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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

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Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Third Sunday in Advent, 2012




The Third Sunday in Advent, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn # 8 Father Who the Light            2. 20
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 #76 A Great and Mighty Wonder            2.2  

John the Baptist’s Faith

The Hymn # 77:1-8 All My Heart               2.25
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 # 77:9-15            All My Heart               2.25

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

KJV Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. 7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Third Sunday In Advent

Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst suffer Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to become man, and to come into the world, that He might destroy the works of the devil, deliver us poor offenders from sin and death, and give us everlasting life: We beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may seek no other refuge than His word, and thus avoid all offense to which, by nature, we are inclined, in order that we may always be found among the faithful followers of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and by faith 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.



John the Baptist’s Faith


KJV Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,

John was a true prophet, as Jesus said. For that reason, he was thrown into prison and that meant an impending death. The prisons of the ancient world were places of horror, and they often led to death – “natural” or forced, such as leaving someone on an island with no food. In this case, John was beheaded.

The issue has been, “Why did John send his disciples to Jesus to ask this question?” The answer from those who cannot grasp the plain meaning of the Word is – “He was beginning to doubt in prison.”

That also misses the context of the event. First of all, John was the rock star prophet of the time, with a large following. When Jesus appeared, John was well known and Jesus was not known at all.

That is why Luther said in a sermon that John was the greatest prophet of all, because the Old Testament prophets pointed toward a figure not yet seen. But John said (in effect) – This unknown, ordinary looking man is the Messiah sent from God. Few would risk a reputation saying that, including saying, “I am not worthy to untie His sandals.”

The human tendency is to magnify ourselves, but John diminished himself while praising the nondescript man, Jesus, as the Christ of God.

This is very important, first of all, because the passage shows us the faith of John the Baptist. The Book of Concord makes it clear that Biblical faith is not a virtue and not “making a decision for Christ,” an act of the will. Biblical faith is created by the Holy Spirit working through the Word. God created this faith in the heart of John the Baptist.

3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

This answers why he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are You the One?”

John was facing his death and knew he was not the one. He sole purpose was to prepare his followers for Jesus. This shows how God, in His compassion, knew that His people needed a forerunner before the Messiah, to alert the people and prepare them for the Savior. This also fulfilled the Isaiah prophecies.

In his sermon on this text, Luther described how the Jewish people were looking for a Messiah on a charger, a war hero to lead them into battle. This has been true throughout history, where the great leader was primarily a military hero. When one Byzantine Emperor rode in a chariot instead of riding on a horse, he lost a lot of credibility with the people.

Therefore, John preached about sin, the need for repentance, and faith. Notice that he prepared people for the Prince of Peace, while the Zealots prepared everyone for war with the Roman Empire. Those wars destroyed Jerusalem, not just once, but twice, within a few decades (about 70 and 120 AD).

4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

By sending his disciples to Jesus, John enabled them to hear Jesus, to believe in Him, and to see His miracles. It was natural for them to cling to John, whose great and powerful sermons moved the masses.

Note the contrast. The false teachers have one continuous sermon – about their own greatness. We see that today. They always act like they have created the world by themselves or discovered the secrets of the ages. But it really comes down to obeying them and their foolishness. There are dozens of examples from recent times, where religious empires have crumbled overnight, with all the warning signs coming for years. Robert Schuller is an obvious example, but there are many more. Many of them had numbers that made people gasp in awe, but what does not mean when they are preaching themselves rather than the Gospel?

Jesus directed the disciples to take back their own witness – what they saw and heard. For the slow – that did not mean Jesus was trying to support His work to a doubting John the Baptist. It meant that the disciples would go back and show John that they saw what John intended – that Jesus was indeed the Messiah – not the Messiah of popular imagination – but the true Son of God.

5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Jesus, the Son of God, described His work in the passive voice. He could have said, “I cure the blind. I cure the lame. I cleanse the lepers. I raise the dead.” Instead, He gave the honor implicitly to God the Father, which is fully explained in the Fourth Gospel. Jesus only did and said what the Father commanded. He honored the Father and the Father honored Him.

and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

What is the Gospel – the good news? That is simple to learn – faith in Christ. In the darkness of man-centered, work-centered religion, Jesus taught faith in Him was forgiveness and salvation.

6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

This offense is based on the world for that trigger that activated a trap – the scandalon. We think “scandalized” more in the fashion of a reaction against, such as a relative showing up at a formal dinner in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.

But it is more of a trip, a trigger. It may be the Creation versus evolution. It may be a rationalistic approach to miracles. It can come from doubting the Two Natures of Christ.

In these times, people connect the Gospel with man pleasing God with works. Pleasing and appeasing.



7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

If John doubted, as a few book-writers want to say, he certainly got a commendation for it at the end of this lesson. More than a prophet means The Prophet of Isaiah 40.

That is the greatest possible commendation.

Third Sunday in Advent


"The second charge raised by Calvinists and Synergists against the Formula of Concord is its failure to harmonize 'logically' what they term 'contradictory doctrines':sola gratia and universalis gratia,--a stricture which must be characterized as flowing from rationalistic premises, mistaking a divine mystery for a real contradiction, and in reality directed against the clear Word of God itself."
F. Bente, Concordia Triglotta, Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, 065 p. 205.      

"Thus the Lutheran Church not only admits, but zealously guards, the mystery contained in the doctrine of grace and election. It distinguishes between God in as far as He is know and not known; in as far as He has revealed Himself, and in as far as He is still hidden to us, but as we shall learn to know Him hereafter. The truths which may be known concerning God are contained in the Gospel, revealed in the Bible. The things still hidden from us include the unsearchable judgments of God, His wonderful ways with men, and, in particular, the question why some are saved while others are lost. God has not seen fit to reveal these mysteries."
F. Bente, Concordia Triglotta p. 206.   

"For Scripture never calls either Baptism or the Lord's Supper mysteries or sacraments. Therefore this is an unwritten (agraphos) appellation."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 29.

"The sins which militate against the Third Commandment are the profanation of the Sabbath through neglect and contempt of the ministry, through Judaic and superstitious observance of the Sabbath, or through a shifting of the ministry into the kingdom of this world. The faithfulness of those who teach is the virtue by which the ministers of the Church, aware of their modest skill in Christian doctrine, carefully and zealousy discharge and steadfastly protect all the duties of the faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God in teaching, debating, comforting and setting their hearers an example of true devotion and of all the virtues. The other extreme are faithlessness, heedless teaching or negligence in office, or deserting the ministry because of excessive anxiety or concern over one's own weakness."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 71f.

"So when we see a bishop assuming more than this text gives him warrant for, we may safely regard him as a wolf, and an apostle of the devil, and avoid him as such. Unquestionably he must be Antichrist who in ecclesiastical government exceeds the authority here prescribed."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 65 1 Corinthians 4:1-5       

"All Christians serve God but all are not in office."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 65. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5.

"To make himself clearly understood in this matter of service, or ministry, Paul carefully adds to the word 'ministers' the explanatory one 'stewards,' which can be understood in no other way than as referring to the office of the ministry."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 66.

"Thus we arrive at the apostle's meaning in the assertion that a minister of Christ is a steward in the mysteries of God. He should regard himself and insist that others regard him as one who administers to the household of God nothing but Christ and the things of Christ.  In other words, he should preach the pure Gospel, the true faith, that Christ alone is our life, our way, our wisdom, power, glory, salvation; and that all we can accomplish of ourselves is but death, error, foolishness, weakness, shame and condemnation. Whosoever preaches otherwise should be regarded by none as a servant of Christ or a steward of the divine treasurer; he should be avoided as a messenger of the devil."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 73. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5,

"Christ, in the saying we have quoted from Matthew (24:45), tells us further, the servant of the household should be not only faithful, but also wise, able to discern between the mysteries of God and the mysteries of the devil, that he may safely guard and keep himself and those committed to his care. For, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, false apostles sometimes fashion themselves into true apostles of Christ, even as the devil transforms himself into an angel of light."
Sermons of Martin Luther, VI, p. 77.



"Hollazius (992) thus sums up the doctrine: 'The Word of God is the most efficacious means of salvation, for its power and efficacy are not only objective, but also effective; not consisting in moral suasion, but in supernatural operation, not external and coming to it when used by men, but intrinsic in the Word; not accidental, but necessary, by a divinely ordained necessity, and therefore not separable, but perpetual, inherent in the Word itself extra usum, as the first act. This efficacy is truly divine, producing the same effect as the Holy Spirit, who is perpetually united with the Word, which (effect) the Spirit influences together with the Word, by the divine power which belongs to the Holy Spirit originally and independently, but to the divine Word communicatively and dependently, on account of its mysterious, intimate, and individual union with the Spirit.'"
Heinrich Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House, 1899, p. 507. 



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