Lutheran Worship and Resources

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. 

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