Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM CDT.


Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reformation Sunday, 2012




The Festival of the Reformation, 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 # 262 A Mighty Fortress            1:86

The Antichrist Opposes the Gospel

The Communion Hymn #259                Flung to the Heedless Winds 1.64
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 Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

KJV Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Collect
O almighty, eternal God: We confess that we are poor sinners and cannot answer one of a thousand, when Thou contendest with us; but with all our hearts we thank Thee, that Thou hast taken all our guilt from us and laid it upon Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and made Him to atone for it: We pray Thee graciously to sustain us in faith, and so to govern us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may live according to Thy will, in neighborly love, service, and helpfulness, and not give way to wrath or revenge, that we may not incur Thy wrath, but always find in Thee a gracious Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


The Antichrist Opposes the Gospel

KJV Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

The Reformation really began about 100 years before Luther, when various figures in Europe began to place the Word of God above that of the church authorities. For that reason, the new teachers from within the Church (there was only one) began to preach against corruption, immorality, and the selling of indulgences, forgiveness bought from the pope with money and various other acts.

John Huss led this movement among the Czechs, so he was burned at the stake in 1415, at the meeting of the Council of Constance. Not long after, his chief associate, Jerome of Prague, was also burned at the stake.

Those who attended the Council of Constance and participated in these murders were awarded an indulgence.

An indulgence may be called forgiveness, but it not quite that. An indulgence is only a partial reprieve, because the teaching of Purgatory means the most saintly nuns and monks will still be in that imaginary place of torment for hundreds of years. An indulgence removes some of that time, but not all of it. The papacy found that extending one’s fear of Purgatory, a mini-hell for the semi-saved, was useful in raising funds to endow churches and keep the prelates well fed.

Indulgences continue today in the Roman Catholic Church. The Church of Rome prints a book on indulgences so the faithful can see what sacrifices reduce how many days or years in Purgatory. At Notre Dame a notice was put up, when I was there, about watching the Pope on TV – the viewing was worth so many days off Purgatory.



Nominal Lutherans also have indulgence sales. If a wealthy adulterer feels guilty about his sins, he can give large amounts of money through Planned Giving Counselors (who have insurance licenses and get a commission). Once the money is received the donor is praised to high heaven and held up as an example. Church institutions are still selling forgiveness – and kind of grace is not cheap grace. It costs millions of dollars. Therefore, money is the Means of Grace for the sinner, so it is natural that the institutions also think money (not the Word) is their salvation. If only they had more!

Huss and then Luther (100 years later) contrasted the authority of the Word with the authority of the Church of Rome. The Gospel was not absent from teaching at that time, but very few dared to contrast the true Gospel with the false teaching of the Church of Rome.

For Huss, the cost for this preaching and teaching was his life. We joke about burning someone at the stake, but that was the price paid throughout the Reformation. The Church of Rome used its power to arrest, threaten, and torture people. They needed to silence anyone who said, “This is the Word of God, but the Church teaches against it. The Gospel is free, but the Church is demanding works. The Gospel gives complete forgiveness, but the Church is teaching partial, limited, and works-forgiveness.”

To save their lives, all the clergy had to do was silence themselves. They could think whatever they wanted, as long as they did not teach the truth. Of course, that meant they had to go along with what was wrong according to the Word.

That was a stark reminder of the material power. The faithful did not remain in their church situations but ended up in horrid prisons. They could not stay in any kind of position at all. They faced an end so terrible that prisoners bribed the executioners to make the fire take action quickly rather than slowly.

They also faced ignominy and shame. How could they be right when the stinking crowds gathered and cheered their deaths? When their former friends shunned them or begged them to recant?

Luther assumed for years that he would be executed for his teaching. Just for comparison – he posted the Theses in 1517, had to be kidnapped and be considered dead to save his life, and still had to stay away from the Diet of Augsburg in 1530. How many would want to spend 13 years under the threat of execution?

That also meant that Melanchthon and the Protestant leaders who met with the Emperor were under the threat of execution. By God’s providence, the Emperor needed Luther’s ruler, the Elector, to keep him in office. The Elector was called that because he was part of electing the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, a Spaniard who loathed the Reformation.
Huss’ motto was “Truth prevails,” and Luther taught, “The Word of God is truth.”

Wartburg (early hideout) and the Coburg (above) -
Luther's life was in danger for many years.


Lutherans identify Luther with the angel.

KJV Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

An angel, in Hebrew and Greek, is a messenger. He does not bring his own word, but only God’s Word. The Biblical angel has no other task than to do exactly what God has commanded and convey God’s will accordingly.

When an angel spoke in the Scriptures, it was not another opinion or a new opinion, but God’s will and Word.

So there is only one Truth, and we have an exact measure of that truth – the Scriptures. To confess the truth, we must not only teach that truth but separate truth from error. If one thing is true, then all variations must be false.

The spirit of compromise is the spirit of the Antichrist. The Gospel can be used to talk about forgiveness, but taught to manipulate, condemn, and deceive. When people are indifferent, they are joining the Antichrist as little antichrists (the plural is also used in the New Testament).

Anti is seen as meaning opposition, but it is more accurate to see that prefix and meaning a replacement.

No one wants Christ opposed. No, everyone is pro-Jesus. Every sect and heresy is pro-Jesus. That is the genius of the great Antichrist in Rome. He talks about Jesus and the Gospel all the time, but the Christ is supplanted by a clever substitute. Grace – yes, but grace with works added. Faith – yes, but with works added. Eternal life – yes, but with a few well-deserved centuries of torture in Purgatory added.

The Antichrist replaces Christ because the Pope is worshiped as a god (infallible) and is worshiped as such. I have heard Catholic commentators whisper that the Pope is Christ on earth. He is not just Peter – but Christ.

That has been carried forward to the priesthood, which has only magnified the corruption of that office.



Everlasting gospel

The everlasting Gospel is faith in Christ, without excuses or modifications. The moment we believe in Christ, our sins are forgiven, taken away, forgotten by God. Which sins – the great and terrible sins, the multitude of sins, the sins we cannot conquer (Luther, Galatians Commentary).
And the moment we are justified by faith, declared forgiven through faith in Him, our life of good works begins.

The only threat to this is being removed from the Means of Grace  - the Word and Sacraments. Many remove themselves through indifference – especially the clergy. They stop believing it matters, as long as they are comfortable. Others remove themselves by falling into various doctrinal errors, one mistake leading to another.

So the baby baptized is in the Kingdom of God, forgiven of his sins, and doing good works that glorify God. How does that happen? We see that in the way children relate to each other and love each other when raised in the Christian faith. One older sister learned that by pretending to cry she could get baby sister to give her the toy – a bit devious, but it showed the generosity of the baby.

We overlooked all that and took it for granted until this Age of Barbarism took over. Now we read about terrible crimes by children, by parents of children, by groups of teens, and we think of horror movies – but this is America. Now we know what it means to remove the Christian faith from our culture, the family from our social structure.



To preach unto them

Preaching means proclaiming, the herald or town crier. Many newspapers have been called Herald because that was an office in the pre-print world. A town crier or herald went through the town and gave the official announcements. Like the angel of the Bible, he did not make up the message, but gave what he was told to proclaim.

The proclamation must be correct and in harmony with God’s Word, with no deviation.

For 200 years the rationalistic mainline churches have proclaimed that everyone on earth is forgiven, because of God’s grace. They add works to that in the form of social activism and other demands of the law.

Nominal Lutherans modified that a bit but offered the same mainline message – everyone is forgiven, absolved, and saved, based on God’s grace. They are doing just as well as the rest of the mainline groups – they are fading away fast. It is really  a convenient message of indifference from the little antichrists.

But the Bible always emphasizes faith in Christ. The proclamation is that Christ has paid the terrible price for all the sins of the world, and has become sin itself. That Gospel message produces and maintains faith in Him – faith receiving this forgiveness won through the battle Christ won against sin, death, and Satan.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity. Matthew 22:1-14

Norwich


The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #  39        Praise to the Lord                              3:1
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 # 370            My Hope Is Built              3:11     

The Bride and Groom

The Communion Hymn # 246            Holy, Holy, Holy             3:35
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 Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

KJV Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Twentieth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We thank Thee, that of Thy great mercy Thou hast called us by Thy holy word to the blessed marriage-feast of Thy Son, and through Him dost forgive us all our sins; but, being daily beset by temptation, offense, and danger, and being weak in ourselves and given to sin, we beseech Thee graciously to protect us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we fall not; and if we fall and defile our wedding-garment, with which Thy Son hath clothed us, graciously help us again and lead us to repentance, that we fall not forever; preserve in us a constant faith in Thy grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


The Bride and Groom


KJV Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

The parable has several lessons, which remind us about the basic Gospel. In this parable we can see the wonderful unity of the Scriptures, where each passage is related to the others.
We also have such clear pictures of the lessons being given. Parables are for believers, for additional instruction. They deepen our understanding of the Gospel, which is designed for one purpose – that we believe in Christ, receive forgiveness of our sins, and dwell with Him now and in eternity.

We can see that this parable is an answer to what just happened before –

KJV Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

The context matters especially when the introductory sentence shows a transition, as this one does. Jesus is warning the religious opponents, and this next parable serves as a warning and a lesson.

Jesus described Himself as the Bridegroom and the true Church as the Bride. This relationship is also used in Revelation.

KJV John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

KJV Revelation 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

So first of all there is a spiritual meaning to this parable, and it is built around an event common to all people – being invited to a wedding. But this is a royal wedding.

This king is God, and his son is Christ.

Lenski:
The unity of the parable is at once expressed: “a king who made a wedding for his son.” We are told what happened in connection with this wedding, namely how the king and his son were treated by the various persons who had been invited to the wedding. For this reason nothing is said about the bride of the king’s son. The moment we perceive the force of the opening statement and note that it governs everything that is introduced into the parable, its grand unity will be apparent, and we shall not agree with those who speak of two parables pasted together (v. 3–10, and v. 11–14) or of a parable consisting of two parts. The perfect unity of the whole is again stated at the conclusion in v. 14. The word γάμος or its plural may mean either “a wedding” or “a wedding feast”; in v. 2–9 we have the plural, but in v. 8 and in 10–12 the singular. This wedding and the invitations to attend it picture the grace of God that provides salvation for the world of sinful men in connection with Christ. It includes redemption, the means of grace, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, as these apply equally to all men.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 848.


2 The kingdom of heaven is like

The parable answers the question about salvation – who is saved and why? Many different voices try to confuse the issue, because people would rather dither about many things than listen to the clear teaching of the Word.

So, if someone is wondering about these matters, or needs to be instructed in more detail, this parable answers the big questions about the Christian Faith, about all religions.

 unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,


The king is God, and the Son is Christ. A royal wedding is a national event in any country. This is One King and One Son, so it means the one true God and His only-begotten Son.

All weddings are special events. When my Facebook friends get married, I make a point of wishing God’s blessings, because it is a witness to society in this age of do whatever you want. A wedding unites friends and families. The wedding traditions of other societies are more illustrative than ours.

An ethnic wedding includes as many people as possible, and the service itself is followed immediately by a huge feast, which lasts for hours. The German tobacco farmers in Canada would have a formal meal for 400 guests, which they considered modest and typical, followed hours later by a second midnight informal dinner. Everyone was expected to come, and everyone was expected to eat heartily both times. One cousin said, “A dinner for 600 is just too much – showing off.”

In India, there are many traditions for weddings, and each wedding is expected to last for days to accommodate all the individual events.

We can picture this parable as equivalent to the only son of the monarch of England getting married. Who would not want an invitation? Who would not want to go? It would be the event of a lifetime. Since the king can avoid anyone he wants, each invitation is gracious, special, and to be treasured.

Matthew 22:3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

This is redemption in the parable. In the Scriptures, the Gospel is an invitation. Christ has died for the sins of the world. He allowed the law to throw its entire force against Him so that He carried the full weight of the sins of the world.

Redemption (one English word) has two different but related meanings in the New Testament.

One meaning of redemption is to pay the price – easily recognized in Greek as related to the market place (agora). People with agoraphobia are afraid to go out in the public.

KJV Galatians 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Another meaning of redemption is release or ransom -

KJV Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

KJV Luke 2:38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

KJV Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

KJV Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

As Lenski argued, this redemption is an accomplished fact, announced by the apostles and followers of Christ.

and they would not come.

This is the efficacious call of the Gospel. Everyone is invited but many refuse. Many begin in the faith and fall away.

The obstinate refusal of man is often turned into “making a decision.” This is common (but not universal) in Baptists, for there are Calvinistic Baptists. This is also common in Universal Objective Justification, where people are told they are already forgiven, without faith, and now they must make a decision about this (J. P. Meyer, WELS, Ministers of Christ).

The crucifixion, resurrection, and Gospel call are a fact. The Holy Spirit stirs up faith in this truth, this action from God, in the very act of inviting and proclaiming.

The Word has an effect, and we should never doubt that effect. The more someone is lost in his own righteousness, the more he will respond against the alien righteousness proclaimed in the Gospel Promises.

Faith makes a meager beginning, and Satan reacts against that, eager to keep his own kingdom full. Baptized babies are blessed with parents who believe (unless they just want their child “done”), and lack the adult resources to doubt everything. Children have years of wanting to learn, being eager to learn, and parents can teach them without hesitation.

Adults are often surrounded by antagonists against the Gospel and cultural bias. Our friends from Hong Kong said their conversion to the Christian faith was seen by their families as a betrayal of the clan, which is very powerful in Asia. One never goes against the patriarch. An immigration leader said that an Asian patriarch could decide to move to another city, and 150 people would move with him.

This particular example, in the parable, illustrates the refusal of the Jewish people to receive Christ. Many did, but the many conversions cause a reaction where the Jewish Christians were kicked out of the synagogues and people like Paul (before his conversion) worked against the Christian Faith.

4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.



Luther:
4. These words beautifully picture to us and teach how we should make use of the life of the saints; namely, to introduce examples by which the doctrine of the Gospel may be confirmed, so that we may the better, by the aid of such examples and lives, meditate upon Christ, and be nourished by and feast upon him as upon fatlings and well fed oxen. This is the reason he calls them fatlings. Take an example: Paul teaches in Romans 3:23f. how the bride is full of sin and must be sprinkled by the blood of Christ alone, or she will continue unclean, that is, she must only believe that the blood of Christ was shed for her sins, and there is no other salvation possible. Then he beautifully introduces the example of Abraham and confirms the doctrine of faith by the faith and life of Abraham, and says, 4:3: “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.” That is a true ox, it is properly slain, it nourishes us, so that we become grounded and strengthened in our faith by the example and faith of Abraham. Again, soon after Paul lays before us a fine fatling, when he cites David the Prophet of God and proves from him, that God does not justify us by virtue of our works, but by faith, when he says, Romans 4:6-8: “Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works,” saying in Psalm 32:1-2: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”

--

Jesus Weeping Over Jerusalem, by Norma Boeckler
http://www.normaboecklerart.com


5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

This great invitation is mocked, because of the foolishness of man. Three responses are listed in regard to material concerns. One went back to his farm, the other went back to his business.

These are the three barriers that prevent us from coming to the marriage feast. The first, or the farm, signifies our honor; it is a great hindrance that we do not think of Christ and believe in him; we fear we must suffer shame and become dishonored, and we do not believe that God can protect us from shame and preserve us in honor. The second go to their spheres of business, that is, they fall with their hearts into their worldly affairs, into avarice, and when they should cleave to the Word, they worry lest they perish and their stomachs fail them; they do not trust God to sustain them. The third class are the worst, they are the high, wise and prudent, the exalted spirits, they not only despise but martyr and destroy the servants; in order to retain their own honor and praise, yea, in order to be something. For the Gospel must condemn their wisdom and righteousness and curse their presumption. This they cannot suffer; therefore they go ahead and kill the servants who invited them to the dinner and the marriage feast. They were the Pharisees and scribes, who put to death both Christ and his Apostles, as their fathers did the Prophets. These are much worse than the first and second classes, who, although they despised and rejected the invitation, yet then went away and neither condemned nor destroyed the servants.
--

Luther’s words describe three groups of people quite well. One group is offended that they might need God and forgiveness. Another group, especially the clergy, worry that faith would cost them comfort, security, and a full tummy. The clergy can pretend to believe and go through the motions, but they do not believe if they reject justification by faith – which is the Gospel. The third group today is the hierarchy of all church bodies. They are timid and helpless, until they get a chance to get rid of the pastor, scatter the flock, and grab the property for themselves. The quivering, passive bowls of jello—the DPs and Bishops-- turn into savages who roar their revenge and spare no effort to express their vindictiveness and greed.

This has been the case throughout history. The teaching of the pure Word has been accompanied by rejection and violent reaction. Luther describes the fruit of the Spirit as affliction. If the affliction is great, the Gospel is having a greater effect. Our weakness sees the affliction more than the blessings, because there is no obvious blessing meter to show us the daily score. The afflictions are easy to experience, count, and recount. As Luther observed, the worst is having it come from within the visible church.

7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

This is the Destruction of Jerusalem, about 40 years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. It happened after Christianity took root in Jerusalem, so strongly that apostles were killed and the believers driven away. Jerusalem had many warnings and gracious invitations – from the prophets, from Jesus, from the apostles.

Some would say that God is so gracious that He forgives everyone without any notion of faith. This parable says the opposite, because the one thing that matters is faith.

8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

I find this to be humorous in an ironic way. The traditional guests did not accept the invitations, rejected the servants, mocked and killed them. So God invited the left-overs, the good and bad – and we are those people.

This parable reminds us of the Sower and the Seed. The sower throws the seed in all directions, knowing it will take root (or not). God broadcasts the Gospel invitation through believers, and we know that the seed of the Word will take root. We do not have to judge, because it is up to God, and God will prosper His work.

Very Important Climax of the Parable
11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
The under-text of the parable is the relationship between the Bride (the Church) and the Bridegroom (Christ). Faith draws them together. On this earth, the bride cares only for the groom, and the groom does all he can for the bride. People put their wedding photos on Facebook, and we see that reflected in their faces. Even better, we see the photos from 40 and 50 years ago. I know a couple that met at my elementary school. They are retired and living near their grandchildren. They look like Ken and Barbie in their wedding photo.

So Christ, as the Groom, loves those within the true Church and yet never stops extending the Gospel call to believe. The Bride returns this divine love and is united with Christ in faith and love.

http://www.normaboecklerart.com


16. Now, what do we bring to him? Nothing but all our heart-aches, all our misfortunes, sins, misery and lamentations. He is the eternal light, we the eternal darkness; he the life, we death; he righteousness, we sin. This is a marriage that is very unequal. But what does the bridegroom do? He is so fastidious that he will not dwell with his bride until he first adorns her in the highest degree. How is that done? The Apostle Paul teaches that when he says in Titus 3:5-6: “He gave his tender body unto death for them and sprinkled them with his holy blood and cleansed them through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” He instituted a washing; that washing is baptism, with which he washes her. More than this, he has given to her his Word; in that she believes and through her faith she becomes a bride. The bridegroom comes with all his treasures; but I come with all my sins, with all my misery and heart-griefs. But because this is a marriage and a union, in the sense that they become one flesh, Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5, and they leave father and mother and cleave to one another, they should embrace each other and not disown one another, although one is even a little sick and awkward; for what concerns one, the other must also bear.

The many invitations to the festival are the Means of Grace. This confrontation teaches justification by faith. For unbelievers, the ending of the parable is nonsensical and confusing. Why would someone be invited to a feast, attend, and then be cast out for not being dressed properly?

The king sees a guest without a proper wedding garment. The confronted man has nothing to say – he is speechless. The king casts the man into the outer darkness, where he is also bound hand and foot. “Many are called but few are elect.”

The proper wedding garment is not our righteousness but the righteousness of Christ, which is ours only by faith.

“Clothed in righteousness” is an important phrase to remember.

KJV Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

KJV Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

The baptismal robe signified the external or alien righteousness of Christ, which we put on through faith in Him. It is the only appropriate garment, since otherwise we are simply sinners without forgiveness.

That seems so clear to believers, opaque to the rest. When confronted about doctrine, the false teachers defend themselves with their own honor – they have the right relatives, the right teachers, the right membership in the right visible church.

The false teachers strike by saying, “You are a bad person. You do not count for anything. You have talked to me in the wrong way, which is a sin.”

Repeating Lenski:
This wedding and the invitations to attend it picture the grace of God that provides salvation for the world of sinful men in connection with Christ. It includes redemption, the means of grace, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, as these apply equally to all men.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 848.

Therefore my death thus vanishes in his life, my sins in his righteousness and my condemnation in his salvation. Here my sin is forced between the hammer and the anvil, so that it perishes and vanishes. For now since my sin, my filth is taken away he must adorn and clothe me with his eternal righteousness and with all his grace until I become beautiful; for I am his bride. Thus then I appropriate to myself all that he has, as he takes to himself all that I have; as the Prophet Ezekiel 16:6f says: “I passed by thee, and thou wast naked, and thy breasts were fashioned and were marriageable; then I spread my skirts over thee and covered thy nakedness, gave thee my Word and put on thee beautiful red shoes.” Here he relates many kind acts he did for her; and later he complains in verse 15, how she became a harlot. He tells us all this, that he clothed us with his riches and that we of ourselves have nothing. Whoso does not here lay hold of this as sure, that he has nothing of himself, but only Christ’s riches and cannot without doubt say, Thou art mine, he is not yet a Christian.

18. Now since Christ is mine and I am his: if Satan rages, I have Christ who is my life; does sin trouble me, I have Christ who is my righteousness; do hell and perdition attack me, I have Christ, who is my salvation. Thus, there may rage within whatever will, if I have Christ, to him I can look so that nothing can harm me. And this union of the divine with the human is pointed out in the picture here of the marriage feast, and the exalted love God has to us, in the love of the bride.

19. Now the wedding garment is Christ himself, which is put on by faith, as the Apostle says in Romans 13:14: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Then the garment gives forth a luster of itself, that is, faith in Christ bears fruit of itself, namely, love which works through faith in Christ. These are the good works, that also flash forth from faith, and entirely gratuitously do they go forth, they are done alone for the good of our neighbor; otherwise they are heathenish works, if they flow not out of faith; they will later come to naught and be condemned, and be cast into the outermost darkness.

--

So we can see how Jesus gives us a clear portrait of salvation in Him, the rejection of the Gospel, justification by faith, and unbelievers within the visible church.

The more we think about this parable, the more clearly we can see church history and the state of the church today.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Trinity Nineteen - Matthew 9:1-8




The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 12                    This Day                 4:80
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 268               Zion Mourns            4:98

The Theme Is Faith

The Communion Hymn #305:4-7                                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 #277               I Heard the Voice              4:57

Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity

O mighty and everlasting God, who by Thy Son Jesus Christ didst mercifully help the palsied man both in body and soul: We beseech Thee, for the sake of Thy great mercy: Be gracious also unto us; forgive us all our sins, and so govern us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not ourselves be the cause of sickness and other afflictions; keep us in Thy fear, and strengthen us by Thy grace that we may escape temporal and eternal wrath and punishment, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

KJV Matthew 9:1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. 2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.


The Theme Is Faith


Luther:
  1. The theme of this Gospel is the great and important article of faith, called “the forgiveness of sins”, which, when rightly understood, makes an honest Christian, and gives eternal life. Therefore it is necessary in the Christian Church to teach this article diligently and unceasingly, so that we may learn to understand it clearly and distinctly. For this is the one great and difficult art of a Christian, where he will have enough to learn as long as he lives, so that he need not look for anything new, higher or better.

This Gospel sermon by Luther is so important for people to read carefully, because he equates faith with forgiveness, as he does in other sermons and in all his work.

We can emphasize forgiveness or faith, but we cannot separate them, as if there were forgiveness without faith. Strangely – people do emphasize faith by itself, saving faith without a real object. That is common today. Just to have faith in something – an ultimate commitment or regard. Nothing vague is ever going to offend people. Faith in Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the world – that will offend many.

KJV Matthew 9:1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. 2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy;

Lenski:
Matthew is acquainted with all the details recorded by Mark and by Luke but concentrates on the vital points of the story. The exclamation “lo” hints at the fact that this was not an ordinary case of bringing a sick man to Jesus. He was lowered through the roof by four of his friends because the throng in and around the home of Jesus was too dense to admit penetration. On the disease of paralysis compare 8:6. The faith that Jesus saw manifested itself plainly enough. It was more than the ordinary faith which sought help of Jesus; it was a faith strong, persistent, inventive enough to discover the most unusual way of placing the sick man before Jesus. Why “their faith” should exclude the faith of the paralytic, as some assert, is hard to see. Surely, his friends did not bring him against his will, and surely, he must have consented to be lowered through the roof. It is true that Jesus healed some who had no faith at the moment and waited for faith to follow the healing; but no man’s sins are forgiven without faith being present in his heart. Instead of ruling out the faith of the paralytic, we must credit him with stronger faith than that of his friends. They may have had faith only in the power of Jesus to heal miraculously. This paralytic felt that he suffered from a greater ailment than paralysis, and thus he came to Jesus with his burden.
Not a word is uttered by either the paralytic or his friends. More eloquent than words is the prostrate form lowered through the ceiling to the feet of Jesus, interrupting his teaching in the packed house. As a true καρδιογνώστης Jesus sees all that is involved in this sufferer’s case and also all that it will mean for the present assembly and for all future time. First the soul, then the body. With the greatest tenderness Jesus absolves this sufferer’s soul. Men saw only his bodily affliction, Jesus saw the guilt and the contrition in the man’s heart. “Cheer up,” the present imperative θάρσει, takes away the gloom and the discouragement from the man’s heart and puts courage and happiness in its place. The address τέκνον, “child,” is far more tender and gentle than “son”; it is like a mother’s loving embrace. Jesus actually enters into this man’s heart and condition with the master-touch of his love.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 355.

--

The miracle begins with faith and love. The friends of the sick man had faith in Jesus, faith in His divine power to heal. In love, they brought the poor man to Jesus. But faith made them bold. Instead of being intimidated by the crowds, they took their friend up on the roof, opened it up, and let him down below to be healed.

Needless to say, the sick man also had faith in Jesus. This is shown in his willingness to go along. How many people in need of care have said, “You won’t get me into the hospital.” Or – “You won’t get me to have an operation.” That is common. And taking him on the roof to lower him down? That could only happen with a willing person.

We have a warm, encouraging picture of a community of faith. The men with the muscles and faith brought their friend to Jesus. The sick man believed and received a double-miracle: forgiveness and healing.

As Lenski observed, some have said the friends believed but the sick man did not. That is quite absurd. Jesus, as God, knew the thoughts and intents of people without asking. He knew what the opponents were thinking without asking. Since Jesus always commended faith in Him, His absolution was a way of saying, “Because you believe, you are forgiven and healed.”

Forgiveness came first. “Be of good cheer.” What makes us heavy-hearted, worried, and sluggish? Lack of trust in the goodness of God does that to us. The Holy Spirit condemns our lack of faith in Jesus, when we ask, “Why are all the crooks and idiots doing so well and I can barely scrape by? Why not some rewards on this side of the line?”

When the greatest miracle of all is given to us – forgiveness of sin – we are cheerful and eager to go about our work. We no longer hear Satan accusing us or opponents mocking us. We realize that the Hero is on our side to defend us and help us in all trials.

As Luther observed, we can learn from our pet dogs. They always expect the best. They can ask 10 times in a row and be turned down. They ask 10 more times. And they grin and wag their tales. Treasure, our oldest, is a Sheltie-Border Collie mix. She comes out to the kitchen and breaks into a big smile, one so big that she makes a noise with her mouth as she opens it up. And she stares up with utter trust and love. She sends telepathic signals to the others if there is a good haul of chicken, or cheese, or stinky meat. (Stinky meat sends them in bouncing paroxysm of joy. Liverwurst.)

Chris tried to claim that she follows the same rule, “Always Be Closing. Always ask.” I said, “No, they always assume a yes.” She said, “I do too.” Maybe, but human modify that and adjust for difficulties. Dogs never do. Their trust is infinite and based upon our inherent goodness whether we have that or not.

God is inherently good, but our trust wavers, and we stop asking. James said, “You do not have because you do not ask.” That has been perverted by the prosperity salesmen, but it means something far more significant than that. Monica prayed for the conversion of her son Augustine. She never stopped asking, assuming God would take care of it. In his maturity, as a famous pagan orator, Augustine was converted by the Word of God. He had inklings of faith, but resisted completely up to that point when he heard children singing a song, “Take and read.” He picked up the New Testament and read.

After reading the following passage, ‘All shadows of doubt were dispelled’:
‘Not in riots or in drunken parties, not in eroticism and indecencies, not in strife and rivalry, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in its lusts.’ (Rom. 13:13-14)
When my FB friends ask me to pray for someone they know, I post a prayer on their thread. Some people respond, “I am sending positive thoughts your way.” That is cheaper and faster than a telegram, but it is better to trust in God and ask Him. Recently a beloved only son was healed from a bad head injury. The father asked for prayers. I prayed for him on the thread. The boy recovered and his father thanked God for the healing.
Trust in God encourages trust in God, because it is invariably linked with the Word, which plants faith in our hearts and sustains that faith. In fact, faith is alive in us (or dying) and grows when it is nurtured by the Word. Our souls are fed by the Word or starved by a lack of the Word. John 15:1-10 is clear on that.
Faith and forgiveness are together because that is God’s plan. They are not separated. Faith, forgiveness, the Word, the Gospel, grace, prayer. They are not individual units to be torn apart from each other, but integrated parts of God’s plan.



3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

This illustrates what happens the moment the Word takes hold. The opposition, led by Satan, is immediately angered and strikes out to destroy the Gospel. The scribes were correct in thinking that this forgiveness comes only from God, but they were not correct in saying it was blasphemy.


12. For this reason the greatest skill and intelligence is needed to grasp and understand this righteousness, and in our hearts and before God rightly to distinguish it from the above mentioned outward righteousness. For this is, as has been said, the skill and the wisdom of the Christian, but it is so high and great that even all the beloved Apostles could not speak enough of it; and yet it meets the painful misfortune that no art is mastered as soon as this.

There is no greater theme for a preacher than the grace of God and the forgiveness of sin, yet we are such wicked people, that, when we have once heard or read it, we think we know it, are immediately masters and doctors, keep looking for something greater, as though we had done everything, and thus we made new factions and division.

13. I have now been teaching and studying this subject with all diligence for many years (more than any one of those who imagine they know it all), in preaching, writing and reading, yet I cannot boast of having mastered it and am glad that I still remain a pupil with those who are just beginning to learn. For this reason I must admonish and warn all such as want to be Christians, both teachers and pupils, that they guard themselves against such shameful delusion and surfeit, and understand that this subject is most difficult and the greatest art that can be found upon earth; so that even Paul had to confess and say ( 2 Corinthians 9:15) that it is an unspeakable gift, that is, one which cannot be described among men with words so that they may regard it as highly and dearly as it really is in itself.

14. The reason for this is, that man’s understanding cannot get beyond this external piety of works, and cannot comprehend the righteousness of faith; but, the greater and more skillful this understanding is, the more it confines itself to works and rests upon them.

--

4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

The alternatives come from God rather than man. Wherever someone invents an inner righteousness, worked by man, the major miracle is forgotten.

I heard a talk on self-esteem (against my will) at a business meeting. That was portrayed as the cure, if only everyone could be built up by these secular methods. And yet the speaker needed more help than the rest of the speakers put together.

This is really a great teaching lesson, to show us that giving this man health was the same as giving him absolution. Both began with the Word of God and both were received in faith.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Trinity 18 - David's Son.




The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 239     Come Thou Almighty King                        2:72
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 #269            O Lord Our Father                  2:56     

Justification in Both Testaments

The Communion Hymn # 315:11-15            I Come O Savior             2:66
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 #651               Be Still My Soul               2:17

KJV 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We are poor, miserable sinners; we know Thy will, but cannot fulfill it because of the weakness of our flesh and blood, and because our enemy, the devil, will not leave us in peace. Therefore we beseech Thee, shed Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that, in steadfast faith, we may cling to Thy Son Jesus Christ, find comfort in His passion and death, believe the forgiveness of sin through Him, and in willing obedience to Thy will lead holy lives on earth, until by Thy grace, through a blessed death, we depart from this world of sorrow, and obtain eternal life, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


Old Testament Justification Is New Testament Justification

Matthew 22:41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Some people emphasize a discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments, but the Scriptures are one unified truth. This is a good example.
When the Pharisees questioned Jesus, they were following a tradition of challenging the teacher, which was completed by the rabbi challenging the audience.

This opposition is often portrayed as nasty people against the good, the perfect Savior. Unfortunately, that bypasses the real issue and makes it too personal. The opposition was doctrinal.

Jesus only did good things and revealed Himself as meek and gracious. True, He gathered enormous crowds and performed miracles no one else could try or even fake. Jealousy would have been a factor but that was the main issue.

Luther identified the issue as the difference between Jesus and the religious leaders on the matter of righteousness. Jesus taught, and still teaches, “Your righteous comes from outside of you. The righteousness of God that you seek comes only from believing in Me.” (Outside of us, or Extra Nos, the title of Dr. Lito Cruz’ blog.)

This utterly destroyed the dogma of the Jewish leaders, who taught that the righteousness of God came from within, from their own merit and works. Thus all the difference in the world exists between justification by faith in Him and self-justification by works.

To this day I am startled by Lutherans who say their merit comes from within – where they were born, which organization they belong to, who their relatives are (as if they chose carefully). Sometimes they say, “I did this. I did that.” One can hardly get a mention of God’s Word at work among them. That is justification by works, justification by the law.

Paul’s teaching about justification by faith comes from his inspired understanding of Abraham as the father of faith, the first of all those justified by faith. This is taught clearly in Romans 4 and in Galatians. The relationship between Jesus and Abraham is clear from the Gospel of John. When Jesus was trying to teach the Jewish leaders and only arousing their wrath, they said, “We have Abraham for a father.” In other words – we are charter members of this synod. We are related to the founder. Who are you to challenge us?

That of course is justification based on merit, not the righteousness of faith. Jesus said, in words that should give everyone goosebumps, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” That is God speaking as God. In other words, Jesus said, “I AM the voice of God from the burning bush, the bush with two natures united in one manifestation. Believe in Me, not in your own merit and works.” That is why Paul taught so clearly that Abraham was justified by faith before any works of the law.
And thus, Romans 4, so are we counted as righteous, as forgiven and saved, if we believe in Jesus the Son of God.

Every world religion teaches justification by works. In the first part of this lesson we can see how Jesus answer the question of the greatest commandment. What is the great commandment of the law?

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The Old Testament summary of the Scriptures is the same as Jesus teaching and Luther’s as well. There are no changes between the truth of one era and the next, even if the time is different by thousands of years and the cultures vastly different. The Word of God belongs to Him alone and cannot be changed.

Luther constantly emphasized two relationships. The first one is the basis for everything – love for God and faith in His Word. If this is lacking, the second relationship is going to be based on sin, no matter how holy we want to appear to everyone. Lacking faith in God, every word and action is sinful.

The second relationship love for our neighbor. Works of love come from faith in God, from thanksgiving for all the blessings He has bestowed on us. The apples come from the tree – works of love from faith in God. Works do not make us holy. God makes us holy through the Word.

This summary of the Torah was the classic rabbinic summary. It is Jesus’ summary in the Gospels, Paul’s teaching, and Luther’s teaching.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Thus we have a summary from the Savior that can be used to explain all of the Old Testament, or the Law and the Prophets. That summary can be condensed as faith in God, love toward our neighbor.



41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Here Jesus asked the opponents a difficult question – for them. They had no concept of the Two Natures of Christ, although they might have, from the Scriptures and His miracles.

The question seems easy the explanation difficult to us, because we understand and believe.

From an unbeliever’s perspective, King David was the great king and the Messiah was his son, his human son. How could this greatest of all kings of Israel call his son “Lord” when inspired by the Holy Spirit?

That is easy for us – the Messiah is the son of David but the Word of God incarnate. He is God, so King David called the coming Messiah “Lord.”

The issue was already in the Psalms. Jesus simply asked the obvious, and the opponents were silent. They no longer sought to question Him because they could not answer Him. They felt the majesty of His divine wisdom and authority, so they pulled back from exposing their own ignorance and unbelief.

The key phrase here is “in Spirit” or “inspired by the Holy Spirit,” because both Testaments are inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is constantly denigrated by the modernists (including the obvious UOJ Hive, but also all modern Protestants). This is why.

God does not act apart from the Spirit or apart from the Word. The Spirit/Word combination is constant in the Scriptures, in Luther, and the Lutheran Reformation. It was always clearly emphasized, especially against the Protestants who broke with Luther.

The anti-Sacrament group began with Zwingli and others, calling the Sacrament mere symbols. The Sacraments did not forgive sins. They were not the acts of God. Therefore, they robbed the Sacraments of the Holy Spirit working through the visible Word.

We do not just put water on babies or adults in Baptism. Nor do we just give wine and bread to people. In both cases, it is a combination of the earthly elements and the Word, because God commanded this. Jesus instituted these Sacraments.

And how are people converted through preaching the Gospel? The Holy Spirit works through the Word and that Spirit works upon the hearer. That is why we say faith comes from hearing, although the phrase is more like hearing the preached Word.

The Holy Spirit is at work in the preaching and in the hearing of the preached Gospel. That is so simple and clear in Romans 10 and Isaiah 55, not to mention many other places.

But it is denied. Calvin said repeatedly, as Zwingli did, that the Spirit works apart from the Word and Sacraments. Whether they have the power of God is dependent upon whether “the sovereign Spirit” decides to appear. Thus everyone is in doubt.

One of my preacher friends, a non-Lutheran, will say, “Jesus was definitely here today.” That is one expression of this odd detachment of the Spirit and the Word. It makes people doubt their forgiveness and salvation.

A ex-pastor makes fun of a small gathering, forgetting “wherever two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” Many think it takes a $900,000 grant to accomplish that.

How strange to have people disparage faith, especially when they are nominal Lutherans. Nothing glorifies God more than faith in Him.

For a hobby, I follow the Notre Dame updates for football, so I have read, year-around, the critiques of their coach Brian Kelly. The doubts were listed ahead of time, and after each game, after each change of quarterback, after each recruiting drive.

This was the year. Many still doubted. But ND beat one team, then another, and another and now the total is five victories. The opponents can barely score. Now doubt has turned to faith. Probably many alumni clubs are hoping he has a 10-year contract. They have faith in Brian Kelly.

Does that reflect on the fans or the coach? The coach has performed so well with his team that the vast majority of demanding fans now trust him.

And this is nothing compared to faith in God. Our trust builds in Him when we see His promises fulfilled in the Scriptures and the power made known in our lives. Luther points out that the fruits of faith are not only the many blessings, but also afflictions (Galatians Commentary, Kregel).

Is the Word powerful? It makes the opponents of the Gospel become Satanic in their evil, their rage, and their deception.

We do not know the power of the Word until we use it. Because we need to know the whole counsel of God and its individual parts in balance, it can be disheartening to see the apparent bad things that develop from the pure Word. But when we experience those bad things as blessings from God, then we see even more than His power is perfected in weakness.

This week I smiled when I ordered Luther’s Romans Commentary and read the familiar passages again. I thought, “You fanatics made this book the most interesting volume in my house, just by opposing it and trying to take it away from people.”

False doctrine has power too. It is effective in deception and corruption.

When we reflect on the Holy Spirit at work, we can see how everything worthwhile done in the true Church is accomplished through the Spirit – that is through the Word and Sacraments. If it is not through the Word and Sacraments, it is not the work of the Gospel.

And when it is the work of the Gospel, Satan will try to uproot it as soon as it begins to grow. That effort can only spread the pure Word and make it more valuable to those who prize it.