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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity. Matthew 7:15-23.
Beware of Wolves in Sheep's Clothing



The Eighth Sunday after Trinity  2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #260    O Lord Look Down                                1.4
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #495              From Greenland's Icy Mountains 3:23

The Fruit of Sound Doctrine

The Communion Hymn # 307            Draw Nigh                3:72
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 # 309     O Jesus Blessed Lord             3:70  

KJV Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Eighth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank Thee that Thou hast caused us to come to the knowledge of Thy word. We pray Thee: graciously keep us steadfast in this knowledge unto death, that we may obtain eternal life; send us now and ever pious pastors, who faithfully preach Thy word, without offense or false doctrine, and grant them long life. Defend us from all false teachings, and frustrate Thou the counsels of all such as pervert Thy word, who come to us in sheep's clothing, but are inwardly ravening wolves, that Thy true Church may evermore be established among us, and be defended and preserved from such false teachers, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


The Fruit of Sound Doctrine




Luther says this about false teachers:

False Doctrine Tolerated

"And such false teachers have the good fortune that all their folly is tolerated, even though the people realize how these act the fool, and rather rudely at that. They have success with it all, and people bear with them. But no patience is to be exercised toward true teachers! Their words and their works are watched with the intent of entrapping them, as complained of in Psalm 17:9 and elsewhere. When only apparently a mote is found, it is exaggerated to a very great beam. No toleration is granted. There is only judgment, condemnation and scorn. Hence the office of preaching is a grievous one. He who has not for his sole motive the benefit of his neighbor and the glory of God cannot continue therein. The true teacher must labor, and permit others to have the honor and profit of his efforts, while he receives injury and derision for his reward."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 110f. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. Psalm 17:9.

God Punishes Ingratitude by Allowing False Teachers

"In the second place such teachers are disposed to bring the people into downright bondage and to bind their conscience by forcing laws upon them and teaching works-righteousness. The effect is that fear impels them to do what has been pounded into them, as if they were bondslaves, while their teachers command fear and attention. But the true teachers, they who give us freedom of conscience and create us lords, we soon forget, even despise. The dominion of false teachers is willingly tolerated and patiently endured; indeed, it is given high repute. All those conditions are punishments sent by God upon them who do not receive the Gospel with love and gratitude."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 111. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. John 5:43.

False Teachers Flay Disciples to Bone

"In the third place, false teachers flay their disciples to the bone, and cut them out of house and home, but even this is taken and endured. Such, I opine, has been our experience under the Papacy. But true preachers are even denied their bread. Yet this all perfectly squares with justice! For, since men fail to give unto those from whom they receive the Word of God, and permit the latter to serve them at their own expense, it is but fair they should give the more unto preachers of lies, whose instruction redounds to their injury. What is withheld from Christ must be given in tenfold proportion to the devil. They who refuse to give the servant of truth a single thread, must be oppressed by liars."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 111f. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9.

Avarice in False Teachers

"Fourth, false apostles forcibly take more than is given them. They seize whatever and whenever they can, thus enhancing their insatiable avarice. This, too, is excused in them."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 112. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9.

They Lord It Over Us

"Fifth, these deceitful teachers, not satisfied with having acquired our property, must exalt themselves above us and lord it over us...We bow our knees before them, worship them and kiss their feet. And we suffer it all, yes, with fearful reverence regard it as just and right. And it is just and right, for why did we not honor the Gospel by accepting and preserving it?"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 112. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9.

We Are Dogs and Foot-Rags

"Sixth, our false apostles justly reward us by smiting us in the face. That is, they consider us inferior to dogs; they abuse us, and treat us as foot-rags."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 112. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9.



KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

This Gospel begins with a warning that everyone should note, but it goes against human nature to recognize the signs.

False prophets never dress as devouring wolves. Instead, they put on the nicest fleece and show their charming selves. They only want to do good for everyone and spare them the harshness of those barking guard-dogs who seemed so alarmed at such sweet, gentle. Shepherds.

The excuses for false teachers are almost always like this –
But he is such a nice guy.
He was my classmate. I drank a lot of beer with him.
We can afford to have one person like him in our large church body.
He is only trying to help everyone, so he does step on a few toes.

If a man is a multiple felon, the entire congregation lines up on his side. When one synod president caught AIDS the old-fashioned way and blamed his wife for being in nursing, the congregation applauded him when he finally left office.

God’s Word goes against our sinful nature in several ways. Left alone, we would quickly revert to an unregenerate state. Being irritated or angered by a minister is not proof of error, and being soothed or seduced is not proof of his orthodoxy. Needless to say, the current business model is not much different from many other eras, when people found reason to pick at faithful preachers while excusing the excesses of obvious false teachers.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

When I used this as a theme, against Church Growth teachers, the results were pure fury. This term “fruits” is especially appropriate, because it does not refer to apples and oranges but to all the seed producers in the plant kingdom.

When a rose blooms it tries to produce a fruit, called the rose hip. The rose hip contains rose seed (and a lot of Vitamin C). Most plants flower and fruit. Some plants are useful while others are invasive weeds. One nightshade is tomato, potatoes, peppers, eggplant and tobacco. All three are planted and cultivated for their produce. Woody nightshade is a weed, and deadly nightshade is toxic (except for producing bella donna).

Whenever one type of seed is planted, weed seeds get mixed among them and often try to take over the crop. The weeds’ advantage is looking like the valuable plant, so they are left along until it is too late.
Nevertheless, no one plants thistles and expect to harvest figs. Nor will grapes ever grow on thorns.

Jesus’ example is clear for anyone. Figs and grapes both require plenty of care, and people value them. One does not start out with rank, gross weeds and end up with desirable produce.



17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

This is so clear because no one can dispute it in God’s Creation, but they constantly oppose the same thought in doctrine. No one is foolish enough to practice the wrong concept in gardening and farming, but all the great and wise ones in the various church bodies advocate the wrong approach so plainly opposed by Jesus Himself.

First – the corrupt tree bearing evil fruit. These are often called “junk trees,” because they are messy, greedy, and taken over from valuable species.

In the church we find the so-called conservative Lutherans making common cause with Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, and drawing their financial support from a pan-religious insurance business (Thrivent). At first this was denied or down-played as “spoiling the Egyptians.” Now is it is openly paraded as the cure for the Christian faith when it has been proven toxic and deadly.

We had a mountain ash tree in our yard. People said, “The fruit is pretty and birds love it, but the berries are poisonous to humans.” Did any of us want to eat those berries, grab our stomachs in pain, and fall over? The temptation was zero, but the same thing among Lutherans only incites people to have even more of the toxins. They argue, “These are the bad trees, from false teachers, so they will do us a lot of good.”

About justification without faith – “This is new. We have to admit that. But the Lutheran Confessions encourage us to make up new dogmas and inflict them on the Lutheran Church.”



The Good Tree
This recipe is so seldom read and followed that few have even experimented with it. As soon as people find out how blessed it is, they turn away from it and return to the evil, junk tree, praising its noxious fruit, its poisonous berries.

The good tree is the Gospel, justification by faith. One of our Moline readers asked, “What does that term mean?” It means simply that God declares us forgiven through faith in His Son.

The entire purpose of the Christian Church is to teach forgiveness, to show how we receive that forgiveness, and provide that forgiveness through the Means of Grace. Anything else is secondary.

Luther explained this in his Galatians commentary. I like the Kregel because it is one volume. The American Edition (edited by Yale theologian Jaroslav Pelikan) is two volumes.

There are two kinds of righteousness. One belongs to earth. Civil righteousness (in governing), ceremonial righteousness (in manners and polite traditions), and the righteous of the Law (taught by Moses). These are active and performed by  man, but they do not erase sin or gain eternal life. They are good, since they belong to God, but they are limited.

The other kind of righteousness is passive. It is the righteousness of faith (Kregel p. xii). This can come only from God. The vast majority have no understanding of this, because it goes against the Old Adam, who wants to earn everything with works.

No one can meditate on this and find the answer. The answer comes from the Word of God. The Holy Spirit reveals it through the Gospel. Paul said to the Thessalonians – Not only do you know this to be true, you have experienced it as well.

Active righteousness must always make us feel heavy and burdened, because it is something we must do. That is a common question in the classroom, “What do I have to do?”

Passive righteousness, the righteousness of faith, means that we receive what God freely and graciousness gives through His Son. This is imputed to us, as emphasized in Romans 4. It is charged to our account through faith. Imputation can be translated as “reckoned” or “considered” or “counted.” I like the simpler Anglo-Saxon words.

We are counted as righteous through faith. All sins are forgiven, so believing is forgiveness, and forgiveness is salvation.

How does this happen? God calls preachers to teach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments. They are not the only ones to teach the Gospel, but it is their primary duty to preach, teach, and convey forgiveness. Above all – they are to remain faithful to the Word, no matter who opposes them or who encourages a compromise.

Obviously, a church baseball team is low on the list of priorities. How easily the Gospel minister is seduced into thinking he will be popular for having lots of activities and a smooth-running operation. He does not have to please God with fidelity to the Word. He has to please the treasurer with a steady increase in funds, a balanced budget, and a thriving endowment fund.

The Christian Church is to be a place where sins are forgiven, so the comfort provided by Christ Jesus is enjoyed in its fullness.

In the Galatians introduction, Luther saved the Law of Moses for later, after the Gospel – for good reason. Some start with the Law and never leave the Law. They cannot let go of Moses, so they make him the Savior. Yes, you must believe, but you must also do this – or believing is not enough.

The Old Adam, the earthly carnal man, must have the Law to show him his sins and make him hungry for righteousness, for peace, for forgiveness. But it is wrong to take someone who is anxious and in terrors of conscience for his sin, and demand a work to merit forgiveness. This is precisely where the comfort of the Gospel strengthens man against temptation and sin. But more Law creates despair – or worse – a certainty that payment equals forgiveness.

Believing Plus (faith plus a work demand) is no better than the Roman Catholic Faith Plus (fides formata, faith formed by love, or faith plus works).

Believing Plus leads to such remedies as – Now you must tithe, or Now you must join a cell group, or Now you must do some other work. Rick Warren, so popular among deluded Lutherans, says that faith alone is not enough. I have heard that from other “Evangelicals” who disgrace their name – Evangelical.


Receiving in faith, by faith alone, is so alien to our culture of works and merit that the Lutheran Church no longer teaches it. Even worse – they teach against it, as if their recent fad is an eternal treasure.


The Power of the Gospel
The power of the Gospel can be seen in that passive righteousness glorifies God completely.

Because it is God’s work alone, through the Means of Grace, man has the comfort of realizing it does not depend on his work or merit. Unbelievers cannot see this. They look at faith as simple-mindedness. Thus they cannot understand Gospel motivation since they only trust in a form of the law.

Although it seems to be a simple difference between “I have to” and “I want to,” there is a gulf between the two.

The Gospel means – “I want to.” 

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The false teachers astonish with their works, and say, “Look at me. Marvel at what I have done. All this is for God’s glory.”

But that cannot be when the tree is evil. Whatever looks good for the moment cannot be a harvest for eternal life. From faith in man can only come a rejection of God, so the evil leaders produce skeptics and atheists who still attend a religious function but only if it suits their philosophy.

One old-fashioned preacher said, “The time will come when there will no longer be shepherds leading the flock, but clowns entertaining the goats.” That was a far-sighted prediction, since there have been many clown services lovingly taped and piously broadcast.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

This fits C. S. Lewis’ warning that the scariest passages in the Bible come from Jesus Himself. In love, He warned everyone for generations to come about the evils of false doctrine.

It is all done with such superior motives, but the claws and fangs come out when their fidelity to the Word is questioned.

Whatever is done in harmony with the Word will be blessed, even if everyone seems to rage against it. God’s blessings are not like man’s dreams. God works through difficulty, persecution, illness, distress, the hatred and shunning of others. That makes believers more fruitful, even though it meant to harm.

On the other hand, when people triumph by attack the Word of God, they seem to thrive anyway. They gloat that the true God is rewarding them for being so thoughtful and wise in their designs, but only bring destruction to themselves and others.

I often think of the French Protestants driven from their homeland, pushed onto galley ships as slaves, and slaughtered like sheep. That persecution drove part of my family to America and the best seaman to Britain. France lost forever their naval power and some of their best citizens.

Many ill people have no power or works to impress the world. Our daughter Erin Joy was born on July 29th. She could not speak or eat on her own. She could not roll over by herself. And yet she gave in many ways. Her faith began at her baptism, so she responded knowingly when her nurses spoke about Jesus. Not by talking, because she could not talk – but by her facial responses. That impressed people so much that they came just to see her, to be lifted up by her love when they were visiting dying relatives. Everything done in faith glorifies God, and nothing makes that more apparent than having no outward abilities to impress others. A good tree only produces good fruit.

Tending the Garden and Orchard
Parents who wish the best for their children realize that weeds grow on their own, but valuable plants need loving care. Children need a good environment (the best soil) and spiritual enrichment (the Means of Grace). They need their spiritual problems addressed at once and their godly attributes encouraged. Everything invested in their Christian growth increases the blessings of many for generations to come.





Trinity Eight
Matthew 7:15-23

"Just as true doctrine is the greatest gift we can enjoy, so false doctrine is the most baneful evil that can beset us. False doctrine is sin, it is the invention of Satan, and it imperils and destroys salvation. False doctrine is every teaching contrary to the Word of God. Scripture enjoins upon us to proclaim only the truth."
            W. A. Baepler, "Doctrine, True and False," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 501.         

"No false dogma has ever been spread in the church which was not put forth with some plausible show, for sheep's clothing is the show of false religion (says Chrysostom). Indeed, the weaker and more ruinous the cause is, the more arguments it needs, sought everywhere and in every way possible, as though to cover it over with paint or to swathe it with medicine. For Pindar [famous Greek lyric poet, 518-438 B.C.] says, 'For a just cause three words are sufficient.' Therefore the papalists have gathered very many and varied arguments in order to establish Purgatory."
            Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, III, p. 325.      

"Paul calls all false spirits bold and proud. Yes, in their filth with their protectors they are proud and impudent, otherwise they are the most cowardly villains that can be found. When they are to appear and answer for their conduct, they produce a single answer. Among themselves they are bold, and venture to catch God in His own Word; but when it comes to the test, they simply despair."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, 1983, V, p. 204.      

"For every sect has always had one or more particular hobbies and articles which are manifestly wrong and can easily be discerned to be of the devil, who publicly teach, urge and defend them as right certain and necessary to believe or to keep For the spirit of lies cannot so conceal himself, but that he must at last put forth his claws, by which you can discern and observe the ravenous wolf."
               Sermons of Martin Luther IV, p. 282f.      
  
"For this reason one should not be too credulous when a preacher comes softly like an angel of God, recommends himself very highly, and swears that his sole aim is to save souls, and says: 'Pax vobis!' For those are the very fellows the devil employs to honey people's mouths. Through them he gains an entrance to preach and to teach, in order that he may afterward inflict his injuries, and that though he accomplish nothing more for the present, he may, at least, confound the people's consciences and finally lead them into misery and despair."
             Sermons of Martin Luther II, p. 322. 

"It is not enough that we preach correctly, which the hireling can also do; but we must watch over the sheep, that the wolves, false teachers, may not break in, and we must contend for the sheep against the wolves, with the Word of God, even to the sacrifice of our lives. Such are good shepherds, of whom few are found."
              Sermons of Martin Luthe,r  III, p. 34. 

"There are other wolves, however, who come to us in sheep's clothing. They are the false prophets, who under the form of pious and religious instruction feed pure poison to the sheep of Christ. Against these Christ warns us, that we may be constantly on our guard, lest with sugar-coated words and flattering religious expressions they mislead us, deceive us, by their cunning, and draw us to themselves, as He says in Matthew 7:15: 'Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.'" 
            Sermons of Martin Luther III, p. 35.

"The world desires such wolf preaching, and is not worthy of anything better since it will not hear nor respect Christ. Hence it is that there are so few true Christians and faithful preachers, always outnumbered by the members of the false church."    
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 385. 

"For nothing can feed or give life to the soul, which is not the doctrine of Christ. Although the hireling does not himself slay and destroy he does not restrain the wolf. Therefore, because you neither point out nor teach this shepherd, you shall not and ought not to be heard, but you shall be shunned as a wolf."                   
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 58f.         

"Thus too, if our confidence is to begin, and we become strengthened and comforted, we must well learn the voice of our Shepherd, and let all other voices go, who only lead us astray, and chase and drive us hither and thither. We must hear and grasp only that article which presents Christ to us in the most friendly and comforting manner possible. So that we can say with all confidence: My Lord Jesus Christ is truly the only Shepherd, and I, alas, the lost sheep, which has strayed into the wilderness, and I am anxious and fearful, and would gladly be good, and have a gracious God and peace of conscience, but here I am told that He is as anxious for me as I am for Him."
Sermons of Martin Luther,   IV, p. 86. 
   
"No work is so evil that it can damn a man, and no work is so good that it can save a man; but faith alone saves us, and unbelief damns us. The fact that someone falls into adultery does not damn him. Rather the adultery indicates that he has fallen from faith. This damns him; otherwise adultery would be impossible for him. So, then, nothing makes a good tree except faith."  
What Luther Says, An Anthology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 475. Matthew 7:15-23.        

"They [the false teachers] fared like a man who looks through a colored glass. Put before such a man whatever color you please, he sees no other color than that of the glass. The fault is not that the right color is not put before him but that his glass is colored differently, as the word of Is. 6:9 puts it: You will see, he says, and yet you will not see it."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, 1959, II, p. 644.          

"You cannot of a truth be for true doctrine without being unalterably opposed to false doctrine. There can be no 'positive theology' where the God-given negatives have been eliminated from the Decalog."
Norman A. Madson, Preaching to Preachers, Mankato: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1952 Preface.  

"Every departure from God's Word, every error, is dangerous to the soul. There is a fearful, diabolical power in error; for every error is the devil's work, and through fellowship with error a person puts himself under the influence of the devil. Here human reason is helpless."
Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 42.

"Even the history of the world shows how great is the power of the devil's kingdom. The world is full of blasphemies against God and of wicked opinions, and the devil keeps entangled in these bands those who are wise and righteous [many hypocrites who appear holy] in the sight of the world. In other persons grosser vices manifest themselves. But since Christ was given to us to remove both these sins and these punishments, and to destroy the kingdom of the devil, sin and death, it will not be possible to recognize the benefits of Christ unless we understand our evils. For this reason our preachers have diligently taught concerning these subjects, and have delivered nothing that is new, but have set forth Holy Scriptures and the judgments of the holy Fathers."
Apology Augsburg Confession, Article II: Of Original Sin, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119. Tappert, p. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Seventh Sunday after Trinity.
Mark 8:1-9

By Norma Boeckler



The Seventh Sunday after Trinity, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #9            O Day of Rest                        1:89  
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 #237            All Glory Be                     1:12 

Nothing but Faith

The Communion Hymn #308                            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 # 261     Lord Keep Us Steadfast                   1:93 

KJV Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Mark 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

Lord God, heavenly Father, who in the wilderness didst by Thy Son abundantly feed four thousand men besides women and children with seven loaves and a few small fishes: We beseech Thee, graciously abide among us with Thy blessing, and keep us from covetousness and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things needful for body and soul, experience Thine ever-present help; through Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Nothing But Faith

First Luther Sermon on This Text


Lenski:
The [GJ – liberal]  critics regard the two miracles by which multitudes were fed as one despite the differences in time, place, numbers fed, numbers of bread-cakes and of fishes and of baskets full left over. Matthew and Peter (Mark’s source) were present in person at both miracles and are reliable authorities. The inner difference between the two miracles is not discussed by the critics. The feeding of the 5,000 intends to reveal Jesus as the Bread of Life as John 6:26–65 show in extenso; the feeding of the 4,000 does not go beyond showing the care of Jesus for our bodily needs.
In the case of the 5,000 Jesus broached the question of feeding them to Philip alone as soon as Jesus saw the crowd assembling; see the commentary on John 6:5–7. Here three days elapse before Jesus speaks. In the other miracle the disciples become worried about the multitude and come to Jesus toward evening and urge him to send them away. Here the disciples remain unworried for three days, and it is Jesus who finally speaks to them about feeding the crowds before he sends them away and himself leaves the locality.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 314.

The so-called problems of the New Testament are ancient, because men of great learning were the ones entrusted with teaching the Gospel. Augustine, Jerome, and Ambrose were leaders of their age, so these matters were addressed. Even today one can find people raising issues that were discussed 1500 years ago, and the newcomers act shocked that such a “problem” could occur.

The difference today is having the liberal critics within the visible church and also dominating the academic scene. Thus it is almost impossible to have anything but a rationalistic interpretation of the Feedings of the Multitude. There were two feedings, as Lenski wrote. One emphasizes Jesus as the Bread of Life. This one concentrates on God providing for our daily needs.

Successful battles are seldom frontal attacks. The liberal critics do not begin by saying, “We reject the divinity of Christ.” If they did, anything that followed would make sense as their bias and it would be dismissed.

Instead, by merging two miracles they imply that the Biblical witness is not reliable. The demand for multiple witnesses disappears, to be replaced by having problems with multiple witnesses. The apostles saw these miracles being performed – and even greater ones.

To believe that the disciples got this all mixed up would mean:
  1. Very concise writers (the Evangelists) did not allow for the fact they were repeating themselves with two different miraculous feedings.
  2. Or, they did not know how to deal with various accounts, so they put them both down.

Naturally, this also implies that the Scriptures were not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the plain meaning of the Word is ignored for fanciful and creative interpretations to be applied. Human reason is always offended by the mysteries of God, so one offense leads to another until faith is extinguished and human reason triumphs.

This is not a new problem, but an ancient one. God reveals His Word - and every possible objection is raised.



KJV Mark 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:

To prepare His disciples and followers for the events to come, Jesus showed them in various ways what God could do and would do in the future, especially in terms of their daily needs.

In the future the apostles would go out across the Roman Empire, teaching the Word instead of making a living the way they did before. Fishermen would no longer be close to the sea, where they were comfortable with their work, but out among many others who would shelter them, feed them, and provide for their needs.

Many people who are comfortable in their vocations would never get up in front of others and teach them that skill. Most people would rather not leave their jobs for something entirely new. The disciples would soon be on their own, without the physical presence of Jesus, relying on Him nevertheless in doing something entirely new – for which they had no previous experience before Jesus began to teach them.

Likewise the early believers, who became the core of the Christian Church, had to continue in an atmosphere of persecution and non-approval. For a time they would be able to use the synagogues, but that led to their excommunication. That is not always a bad thing, but no one likes to be kicked out of previous associations, especially when it is done with malice and teachery.

Jesus was preparing apostles and followers to feel bereft of Him and yet carry on. That did not require lessons in self-esteem, but faith in Him.

The first thing we see in this lesson is Jesus’ concern for His followers, taking care of them before they even ask. There is no demand for food, not even anticipation from the disciples. Jesus Himself raises the issue of food, and explains why in the next section.

This shows us that God is preparing for our material needs before we even ask. Even in our blunders and mistakes, God clears the way for our daily needs. That is especially true when we concern ourselves with the spiritual needs of others. God blesses those efforts in many different ways. When people say, “I would do the right thing, but that would cost my daily comforts and the esteem of unbelievers,” they are really saying – “I do not trust God. I do not rely on God. I speak the words of the Bible but do not believe them.”

There is always that gap, between the revealed Word and our trust in the Promises. Our trust grows with experience, with being tested. Someone said, “Start an independent congregation in New Ulm. I will support that.” And he sent one small check (out of a fortune) and followed with a letter railing against us for what I was doing – what he encouraged. Nevertheless, many good things happened, in spite of the most unlikely events, such as a man selling us his property and renting it back from us so he could still live there.

 “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Some say that combines a Jewish definition (assurance of things hoped for) with a Greek definition (a conviction of things not seen).

It is not faith to see, touch, and have those things in advance. In that regard we should listen to the birds every morning. They wake up and begin singing, according to God’s plan, a reminder that they do not have savings, Social Security, insurance, or a pension, not even a fridge for their food. They do not know where the next meal is coming from. In the spring they have to feed their children as well. But they sing and take off to find the food, whether fixed on trees and bushes or wiggling in the soil or growing on plants. There is only one time where birds are truly needy for food and desperate – when sleet covers the trees, because winter food comes from the larvae stuck onto trees and bushes by expectant parent bugs who prepare Creation for the next spring. And when that spring thaw arrives, baby birds need the baby bugs that survived the winter.

God programs all His creatures with a plan for surviving and thriving, without worry and anxiety. He provides for us too, but we worry and have concerns about many things.

3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.

This explains why Jesus was already concerned about the multitude, before anyone asked. He realized that they could not survive the desert heat if they headed home without food. They would collapse along the way because the body demands as much in calories from the heat and it does from the cold.

In this drought we have all experienced that malaise that comes from too much heat, too little hydration, and the power of the burning sun. I used to say to visitors to Arizona – “Never stand in the sun when there is shade.”

The message of this Gospel lesson is clear – God loves and cares for our material needs. He provides before we ask.

KJV Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.








4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

Luther observed – If the disciples had seen piles of money or tables full of bread they would have happy and known the answer. But they saw nothing and had doubts.

If the crowd had not trusted in this preacher who instilled faith in them, they would have dispersed to feed their stomachs. Isn’t that why so many fade away today - after speaking brave words? They fear consequences, which include threats against their material well-being. In other words, they lack faith. The opposite of faith is fear rather than courage.

To teach his disciples self-confidence, Tony Robbins had a large group of them walk over heated coals. This is an old trick that works if done exactly right. However, in this case, over 20 people had to be treated for painful burns. The bigger problem is – does walking over ash-covered coals make someone a better salesman, teacher, pianist, milkman, or mail carrier? Will it turn a housewife into the head of marketing for Herbal Life?

Anyone can guess the reasoning of the disciples. There was not enough money and even a large amount would not be good when so far away from others in the desert area. One time I ordered about 30 burgers from a fast-food place. They were quite exasperated with me for not giving them a warning. As I mentioned before, the whole clan was in a van as we got lower and lower on gas in Arizona, without a town in sight. When one finally appeared we hoped the vapors would keep the vehicle going until we rolled up to a stop. It did.

But this is a miracle that defies human reason – even though rationalists have supplied one. Theirs is simple but wrong – everyone repented and shared. So a miracle is turned into a moralistic tale – everyone should share. Problem solved.

5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.

The details are quite precise. They had only seven loaves and a few small fish. If the fish had not been described, someone might have guessed very large fish and a potentially satisfying feast. But a few small fish would have been insufficient for the disciples, let alone the 4,000 families.

Jesus spoke the Word when He blessed the food, showing the efficacy of God’s Word. This efficacy and power is constantly expressed throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis 1 to the end. The Word that created the universe could also multiply the food.

This showed the followers and disciples that God would provide their material needs because they sought the Kingdom and its righteousness first. Those who seek material needs first and neglect the Word may (or for a brief period of time) receive what they desire, but they will not have the Kingdom, not will they have the contentment that comes with it.

The two miracles of feeding also showed the disciples and followers that Holy Communion was possible through God’s Word.

Jesus taught them about the power of the Word in many ways:
  1. Stilling the storm.
  2. Answering prayers.
  3. Turning water into wine.
  4. Healing the sick.
  5. Raising the dead.
  6. Multiplying the loaves and fish.
  7. Forgiving sin.
  8. Rising from the dead.

One could emphasize the miraculous – and that is true. But the method is always with the Word. Throughout the Bible, for example, when we are encouraged to pray, it is an admonition combined with the Promises of God. He instills faith through the Promises of love and mercy, then He urges us to pray in faith.

Likewise, forgiveness of sin is received in faith and never without faith.

8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

Lenski:
The number of the people fed on this occasion was “about four thousand.” Matthew adds that this number were men, leaving the women and the children uncounted. What a host to be fed with a little bread and a few fishes! In both miracles the numbers are merely historical; all efforts to give them a symbolical or allegorical meaning are beside the point. We also say that the effort to find a Gentile unity or even a gradation between the three miracles recorded in 7:24–8:10 is futile. How do we know that the deaf-mute was a Gentile? If there were Gentiles present among the 4,000, Mark does not even note the fact, much less attach peculiar significance to it.
When all were fully fed and the pieces gathered up, Jesus dismissed them, which means that he himself was leaving. Only three days did Jesus remain in this neighborhood. Only the dismissal is recorded, nothing is said about the effect produced upon the people, which certainly must have been profound.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 319.

This is a profound climax to the miracle. The disciples began with “not enough bread here in the desert” and ended with more bread and fish fragments than they began with. Both bread and fish are satisfying. If there had been any trace of hunger left in this multitude, the fragments would have been gone. They knew enough about traveling in the desert heat and blazing sun to have enough to eat before going home.

This is a miracle of the efficacious Word, and a miracle of abundance. We can apply this without effort to Holy Communion, if we have faith. Those offended by this miracle are also offended by Holy Communion. God gives us an abundance of forgiveness through the Gospel, each and every day, for all who believe in Him.


11. We have said enough concerning faith through which we entrust the stomach to God for his care, and believe that he will not allow us to come to distress because of the lack of temporal things. Now concerning spiritual blessings, when we are about to die, I wish also to say: then we will find and see before our eyes very death, and yet we would gladly wish to live; then we will see before us very hell, and yet we would gladly wish to possess heaven; then we will see God’s judgment, and yet we would gladly see his grace. In brief, we will not see a single one of the things we would like to have. No created thing can help us in the presence of death, hell and the judgment of God; and if I believe, I will say: Yes, faith is the fundamental principle by which I secure what I do not see; hence, if I believe, nothing can harm me. Although I see nothing now but death, hell and the judgment of God before my eyes, yet I must not look at them; but fully trust that God, by virtue of the power of his promise, not because of my worthiness, will give me life, salvation and grace. That is cleaving to God by faith in the right way.

12. This is here beautifully painted in the visible picture of the four thousand men who hang on God alone through the faith that says: yes, God will indeed feed us. Had they judged according to reason, they would have said’ Oh, we are so many, we are here in the desert, we have empty and hungry stomachs; nothing can help our condition. There was nothing of which they could speak; but they had a good refuge without any human disputing with God, they commended themselves to him and freely laid all their need upon him. Then Christ comes, before they have any care and before they ask him to come, and takes all more to heart than they do themselves, and says to his disciples: “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat; and if I send them away fasting to their homes, they will faint on the way.”

 

Quotations

"Both Baptism and the Lord's Supper qualify as Means of Grace because of the simple fact that they are visible forms of the essential Gospel message announcing the forgiveness of sins."
Martin W. Lutz, "God the HS Acts Through the Lord's Supper," God The Holy Spirit Acts, ed., Eugene P. Kaulfield, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1972, p. 117. 

"Today's Gospel paints to us the Lord in a way that we may fully know how we should esteem Him, namely, that He is merciful, meek and loving; that He gladly helps everybody and freely associates and deals with all people. And such a picture as this, faith really craves." 
 Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House 1983, IV, p. 203.           

"Therefore the Scriptures present to us a double picture; one is that of fear or the overpowering picture of the severe wrath of God, before which no one can stand; but must despair unless he has faith. In contrast with this the picture of grace is presented to us in order that faith may behold it and obtain for itself an agreeable and comforting refuge in God with the hope that man cannot expect so much from God, that there is not still much more to be had from Him."  
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House 1983, IV, p. 203.       

"Today's Gospel treats of the temporal and bodily blessings, teaches us the faith of the child, and it is a picture for the weak, in that they should look to God for everything good, and that they might thus later learn to trust God and depend on Him for spiritual blessings. For if we are instructed in the Gospel, how Christ feeds our stomachs, we can then conclude that He will also feed and clothe our souls. For if I cannot trust a person to sustain my body, much less can I trust him to sustain my soul forever."  
Sermons of Martin Luther , IV, p. 204.       

"Therefore Christ asked His disciples that everyone might learn to know by experience what reason is, and acknowledge how reason and faith in no way agree. Here we learn to blindfold reason, when we begin to believe, and then give reason a permanent furlough."  
Sermons of Martin Luther, IV, p. 205.          

"O God, I am Thy creature and Thy handiwork and Thou hast from the beginning created me. I will depend entirely on You who cares more for me, how I shall be sustained, then I do myself; Thou wilt indeed nourish me, feed, clothe and help me, where and when You know best."  
Sermons of Martin Luther IV, p. 206.          

"But when one inquires of reason for counsel it soon says: It is not possible. Yes, you must wait a long time until roasted ducks fly into your mouth, for reason sees nothing, grasps nothing, and nothing is present. Just so the apostles do also here who thought: Yes, who will provide food for so many, no one is able to do that; but had they seen a great pile of money and in addition tables laden with bread and meat, they would soon have discovered good counsel and been able to give good consolation; that would have gone to their thinking very reasonably."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House 1983, IV, p. 206.      

"Therefore, beloved friends, let us once make a beginning to believe; for unbelief is the cause of all sin and vice, which now have taken the upper hand in all stations of life. How does it come to pass that everywhere there are so many foolish women and rogues, so many rank imposters, thieves, robbers, userers, murderers and sellers of indulgences? It all comes from unbelief."
  Sermons of Martin Luther, IV, p. 208.         

"Just so it is also at present: Where true pastors and preachers are so poorly supoorted that no one donates anything to them, and moreover what they have is snatched out of their mouths by a shameless and unthankful world, by princes, noblemen, townsmen and famers, so that they with their poor wives and children must suffer need, and when they die leave behind them pitiable, rejected widows and orphans. By this very many good-hearted and very clever people are more and more discouraged from becoming pastors and preachers."
             Sermons of Martin Luther,IV, p. 214.       

"How does it happen that although all of us are certainly Christians, or at least want to be such, we do not take this attitude of unconcern and neither comfort ourselves with abundance and surplus nor are frightened by want and by worrying about it? For if we faithfully and devotedly cling to God's Word, there shall be no want. Christ takes care of us, and from this it must follow that we shall have something to eat."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 436. Mark 8:1-9          

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Religion News Service | Culture | Gender & Sexuality | Do atheists have a sexual harassment problem?
These Women Would Be Safe Among Believers

(Left to right) Sikivu Hutchinson, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson and Jennifer McCreight speak on a panel about feminism and atheism at the Women in Secularism Conference in May 2012. Credit: RNS photo by Brian D. Engler / courtesy Center for Inquiry


Religion News Service | Culture | Gender & Sexuality | Do atheists have a sexual harassment problem?:


Do atheists have a sexual harassment problem?

Kimberly Winston | Jul 12, 2012 | Comments (159)

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(RNS) As skeptics, atheists and humanists prepare to gather for their largest meeting in Las Vegas this weekend, attendance by women is expected to be down significantly.

Officials for The Amazing Meeting, or TAM, said Wednesday (July 11) that women would make up 31 percent of the 1,200 conference attendees, down from 40 percent the year before. A month before the conference, pre-registration was only 18 percent women, organizers said.

The explanations are many -- the bad economy, that women, as caregivers, are less able to get away, and that more men than women identify as skeptics, whose worldview rejects the supernatural and focuses on science and rationality.

But in the weeks preceding TAM, another possible explanation has roiled the nontheist community. Online forums have crackled with charges of sexism in TAM’s leadership and calls for the ouster of D.J. Grothe, the male president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, TAM’s organizer. In June, Rebecca Watson, a skeptic blogger and speaker, canceled her TAM appearance because, she said on her blog, she does “not feel welcome or safe.”

Other nontheists -- both male and female -- have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment. Meanwhile, two more skeptic/feminist bloggers announced they will not attend TAM.

The debate has had two major impacts -- a call for cooler tempers and the immediate implementation of sexual harassment policies by all of the major nontheist organizations, both national and regional.

No one is suggesting that all nontheist events are unsafe for women. But the controversy has members of the nontheist community, which prides itself on its embrace of rational thinking, asking whether they have a sexual harassment problem. And if so, what should be done?

“We are a small movement, so it might be very important for some men and women to find a partner who shares their beliefs,” said Maggie Ardiente, director of development for the American Humanist Association, which recently adopted a sexual harassment policy. “That does not mean sexual attention, when it is clearly rejected, is allowed. We need to be clear that these events are a great way to meet people, but there are appropriate ways to conduct yourselves. There are common-sense ways to address this for both men and women.”

This is not the first time the skeptic community has struggled with sexual harassment charges.

Last year, at another skeptic conference, Watson said she was approached late at night in an elevator by a man she believed was seeking sex. When she blogged about it, the “atheosphere” erupted in comments, both supportive and negative. British biologist Richard Dawkins, the best-selling author of “The God Delusion,” wrote that Watson should “stop whining” and “grow a thicker skin.”

The current hullabaloo can be traced to May’s Women in Secularism Conference, a first-of-its-kind gathering about nontheist women. On a panel examining feminism and nontheism, Jennifer McCreight, an atheist blogger, said women speakers at nontheist events warn each other privately about male speakers who make unwanted sexual advances.


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(Left to right) Sikivu Hutchinson, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson and Jennifer McCreight speak on a panel about feminism and atheism at the Women in Secularism Conference in May 2012. Credit: RNS photo by Brian D. Engler / courtesy Center for Inquiry
“They brought up a concern about harassment at conferences and I was not aware of that problem,” said Ron Lindsay, president of the Center for Inquiry, a humanist-skeptic group that organized the women’s conference. “Maybe I should have been. But once I became aware of that concern it wasn’t that difficult to come to a decision that we should have a policy in place to deal with that.”

CFI unveiled its policy earlier this month. American Atheists, American Humanist Association, and several large regional groups have also announced policies in the last few weeks. Most organizations had sexual harassment policies covering their employees and workplaces, but the new policies are aimed at non-employee attendees at special events.

As these groups and others unveiled their policies, members of the skeptic community asked whether TAM had one in place.

LCMS feminist.



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