Lutheran Worship and Resources

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity.
Matthew 5:20ff

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 331:1-4            Yea, As I live                                               3:70
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 # 331:5-8            Yea, As I live                                   3:70

Better Than Willow Creek

The Communion Hymn # 387             Dear Christians                   3:41
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 #  209     Who is This                                                     3:33

Sixth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we confess that we are poor, wretched sinners, and that there is no good in us, our hearts, flesh and blood being so corrupted by sin, that we never in this life can be without sinful lust and concupiscence; therefore we beseech Thee, dear Father, forgive us these sins, and let Thy Holy Spirit so cleanse our hearts that we may desire and love Thy word, abide by it, and thus by Thy grace be forever saved; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Better Than Willow Creek

I remember going to Willow Creek Community Church and hearing Bill Hybels preach on this text. He started out well, on the Law side, but he never got to the Gospel. That is the problem with Pietism. Their answer to uncovering sin with the Law is to apply more Law as the solution.

In this case, it was “You should be a servant. You should be humble. You should be like this Chicago Bears player who vacuums the carpet at the church, to show everyone how humble he is, what a servant he is.” The audience got a tongue-lashing for not coming to church on Wednesday, only to the Seeker Service on Sunday. “Wednesday is communion. That is where we really worship,” Hybels said. There was no real congregational singing – it reminded me of the Washington Cathedral – whispering hymns.

We went to their overpriced food court afterwards. Little Ichabod found himself arguing against his WELS college professor who was defending Willow Creek. The professor’s rebuttal was, “Have you been there?” Apparently only those who went there could discuss the famous congregation. When LI said, “Yes, last Sunday,” the professor changed the subject.

KJV Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

This statement by Jesus is a frightening example of the Law. To have the righteousness of a Pharisee means never seeing eternal life, never being forgiven.

Then, as now, those who paraded their holiness and works were considered excellent citizens and prime examples of living saints. Pharisee as a title means separated. They were better than everyone else.

Although this description is fair for that era, it also applies to those within the church who share the same attitude. Luther called the “works-saints” and “works-salesmen.”

Anyone who proposes that the real Gospel is full of should, must, and ought to is a works salesman. There are many variations but the same poison. Your life must be transformed. First the burden of sin is laid down, but next the burden of being a works-saint is added. For those raised in Pietism, this is a great message, because they are used to Law commands and Law solutions. I have to join a cell group and look down on those who don’t? I can do that.

The Gospel is absent because faith is also absent. They preach Jesus but take away the bridge to Jesus, the Means of Grace. The Lutheran leaders today prove that because they can only talk about evangelism and missions in terms of the Law. You really ought to witness to your neighbor. That is how to make our sect grow. You must do that as a Christian – it is a duty. (ought to, have to, must)

This is the only way for our righteousness to exceed that of the Pharisees – faith.
The chief article or teaching of Christianity is faith in Christ. That means to utterly rely on Him for forgiveness and all the blessings of life.
A Means of Grace service will consistently emphasis the Word of God as His instrument to bring grace to us, to bring Christ to us.

The hymns teach this, especially Lutheran hymns and the pre-Reformation classics (Of the Father’s Love Begotten).

The liturgy teaches grace coming to us through the Word. We begin with the confession of sin and absolution. Every day we repent of our sins and receive forgiveness through faith.

As a child I thought “the righteousness” were the perfect ones, and my parents assured me I was not in that group. My conscience said, “If you only knew who broke that plate, hid it in the dishes, and denied knowing how it got broken…” but I digress.

The righteous in the Bible are those justified by faith. The saints are the believers, the living believers, justified by faith. Yes, they are holy, but Christ makes them holy through the Means of Grace.

Each and every day believers are forgiven through faith in Christ, as the catechism clearly teaches, in harmony with the entire Bible.

Every single person forgiven in the Bible was forgiven through faith in Christ.

Those who believed in the future atoning work of the promised Messiah – were forgiven. Abraham is our chief example. The prophets and David taught this in their works. The disciples, for all their faults, had this atonement preached to them by Jesus Himself. They believed in Him but were still weak, just as we believe and are still weak. But the Gospel is powerful in forgiving our sins and giving us power against temptation and sin.

Those who witnessed the atonement were forgiven – the repentant thief on the cross, but not the one who railed against Jesus.

Those who came to faith from the preaching and teaching of the Word were also forgiven.

Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are Instruments (Means) of Grace. Likewise, when we say to one another, “You are forgiven.” Luther calls this the “mutual consolation of the brothers,” which would include spouses, parents, children, siblings, and co-workers.

Many lines of attack work against this. Some object to so many Means of Grace. So let’s cut down on the Gospels too. Why four? Why not one short one, just Mark? Why have 150 Psalms when we only know 10 reasonably well?

God’s grace is abundant and He never tires of pursuing us, as Psalm 23 says. When I walk through the house, Sassy Sue bumps me every few steps, as a shepherding dog, to say, “I am here to watch you and take care of you at all times.” That warm paws are pressed gently against one or both of us most of the day.

KJV Psalm 23:1
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Righeousness of the Law, or of Faith
Luther saw with great clarity that Paul’s predictions were just as valid for the Middle Ages as they were for the Roman Empire.

Paul found false teachers working against justification by faith among the Galatians. They were willing to concede that faith in Christ was good, but these other requirements were added as well – circumcision and various human traditions.

So forgiveness can only be through faith or through works of the Law. Only obliterates the other. Mixing the two means righteousness through the Law, more dangerous as an amalgamation, a false and supplanting Gospel.

Luther and the Book of Concord teach exactly what the Bible reveals – we are declared righteous, free of sin, forgiven, through faith in Christ. Our faith is in all His work for us, chiefly in dying for our sins. As Luther said, Jesus let the Law condemn Him as a sinner so He might defeat and swallow up the Law.

Naturally, the Antinomians (the Law is obsolete, everyone is forgiven) love this expression but fail to grasp it. Jesus defeated Law salvation because He only taught Gospel salvation, His righteousness, not man’s righteousness.

Result of Law Salesmen versus Gospel Teaching
The Law salesmen make people braggarts - or crushed and atheistic. All the cults and false teacher say, “Look at our marble temples, our great numbers, our wealth and influence.” Because they are Law salesmen, they only look at externals and they need that visual support to feel good about their crowing and squawking.

When their visual and material evidence begins to disappear, as it must, they are filled with despair and anger. No one can live on Law alone, anymore than someone can eat Dream Whip 3 times a day, shunning real food. The Law has its place, but it
  • does not nourish,
  • does not comfort,
  • does not grant inner peace, and
  • does not motivate us in a God-pleasing way.

Anyone can threaten, but the lash only gets the minimum effort. Believers, moved by the Gospel, in thankfulness, do their utmost. A life of forgiveness means experiencing God’s grace in the Gospel and expressing it in daily communications with everyone. Those who are forgiven much are more grateful for God’s grace. Paul and Augustine were examples of works-sinners who realized they were notable figures but all the more in need of forgiveness for not exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees.

I tried to make my granddaughter act important at the motel, when she was very young. The script was – pound the desk and yell, “Do you know who I am?” She collapsed laughing instead, and the manager loved it. The counter had been pounded by self-important people before.

Jesus’ description of anger, stages of anger, is an example of self-righteousness tearing people apart. It is based on a style of outward goodness defining one’s sainthood, works instead of faith.

Therefore, someone who does not do or say the right thing is shunned – not for false doctrine or unbelief, but for not conforming. Hutterites tell boys to stay out of high school, so they utterly shun families that allow boys to graduate from high school instead of going to the farm at age 15 or 16.

All cults love-bomb people into the cult and shun them when they question the cult.

This creates an abusive atmosphere of works-saints who know by outward, material criteria who the holy saints are. The rest are shunned, given the silent treatment, and talked down among the elite, who decide the people who are accepted or denounced. That leaves everyone insecure because the cult can turn against them in a moment.

In contrast, the forgiven believer knows that this grace comes from God through Christ alone, not through the believer’s works or merit. That makes this section from Romans so important:

KJV Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Forgiveness means peace – no longer accused, but declared righteous through faith in the Savior. By faith we have constant access to the grace of God –
  1. Where we stand
  2. Where we rejoice
  3. Where we hope.


"In this epistle lesson Paul gives Christians instruction concerning the Christian life on earth, and connects with it the hope of the future and eternal life, in view of which they have been baptized and become Christians. He makes of our earthly life a death--a grave--with the understanding, however, that henceforth the risen man and the newness of life should be found in us."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 141. Rom. 6:3-11.
"He [Paul] says: It is not the intention of the Gospel to teach sin or to allow it; it teaches the very opposite--how we may escape from sin and from he awful wrath of God which it incurs. Escape is not effected by any doings of our own, but by the fact that God, out of pure grace, forgives us our sins for His
Son's sake; for God finds in us nothing but sin and condemnation."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, VIII, p. 142. Rom. 6:3-11.

"Paul does not teach that grace is acquired through sin, nor that sin brings grace; he says quite the opposite--that 'the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,' Romans 1:18. But because the sins of men which are taken away are so grievous and numerous, the grace which drowns and destroys them must be mighty and abundant also. Where there is a great thirst, a great draft is needed to quench it. Where there is a mighty conflagration, powerful streams of water are necessary to extinguish it...But these facts do not give us authority to say:...Let us injure ourselves and make ourselves ill that medicine may do us more good. Still less does it follow that we may heap us and multiply sins for the purpose of receiving more abundance grace."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols.,VIII, p. 142f. Romans 6:3-11; Romans 1:18

"On the other hand, we are outwardly oppressed with the cross and sufferings, and with the persecution and torments of the world and the devil, as with the weight of heavy stone upon us, subduing our old sinful nature and checking us against antagonizing the Spirit and committing other sins."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, VIII, p. 145. Romans 6:6.

"But the fact is, all Christian doctrines and works, all Christian living, is briefly, clearly and completely comprehended in these two principles, faith and love. They place man as a medium between God and his neighbor, to receive from above and distribute below. thus the Christian becomes a vessel, or rather a channel, through which the fountain of divine blessings continuously flows to other individuals."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, VIII, p. 145. Rom. 6:3-11.

"But if you possess faith, your heart cannot do otherwise than laugh for joy in God, and grow free, confident and courageous. For how can the heart remain sorrowful and dejected when it entertains no doubt of God's kindness to it, and of his attitude as a good friend with whom it may unreservedly and freely enjoy all things? Such joy and pleasure must follow faith; if they are not ours, certainly something is wrong with our faith."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 146. Titus 3:4-8

"Your first desire will be that all men may obtain the same knowledge of divine grace. Hence your love will not be restrained from serving all to the fullest extent, preaching and proclaiming the divine truth wherever possible, and rejection all doctrine and life not in harmony with this teaching. But take
note, the devil and the world, unwilling that their devices be rejected, cannot endure the knowledge of what you do. They will oppose you with everything great, learned, wealthy and powerful, and represent you as a heretic and insane."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 147. Titus 3:4-8

"Since the Word of God is this weapon [sword], it behooves us to make use of it at all times and to this end become acquainted with it both by means of public preaching and by earnest Bible study at home. Cursory reading must be supplemented by careful memorizing of proof-texts and strong passages. Only in this way shall we be able to make the proper use of the Word of God as a true weapon of offense at all times."
Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the New Testament, 2 vols., St. Louis:  CPH, II, p. 292. Ephesians 6:17.

"The reference [the Votum] is simply to a disposition to trust and love God sincerely, and a willingness of heart and mind to serve God and man to the utmost. The devil seeks to prevent this state by terror, by revealing death and by every sort of misfortune; and by setting up human devices to induce the heart to seek comfort and help in its own counsels and in man. Thus led astray, the heart falls from trust in God to a dependence upon itself."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 111. Philippians 4:7.

"Take heed, then, to embrace the message of these words presenting the love and kindness of God to all men. Daily exercise your faith therein, entertaining no doubt of God's love and kindness toward you, and you shall realize His blessings. Then you may with perfect confidence ask what you will, what your heart desires, and whatever is necessary for the good of yourself and your fellow-men. But if you do not so believe, it were far better you had never heard the message. For by unbelief you make false these precious, comforting, gracious words. You conduct yourself as if you regarded them untrue, which attitude is extreme dishonor to God; no more enormous sin could be committed."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 146. Titus 3:4-8.

"Good works are to be performed without any thought of merit, simply for the benefit of one's neighbor and for the honor of God; until the body, too, shall be released from sin, death and hell."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 151. Titus 3:4-8

"This is the situation with him: the greater his external restraint from evil, the greater his inward hatred of him who restrains. His character is in the scales; when one side goes up, the other goes down. While outward sin decreases, inward sin increases. We know from experience that those youths most strictly reared are, when given liberty, more wicked than young men less rigidly brought up. So impossible it is to improve human nature with commandments and punishments; something else is necessary."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 268. Gal. 3:23-29

The altar of Historic St. John Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, emphasizes the Means of Grace:
the atonement as the object of faith, Holy Communion as the visible Word of grace.

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