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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Sunday in Advent, 2012

The First Sunday in Advent, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 245     God Loved the World  4:6
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 # 290            We Have A Sure            4:89

The Night Is Far Spent

The Hymn # 305:1-6           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 Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering [lewdness] and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

KJV Matthew 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

First Sunday in Advent - The Collects of Veit Dietrich

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, we bless and praise Thee forever, that Thou didst send Thy Son to rule over us poor sinners, who for our transgressions did justly deserve to remain in the bondage of sin and Satan, and didst give us in Him a meek and righteous King, who by His death became our Savior from sin and eternal death: We beseech Thee so to enlighten, govern and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may ever remain faithful to this righteous King and Savior, and not, after the manner of the world, be offended with His humble form and despised word, but, firmly believing in Him, obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Night Is Far Spent

KJV Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we  [GJ – first] believed.

I remember people wondering how long things could go on like this, over 20 years ago. Now it looks like a golden age in comparison. Paul faced the same kind of tumult and confusion.

Luther’s commentary on Galatians 4:17 following reads like an essay on the Lutheran Church today. Those comments are completely in harmony with this Romans passage.

Paul was given a unique mission from God, to preach the Gospel revealed by the risen Christ Himself. Paul had no doubts about the Gospel and he also had a special background in his own study of the Old Testament. He knew how wrong he was in the past, about that content. Christ revealed to Paul what the Old Testament (as we call it) really meant.

It was parallel to the road to Emmaus experience, recorded in Luke. His eyes were opened.

Thus Paul knew the answer to the salvation of the world, and he knew it from the Son of God. And yet, wherever he went, this Gospel was persecuted and he was blamed for all the problems that erupted.

Worst of all, many became convinced that the false teachers were really doing what they promised, helping everyone toward salvation and improving the church.

Paul was blamed for those splits, too.

And how could he NOT be blamed for causing riots. He had a record of being arrested, beaten, and escaping a city in a basket lowered from a window. He saw a great crisis, literally a judgment, and preached about it.

But still people slumbered. That is a universal metaphor used to described a lack of interest in actual events. When we sleep our bodies enter a paralysis, and our minds drift away. Reality no longer exists. But we have to wake up and take care of our normal duties.

Most people awaken slowly and they have trouble grasping the reality left behind in sleep. People trip over pets, lose their glasses, and gasp at the image in the mirror. Waking up in a new place can create a surge of anxiety. “Where am I and how did I get here?”

Wakefulness symbolizes seeing things as they are. The time of evil is an era of darkness. As bad as things might be, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

Salvation means the final consummation for us, when we are moved from this earth to eternal life. We do not know the exact future, and Paul did not either. All those prophets who predict the future place themselves above Christ, who said, the Son does not know, only the Father.

The working of the Antichrist began in the Apostolic Age, but God allowed human history to continue. That we have had life 2000 years after Christ is a testimony to God’s grace alone. It is His letting (2 Thessalonians 2). When He stops allowing us to continue, history will come to an end.

All believers will inherit eternal life because of their sins being forgiven through faith. For many then and even more (in numbers) today – that has meant death through martyrdom.

Those who teach material blessings through the Gospel avoid the cross entirely. They cannot harmonize the two, so they reject the cross in favor of luxuries and ease. Luther argued that the cross is proof of sound doctrine – not a refutation of it. Chytraeus said the same thing. The Gospel always produces opposition, especially in the visible church.

Ministers are made to feel guilty when there is opposition - 
  • You said something wrong – or in the wrong way – or too boldly.
  • Your children are loud in church and yet you are a minister. That must be your fault.
  • Why does your wife dress so well (or so frugally)? Both are considered faults by those who oppose the Word.
Luther commented on one excellent minister whose members never let him forget that he was always clearing his throat.

Thus today the biggest fraud is the favorite of the synodical leaders, because they are also frauds. They know their false doctrine and deceptions have earned them luxury vacations at the finest resorts, all kinds of tax-free gifts, and the greatest honors from those who know them least. After imposing their false doctrine on a congregation and splitting it from the divinely called pastor, they point their crooked fingers and cackle, “Look at him. He divided the congregation. We must chase him away as a wolf among sheep.” And they do, rejoicing in their so-called orthodoxy.

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

In John’s Gospel and in Paul, darkness represents evil, falsehood, and sin. In contrast, light symbolizes truth, righteousness, and purity. I did a study of this long ago and was struck by this symbolism in two authors. John and Paul truly own this distinction in the New Testament. However, other authors also use the terms to some extent.

Luther made this observation about Creation by the Word in Genesis 1. Light was created by the Word before all the stars. How can light exist before the source of light, the sun and stars?

That is God’s way. He created light. He is truth. Jesus, the creating Word said, “I am the Light of the World.”

What do all the false teachers say? They are light. In the Masonic Lodge religion, the Worshipful Master is called the light. Not Christ, but an elected human being – like a District President or a bishop.

KJV John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the Light of the World: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Paul here is admonishing his followers to get rid of all the works of darkness, the sins that drag them away from the Gospel, the false doctrine that surrounds them.

False doctrine is the opposite of the cross. It promises the very things that our Old Adam craves. And yet it is never satisfying, so Old Adam wants more and better. Paganism was a sex cult, so that was attractive by itself. The Roman Empire was bi-sexual from the top down, which meant they might conceive children but they really preferred their own gender. See Romans 1 for a portrait of our age and theirs. The first 15 Roman emperors were all bi-sexual, and many were monsters, even in the eyes of their peers. Each ruler had his Reggie Love companion and more besides. Tiberius and Joel Hochmuth – same behavior, only without the Internet.

and let us put on the armour of light.

We are and will remain sinners, always vulnerable to temptation of all kinds. And yet there is a powerful armor against all darkness – the Gospel, which is the armor of light. The truth of forgiveness means that when we fail, when we fall, we still find forgiveness in Christ, which is constantly offered us in the Word.

Luther called the Word the ultimate weapon against Satan. The Word identifies Satan’s work and also defeats it. The Gospel shields us against Satan’s attacks and comforts us with the true, genuine comfort of God’s grace and love.

My wife ran into one of those cloaked nasty emails I often get from “conservative” Lutheran pastors. It made her a bit upset, because we know this person. I said, “No, it is a commendation. The barbs and sneers and fake good wishes are all a way of saying – the Word torments us for promoting UOJ.”

Although most people think of fleshly sin when the term sin is mentioned, our biggest weaknesses come from our emotions. I had a grandmother lose her cherries grandchild during an online class. She felt helpless and worthless and could not focus on anything. She was going to drop out and fail the class. It is a natural feeling to say, “Here is one more cause of pain. I will drop that cause and it will feel better.” I gave her Angel Joy as a PDF, to read and share with her family. In the long run, finishing a class is not the biggest thing, but it helped her focus on faith and Christian grieving. She finished the class.
The Gospel is the only medicine for grieving, and it is powerful. Nothing is universal is scope – except loss and grieving.

The Gospel is the armor of light, because God’s truth heals while Satan’s deceptions destroy.

NIV Romans 13:13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. [NIV so WELS can understand it.]

Because of the cross, the temptation is always there to give up the Gospel in favor of darkness. Or, in the case of people who use the Gospel as a pillow to sleep on – to excuse returning to the old ways through an appeal to God’s grace.

It does not matter what everyone says, what everyone does. Here are clear pathways that lead to destruction. I know a prime example, with great talent and intelligence. He could handle every substance he abused, he said. Now he is an admitted slave to them and pays the price in every possible way.

Notice that not everything is straight out of Hollyword. Strife and jealousy are included, because they are examples of coveting – evil desire and the temptation to create harm and manufacture trouble, due to jealousy.

Everyone has a jealous streak. Even babies. When we referred to babies in the hospital, our innocent little Erin got jealous of them. I had to say, “But YOU are the baby of this hospital.” She wanted to be Number One Baby. Later, she did not like the term and wanted to be The Big Girl. I remember an engineer who mentioned how lovely these petite ladies from India were. His beautiful wife’s eyes were glowing green, and he never noticed at the moment. I was sure he had to pay back the loan on his wife’s patience later.

Jealousy is an emotion until we act upon to lower someone, hoping to make ourselves better by lowering them. (Men and women speak different languages, so the engineer’s compliment was not disparaging his wife in any way. But she felt the sting. Such things keep conversations going.)

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

This is an admonition to use our baptismal grace against all the wiles of Satan.

We have many friends who love sacred music, the great classics of the hymnal especially. I was taking a break from moving, since it was going to be a long, long day (24 hours in all). One recent hymn kept going through my head – “Invited, Lord.”

Invited, Lord, by boundless grace,
I stand a guest before Thy face;
As Host Thou spreadst no common food:
Here is Thy body and Thy blood.

I was thinking about how hard we were searching for something in Bella Vista, which would have trapped us in one sense, far from new opportunities.

No common food kept going through my head, because the Real Presence is overlooked, distorted, and rejected by so many. It is one more example of God’s boundless grace.

Advent One

Quotations for the Epistle,

Romans 13:11-14

The night is far spent, and the day is at hand. "By the word 'night' we are to understand all doctrines apart from the Gospel. For there is no other saving doctrine; all else is night and darkness."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 15f. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14.

"For the Holy Spirit aids us, fortifying our hope and enabling us not to fear nor to flee from the disasters of the world; but to stand firm even unto death, and to overcome all evil; so that evil must flee from us and cease its attacks. Remember, it is hope in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in human weakness, that must do all this through the medium of the Gospel."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 63. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14.

"Hence, you see, the ecclesiastical traditions that flatly forbid the eating of meat are contrary to the Gospel."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 27. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14.

"It is our duty to allow the body all necessary food, whether wine, meat, eggs or anything else; whether the time be Friday, Sunday, in Lent or after the feast of Easter; regardless of all orders, traditions and vows, and of the Pope. No prohibition contrary to God's command can avail, though made by the angels even."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 26. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14.

"The other class is represented by the blind saints who imagine the kingdom of God and his righteousness are dependent upon the particular meat and drink, clothing and couch, of their own choice...Upon this subject Paul says (1 Corinthians 8:8): 'Food will not commend us to God; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better.'"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 25f. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 8:8.

"We are to place our whole confidence in God, and in Him alone, being very careful not to devote any portion of it to the mother of God or any saint and so set up an idol in our hearts." Sermons of
Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p.54. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14.

"Using a convenient term, he calls Christ a 'minister,' as he calls all preachers and apostles ministers. 'What then is Apollos? and what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed.'" 1 Corinthians 3:5.
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 57. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 3:5.

"Paul in Romans 12:7-8 devotes the office of the ministry to two things, doctrine and exhortation. The doctrinal part consists in preaching truths not generally known; in instructing and enlightening the people. Exhortation is inciting and urging to duties already well understood. Necessarily both obligations claim the attention of the minister, and hence Paul takes up both."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 9. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14; Romans 12:7-8.

"But, being deceived by the devil, we forsake the light of day and seek to find truth among philosophers and heathen totally ignorant of such matters. In permitting ourselves to be blinded by human doctrines, we return to the night. Whatsoever is not the Gospel day surely cannot be light. Otherwise Paul, and in fact all Scripture, would not urge that day upon us and pronounce everything else night."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 17. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14.

"Other books may have power to slay us, indeed, but no book except the holy Scriptures has power to comfort us. No other bears the title here given by Paul--book of comfort--one that can support the soul in all tribulations, helping it not to despair but to maintain hope. For thereby the soul apprehends God's Word and, learning His gracious will, cleaves to it, continuing steadfast in life and death."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 43. First Sunday in Advent, Romans 13:11-14.

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