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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity. Luke 16:1-9





The Ninth Sunday after Trinity, 2013


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 334    Let Me Be Thine Forever, Selnecker                   2.62
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 # 479            Zion Rise                2.13

Rescuing This Text from the Works Salesmen

The Communion Hymn #306            Lord Jesus Christ               2.50  
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 # 442     Lord of Glory                                   2:61               

KJV 1 Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

KJV Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Ninth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, who hast bountifully given us Thy blessing and our daily bread: We beseech Thee, preserve us from covetousness, and so quicken our hearts that we willingly share Thy blessed gifts with our needy brethren; that we may be found faithful stewards of Thy gifts, and abide in Thy grace when we shall be removed from our stewardship, and shall come before Thy judgment, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


Rescuing This Text from Works Salesmen


KJV Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

This is a strange parable for those who do not know the Gospel, and so we can see what Jesus meant when He said that the parables were intended for those who believed and not for everyone. To this day there are many who see and yet do not see, hear and do not understand the parables.

The storyline is simple – an evil steward wasted the goods of the lord of the estate, then cheated the same lord so he would have a job in the future.

Instead of condemning this behavior, Jesus taught instead –

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

That makes it impossible for a casual observer to grasp the parable, but we can see the clarity of the teaching when we compare it to other similar passages.

The key to the false teacher’s method is to isolate Scripture and make one passage say something clearly contradicted by another passage. The Word does not contradict itself so the problem lies with the false teacher. If people object, he will cite some authority – either himself or an institution. Are you saying Holy Mother Church is wrong? The very Church that nurtured you all these years?

And the visible church is the creation of the Holy Spirit through the Word, the guardian of that truth, not the guardian of itself. Some think the church is their sandbox, where they can play King of the Hill. It is always a dangerous game to play with the Word, abuse it, and use it to deceive people.

Summary of Faith and Works

As Luther said in his sermons on this text, faith makes the tree good. Without faith, there is no goodness and no good works. From this tree, because of justification by faith, good fruit will come.

The good works are the result of God’s justification of us through faith. Both faith and good works belong to God – not to man. Faith is God’s creation and good works come from the energy of the Gospel in us.

Therefore the passages on good works are not there to teach us despair (as they do when misunderstood) but to challenge those who take faith lightly and discount faith.

It can be claimed that many congregations are dominated by unbelievers because they have not heard the Gospel or have forgotten it through neglect. Those churches love to dwell on works and are truly factories of works – the works of man.

For instance – this type of sermon – which I heard at Mequon – Do you know why this church is not growing? It is your fault. Statistics show that churches grow only when members witness to others. You have not been doing that, so it is your fault.

To his credit, when Professor Balge heard this in class, he was appalled. Obviously it came out of the Church Growth class taught by Valleskey, and it was anti-Lutheran and anti-Christian as well.

Another version – Relationship Evangelism – If you are a helpful friendly neighbor who is always happy, your neighbors will ask why. So you will tell them about your helpful, friendly, happy church and they will want to join.

In both cases, an enormous burden of guilt is placed on people to drive them into gathering up members for the congregation and church body. There is not an ounce of Gospel in either message.

Therefore the conclusion of the parable has been used by the Roman Catholics and others to say, “You must earn heaven with good works.”

Subtle Humor
The parable has a certain type of subtle humor in it. It does not commend the behavior but the savvy nature of the man who remains a scoundrel. He takes care of himself first, so he ruins the estate first from selfishness or laziness or greed, then saves his job by cheating the same master he just ruined with his behavior.

The point is – he is good at it and when facing a time of terrible suffering, uses his craft to get out of it.

The theme is not – Be like him in character and behavior
but this –
If a scoundrel can be so clever with unrighteous mammon, then you should also be just as clever in your use of mammon.


Unrighteous Mammon
Mammon means more than enough money to live on, enough to share with others.

It is God’s creation, like everything else, so we should use it wisely. But it is unrighteous, not something we should worship. God’s Word does not denounce wealth. Some have it and put it to good use. But “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Coveting turns people toward doing the most despicable acts, even the murder of their own family members. That is the first thing the police look for when there is a murder – who benefited financially?

The steward wanted the others to speak up for him when he needed a job in the future.
So this entire episode should make us smile.

Luther turns it around by saying – make yourselves friends – in our use of money in doing good works in faith. We do that in helping unborn babies, in spreading the Gospel, in challenging false doctrine, in visiting the sick and shut-in, in encouraging others.

These efforts have life-changing impacts upon others. Spending some money meant giving away books that would not normally be bought on impulse. That led to many good results in understanding justification by faith. Luther gave all his writings away, and that Word of God expository writing changed Christianity forever.

So unrighteous mammon does not help us at all in gaining heaven, but those people we helped into heaven are our spokesmen, welcoming us in.

As Luther said, they will do more good than Peter can do. Peter’s faith cannot get anyone into heaven, only one’s own faith. Those who have been helped are testimony to the effect of faith, the good works done.

Likewise, those who have cheated the faithful and tried ruin their lives will suffer in eternal life. They will not have their buildings and honors to speak for them. They will not be able to impress anything that they were presidents of the fasting shrinking Lutheran church bodies in history – or the ones with the most covered-up clergy crimes.

God says, these crooked people have no faith and have no power unless it is conceded to them. Trust in the Word of God instead of the man-made structures of this world. If the “conservative” Lutherans are going to name buildings after an unrepentant adultery who broke up two marriages, then that is not the place where the Gospel is taught anymore. “You have turned the House of God into a Den of Thieves.”




 



Quotations

"#305. Why do you say in this article: I believe in the Forgiveness of Sins? Because I hold with certainty that by my own powers or through my own works I cannot be justified before God, but that the forgiveness of sins is given me out of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also true justification. Psalm 130:3-4; Psalm 143:2; Isaiah 64:6; Job 25:4-6 (Q. 124)." Kleiner Katechismus, trans. Pastor Vernon Harley, LCMS, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1901, p. 164ff. 

"Hence, too, the lack of emphasis, even in the best of Reformed preaching, upon the divine Word as the vehicle of regenerating grace and on the Sacraments. The office of the Word, then, is merely to point to the way of life, without communicating that of which it conveys the idea. The Word and Sacraments are declared to be necessary; their office in the Church is a divine institution; but they are only symbols of what the Spirit does within; and the Spirit works immediately and irresistibly." "Grace, Means of," The Concordia Cyclopedia, L. Fuerbringer, Th. Engelder, P. E. Kretzmann, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1927, p. 298. 

"Concerning the article on the justification of the poor sinner in God's sight, we believe, teach, and confess on the basis of God's Word and the position of our Christian Augsburg Confession that the poor, sinful person is justified in God's sight--that is, he is pronounced free and absolved of his sins and receives forgiveness for them--only through faith, because of the innocent, complete, and unique obedience and the bitter sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, not because of the indwelling, essential righteousness of God or because of his own good works, which either precede or result from faith. We reject all doctrines contrary to this belief and confession." Jacob Andreae, Confession and Brief Explanation of Certain Disputed Articles, Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977, p. 58. 

"Indeed, it has been proved more than sufficiently from the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles in the Old and New Testaments that the righteousness which avails in God's sight, which poor sinners have for comfort in their worst temptations, cannot and should not be sought in our own virtues or good works; nor will it be found there, as was proved above against the papists. Instead, it should be sought only in Christ the Lord, whom God has made our righteousness and who saves all believing Christians and makes them righteous through knowledge of Him." Jacob Andreae, The First Sermon, On the Righteousness of Faith in God's Sight, Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977, p. 67. 

"'Just git the spirit started,' said a Methodist to C. P. Krauth, 'and then it works like smoke.' 'Very much like smoke, I guess,' answered Krauth." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 77.  

"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, trans., Fred Kramer, 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, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 541. see Baker, Fundamentals, III, p. 78 

"But because not doubt but faith justifies, and not he who doubts but he who believes has eternal life, therefore faith teaches the free promise, which relies on the mercy of God for the sake of the sacrifice of the Son, the Mediator, and not on our works, as Paul says in Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, that the promise might be sure according to grace.'" Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 507. Romans 4:16 

"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), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 106.  

"What is the difference between Christianity and paganism? Paganism has no sure Word of God and no true faith in Christ. It is unsettled. In place of the one true God, pagans worship various factitious deities and countless idols with ceremonies, works and sacrifices selected according to human judgment. They imagine that they compensate for their sins with this worship, pacify their gods and make them gracious and purchase, as it were, blessings from them." David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 19.  



"It is indeed a precious truth, that this Word not only tells me what I must do to be saved, but it also enables me to do it. [enables me to do it in italics] It is the vehicle and instrument of the Holy Spirit. Through it the Holy Spirit works repentance and faith. Through it He regenerates, converts, and sanctifies."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 132.         

"The same divine Saviour now works through means. He has founded a Church, ordained a ministry, and instituted the preaching of the Word and the administration of His own sacraments. Christ now works in and through His Church. Through her ministry, preaching the Word, and administering the sacraments, the Holy Spirit is given. (Augsburg Confession, Article 5.)
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 30.         

"The entire Scripture testifies that the merits of Christ are received in no other way than through faith, not to mention that it is impossible to please God without faith, Hebrews 11:6, let alone to be received into eternal life. In general, St. Paul concludes concerning this [matter] in Romans 3:28: Thus we hold then that a man becomes righteous without the works of the Law--only through faith."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 165. Hebrews 11:6; Romans 3:28      

"Even though the water which is used for holy Baptism continues to retain its natural essence and natural attributes after Baptism, it is nevertheless not just lowly [plain] water, but it is formulated in God's Word and combined with God's Word. Thus it is a powerful means through which the Holy Trinity works powerfully; the Father takes on the one who is baptized as His dear child; the Son washes him of his sins with His blood; the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews him for everlasting life."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 56.      

"Aus dem allen folgt die Verwerflichkeit des schwarmgeistlichen Grundsatzes, dass der Geist wirke ohne die Schrift. Geist nicht ohne Schrift, Schrift nicht ohne Geist, das is gesunde Lehre. (From this follows the repudia- tion of Pentecostal principles, that the Spirit works without the Scriptures. Spirit not without the Scripture, Scripture not without the Spirit - that is sound doctrine.)" Adolf Hoenecke, Evangelische-Lutherische Dogmatik, 4 vols., ed., Walter and Otto Hoenecke, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1912, IV, p. 17.       "Thus the Holy Spirit works only through the Word. But the Word of the Gospel comes to man in two different modes." Henry Eyster Jacobs, Elements of Religion, Philadelphia, Board of Publication, General Council 1919 p. 161.  

"The Holy Spirit works through the Word and the Sacraments, which only, in the proper sense, are means of grace. Both the Word and the Sacraments bring a positive grace, which is offered to all who receive them outwardly, and which is actually imparted to all who have faith to embrace it."
Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1871, p. 127.

"An age of darkness is a creedless age; corruption in doctrine works best when it is unfettered by an explicit statement of that doctrine." Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1871, p. 215.  

"This Word works in the Thessalonians what Paul states in 1:3; it came to them with the power of the Holy Spirit and much assurance (1:5); it turned them from the idols to the living God, to Him who raised up Jesus from the dead, the Savior from the wrath to ccome (1: 9, 10). This effect, wrought by the Word, convinces all believers, all who experience this blessed effect, that this is, indeed, God's Word."
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of Thessalonians, Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1937, p. 261. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 9, 10       

"The Gospel shows the Father's grace, Who sent His Son to save our race, Proclaims how Jesus lived and died That man might thus be justified. (2) It sets the Lamb before our eyes, Who made the atoning sacrifice, And calls the souls with guilt opprest To come and find eternal rest. (3) It brings the Savior's righteousness Our souls to robe in royal dress; From all our guilt it brings release And gives the troubled conscience peace. (4) It is the power of God to save From sin and Satan and the grace; It works the faith, which firmly clings To all the treasures which it brings. (5) It bears to all the tidings glad And bids their hearts no more be sad; The heavy laden souls it cheers And banishes their guilty fears."
Matthias Loy, 1863, "The Gospel Shows the Father's Grace" The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #297. John 3:16.   

"The apostle says 'our,' 'our sins;' not his own sin, not the sins of unbelievers. Purification is not for, and cannot profit, him who does not believe. Nor did Christ effect the cleansing by our free-will, our reason or power, our works, our contrition or repentance, these all being worthless in the sight of God; he effects it by himself. And how? By taking our sins upon himself on the holy cross, as Isaiah 53:6 tells us."
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 180. Hebrews 1:1-12; Hebrews 1:3;      

"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. Tenth Sunday after Trinity, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11;        

"...God here directs and works wonderfully by making the first last and the last first. And all is spoken to humble those who are great that they should trust in nothing but the goodness and mercy of God. And on the other hand that those who are nothing should not despair, but trust in the goodness of God just as the others do."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 106. Matthew 20:1-16       

"Now in this way Christ strikes a blow first against the presumption (as He also does in today's Epistle) of those who would storm their way into heaven by their good works; as the Jews did and wished to be next to God; as hitherto our own clergy have also done. These all labor for definite wages, that is, they take the law of God in no other sense than that they should fulfil it by certain defined works for a specified reward, and they never understand it correctly, and know not that before God all is pure grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 108. Matthew 20:1-16; 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5     

"Faith receives the good works of Christ, love bestows good works on our neighbor." In the first place, our faith is strengthened and increased when Christ is held forth to us in his own natural works, namely, that he associates only with the blind, the deaf, the lame, the lepers, the dead and the poor; that is , in pure love and kindness toward all who are in need and in misery, so that finally Christ is nothing else than consolation and a refuge for all the distressed and troubled in conscience. Here is necessary faith that trusts in the Gospel and relies upon it, never doubting that Christ is just as he is presented to us in this Gospel, and does not think of Him otherwise, nor let any one persuade us to believe otherwise."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 109f. Third Sunday in Advent Matthew 11:2-10.

"In order to keep your faith pure, do nothing else than stand still, enjoy its blessings, accept Christ's works, and let him bestow His love upon you. You must be blind, lame, deaf, dead, leprous and poor, otherwise you will stumble at Christ. That Gospel which suffers Christ to be seen and to be doing good only among the needy, will not belie you."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 110. Third Sunday in Advent Matthew 11:2-10.      

"And such false teachers have the good fortune that all their folly is tolerated, even though the people realize how these act the fool, and rather rudely at that. They have success with it all, and people bear with them. But no patience is to be exercised toward true teachers! Their words and their works are watched with the intent of entrapping them, as complained of in Psalm 17:9 and elsewhere. When only apparently a mote is found, it is exaggerated to a very great beam. No toleration is granted. There is only judgment, condemnation and scorn. Hence the office of preaching is a grievous one. He who has not for his sole motive the benefit of his neighbor and the glory of God cannot continue therein. The true teacher must labor, and permit others to have the honor and profit of his efforts, while he receives injury and derision for his reward."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 110f. Second Sunday before Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. Psalm 17:9.         

"In the second place such teachers are disposed to bring the people into downright bondage and to bind their conscience by forcing laws upon them and teaching works-righteousness. The effect is that fear impels them to do what has been pounded into them, as if they were bondslaves, while their teachers command fear and attention. But the true teachers, they who give us freedom of conscience and create us lords, we soon forget, even despise. The dominion of false teachers is willingly tolerated and patiently endured; indeed, it is given high repute. All those conditions are punishments sent by God upon them who do not receive the Gospel with love and gratitude."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 111. Second Sunday before Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. John 5:43.   


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