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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eleventh Sunday after Trinity



The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 361     O Jesus King                 4:1
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 # 388            Just As I Am                       4.91

Tax Collector Compared to the Saint

The Communion Hymn #305:1-5            Soul, Adorn Thyself             4:23 
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 657            Beautiful Savior                    4:24


KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Eleventh Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not forget our sins and be filled with pride, but continue in daily repentance and renewal, seeking our comfort only in the blessed knowledge that Thou wilt be merciful unto us, forgive us our sins, and grant us eternal life; through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


Tax Collector Compared to the Saint

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

This Gospel lesson is clearly a parable, because the words are introduced  - “He spake this parable.”

So we should also look at this little story, which only contains a few verses. And yet, this illustration is just as memorable as any other in the Bible. If someone has been in church regularly, this is quite familiar.

That is also an argument for the repetition of lessons, because each one is worth committing to memory (at least in summary) rather than trying to grasp the entire Bible at once. In other words, it is better to memorize the classic passages – or their content – than to attempt too much. Once we know the key passages well, the others easily relate to our established knowledge.

That is why Luther’s sermons are so clear today. He was a scholar of the Bible in the best sense. He spent many years studying and listening to the Word of God. He taught from clearly established Gospel principles that never change. Therefore, the teaching of Luther did not vary, although he felt himself modifying some of the deeply ingrained Medieval Roman dogmas that were slow to fade away – such as the over-emphasis upon Mary.

Without the faith of little children,
you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
Baptists claim - Children have no faith.
Lutherans kneel at the feet of Baptists
Rick Warren, Ed Stetzer, and Andy Stanley.
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Those principles are well worth repeating:
  1. The Word is always efficacious, because God has bound His Holy Spirit to the Word. Those who dispute this are Enthusiasts, and their dogma is always full of contradiction and error.
  2. God has appointed Means to convey His grace to us. Grace, love, and forgiveness to not come to us except through the Means of Grace. Those who deny this (UOJ gurus) are Enthusiasts and false teachers.
  3. Scripture interprets Scriptures, so any difficult passage can be explained by one that is more obvious.
  4. Scripture never contradicts itself, so the Word can easily repudiate someone’s false interpretation of the Word. Example -  Since forgiveness comes to us only through faith (Romans 4 – 5), it is impossible to be forgiven in any sense of the term apart from faith.

Sound teachers consider the Biblical message as a whole rather than trying to prove a peculiar dogma from one sentence (John 1:29) or from part of a sentence (Romans 4:25).

Sick doctrine comes from a violation of these principles. Every system of Christian thought has hundreds of Biblical citations, but that does not make them correct. The Roman Catholic Church has adopted many more Biblical citations to make their old dogmas more appealing, but they are the same thing with a new, shiny coat. For instance, they argue that the Holy Spirit would not allow the pope to err in doctrine, so anything from the papacy has to be correct. Or, in the case of Calvinists, they will say, “I believe in a limited atonement, that Christ died only for believers.” Once that rationalistic thesis is accepted, the passages about Christ dying for the sins of the world are ignored.

Context – the previous parable concerns the woman pleading to the unrighteous judge. If  an evil man answer the prayer of this woman, how much more will God answer our longing prayers?

Lenski:
Neither the preceding parable nor the one that is now introduced deal with prayer as such; prayer is only the vehicle in both. So the connection is not from prayer to prayer. The first parable deals with the kind of faith Jesus wants the disciples to have, one that is constantly longing and asking for his return; the second parable adds the true humility of faith, of that faith which alone justifies.[1]
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 898.

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

This parable is one of judgment – aimed against those who had two faults: they trusted in their own righteousness and they despised others. The word for righteousness is the one we use for justification, for forgiveness.

Sinful man is not righteous unless he is declared righteous through faith, by God. However, when people consider themselves righteous, they look down on others who do not have their saintliness, which others can see so plainly.

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

To make his point, Jesus used a contrast between two men. In that day, the Pharisee was known for obeying the Jewish Law as it was practiced in that day. Paul was that kind of person, and he claimed he was best possible Pharisee.

The other man was a tax collector, who was hated for many reasons. The tax collector worked for the Roman Empire, so the money extracted paid for the hated occupation of Israel. The collections were farmed out, so he made more money for being greedy and taking as much as he could. Since he was Jewish, this was a betrayal, taking money from fellow believers to pay for the pagan and foreign soldiers who made this possible.

This picture provides a contrast between the two justifications – justification by the Law, versus justification by faith. Justification by the law has obvious outward characteristics. Justification by faith  has one primary characteristic, that can only be truly understood and discerned by God.

Luther:

6. Hence the beginning of goodness or godliness is not in us, but in the Word of God. God must first let his Word sound in our hearts by which we learn to know and to believe him, and afterwards do good works. So we must believe from this that the publican had learned God's Word. If not, it would certainly have been impossible for him to acknowledge himself to be a poor sinner, as this Gospel reports. Indeed, it has a different appearance here, because St. Luke seems to insist more strongly on external works and appearances than on faith, and lays the emphasis more on the outward character and conduct than on the root and on the faith of the heart within. Nevertheless we must conclude that the publican had previously heard the Gospel. Otherwise his smiting his breast and his humble confession would not have occurred, had he not previously had faith in his heart.

This paragraph from Luther should be memorized, since it honors God as the source of goodness or godliness. Through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God plants faith in our hearts. Those who believe in the Gospel Promises are forgiven of all their sins. This constant forgiveness continues while we abide in Christ, through the Means of Grace.

From that faith comes the humility of the publican and his good works. Luther did not pit faith against good works, but taught both in their proper order and in perspective. The tree must be there – faith – before the fruits appear. Lacking fruit, there is no faith.

That includes those pastors and laity who scheme to do evil and break every commandment while saying glibly, “I know I am a sinner, so I know I am forgiven.”




Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Luther:
17. Let us now consider the fool, the Pharisee. Here are most beautiful works. In the first place he thanks God, fasts twice in the week, and all this to honor God, not St. Nicholas or St. Barnabas, he gives the tenth of all his goods, nor has he at any time committed adultery, has never done any one violence or robbed him of his goods. Thus he has conducted himself in an exemplary manner. This is a beautiful honest life, and excites our wonder and surprise. Truly, after the fashion of the world no one could find fault with him, yea, one must praise him. Yes, to be sure he does this himself.


The Pharisee is honored and glorified everywhere. He knows that only the outward appearances matter, so he is sure to get good public relations for himself. Today he preaches himself and his organization.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Lenski:
The Pharisee thought of others as being sinners; the publican thinks of himself alone as being the sinner and not of others. This is a mark of true contrition. It finds no comfort at all in the fact that there are many other and even greater sinners; it sees only itself before God, only itself as “the” sinner who is unable to answer to God for his sins.[2]
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 903.

We appreciate the Gospel that moment when we realize that the requirement of works is obliterated by the cross. There are many subtle ways we keep up the screen of the Law, which keeps us from seeing the Gospel as it is.

A. One way is to think, “Once I am good enough, then I will be forgiven.” That contradicts the Gospel.

B. Another way is to imagine, “People need to see me as a saint,” so I know it is true. All the believers in the New Testament are saints, because Christ has sanctified them, as He does all believers. He makes them and us and holy. We do not make ourselves holy.

All the righteous in the Bible are righteous through faith. They are not perfect on their own. The Old Testament passages on the righteous are Gospel passages of comfort.

KJV Psalm 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

KJV Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

The paradox of living in this world is that unbelievers only see bad things in the Christian life, so they make absurd demands that no one can satisfy, before the Christian faith is right for them. One man said, “Why are all the Christians depressed? Every single one I meet is sad. No one can give me an answer to that.” Finally, one believer said, “One look at your sour face would make anyone depressed.”

A believer will be despised by unbelievers, and many of them are the works-saints in the visible church.

C. Those who have Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, or Pietistic backgrounds (in other words – all of us) think that there must be something added after faith to qualify for forgiveness. Oh yes, saved by grace, and then fulfill this requirement. This is fueled by our natural Old Adam tendency to trust in works and urge works. A church council will send out letters saying, “You have to come to church in four weeks or we will kick you out.” No one even thinks how Pharisaical this is.

As Luther wrote, faith leads to humility, because we see how great the Gospel is and how little we have to claim for ourselves. That humility leads to thankfulness to God, for giving us this great blessing through His grace. Thankfulness energizes us to serve our neighbor however we can, because God has already done everything for us.

Energize is an important term, because it is literally what the Holy Spirit accomplishes through the Word. The word-group in the New Testament has a stained glass translation – efficacy. Breaking down the word in Greek used, it means at work.

The fruits of the Gospel are the Word at work in us, because the Holy Spirit and Word are always working together, always accomplishing something God-pleasing, for whatever is done in faith is done to the glory of God.



Fruits of the Spirit


 "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."
            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 145.          

"For if I love God I love also His will. Now, when God sends us sickness, poverty, shame and disgrace, that is His will. But what do we do under such circumstances? We thunder, scold and growl, and bear it with great impatience...But God does not want this. He wants us to accept His will with joy and love, and this we are too tardy in doing."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, V, p. 26.         

"The Word and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are materials with which He builds. Though the dwelling is not altogether completed, yet through His grace and love it is accepted of God."
             Sermons of Martin Luther,   III, p. 322. 

"To this end Christ is presented to us as an inexhaustible fountain, Who at all times overflows with pure goodness and grace. And for such goodness and kindness He accepts nothing, except that the good people, who acknowledge such kindness and grace, thank Him for it, praise and love Him, although others despise Him for it."
            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther,   V, p. 329. 

"See, this is what James means when he says, 2:26: 'Faith apart from works is dead.' For as the body without the soul is dead, so is faith without works. Not that faith is in man and does not work, which is impossible. For faith is a living, active thing. But in order that men may not deceive themselves and think they have faith when they have not, they are to examine their works, whether they also love their neighbors and do good to them."
            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther,  V, p. 71.        

"Thirdly, Christ shows love is still greater, in that He exercises it where it is lost and receives ingratitude from the majority; ten lepers were cleansed and only one thanks Him, on the nine His love is lost. If He would have made use of justice here instead of love, as men are accustomed to do and nature teaches, He would have made them all lepers again."
            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther,  V, p. 75        

"This is a true definition of marriage: Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God. The ultimate purpose is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one's wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one's wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols. ed. Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 884. Genesis 24:1-4     

"Love toward their mother is not so great in children as the love of their mother toward them, as the proverb has it: Amor descendit, non ascendit, Love is a plant that grows downward rather than upward."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 138. 

"The first destroyers of their own children are those who neglect them and knowingly permit them to grow up without the training and admonition of the Lord. Even if they do not harm them by a bad example, they still destroy them by yielding to them. They love them too much according to the flesh and pamper them, saying: They are children, they do not understand what they are doing. And they are speaking the truth. But neither does a dog or a horse understand what it is doing. However, see how they learn to go, to come, to obey, to do and leave undone what they do not understand...These parents will, therefore, bear the sins of their children because they make these sins their own."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says,   I, p. 139. 

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
             Martin Luther, What Luther Says,   III, p. 1411f.  

"You must always have the Word of God in your heart, on your lips, and in your ears. Where the heart is idle and the Word does not ring out, the devil breaks in and has done damage before we are aware of it. On the other hand, such is the power of the Word if it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used that it is never without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devotion and purifies the heart and thoughts. For these are not inert or dead but active and living words.  Martin Luther, What Luther Says,  III, p. 1467. 

"Consequently, I say to my worst enemies: Where it is only my own person that is involved, there I am very willing to help you and to do everything good for you in spite of the fact that you are my enemy and that all you ever do for me is to harm me. But where it is the Word of God that is involved, there you must not expect any friendship or love that I may have for you to persuade me to do something against that, even if you were my nearest and dearest friend. But since you cannot endure the Word, I will speak this prayer over you: May God dash you to the ground! I shall willingly serve you, but not in order to help you overthrow the Word of God. For this purpose you will never be able to persuade me even to give you a drink of water."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says,  St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1480.    

"The apostle does not mean to say that children are not to be rebuked or beaten, but that they are to be chastized in love; but parents are not to vent their furious temper on them, unconcerned about the way to correct the error of their children. For when the spirit has been cowed, one is of no use for anything and despairs of everything, is timid is doing and undertaking everything. And, what is worse, this timidity, implanted during the tender years, can almost never thereafter be eradicated. For since they have learned to be frightened at every word of their parents, they are subsequently afraid of even a rustling leaf or a tree."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412.     

"In matters concerning faith we must be invincible, unbending, and very stubborn; indeed, if possible, harder than adamant. But in matters concerning love we should be softer and more pliant than any reed and leaf and should gladly accommodate ourselves to everything."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412f. Galatians 2:8.         

"Doctrine is our only light. It alone enlightens and directs us and shows us the way to heaven. If it is shaken in one quarter (in une parte), it will necessarily be shaken in its entirety (in totum). Where that happens, love cannot help us at all."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 414. Galatians 5:10.         

"But this tender mercy is to be exercised only toward Christians and among Christians, for toward those who reject and persecute the Gospel we must act differently; here I am not permitted to let my love be merciful so as to tolerate and endure false doctrine. When faith and doctrine are concerned and endangered, neither love nor patience are in order. Then it is my duty to contend in earnest and not to yield a hairbreadth."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 637f.        

"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: 'He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you.' Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is given."       
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159. Tappert, p. 125. Romans 3:31; John 16:15.      

"Moreover, neither contrition nor love or any other virtue, but faith alone is the sole means and instrument by which and through which we can receive and accept the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins, which are offered to us in the promise of the Gospel."
            Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 31 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta,

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