second Luther Sermon on Luke 15:1ff.



You Are the Silver Coin

Lenski:
Luke again offers only enough information to indicate how Jesus was prompted to utter the following parables. The time, the place, and the other circumstances are immaterial. Once before, in 5:30, the same class of men raised the same objection. See 3:12 on the publicans [tax collectors]; the open transgressors were classed with them, being notorious sinners of various kinds in a society that was very different from ours, in which the Pharisaic, ostentatious type of holiness dominated the public and by contrast made men like these tax collectors, etc., practically outcasts.
One of the marked features of Jesus’ ministry was the attraction of these outcasts to him. The Pharisees and the scribes only scorned and damned them, but the holy Jesus had a way of salvation open for them, one that, indeed, condemned their sins in no uncertain terms but at the same time opened the divine way of remission for all sins. So they drew near to him in numbers (all) and did this continuously at the present time as the periphrastic imperfect states. They kept drinking in his words eagerly, therefore we have the durative present infinitive.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 793.

This Gospel contains the teaching we hold and boast of as our chief doctrine, which is called the true Christian teaching, namely, the doctrine of grace and forgiveness of sins, and Christian liberty from the law. It is a very loving and friendly admonition to repentance and the knowledge of Christ. And it is ever a pity, that a godless, impudent person should be permitted to hear such an excellent, comforting and joyful sermon. And yet it is more sad, that every one graduates so soon in it and masters it so that he thinks he knows it so well that he can learn nothing more from it. Yet God, our Lord, does not permit himself to become vexed or weary in repeating it yearly, yea, every day, and enforces it as though he knew nothing else to preach, and as though he had no other skill or art. While we poor, wretched people immediately become so overlearned, so satisfied, tired of it and disgusted besides, that we have no longer a desire or love for it.

Jesus repeatedly told the crowds that He did not come to teach those who were already righteous or healthy in their own eyes, but those who were hungry for the medicine He had to offer.

We all know what that is like. When we are sick, with a burning throat, or another ailment, we do not ask about the weather for the trip to the doctor and pharmacy. We do not shop for a discount on the medicine. We want the treatment and the medicine as soon as possible, and we feel immediate relief.

One problem with antibiotics is that they work so fast that people forget to take the whole course of medicine and can end up worse off than before.

The religious are always separating themselves into two classes. They are the righteous ones, based on works, and cannot associate with the unclean. What was true of the Pharisees then is just as true of the Pietists now. The real issue is the same – how does one become forgiven, how to have the righteousness of God, the peace that passes all understanding?

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Verse 1 reveals the great crime of Jesus. The tax collectors and the open sinners clamored to hear Him. They were attracted to His gracious manner and His willingness to be with them. Looking around, they did not see the gratuitous sneer, the monkey face that told them they were the unclean beast in the midst of the holy ones. Everyone seemed to be in the same situation.

An open sinner was someone whose carnal sins were so obvious that no one questioned it. That might include a life of crime, drunkenness, immorality, and so forth. Those whose sins are on the inside like to look down on those who are open and obvious sinners.

The tax collectors were easy to hate, because they extorted tax money to pay for the occupation forces from the despised Roman Empire. It was bad enough to have powerful soldiers enforcing the law, but to think that the citizens paid for the privilege – that was too much. Because of the system of tax farming, as it was called later in Europe, the tax collector did better if he forced more money out of the Jewish people. We no longer have that. Instead we have tax agents who get promotions for getting a better yield from those they audit.

Jesus knew what the Pharisees and scribes thought about this. The murmuring is not for His benefit but for ours. Doubtless the eager throngs felt the disapproval and saw the religious leaders muttering to one another. “He welcomes sinners! He sits down to eat dinner with them!”

Shunning is an effective way to control people who do not think for themselves. In academic life, the wrong thought expressed in the open can eliminate promotions and tenure. In politics, people refuse to be leaders, for fear of the organized campaign of hatred sure to follow.

Church leaders have harnessed the power of the Pharisee. Few dare to agree with the dissenter or to be seen with that person. I had lunch with a friend at a WELS convention years ago. He said later, “You made me the most popular person here.?” I asked how. He said, “Everyone is coming up to me, saying – how do you know him?” It was not meant to be a friendly question. I have had people make a point of not seeing me, making a face at me, even glaring across a large auditorium at me.

Anyone who thinks that forgiveness comes from conformity in this world is blind to Paul’s admonition – Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.

Jesus knew the mindset of the Pharisee, which is a natural outgrowth of seeing righteousness as based on works. That was not true Judaism, but it was the spirit of the times, which made others all the more hungry and thirsty for true righteousness.

If you think that was aimed at the Pharisees and the Jews alone, you must think they are sitting around reading the Gospel lessons. This parable is aimed at the Pharisee in all of us and also aimed at those who feel the grip and terror of their sins.

3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

These parables are so compelling that no one can disagree with their factual foundation. However, the problem remains in interpreting them. As Luther said, we grow tired of the Gospel and no longer pay attention to its wisdom. Worst of all, people recite this and then act as if the opposite were true. For instance, their definition of “open transgressor” is one who is known to disagree with the synod or the pastor. Excommunicate! – and they do. But they turn around and absolve the unrepentant abuser because it is good for public relations.

We enjoy having shepherding dogs, because their software tells them to protect us and care for us. All three gather at the front door and bark away the delivery man, who is there to harm us, according to their barks. When Precious, the Shetland Sheepdog, ran away from me and lost herself, I asked Sassy Sue to find her. I opened the back door, and said to Sassy, “Find Precious.” Sassy ran to the spot where Precious was and guided her to the front door.

When Precious was lost, I immediately wanted to find her. That was the only thing on my mind. We have all kinds of critters in the woods behind our house, and she is older and more fragile. When an animal is lost, we do not worry about the ones still safe, saying, “Most of them are fine.”  We go help the lost one.

Jesus question can only be answered one way, even among the most hardened. Any person, any Pharisee would go find the sheep – and not rest until it was found. Jesus is clearly saying, “This is God’s work, to rescue the lost, not to praise the secure and satisfied.”

5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Here are several actions that identify God’s attitude toward the forgiven sinner. The lost animal wants to be found soon enough. It is helpless and more needy by the moment. Little Precious has the agility and speed to escape my grasp. When the three of us reached the front door, Precious looked around for an escape route, because she imagined she was in trouble with me. She sat down instead, content to trust me to take her inside.

The parable shows the basics of God’s actions. He pursues the lost, frightened, weak one. God comes to us with the Gospel. He makes sure that we hear the Word of God, that we have teachers and preachers. If we drive them out and starve them, that is our problem, one we have created for ourselves. That is the situation today, when few can find a traditional Lutheran worship service where the historic creeds, liturgy, hymns, and sermon emphasize the Means of Grace.

That loss was not God’s doing but man’s. I have watched it happen for 40 years while the clergy did nothing. In fact, the Lutherans have been far weaker in saying anything than the Calvinists, who are disgusted with this turn of events.

First of all, the shepherd rejoices at finding the lost sheep. The self-righteous walk by on the other side, sneering at the person who is lost in sin.

Secondly, he places the weakened sheep on His shoulders. This represents how God carries the weakened sinner back to a place of healing. Once again, this is God’s act. The sheep resting on the shoulders reminds us of faith.

Like sheep, we are both dumb and stubborn. We get ourselves into trouble that way. When we recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd we trust in His goodness and relax in His care.

Thirdly, he invites his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him, declaring my lost sheep has been found.

This shows the divine grace of our Savior, because we as humans are likely to denounce the sinner for being lost and scold him no end for getting himself into trouble. One girl from a Fundamentalist sect got drunk all the time, because it was one way to drive her parents crazy. They scolded her no end. One night she came home and passed out on the floor, in a pool of her own vomit. Her parents took care of her, cleaned her up, and did not say a word. She woke up clean in fresh clothes in her bed. She said, “That is when I realized my parents really loved me.” Of course they loved her when they scolded her, but she did not want to see the love. The last act opened her eyes.

People often look at God that way. They see every negative experience as God’s condemnation, perhaps because they only think in terms of the Law, even when rebelling against the Law. In questioning God’s goodness they fail to see the goodness, the grace freely offered and the constant help always there.

The last verse is a pointed barb against the self-righteous –
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

The false concept is – God must be happy with me because I am so good, and I wish everyone could be just like me. Jesus corrects this by saying that the rejoicing over a lost sinner repenting  is greater than those 99 who need no repentance.

Left unsaid but clear to everyone is this – we all need repentance. If we think otherwise, we are righteous only in our own eyes.

Repentance does not mean – change your ways. In the New Testament it means sorrow for sin and faith in the Gospel. From forgiveness comes the power to fight against temptation. Man by himself is unable to do it. The Christian’s life is one of contrition for sin and faith in the Gospel promise of forgiveness.

The silver coin

8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?

One thing we have in common is losing something. And we search for it everywhere. I needed my birth certificate so I went through hundreds of photos and old documents looking for it.

This part of the lesson is so important that the person who knows it, remembers it, and applies it will have the Gospel in a few words. Why did Jesus switch genders and make the main person a woman? This is the art of the divine parable. Men identify with the shepherd, women with the lost coin.

There are three actions:
1.    Light a candle.
2.    Sweep the whole house.
3.    Seek diligently until the coin is found.

Have you crawled under the bed with a flashlight? Have you cleaned the entire house to find one thing? Have you kept looking until you found the lost object?

This shows the nature of God, to do everything possible to reclaim us. Luther – as always – put the lesson in a few word – You are the lost coin in His hand.

You are that unique soul so precious to God that He must grasp you again when you are slipping away. One college student said, “I took my lessons for granted until I was taught by people who hated God’s Word. Then I realized how easily faith was stolen away.”
I see all these remedies for self-esteem, but they do not include the Gospel. The Gospel says, “You are that silver coin in God’s hand.” Have you wandered away or run away. He has lit a candle to find you in the darkness, so you see His light again. He is sweeping the house in search of you. He may use your friends or families or co-workers to reclaim you. He may use the most obnoxious person you know to say the right thing at the right moment. If you are still distant, rebellious or indifferent, He will search until you are in His grasp again.

9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

And when you are found, God does not scold but rejoices. The angels of God do not scold but rejoice.


21. Therefore, when you feel your sins gnawing at you, and feel your heart trembling and agitated, place yourself beside the publicans where they are standing. These are the very ones who shall receive the Gospel. Do so joyously, and say: “Oh, God! it is thy word that says there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance, and that all the righteous and angels are to interpose and cover up sins. Now, Oh, God! I have come to this that I feel my sins. I am already judged. I need but the one Shepherd who seeketh me; and I will therefore freely venture on thy Gospel.”

22. It is thus that you come to God. You are already the sheep placed upon his shoulders. You have found the Shepherd. You are the piece of silver in the hand. You are the one over whom is joy in heaven in the presence of all the angels. We are not to worry, if we do not experience or feel this at once. Sin will daily decrease, and its sting will drive you to seek God. You must struggle against this feeling by faith, and say: “Oh, God! I know thou hast said this, and I lean upon thy Word. I am the sheep and the piece of silver; thou the shepherd and the woman.”


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Second Sunday after Trinity.
Luke 14:16ff - The Great Feast



The Second Sunday after Trinity


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn # 649                 Jesus Savior Pilot Me                   3:80
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 #471            Jesus Thy Blood                   4.6

 Banquet of Forgiveness

The Communion Hymn # 462            I Love Thy Kingdom             4.21
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 #657            Beautiful Savior                    4.24

KJV 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Luther’s First Sermon on this text –



Luther’s Second Sermon on this text –


Banquet of Forgiveness

This is a parable of judgment and forgiveness. We know it is a parable, because there are several clear introductions to them:
  1. The Kingdom of God is like… KJV Matthew 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
  2. A certain man… KJV Mark 12:1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
  3. Jesus taught them a parable… KJV Matthew 13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

We know from these many examples that a parable will teach a lesson from Jesus that is powerful and significant. The language is very concise and a bit mysterious. Jesus did give everything away for the masses. He carefully taught His disciples so they could teach believers the meaning of the parables.

An unbeliever will say, “That is a clever story, saying so much in a few words,” but he will not get the meaning of the parable. I had a New Testament (liberal) professor who wrote a book about parables and never taught a word of the Gospel in that book. His students waited for the book to come out. When it did, they realized it was a lot of words saying nothing.

A parable can easily be memorized, but its meaning needs to be probed, year after year. Repetition bring added spiritual discernment, and experience adds to the discernment.

We want children to know these lessons because lessons learned will have their context later.  More learning means more pieces of that One Truth put together, coupled with experience that gives dimension and depth to the spiritual learning.

Luther agonized over the topic of forgiveness, but he did not become the Reformer overnight. The system made him a doctoral student in Biblical studies, where he was saddled with all the Medieval traditions and explanations, but also immersed in the Word itself.

Each episode in his life was informed by the Word of God. Not having printed Bibles was an advantage for him. Hand-written books (codex) were so valuable that they were chained to the wall in libraries. Monks and priests had to memorize what they learned, and no one balked at that. Memorizing was the hard drive of the ancient world. The more one memorizes, the easier the task is.

Most college students today have memorized all the trivia about celebrities – movies, TV shows, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc.  I learned not to mention a book in a college class unless there was a recent movie based on it. Suddenly CS Lewis and Tolkien could be mentioned – they were in the Internet Movie Database.

Sports experts are similar in their recall of data about players and teams.

Recently I have experimented with reading the same book five or six times. One is an autobiography of my dissertation advisor. Each time I read part of it, something new comes up, such as the death of a classmate in a march against the KKK. He was a divinity student, a physician !, and then a textile worker and radical. I wondered how that happened until I found the crucial datum – he studied in Paris as part of college – Paris, the training school for radical Leftists. He came back changed and that cost him his life. He died at the rally, saying to his radical wife, “Keep shooting.”

The real issue is – how do we spend our reading time? If we read the Scriptures, the Confessions, and a few great Lutheran authors (Luther, Chemnitz, Melanchthon), we will have the hard-won spiritual insights of orthodox Christianity. If not, we will be trained and often deceived by lesser lights, who have this for their defense – they studied more Luther in their lifetimes than so-called Lutherans do today.

So it is no surprise that people are so willing to compromise today, when they have raised themselves on the watered down oatmeal of the Protestant sects. The reaction to false doctrine makes me think this parable is all about how many different dining options are available in the Kingdom, each one designed for the felt needs of the hungry.

The Parable
KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

This is a parable (a certain man) that answers the earlier comment made – How blessed to eat bread in the Kingdom of God.

KJV Luke 14:15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

The earlier example was about providing for others, so this happy comment is turned into something more profound by the parable that follows.

As Luther was keen to say, this is about the evening meal (mentioned twice in two verses) so the supper applies to what we hear and digest, the final lesson of our lives.

Luther:
And it is here called a supper or an evening meal, because the Gospel shall be the last word or doctrine that will usher in the end of the world.

The host of this great and final feast is God the Father. “He bade many” or invited many can be applied to the Jewish people. Repeatedly the Gospel is aimed at the Jews first and then the Gentiles. Although we often think about those Jewish adherents who rejected and persecuted the Gospel, there were also many who believed in Christ and joined the despised group.

17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

This is the second time that “supper” is named, so the time is significant. First of all, people knew a supper was being prepared  - a great supper, like a royal banquet. We could compare it to the celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee in Britain. Everyone knew about the preparations long in advance. The formal invitations to the events came at the proper time.

Why only one servant? There were many prophets, then Jesus and the apostles. There is only one Message. When one prophet was killed, God sent another, who had the same message about the Messiah. Then he was killed, and the people said, “We heard that before from the other ones,” proceeded to kill each one.  The early Christians were mowed down the same way. So all of them together are one servant. Faithful pastors today are that one servant, too.

This compares to the Biblical calendar. Many were invited to believe in the Messiah, from the beginning, Genesis 3:15, when Christ’s victory over Satan and the crucifixion were both foreshadowed.

From that time on the ministry of Christ was preached in great detail. I was working on graphics and found a painting of Abraham at Mamre (Genesis 18:1). Three men appeared before the patriarch – representing the Trinity. Abraham believed God’s Promised and he was justified by faith.

David’s Psalms are full of Messianic references, not to mention the major and minor prophets.

Everything concerning the Exodus and Moses is Messianic, from the spotless lamb to the bread from heaven – especially the serpent raised up, a strange foreshadowing of Christ lifted up in crucifixion. John 3:1-16.

After all that time of preparation, the House of David prepared, the prophecies given, the preaching of John the Baptist, Christ began His public ministry.

When Jesus began His preaching of the Gospel, the End Times began, because His appearance and atonement had to come before all things could be fulfilled. We are living in the End Times but do not know how long they will last. Many different lessons are aimed at keeping us awake and aware that it could be at any moment.




What is this Great Supper?
Some see this great supper as Holy Communion, and that is a good image, but it does not include enough. The Great Supper includes all that the Gospel has to teach us, all the spiritual food that we need to survive and prosper as members of God’s Kingdom.

The great supper is a fine image, because no one forces us to a supper. We receive a gracious invitation. In some areas, where hospitality is overwhelming, the presence of a visitor near mealtime is necessarily an invitation to stay and eat. “We cannot let you go hungry.”

The Gospel is the same, urging something good and satisfying on someone. That means faith in Christ as the Savior, trust in God’s Word, not membership in an organization.

That is one indication of things gone wrong in Lutheran groups, when they put 99% of the emphasis on organizational rules rather than faith in the Gospel.

The supper is a good image because people hunger for righteousness, and they desire the right food, sound (healthy) doctrine, not toxic (false) doctrine.

Yesterday I was asked this question on the Net – “Protestants teach that all their sins are forgiven. What do Lutherans teach?”

This came from a Lutheran – I am not sure about his background.

“All sins are forgiven.”  - That would come from “Once saved, always saved.” That would be confusing for a Lutheran on a discussion board. I don’t know the history of that motto. It is not exactly like UOJ, but it is another twist on the simple Gospel message, one that leads to carnal security – I am saved so I can do anything I please. Luther called that using the Gospel as a pillow to fall asleep on.

I pointed out to this person that believers in Christ are forgiven each and every day, fully and freely, as the work of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel – Small Catechism, Third Article of the Creed.

This Lutheran’s problem was not unique to him. So much bad teaching goes on that people do not know with certainty what the Bible teaches, what Luther taught.

The great supper includes all those ways (means) by which the Gospel Promises of forgiveness, peace, and salvation are conveyed to individuals. The supper includes those teachings where we view the Law as reflecting the Gospel. We should so fear and love God... Fearing means we do not kill our neighbor, but out of love we protect him, share with him, and do everything for his good. Love does not ask “how little can I do?” but “how much can I do?”

18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

There is no word “consent” here, so the original text is even more vivid. They all spoke as one in making their excuse.  These excuses have more to do with indolence and indifference than hostile and violent opposition. Each excuse has some validity on the surface, but each one is also shallow and a bit humorous. 

When people face their mortality, they see how minor those other concerns are.

I have to see the land I just bought – That will not matter now.

I have to test my new oxen – They will not do me any good now.

I just got married – My spouse is soon to be a widow.

Our son was talking about how everything moved up a notch in the summer. His children were going into new grades. He was married an additional year and became another year older. The little girl holding the ball in one of my favorite photos is now a junior in high school. The little baby is now in first grade.

Time moves us quickly forward to the ultimate question.

So the excuses to set aside the Gospel invitation are simply concerns about daily living, but concerns that choke or block out the Gospel itself. Many philosophers deal with this but they have no real answer. They can stoke the hunger but cannot provide the meal, not even rolls and butter.

Although it is unthinkable that someone would reject an invitation to a royal banquet, many set aside the invitation to the King’s Banquet in His Kingdom, one with no cost and many blessings.

21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

When grace is met with rejection and indifference, there will be divine wrath. That is the sin against the Holy Spirit, to die without faith. Some do this with a life of rejection. Many starve their faith with unhealthy doctrine and false tolerance, so they end up virtual unbelievers.

I posted a good statement about closed communion and a long-time friend from the first Lutheran church I joined was jumping on that quotation like a hobo on a hotdog. She trotted out all the arguments for open communion – she was deeply offended. A massive investment in ecumenism and open communion, by all denominations, will always end up with that kind of liberal orthodoxy – until there is nothing left of faith.

Some think it cannot happen to them, but I have seen in happen to clergy I know. Did they imagine they would end up as unbelievers when they went to seminary and were ordained? Not likely.

We are the object of these verses. Many Jews converted to Christ in the first generation, but opposition and excommunication began and limited that to a great degree. Paul, the ardent Jewish Pharisee, turned his attentions to the Gentiles. We are the pagans, the Druids, the tattooed wild men (Picts, England) who inhabited Europe. The Gospel went to our ancestors. And still the banquet hall was not full.

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.



Luther:
40. This constraining, however, is necessary in preaching both repentance and forgiveness of sins; for without repentance we remain too hard and obdurate under his wrath, in our sinful nature and in the kingdom of the devil. And moreover, when the terror of divine wrath strikes us, we are again too fearful, modest and disturbed, to take this to heart and believe, that he will show us such great grace and mercy, and we are always full of anxiety that we do not belong to them, and that he will reject us because of our sins and great unworthiness. Therefore he must himself command and work that men continue and persevere evermore to constrain and urge as much as possible, both by holding forth wrath for the wicked and grace for the faithful Wrath and repentance urge man to run and cry for grace. This is then the right way a person goes to this supper, and thus from Jews and Gentiles there will be one Christian church, and all will be called alike poor, miserable people, lame and crippled, for they accept the Gospel heartily and with joy.

Therefore, various people and congregations have done whatever they can to spread the Gospel. And that is odd in many ways. One website seemed devoted to selling ads, so they posted all of Luther’s sermons. Whatever the motive, the sermons are there and easy to convert – so I did.

Some opponent wrote, “No fair. Of course you have a lot of page-reads. You posted Luther.” But he did not.

And the Reformed – they are the bad guys. (Pause for the booing and hissing to subside.) They have been selling Luther from Grand Rapids for decades – his sermons and Galatians lectures. What is better than to have Luther’s sermons, the best of his efforts, in constant printing and distribution? So God works.

When people know the content of the great supper, they do not want anything else. They remind one another of how good and satisfying sound doctrine is. Tonight I saw an appropriate quotation from the Formula of Concord, and I thought, “That should be a graphic.” And then people take my graphics and Norma’s and spread them to hundreds of friends, who can scatter them even more.

Fathers have a great opportunity because they have the best deal in this world today. Nobody expects anything. If the father stays and provides a home where marriage and the Gospel are honored, it is almost a miracle. If does more than notice his children, another miracle. If he teaches his children the Word of God – even better.

And fathers get the best deal, the most rewards with the fewest difficulties. A good son is a source of pride to the father, but a foolish son is grief to the mother. No balance there, but Proverbs are God’s wisdom.

Fathers have the most impact on their children, positive and negative. The reason is – mothers are generally pretty good and sacrifice for their children. That is a constant. But when a father is absent, there is nothing but trouble. When he is present, there are countless advantages. In other words, a father can do a lot by being better than the ordinary louse. Mothers do not get much better because they cannot. There are many exceptions, which I know about from teaching college students.

The Word of God teaches men to be the spiritual leaders of their families. It is never too late for that rule to apply. It is a rule with countless blessings.


By Norma Boeckler


The Efficacy of the Word

"Christ compares the Word of God to a seed, to a grain of wheat sown in the ground. (Matthew 13:3-23) A seed possesses power and life in itself. Power and life belong to the properties of the seed. Power is not communicated to the seed only now and then, under certain circumstances, in peculiar cases. But the Word of God is an incorruptible seed, that is able to regenerate, a Word which liveth and abideth forever. (1 Peter 1:23)"
            E. Hove, Christian Doctrine, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1930, p. 27. Matthew 13:3-23; 1 Peter 1:23.

"Hollazius (993) uses the following figures: 'It possesses and retains its internal power and efficacy even when not used, just as the illuminating power of the sun continues, although, when the shadow of the moon intervenes, no person may see it; and just as an internal efficacy belongs to the seed, although it may not be sown in the field.'"
Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans., Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 506.

"'The Word is in itself the living seed of regeneration; the hand which does the sowing can add to it no further efficacy.' (Philippi, V, 2:15)."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 291.

(1)   Almighty God, thy word is cast Like seed into the ground, Now let the dew of heaven descend And righteous fruits abound. (2) Let not the foe of Christ and man This holy seed remove, But give it root in every heart To bring forth fruits of love. (3) Let not the world's deceitful cares The rising plant destroy, But let it yield a hundredfold The fruits of peace and joy. (4) Oft as the precious seed is sown Thy quickening grace bestow, That all whose souls the truth receive Its saving power may know."
John Cawood, 1775-1852, "Almighty God, Thy Word Is Cast," Service Book and Hymnal, Philadephia: Board of Publication, 1958, Hymn #196. TLH Hymn #49. Mark 4:3-9.

(1)   "Preach you the Word and plant it home To men who like or like it not, The Word that shall endure and stand When flowers and men shall be forgot. (2) We know how hard, O Lord, the task Your servant bade us undertake: To preach your Word and never ask What prideful profit it may make. (3) The sower sows; his reckless love Scatters abroad the goodly seed, Intent alone that men may have The wholesome loaves that all men need. (4) Though some be snatched and some be scorched And some be chocked and matted flat, The sower sow; his heart cries out, 'Oh, what of that, and what of that?' (5) Preach you the Word and plant it home And never faint; the Harvest Lord Who gave the sower seed to sow Will watch and tend his planted Word." Martin H. Franzmann, 1907-76, "Preach You the Word,"
Lutheran Worship, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982, Hymn #259. Mark 4:;

"What business is it of mine that many do not esteem it? It must be that many are called but few are chosen. For the sake of the good ground that brings forth fruit with patience, the seed must also fall fruitless by the wayside, on the rock and among the thorns; inasmuch as we are assured that the Word of God does not go forth without bearing some fruit, but it always finds also good ground; as Christ says here, some seed of the sower falls also into good ground, and not only by the wayside, among the thorns and on stony ground. For wherever the Gospel goes you will find find Christians. 'My Word shall not return unto me void.' Is. 55:11"
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 118. xagesima Luke 8:4-15. Isaiah 55:11.

"Not that they shall preach that we shall not understand them; but it naturally follows that wherever the Spirit does not reveal them, no one understands them."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 123. Sexagesima Luke 8:4-15

(1)    "Flung to the heedless winds Or on the waters cast, The martyrs' ashes, watched, Shall gathered be at last. And from that scattered dust, Around us and abroad, Shall spring a plenteous seed Of witnesses for God." Martin Luther, 1523, "Flung to the Heedless Winds,"
The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #259. Acts 7:59.

"The first class of disciples are those who hear the Word but neither understand nor esteem it. And these are not the mean people of the world, but the greatest, wisest and the most saintly, in short they are the greatest part of mankind; for Christ does not speak here of those who persecute the Word nor of those who fail to give their ear to it, but of those who hear it and are students of it, who also wish to be called true Christian and to live in Christian fellowship with Christians and are partakers of baptism and the Lord's Supper. But they are of a carnal heart, and remain so, failing to appropriate the Word of God to themselves, it goes in one ear and out the other, just like the seed along the wayside did not fall into the earth, but remained lying on the ground..."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 114. Sexagesima. Luke 8:4-15 (par. Mark 4: Matthew 13:)

"The second class of hearers are those who receive the Word with joy, but they do not persevere. These are also a large multitude who understand the Word correctly and lay hold of it in its purity without any spirit of sect, division or fanaticism, they rejoice also in that they know the real truth, and are able to know how they may be saved without works through faith...But when the sun shines hot it withers, because it has no soil and moisture, and only rock is there. So these do; in times of persecution they deny or keep silence about the Word and work, speak and suffer all that their persecutors mention or wish, who formerly went forth and spoke, and confessed with a fresh and joyful spirit the same, while there was peace and no heat, so that there was hope they would bear much fruit and serve the people."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 116. Sexagesima. Luke 8:4-15 (par. Mark 4: Matthew 13:)

"Therefore they [fallen among thorns] do not earnestly give themselves to the Word, but become indifferent and sink in the cares, riches and pleasures of this life, so that they are of no benefit to anyone. Therefore they are like the seed that fell among the thorns...They know their duty but do it not, they teach but do not practice what they teach, and are this year as they were last."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 117. Sexagesima. Luke 8:4-15 (par. Mark 4: Matthew 13:)


(1)   "Almighty Father, bless the Word Which through your grace we now have heard Oh, may the precious seed take root, Spring up, and bear abundant fruit. (2) We praise you for the means of grace As homeward now our steps we trace. Grant, Lord, that we who worshiped here May all at last in heaven appear."
Scandinavian, The Lutheran Hymnary, 1913, Lutheran Worship, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982, Hymn #216. Mark 4. 

"The efficacy of the Word, unlike that of the seed, always has a result. The man to whom the Word of God comes, and who repels it, is not as he was before. Where long and persistently refused, hardening at last comes, Exodus 8:15; 9:12; John 12:40; Hebrews 4:1, and the Word becomes a 'savor of death unto death,' 2 Corinthians 2:16. Every word heard or read, every privilege and opportunity enjoyed, leaves its impress either for good or for evil. It is not so properly the Word, as man's abuse of the Word; not so much the efficacy of the Word, as the sin taking occasion of the efficacy that produces this result, Romans 7:8."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, Elements of Religion, Philadelphia, Board of Publication, General Council 1919 p. 155. Exodus 8:15; 9:12; John 12:40; Hebrews 4:1; 2 Corinthians 2:16; Romans 7:8.

"Just why the fact of our regeneration should prove such a strong motive to us to give evidence of our faith in love is shown in the description of regeneration, when the apostle states that this new birth in our hearts is not the result of perishable, corruptible seed, as the growth of earthly plants would be, but of an incorruptible imperishable seed, the Word of God, the Gospel of the Savior Jesus Christ. This Word of God is in itself living, full of life and of life-giving power. And it abides in eternity; even after the form of the Word, in Scripture and in preaching, has passed away, the content of the Gospel will remain in eternity."
Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the New Testament, 2 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, II, p. 523. 1 Peter 1:23.