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 Central.


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

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, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday, 2013. Mark 16:1-8




Easter Sunday: The Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord - 2013


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson





The Hymn #191               Christ the Lord                                  2:97
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 #188                Hallelujah                               2:20 

The Gospel Is Life Eternal

The Communion Hymn # 206:1-5            Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense  2:81
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 #189   He Is Arisen Glorious Word               4:77

KJV 1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

KJV Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst deliver Thy Son for our offenses, and didst raise Him again for our justification: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that He may rule and govern us according to Thy will; graciously keep us in the true faith; defend us from all sins, and after this life raise us unto eternal life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



The Gospel Is Life Eternal


KJV Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

The lessons for Easter seem to be short, but they are intended as the beginning of a series of worship services for several days, since Easter is the central event of Gospel, revealing to the world that Jesus died on the cross but also rose from the dead as the Savior.

Time and dates are part of each culture. We even count differently in America than do the British. The same is true of the Jewish people of New Testament times. They counted each part of a day as a day, so the three days predicted by Jesus were Friday, when He died, Saturday, and the very first part of Sunday, when He rose from the dead.

Jesus was not long in the tomb, because God would not let the Holy One see corruption, as the Scriptures said.

KJV Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

This resurrection also changed the calendar. The Church began among Jewish believers, who worshiped on Sunday to recognize the resurrection. There are early references to this. They even began worship with the rising of the sun to commemorate the moment of discovery.

To this day, Sunday is the main day of worship. When people insist on returning to Saturday, as the Seventh Day Adventists insist, they are showing their reliance on the Law and their preference for Old Testament thinking. The Adventists (my kin long ago) deny salvation by grace and punish those who teach justification by faith, just as WELS does not. Heretics do not tolerate the Gospel, because it displaces their law.

This resurrection was similar to Lazarus, the young girl, and the widow’s son, but distinctly different. Jesus showed His power over death to demonstrate His power as the Son of God. But those people were going to die again.

Lazarus was especially important and quite deliberate, because Jesus delayed His trip to let Lazarus die and to allow him to be buried for days. There could be no doubt that His good friend was dead, in front of a large crowd that watched Him, doubted His compassion, and saw Him weep in grief for his friend. This made the raising of Lazarus a shocking and revealing event in the midst of a crowd of people from the entire region. Lazarus was so important as proof of the sonship of Jesus that the authorities plotted against him as well. And crowds wanted to see Lazarus alive when they knew very well he had been dead for days.

We can see how God trains us, step by step, so that the early lessons lead to the great lesson. If Jesus could raise the dead by His Word, so God could raise Him from the dead. In fact, the Scriptures emphasize both – Jesus rising on His own, and the Father raising Him. That is because the Father-Son relationship is constant. One does not act without the Other, so both are emphasized at different times. This is similar to the Two Natures being emphasized, one and then the other in the same section. Jesus was thirsty (John 4, human nature) but He knew all about the woman (divine nature).

Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

The Scriptures show us that the women were so anxious to finish their honoring of His body that they rushed out to complete their work, without a thought about their danger.

This shows how their faith eliminated their fears, even a realistic fretting about how they would go about their task. Three women were not going to roll that giant stone lid from the tomb. Although the stones were shaped to roll in the groove in front of the opening, smaller stones are an enormous chore for men to move, heaving with their backs, legs, and arms.

When the Holy Spirit creates and energizes faith, we do not stop to wonder how it can be done but rush to get it done, not knowing the exact path (as they say currently) but knowing God will bless what is faithful to His Word.

One person suggested starting Bethany Lutheran Church and gave a token gift; he bailed out soon after and never showed up to see what he started. Nevertheless, thousands of views of our services suggest that the Word got out anyway.

2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

People do not get up early in the morning and jump into their task unless they feel a great urgency to get it done. These woman gathered before the sun was up, not an easy task, grabbed their supplies and set off on their own.


What urged these good women to hazard life and body? It was nothing but the great love they bore to the Lord, which had sunk so deeply into their hearts that for his sake they would have risked a thousand lives. Such courage they had not of themselves, but here the power of the resurrection of Christ was revealed, whose Spirit makes these women, who by nature are timid, so bold and courageous that they venture to do things which might have daunted a man.

5. These women also show us a beautiful example of a spiritual heart that undertakes an impossible task, of which the whole world would despair.

Yet a heart like this stands firm and accomplishes it, not thinking the task impossible. So much we say for the present on this narrative, and now let us see what are the fruits and benefits of the resurrection of Christ.

3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

They were almost there before they thought of the big question – who will be around to help them at that early hour? God paints a picture of faith here – where love and faith completely cancel out fear, worry, anxiety, and pessimism.

Resistance is so common that we can never say, “Oh I never doubted it could be done. I was always upbeat. I was never anxious or fearful about bearing witness to the truth.” The Old Adam is always ready to step to the front and list all the reasons why not. I do not mean The Power of Positive Thinking the book that Norman Vincent Peale plagiarized from an occult lady author (often word for word).

Faith in God’s Word drives out fear of the consequences. Faith means continuing when nothing seems to have any effect on the lethargy and obstinacy the masses when dealing with obvious false doctrine.

These women did not stop to count the cost of doing what they knew to be right, and God honored them in making them the first visitors to the Empty Tomb.



4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

Lenski:
This stone λίθος (not πέτρος) has been described fully in 15:46. What the women meant was that the stone should be rolled, like the flat wheel that it was, far enough up in the groove to expose the door of the tomb. In speaking to each other of this stone as they do they imply that they themselves may not be able to move it far enough. Whom will they get to help them? They fear further delay. They perhaps blame themselves for not having thought of the stone before and thus having insisted that some of the men come with them.
The observation is correct that the women seem to know nothing about the Roman guard that had been stationed at the tomb. They do not ask each other whether the captain of this guard will permit them to come near, yea, to enter the tomb. But this is at it should be in the narrative: the women did not know that such a guard had been stationed there. This was an arrangement between the Sanhedrists and Pilate, which became known to the friends of Jesus afterward and not at this time.
4) Matthew tells us that an angel rolled the stone away and sat on it. It was not rolled aside in its groove in the regular way so as to be rolled back again to shut the entrance. No, it was hurled out of its groove by some tremendous power, thrown flat upon the ground in front of the tomb, thus making a seat for the angel who waited until the women drew near and then went inside the tomb. This stone was not again to be rolled in front of the entrance. It had been laid flat so that the tomb should stand wide open for all men to see that it was emptied of the body of Jesus, the bodiless wrappings lying undisturbed and flat just as they had been wrapped, mute but mighty evidence of the resurrection, John 20:5–10.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 739.
The stone being removed completely was a shock, because it was meant to stay in place. For instance, grave robbers would find it very difficult to get past the large size and tremendous weight. Trying to move it would cause a commotion that would alert others. The guard is not mentioned because he was frightened away by the revealing of the empty tomb.

I noticed on the websty of Steve Witte (WELS Asian seminary president, Church and Change founder)  a painting of Jesus being released from the tomb by the angel opening the stone door. But that is a fallacy based upon this error - the divine nature of Jesus is limited by His human nature. Several instances of Jesus passing through a crowd show that He was not limited as we are by physical barriers. If Jesus was able to walk on water, why would the very stone He created limit Him in any way?

When the stone lid was opened, it was not to release Jesus but to show that the tomb was empty. This alone was enough to terrify the Roman soldier, who knew that a corpse was inside.

5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

The change was so abrupt that the women were afraid. They expected death and saw the evidence of the resurrection instead, an angel instead of death.

7. You have heard in the story of the Passion how Christ is portrayed as our exemplar and helper, and that he who follows him and clings to him receives the Spirit, who will enable him also to suffer. But the words of Paul are more Christian and should come closer home to our hearts and comfort us more, when he says: “Christ was raised for our justification.”

Here the Lamb is truly revealed, of whom John the Baptist testifies, when he says in John 1:29: “Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Here is fulfilled that which was spoken to the serpent: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head,” which means that for all those who believe in him, hell, death, and the devil and sin have been destroyed. In the same manner the promise is fulfilled today which God gave to Abraham, when he said in Genesis 22:18: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Here Christ is meant, who takes away our curse and the power of sin, death and the devil.

8.
All this is done, I say, by faith. For if you believe that by this seed the serpent has been slain, then it is slain for you; and if you believe that in this seed all nations are to be blessed, then you are also blessed. For each one individually should have crushed the serpent under foot and redeemed himself from the curse, which would have been too difficult, nay impossible for us. But now it has been done easily, namely, by Christ, who has crushed the serpent once, who alone is given as a blessing and benediction, and who has caused this Gospel to be published throughout the world, so that he who believes, accepts it and clings to it, is also in possession of it, and is assured that it is as he believes. For in the heart of such a man the Word becomes so powerful that he will conquer death, the devil, sin and all adversity, like Christ himself did. So mighty is the Word that God himself would sooner be vanquished than that his Word should be conquered.

9. This is the meaning of the words by St. Paul: “Christ was raised for our justification.” Here Paul turns my eyes away from my sins and directs them to Christ, for if I look at my sins, they will destroy me. Therefore I must look unto Christ who has taken my sins upon himself, crushed the head of the serpent and become the blessing. Now they no longer burden my conscience, but rest upon Christ, whom they desire to destroy. Let us see how they treat him. They hurl him to the ground and kill him. O God; where is now my Christ and my Savior? But then God appears, delivers Christ and makes him alive; and not only does he make him alive, but he translates him into heaven and lets him rule over all. What has now become of sin. There it lies under his feet. If I then cling to this, I have a cheerful conscience like Christ, because I am without sin. Now I can defy death, the devil, sin and hell to do me any harm.

The crucifixion of Christ caused fear and mourning, because no one fully understood what was happening. They only saw the dark side of the Passion narrative. The empty tomb began their catechism, to learn the meaning of “died for your sins, raised for your justification, if you believe (Romans 4:24) that God raised Him from the dead.”

The question is always, “But how do I know that my sins are forgiven? I still regret my sins.”

The answer is – you believe in the resurrection of Christ and you confess it.



6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

The passages in the Bible that address fear always have a similar thought conveyed by the Holy Spirit: “Do not be afraid, because…” In the Old Testament there are many assurances of God’s love and protection.

In this passage, the ultimate fear is addressed – Do not be afraid, because Jesus has conquered death. You will see Him soon, and so will the disciples and Peter – the one who denied Him three times.”

Peter was not shut out from the future ministry for his denials. He was included and became an early leader. His life was short. He was executed for his testimony and work. According to one tradition, he was crucified upside-down by his own request. He did not want to die exactly like Christ – he was not worthy.

8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

The modernists want us to believe that this Gospel broke off at verse 8. But the early Church had the complete ending. It took a questionable character, plus Wescott and Hort, to eliminate verses 9-16. A good way to tell how reliable a Bible is – look at what they did to Mark. There are other indications as well, such as editing “the Son of God” from the opening.

This verse is not the ending of Mark but the beginning of the wider narrative of the world-wide Gospel ministry started by the empty tomb, the appearances of the risen Lord, His ascension, and Pentecost.



Eternal Life

"For the papalists understand the word 'justify' according to the manner of the Latin composition as meaning 'to make righteous' through a donated or infused quality of inherent righteousness, from which works of righteousness proceed. The Lutherans, however, accept the word 'justify' in the Hebrew manner of speaking; therefore they define justification as the absolution from sins, or the remission of sins, through imputation of the righteousness of Christ, through adoption and inheritance of eternal life, and that only for the sake of Christ, who is apprehended by faith."
            Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent,   St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 467.    

"And, in short, the meritum condigni is the Helen for which the Tridentine chapter concerning the growth of justification contends. For they imagine that the quality, or habit, of love is infused not that we may possess salvation to life eternal through this first grace but that, assisted by that grace, we may be able to merit eternal life for ourselves by our own good works. For concerning the meritum condigni Gabriel speaks thus: 'The soul shaped by grace worthily (de condigno) merits eternal life.'" [Kramer note - Scholastics taught that the good works of the unregenerate had only meritum congrui; the good works of the regenerate rewarded as meritum condigni, merit worthy with being rewarded with eternal life.]
            Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent,   1971, I, p. 541.  

"How is a person justified before God? This occurs solely by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ; that is, freely, not because of any works or merits of one's own but only because of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, who became the sacrificial victim and propitiation on our behalf. By this sacrifice, man obtained forgiveness of sins and became righteous; that is, God-pleasing and acceptable. His righteousness was imputed to man for Christ's sake, and man becomes an heir of eternal life when he believes with certainty that God gives him these blessings for the sake of His Son."
            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 105.     

"Christian righteousness is the forgiveness of sin, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and acceptance to eternal life. It is free, not the result of any virtues or works but is given solely because of Christ, the Mediator, and apprehended by faith alone."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568),  1994. p. 106.         

"Scripture therefore uses these words, 'We are justified by faith,' to teach both: 1) What the reason (or merit) for justification is, or what the blessings of Christ are; to wit, that through and for the sake of Christ alone we are granted forgiveness of sins, righteousness and eternal life; and 2. How these should be applied or transferred to us; namely, by embracing the promise and relying on Christ by faith alone."
            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568),  1994. p. 107.               

"The second argument is that 'God desires all men to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4), and He gave His Son for us men and created man for eternal life. Likewise: All things exist for man, and he himself exists for God that he may enjoy Him, etc. These points and others like them can be refuted as easily as the first one. For these verses must always be understood as pertaining to the elect only, as the apostle says in 2 Timothy 2:10 'everything for the sake of the elect.' For in an absolute sense Christ did not die for all, because He says: 'This is My blood which is poured out for you' and 'for many'--He does not say: for all--'for the forgiveness of sins.' (Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28) Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 25 p. 375. 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 2:4; Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28       "His gifts and works in His Church must effect inexpressible results, taking souls from the jaws of the devil and translating them into eternal life and glory."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 220. 

"In this epistle lesson Paul gives Christians instruction concerning the Christian life on earth, and connects with it the hope of the future and eternal life, in view of which they have been baptized and become Christians. He makes of our earthly life a death--a grave--with the understanding, however, that henceforth the risen man and the newness of life should be found in us."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 141. 

"Therefore, whoever would have a joyful conscience that does not fear sin, death, hell, nor the wrath of God, dare not reject this Mediator, Christ. For He is the fountain that overflows with grace, that gives temporal and eternal life."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols  V, p. 331. 

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f.          

"In all simplicity and without any disputing, children believe that God is gracious and that there is an eternal life. Oh, what a blessing comes to the children who die at this time! Such a death would, of course, cause me extreme sorrow, because a part of my body and the mother's body would die. These natural affections do not cease in the pious, as those who are without feeling and are hardened imagine, for such affections are the work of divine creation. Children live with all sincerity in faith, without the interference of reason, as Ambrose says: There is lack of reason but not of faith."
             What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 142.    

"To be converted to God means to believe in Christ, to believe that He is our Mediator and that we have eternal life through Him."
              What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 343. Acts 26:20.         

"The Church has no word of its own. Whatever is not taken from Scripture is not the 'Word of the Church,' but what Luther bluntly calls 'prattle.' Also other books can exert a divine power and efficacy, but always only inasmuch as they have absorbed God's Word. Of Scripture Luther says: 'No book teaches anything concerning eternal life except this one alone' (St. Louis edition XIV:434)."
            Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans. Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950, I, p. 315.      

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

"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you. Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is received through faith...Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost, so that now we are able to think aright."
Augsburg Confession, Article III, #11, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159.  

"This power {the Keys} is exercised only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, according to their calling, either to many or to individuals. For thereby are granted, not bodily, but eternal things, as eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, eternal life. These things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, as Paul says, Romans 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Therefore, since the power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, it does not interfere with civil government; no more than the art of singing interferes with civil government."
Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, #8, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 85. Romans 1:16    

"This righteousness is offered us by the Holy Ghost through the Gospel and in the Sacraments, and is applied, appropriated, and received through faith, whence believers have reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, the grace of God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 16 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 921. "Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment, and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end."
Augsburg Confession, Article XVII, Of Christ's Return to Judgment, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 51.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Christian Message: He is Risen!



The Christian Message: He is Risen!:


THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2012


He is Risen!


1 Corinthians 15:1f lays out the rationale for the
historical fact of Christ. This chapter of the
Scriptures illustrates how the resurrection of
Christ is the foundational basis for the Christian
 Faith. And, all this is based upon the historical
 God-authored divine revelation as found in the
 Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.
Christ’s Resurrection From the Dead -- The Christian believer’s certification of the truth and assurance of eternal life, as opposed to that ofeternal death

“……For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37

“…..I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…” John 11:25-2

“….Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

People display their foolishness

This emeritus Christian pastor is no stranger to some online forums. I find that if a person wants proof of human foolishness, all one has to do is access some web forums; better yet some Facebook comments. There exhibited, are more often than not, comments by people who defy human logic and scatter sound reasoning to the four winds. The minority comments are those whose forum personalities think through their responses and clearly and  sanely communicate.

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940's
testified to the historical accuracy of the Old
Testament (Biblical) manuscripts.
Recently, there was a comment on this one national forum that illustrated an erroneous universal conception of the Lord Jesus Christ. The forum personality stated that Christ never existed and that there was no evidence of him on the historical scene. And, this foolish forum personality brazenly went on to illogically assert that because we have no personal writings of Christ, - that, (in itself) was evidence for his non existence.

Of course, we know that few (by comparison in number) people, who lived in the past, personally left little in the way of historical documentation about themselves. [Relatively few people keep a daily diary].  And, unless they have made provisions while they lived – and their family members didn’t destroy personal writing provisions – there is none of that particular "proof" that these people ever existed. But, as I just stated, if you desire evidence of human foolishness, just go and visit, online forums.

The Gospel of John in the Christian New
Testament Scriptures is just 1 of 4. The  Old
and New Testament Scriptures testify about the
promised, prophesied and historical Christ.
Of all people who have ever lived, Jesus Christ is more evidenced by human history:

It is fallacious reasoning to insist that people from the past must have personal writings to establish their existence. Foolish people who accept this false premise are very quick to dismiss both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. They refuse to accept these historical documents at face value and to recognize that the major theme in its composite 66 books is the person of Christ. People who will find their souls damned in hell forever with death everlasting, will have refused to accept the testimony of history of the Christian Faith being spread in all corners of the world by groups of Christians who worship Christ. They fail to understand that history was, and still is, (by many) to be divided by BC and AD.

The historical documents of the Hebrew Old
Testament and Christian New Testament
Scriptures are second to none. People who cast
aspersions upon the testimony of Scripture do so
because of their sin. Their unbelief and sinful
lifestyle subdue any spiritual perception on
their part. [1 Corinthians 2:14]
Refusing to accept the historical person of Christ is a smoke and mirrors excuse:

As I stated in a previous message, people refuse to accept divine Scripture, God, Christ, and His saving sacrifice for their souls because they love to live with their sins and sinful lifestyles. They would rather give their souls to the devil and all of hell’s eternal damned rather than humbling themselves and accepting that they are sinners who have offended a just and holy God – and, who, must, according to his holy nature prohibit them from His holy heaven, except they be covered with the forgiving holiness of Christ, who was sacrificed on their behalf. Philippians 3:8;9 ; Matthew 22:1-14

People who refuse to accept Christ, who He claimed to be, prefer to go it alone in eternity. They would rather dismiss the Scripture’s prophetic message of Christ and His God revealed Scriptural biography:

“……For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Gospel of John 18:37

“…..I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…” Gospel of John 11:25-26

“….Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

The sinful soul will attempt to understand God.
That same soul will try to make its "peace with
God." But, no peace with God can be made apart
from God-given faith. No one can bargain or earn 

his way into God's good favor.  Simple trust (belief) 
in Christ is the only way to experience genuine 
peace with God. John 3:1-21 ; Ephesians 2:8-9
The Gospel Good News of the Christ being your sacrifice for your offensive sins against God and fellowman takes on new meaning when we consider that He now lives, having been risen from the dead:

Not too long ago I talked with someone who was bothered about his hereafter existence. He knew that his time here was very limited. I told him that I don’t believe in those 4 or 5 point prescriptions that are used to convince a person that they are one of God’s children. Rather, I pointed him to some basic Scripture realities about human sin; God’s wrath and displeasure over sin; His judgment of sin and the sinner – but also, His love in Christ, who came to be the holy and just God’s “Lamb” sacrificed for sin, in order to allow the sinner to be accepted by God and His heaven. I explained about the thief on the cross next to Jesus, and said to this fairly young man – “Look to Jesus Christ whose work for you, was to be God’s cleansing for all of your sins. Trust Him and His sacrifice for you.”

Friend, it is not that complicated – especially when you are able to leave your sinful excuses behind and come as the Prodigal [Lost] Son who had nothing to offer, except a contrite “sorry” for having sinned against God commandments and his fellowman. Luke 15:1f

Friend, I would be wasting my time to attempt to convince you of evident realities, except it be for the grace of God. Only through the grace of God will you come to the knowledge of the truth. May the Christ who claimed to be total truth and, who, history testifies to His resurrection from the dead, -- may He by God’s grace and mercy, (by His Holy Spirit) lead you to encounter the Truth and lead you to life everlasting. May you expose yourself to the Lord's written revelation. It is by that written Scriptural revelation of God [His Word] that faith can be had in your sinful soul. Romans 1:16 ; Romans 10:17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ;James 1:18 ; 1 Peter 1:23 ; Acts 8:26-39

My father taught me the following declaration every Easter morning, as he would go room to room waking up his sons. He would declare: “He [Christ] is risen!” And then he would expect the following reply: “He is risen, indeed!” Such was the declaration and response of the early Christians every year commemorating the death and resurrection of the Christ of history.

"He is risen!" "He is risen, indeed!"

Amen.


Above Message and Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins

Related Scriptures To the Above Message

Old Testament:

Isaiah 53:1f ; Psalm 16:10 -- Prophecies hundreds of years before His birth, Christ’s life, suffering, death and resurrection

New Testament:

Matthew 27:1f – 28:1f – The fulfillment of Hebrew [Old Testament] Scriptural prophecy about Christ

1 Corinthians 15:1f – The Resurrection chapter


Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.


Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3


Note: This message, (with the exception of some minor editing) was previously posted online by Nathan Bickel




'via Blog this'

Luther's Sermon on Easter Monday



EASTER MONDAY

OR SECOND EASTER DAY.

This sermon is not found in edition c. Besides appearing in the “Rules and Instructions for those going to the Lord’s Supper,” following the first sermon for Easter, this sermon was issued in separate form under the titles:

1. “A sermon on the chief article of our faith, 1524, Dr. Martin Luther, Wittenberg.” At the end are the words, “Praise be to God.”

2. “A sermon for second Easter day and relating to the chief article of our faith, first published by Dr. Martin Luther, very wholesome and profitable to read.” At the end are the words, “Printed at Breslau by Caspar Lybish, 1524.”

German text: Erlangen edition vol. 11, 243; Walch edition vol. 11, 883; St.

Louis edition vol. 11, 648.

TEXT:

Luke 24:13-35. And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was three-score furlongs from Jerusalem. And they communed with each other of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, while they communed and questioned together, that Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What communications are these that ye have one with another, as ye walk? And they stood still looking sad. And one of them, named Cleopas, answering said unto him, Dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem and not know the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel. Yea and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things came to pass. Moreover certain women of our company amazed us, having been early at the tomb; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. And certain of them that were with us went to the tomb, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not. And he said unto them, O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they were going: and he made as though he would go further. And they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. And he went in to abide with them. And it came to pass, when he had sat down with them to meat, he took the bread and blessed; and breaking it he gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Was not our heart burning within us, while he spake to us in the way, while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up that very hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they rehearsed the things that happened in the way, and how he was known of them in the breaking of the bread.

CONTENTS:

EXPLANATION OF THIS GOSPEL, AND FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS ON THE LORD’S SUPPER.

1. The substance of this Gospel 1.

I. OF THE PREPARATION TO GO TO THE LORD’ S SUPPER.

1. What moved Luther to treat of this theme 2-3 2. The preparation itself. a. The true preparation

4. b. The wrong preparation 5.

II. OF PERSONS FOR WHOM THE HOLY SUPPER IS NOT,AND FOR WHOM IT IS.

A. Persons For Whom It Isaiah Not.

1. The first class 6.

2. The second class 7.

3. The third class 8.

B. Persons For Whom It Isaiah.

1. The nature of these persons 9.

2. By what means persons are to be awakened to receive the Holy Sacrament 10-11.

* Of the boldness and impertinence of the fanatics and the new prophets

3. How persons are to be encouraged to go to the Holy Communion, when deterred by thoughts of their unfitness and unworthiness. They should be encouraged: a. By means of words 13-18. b. By means of examples 18-19. c. By showing them how harm is done 20-21f. d. By showing them the power of the divine Word 22-25.

III. THE CONCLUSION OF THIS TREATISE ON THE LORD’ S SUPPER

SUMMARY OF THIS GOSPEL

1. We all are disposed like these two disciples, when left to ourselves, especially when we have regard to our present evil or misfortune, and not to God’s Word; this is then unbelief and mistrust, therefore it is chastised, as here, when Christ says: “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken?

2. Now when we are called again to the Word of God, our hearts burn and are kindled as the Scriptures are opened to us; but we recognize Christ first only when he breaks to us the bread of his Word, that is, when he becomes a teacher in every heart, and he sets before us the bread, i.e., his Word.

3. God’s Word kindles the heart by faith; but causes love to spring forth, which is compelled to say, as the disciples here do: “Abide with us; for it is toward evening.”

I. THE PREPARATION FOR PARTAKING OF THE LORD’S SUPPER.

1. This Gospel, in one part, teaches and urges us to take pleasure in speaking and working for our Lord Jesus Christ. It does so by showing what fruit follows from such a course, although that fruit is not understood; and grasped so clearly as it ought to be. You see here that the two disciples are still full of unbelief; yet, as they are speaking about Jesus, and seemingly in vain, he can not remain absent from them; but draws near, opens their eyes and interprets to them the Scriptures. You ought to faithfully lay hold of this and retain it, for it is a precious thing. However, before I treat further of the Gospel, which is easy as to its history, I must first, for the sake of the simple and plain people, say a few things about the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

2. Beloved, you have heard that we preached who are worthy to receive the Lord’s Supper, namely, those who by the Word of God are moved in their hearts to believe, and that those who are not thus prepared ought to refrain from it. And it is right to deter everyone from rushing to it or going in one’s own preparation, as was formerly common. That is the right way to preach, and I would to God that many might be thus terrified. But again I notice in many, and in myself also, that the devil spirit presses the other side also too much, so as to cause hearts to be weary and backward in partaking of the communion, so that they never approach it unless they feel for a certainty that they are fervid in faith. This is also dangerous, since thereby we would do away with the preparation which was formerly customary, but would establish a new preparation that would also not be right.

3. We have rejected those who prepare to receive the sacrament by their own works, a thing that God abhors.

But by so doing we may easily cause people to become slow, so as always to wait until God comes and gives us perfect faith, so that they may go.

Hence we can never preach enough about faith, even if we preach long and earnestly about it, for our reason can never understand it. Hence, to meet this evil, we will treat it more at length and must divide it into two parts, or rather, into the two classes of persons who prepare to go to the Lord’s Supper.

4. In the first place we have taught that it did not profit any one to prepare for the sacrament by his own strength, as those did who endeavored by their confession and other works to make themselves worthy to receive it.

This is a terrible error and abuse, and the only true advice we can give those who undertake such things is to refrain from them and to keep far from the sacrament.

5. The other preparation, that is made in faith, and of which we have said enough before, is right, as it comes and proceeds from God. It is not done in such a way that one always feels confident he is worthy. Where would faith be if that were the case? But it takes place thus: Without any of my preparing and doing, God’s Word comes to me. I may indeed go and hear it, or read and preach it, so that it thus enters my heart. And that is the right preparation, which is not made by the power and cunning of man, but by the strength of God. Hence there is no better preparation for all the sacraments than to permit and suffer God to prepare us. This is a brief talk about the preparation. And now we will consider the communicants.

II. PERSONS FOR WHOM THE HOLY SUPPER IS NOT, AND FOR WHOM IT IS.

6. The Gospel and Word of God, which is a speech or discourse about Christ, sometimes falls upon the ears of those who do not accept it or even despise it; and, as Christ says in Luke 8:5, it falls by the wayside, that is, into hard, unprepared hearts.

7. Then there are others who are vile rascals and live in open vice. Matthew 13:22. Even though they hear the Gospel and never really oppose it, they are not much concerned about it. As you see our fanatics do now, who can greatly talk and spit about it, especially when they are full, and make light of it. They have grasped nothing of it, except a glibness in talking about it. They are all wicked hearts. Of this class are also those who live in deep avarice, so materialistic that they feel it. And thus they live in other gross sins and have little reverence for the holy Gospel, even if they are able to talk glibly about it. But we never care to preach to them, for all is lost on them and the Gospel makes them neither humble nor hungry.

8. Thirdly, the very worst are those who besides persecute the Gospel. Of them Christ says in Matthew 7:6: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine.” These three sects do not belong to the Gospel Church, and we are not preaching to them. And I wish the law were enforced and they were punished, — these rude swine, — who talk so foolishly about the Gospel as if it were a story of Theodocius of Bern, or some other tale. If any one will be a pig let him know what is becoming a pig. I really wish I could exclude them from my preaching, that they might never hear it, and be far away from it. They can do nothing but misuse the Gospel to their own injury, and disgrace us, so that for their own sake the Word of God must suffer dishonor and abuse.

Out with the dirty swine!

9. Finally, there are some who are like the people here in this Gospel.

Behold, how they still lack in faith, for they speak in this wise: “We hoped he would redeem Israel.” As if they meant to say: We do not know what the result will be. It is clearly evident that it will amount to nothing. He is dead now and even if he came to life again and arose from the dead, he surely cannot redeem the people and become a king. And so they thought redemption was a failure. Therefore the two disciples here are the multitude that taste the Gospel in their hearts and dislike to have it despised and disobeyed; but still they are so timid that they hesitate to draw near because they feel they are neither strong nor fervid enough. They draw back and do not want to approach near until they feel and experience that they are strong in faith. These are persons to whom the Gospel belongs, even though they stumble at times, so that they become disgusted with themselves, feel their disease and wish to get rid of it, and are not hard of heart. These should be urged and drawn to Christ. We have never yet preached to any but such people.

10. For it is the nature of faith that a man knows his faults and earnestly desires to be free from them. No one dare wait until God performs a miraculous sign for him, and treats him differently from other people to whom he gives the signs in the Gospel and in the sacraments. God gave us the treasure and revealed it for the purpose alone that we should go and get it. Hence, when you feel your weakness, you ought to go and say: My Lord, I have fallen. I want to be strong. Now thou hast instituted the Lord’s Supper for us to kindle and strengthen our faith thereby and that we might be thus helped. So here I am and wish to receive it. This should be our comfort and we ought joyfully to use the Word and the sacraments when we feel our lack of faith, and rejoice to receive aid to seek help and strength. There our souls find it within us.

11. For you must not make Christ a tyrant, but accept him for what he in truth is and let him be unto you nothing but rich, abounding grace.

However, if you feel in your heart you have not reached this point and do not believe, and yet would like to believe, you must after all not despair and shun the communion, but seek your help right there, so that your faith may be kindled and increased.

For, though some have been terribly punished for partaking of the sacrament unworthily and without faith, they are only those whom we described above, namely, the hardened, wicked hearts. You must do and think thus: Lord, see, that is thy Word and this is my sickness and failing.

Thou thyself hast said, “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Do you think he said that to those who are already fervid and strong in faith? His kingdom is not established to the end of furthering the righteous, Matthew 9:3, but of helping sinners and making them righteous. 1 Timothy 1:15. Hence, whoever is weak and experiences it, should go to the communion and let God help him.

12. But there is another herd not on the right track. We have prophets abroad in the land who teach the people too freely to be bold and defiant, who speak with the divine Majesty as they would with a cobbler’s apprentice. These impudent and proud spirits are by no means to be followed. It is well for you to be backward and timid, and to fear and tremble. I like such fear. You just abide in it and go and have your conscience calmed. But such proud minds and unbroken hearts that act so defiantly and deal with God as if he must be afraid of them, he cannot tolerate.

13. Therefore you must humble yourself, and abide in fear so as to feel your struggles and weaknesses, and desire faith. If you experience that, then thank God, for that is a sure sign the Word has struck and moved you, and exercises, constrains and impels you.

What sort of faith would that be if I went and had no fear and anguish of heart to exercise my faith? For it is the very nature of faith, that it proves its strength in fear, in death and sins, and in all things that make a human being afraid and timid. Therefore if you feel thus, it is the proper time for you to go, for then your faith will find something to do. And to this end private confession is helpful. It is well to go to a pious man, and point out your need to him and ask advice, whether he thinks you are worthy to go to the Lord’s Supper, and then follow his advice. That is the real’ purpose of confession and of the sacrament. They are of no other use and are instituted for the purpose of assisting weak consciences that are burdened by their sins.

14. But you say: How then, if I am so inert and cold that I have no desire for it, still I feel that I need it; yet the Gospel and the sacrament do not satisfy me so that almost every spark in my heart is extinguished? Answer:

You must not desist. For as long as you feel that you are not yet lost and not yet so wicked as those described above; for you always wish to burn with zeal. Therefore you must do as follows: Take to yourself the Word of God, go and hear it preached, read it, write it or even sing it, only so you live it and keep busy with it, then you will experience something. Then go to the Lord’s Supper and say: Lord, I am a lazy character; but I come that thou shouldst help me and kindle my heart. Add to it whatever words and thought you can think and say. You must not stop to think how to prepare yourself to be worthy for the communion; you are already prepared if you feel that you would gladly be helped, and your need constrains you to go.

15. It has often happened to me that I hesitated and thus departed farther from it, until I saw nothing helped me and I had to go. Thus you also will find that it is the devil’s spectre that draws people away so that the more they are afraid and wait until they experience faith in their hearts, the farther they drift from it. And at last, if they continue in this state, all desire and impulse, both toward the Word and the sacrament, dies out in them, and they never come. Hence you must put aside such thoughts and fear, and go and ask God to help you. If you do so often, you will experience that you will gain more and more desire for it, a thing you would not have gained otherwise. Therefore I wish you would do this, and that there were many to go to the sacrament in such a frame of mind and would gain more and more pleasure in it, and become stronger and stronger. But if you do not go, you will always remain cold and will ever grow colder and colder.

16. This ought to comfort you, and you will experience it if you try it. For it is impossible for God’s Word not to produce fruit and be a blessing. God spake as follows: “For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven and returneth not thither but watereth the earth and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11.

This Scripture ought to make us very bold and happy, if we have already grown cold. By the grace of God we have God’s Word and we ought to raise our hands and thank him for it. How many are there in the world who do not possess it? How could you otherwise have obtained it? There you have the whole supply and the preparation that serves it, and yet you have knavery enough to contend with it. Therefore, as God says that his Word will not return without fruit and if you use it not to make a mockery of it, but are in earnest about it, you will undoubtedly feel and experience something, and the more you use it, the more you will have this experience.

You cannot have evil thoughts in your heart if you take a portion of the Scriptures before you and read it, or you meet another person and converse with him about it. If you do this, evil lusts will succumb and the flesh will be subdued. I have often tried it, and if you try it you will also find the fruits and experience that it is as God says. What more do you wish prepared for you?

17. Isaiah it not enough that you possess God’s Word that draws you, and besides that you feel your distress driving you to it? And then Christ is there and waits to help you. What more shall he do? And there is nobody excluded but proud, insolent persons and the castaways that are not in earnest. Therefore you must go and remember that Christ looks more deeply into your heart than you do yourself, as you see in this Gospel.

These two poor men would not have dared to wish for what meets them.

Yet such grace is bestowed upon them that Christ himself comes to them, while speaking of him, and reveals himself so that they know him. This fills their hearts with joy that they could not tarry there but ran and told the other disciples how the Lord manifested himself to them. Then they are full of joy, as they would not have dared to wish; but still it was so deep in their hearts that they themselves did not perceive that they desired it, although their hearts were so set upon it that they would have loved to see nothing better than for the Lord Jesus Christ to rise from the dead and be king. Therefore God looks more deeply into the depths of the heart than we ourselves, and he also gives us more than we desire. Thus he does also here. If you feel that you are not so fervent as you would like to be, he looks more deeply into your heart than you do, since you are anxious to be fully set on fire and become a burning light. Therefore you ought not to flee from him, but approach boldly.

18. To this end many passages in Paul’s writings serve. For example, he says to the Ephesians: “The Lord is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20. Now we clearly see what he gives us when we receive it and we feel that we receive it with joy.

Therefore St. Paul says that we do not see nor even think of it while we desire it; but the Lord, who searcheth the hearts, sees and understands our desire, and therefore he bestows upon us his grace abundantly. Thus we read of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, that she wept for her son during nine long years. It was her heart’s desire for him to become a Christian, and she devised many plans by which to bring him to Christ. She wanted him to marry a Christian woman who should make a plain Christian husband of him. But she did not dare to hope or expect him to become the man he did later, although she would have gladly seen it.

19. Then look at the examples all through the Gospel. St. Peter was too timid when the Lord wished to wash his feet and said, “Shouldest thou wash my feet?” and did not understand that his need compelled him, and his heart urged him, to see the necessity of Christ’s washing him, as he said soon after, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” John 13:9. And our heart is in the same condition, that we wish to see the Lord Jesus present, to help us, and yet we are so timid that we are afraid of him and do not think as much of his loving kindness as we freely profess to do. For, if we considered him to be what he is, we would say as Peter did, “Wash not my feet only, but also my hands and my head,” and think, now I will gladly go to him, even if I had a greater burden of sin.

There is likewise another example of St. Peter in Luke 5:6-8, when they sat in the ship and caught so many fishes that their nets broke. Then Peter was amazed, fell down at Jesus’ knees and said, “Depart from me, I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

Notice he was frightened and bids him to go away at the very time he ought to pray him to come. Thus our timid nature is ever afraid of Christ, in whom there is nothing but good, and who has come to help everybody.

That is why I said, we must not make a tyrant of Christ, but suffer him to be a dear Lord and Savior, who has no other desire but to help sinners, and to invite and attract everybody by his words and example.

20. This exposition of the nature of faith is clear enough, for our great trouble is that we do not really understand the nature of faith. Therefore do this: Begin and try it and you will experience it; and the more you practice it, the more comfort and strength you will experience; and the more unworthy you feel you are, the more you must appropriate God’s Word to yourself and practice it, hear or read it and speak about it, and you will always find and prove something that pleases and moves you. You should besides pray to God and say as the apostles did in Luke 17:5: “Lord, increase my faith.” Thus go and you will be strengthened. But if you dwell too much on your timidity you will never go; for then you will persist to feel and not to believe. You must experience your misery and struggles of conscience. Then is the time for you to go to the Lord’s Supper. Even if you are weak in faith you must not on that account step back, for he will not reject you since he has come for the sole purpose of strengthening the weak and comforting the despondent.

21. But I do not wish to have all this preached to hardened insolent characters and the fanatics, but only to consciences that are faint and weak, and occasionally fall, so that they do not despond, but know where to find help and comfort. On this point a father in the desert uttered a wise saying.

When he saw that a brother was weak and faint, he said: No, my brother, thou must not withdraw thus and go back, for thou mightest go back so far that thou couldest not return. For it is to be feared that the longer we stay away, the colder and lazier we become. They ought to stay away, as we have said at length, who lead a wicked and immoral life and do not intend to amend their ways. But those who know their weaknesses and want to be rid of them and see that they cannot help themselves, they should come to the communion for help.

22. From this you see why God instituted and ordained that his Word should be preached; and therefore it ought not to be despised. It is true that the Word without the Spirit is of no use; but since God Almighty himself said, as we have heard, “My Word that goeth forth out of my mouth, shall not return unto me void,” it must not be despised. For through his Word he gives the Holy Spirit into your hearts and will not suffer you to gape and wait for a miraculous sign from heaven, to be done on you, and thus to ignore his Word and sacrament. He himself highly esteems and praises the Word, for he has decreed to give his grace through it, as Christ says, “No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me, draw him.” John 6:44. How does the Father draw us? Through Christ. How through Christ?

By the Word. Thus he invites and calls you. If your need impels you, go then joyfully, tell your trouble bravely; but always bring the Word with you.

23. But leave it to God, how you may remain steadfast, and go now, while you have the Word and feel your misery. Then the Word itself will teach you how to prepare yourself aright. For then you must accuse yourself before God and say: Lord, I am a sinner and cannot help myself by my own strength, so I come to thee for help. If I have sufficient grace only to delight in the Word of God with my whole heart and I have joy and pleasure in it, I can surely remain steadfast. For it must be something great for God to give me his Word and cause it to be pleasing and attractive to me. Even if I am not so strong now as I ought to be, I shall grow stronger in time and at last reach the point when I can confess his grace without fear and devote my life to it. Therefore Christ says: “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you, for everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8.

24. Therefore I would faithfully admonish you to act wisely in this matter.

We have justly condemned those who undertake to prepare themselves by their own works; but we have invited those who feel their need and see they can do nothing by their own power, and can find neither counsel nor help, for these use the Lord’s, Supper unto their personal salvation.

Therefore, if you feel thus, go first to a pious man and tell him your distress and say, Lo, I have fallen and would like to obtain help and I ask for counsel what to do. Then he should comfort him and welcome him to the sacrament, so that he may exercise his faith and be strengthened. For it is instituted for this very purpose of ministering comfort and strength.

Therefore let nothing keep you from the communion. If you feel bashful, it is well, for you must feel your unworthiness. If you however do not feel your guilt, you are not in a fit frame of mind to go, and it will be better for you to refrain from going.

25. Take the Gospel and the Holy Scriptures before you, the more the better, even if you already know them and have often read them. For it is certainly a suggestion of the devil who tries to tear from you your delight in the Word. He hates to have you come to it, for he knows very well what fruit it bears in you. If you are thus busy with the Word and strive to live it the best you can, you will see that Christ is with you and a fire is kindled in your heart. But the best is, for two or three earnestly to speak among themselves about it, so that the living voice is heard. Then you will be much stronger and the devil must yield. Thus all evil lust and thoughts disappear and thus will ensue such a light and knowledge, you have never before experienced. The only trouble is that we fools have such a great treasure lying before our doors and do not know how to use it. And the devil deceives us in order to draw us away from it and make us indifferent, because he can not overcome it. Therefore we must prepare to resist the devil’s suggestions and influence. In like manner Christ will come and reveal himself even though at first you are not aware of it; the more you speak about it and discuss it the more clearly you will recognize Christ and feel that he kindles your heart within you, as you heard in this Gospel of the two disciples journeying to, the village of Emmaus.

III. THE CONCLUSION.

26. This I had to preach now concerning the Lord’s Supper and the Gospel, as God gave us the light, and I admonish you, my friends, to grasp and faithfully use it. If there be fanatics, who disgrace the Gospel, they ought to be punished by the civil authorities. But we must let them also hear, for the sake of the righteous, for we are to preach God’s Word publicly to everybody, since we do not know whom it may strike.