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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Eleventh Sunday after Trinity. Luke 18:9-14



The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 2013


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 200     I Know that My Redeemer Lives   1.80   
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 384            How Great Is Thy Compassion            1.6

Faith versus Salvation by Works

The Communion Hymn #236            Creator Spirit                         1.9 
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 # 514     God Moves in a Mysterious Way    1.81



KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Eleventh Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not forget our sins and be filled with pride, but continue in daily repentance and renewal, seeking our comfort only in the blessed knowledge that Thou wilt be merciful unto us, forgive us our sins, and grant us eternal life; through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.




Faith versus Salvation by Works

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

The Word of God is quite clear, so we must assume that people who think otherwise are anxious to insert themselves into the discussion as the only people who can interpret the real message of the Bible. They mean – “I know the real message, the part you cannot understand because you do not have my deep insights and great learning. After all, I studied Greek and Hebrew, and you did not.”

But those claims are wrong. The Word of God is plain, so clear that anyone can learn that he needs to know about forgiveness and salvation from the text itself. And yet the Bible is so profound that we can study it a lifetime and continue to learn more.

To show us how He works, God gave each Gospel a distinct message and style. Luke repeats much of what we have in Matthew and Mark, and yet we would never want to be missing the special, unique parts of Luke, such as today’s parable.

This first sentence tells us exactly what we should know about this section, which is only a few verses. Try to write a story in a few words and make a lasting impression on civilization. I have read many such thumbnail stories, and I cannot remember a single one.

This one we cannot forget.

He told a parable…

This alerts us to a fictional story with a spiritual message. There is no confusion about the genre of the following verses. If there is one thing we know about Jesus’ teaching, it is His use of parables. Some are fairly long (for parables) and this is quite short.

Parables normally have one major point and a few other points related to that important teaching.

What is the purpose of this parable?

To certain people (a) who trusted in their own righteousness and (b) despised others.

Thus in one sentence Luke introduced a parable so clearly that we have a plot and an outline of the very brief story. It does not take a homiletics professor to show that the people who trusted in their righteousness would be shown up in the story.

The Jackson Literal Translation (NJLT) has this, word for word, following the Greek word order –

He told—to those who believed on themselves that they were righteous and despised the others—this parable.

This may ring a bell for those who have heard about Universal Objective Justification, currently the stealth dogma of WELS, since they cannot admit in public what they really teach.
Does this literal wording perfectly describe those in the LCMS, WELS, ELS, and ELCA who believe in their own righteousness?

UOJ teaches them that they must accept, or make a decision, in favor of their own righteousness, because God declared every single unbeliever (sinner) righteous, according to the wisdom of Halle rationalistic Pietists.

The modern Pharisees believe in their own righteousness and despise all others who do not have this secret counsel taught by the ultra elite of Stephan’s sex cult and Wisconsin’s clone in Wauwatosa.

But this parable is not only meant for Pharisees of yesterday and today, but also for us.

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisees were ultra-saintly, very strict, and devoted to good works. They were highly educated, as we can see from Paul’s example, since he was a Pharisee.

Publican seems like an odd term, but it is not. The Roman Republic simply means the things (Re) that belong to the Public. Their banner said SPQR – the Senate and People of Rome. (q is for and)

The publican gathered taxes for the Roman Republic, which turned into an Empire under Caesar. At this point, during the Incarnation, it was an Empire ruled by Tiberius.

This reverses the common thought of the time – the Pharisees were the saints and the tax-collectors (publicans) were evil. The publicans did take advantage of their roles. If they extorted more money from people, they made more money. Imagine that happening today.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

The spirit of the Pharisee was continued in Pietism, which became the Christian form of Pharisaical holiness.

This holiness was based upon what people did or did not do. The Holiness code of Methodism was almost the same in German Pietism, except the Germans never gave up alcohol.

Some non-Biblical restrictions were:
  1. Never drinking alcohol of any type, including during Holy Communion. Welch’s grape juice was developed with the Temperance Movement in mind, since Welch had to find a way to keep grape juice from going into fermentation. He did this with pasteurizing. The Pietists of all Protestant groups made Welch’s a hit. There is a belt of grape juice communion churches still among American Lutherans of the old General Synod, which embraced the Temperance Movement.
  2. Never going to the theater. This stricture changed from era to era, adding all movies to the list, not just live theater.
  3. Never using tobacco. The new version is no tobacco, lots of marijuana, which is far harsher and more addictive.
  4. Never opening a store on Sunday or sell liquor on Sunday when retail was allowed.



Among Lutherans, Pietism created a religion of works, which included the requirement of cell groups and holding the cell group as the real church, despising those who did not attend a cell group. Since the cell group is THE Means of Grace, the Pietists have a very low regard for the Sacraments and often treat them as merely symbolic ordinances (laws).

Lutherans looking for magic answers were told to develop cell groups again, like the cell groups that Walther and Stephan brought over to America.

The Swedes and Norwegians had cell groups too.

Luther wrote, for the sermon on this text, that Luke seems to be promoting good works, which is the impression from other passages in the third Gospel.

But this is best explained by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:15ff.

A good tree can only bear good fruit. Faith makes the tree good. Therefore, justification by faith is the beginning of good works, because both belong to God – faith and good works.

In contrast, a corrupt tree can only bear evil fruit. I was mowing and pruning yesterday. In the midst of growth here and there, junk plants grow. They spring up, shade the good plants, and produce abundant but useless vegetation. When they flower and fruit, they only bear bad fruit. They are cut away and removed because they cannot produce something worthwhile, for beauty or for food.

So Jesus teaches us about faith and works with that plain example. It can be applied both ways, showing lack of faith from the evil fruit of a corrupt (unbelieving) leader. Many think the cure for bad policies in the church is to argue, lobby, arrange votes, and “get our guy in.” That is completely wrong, so people continue to do that anyway. It is fun, unproductive, and a great way to form friendships and political alliances.
The cure is to address the problem of unbelief in the Word of God.

An Evangelical was telling me this week, “No one wants to teach what Jesus commanded. The Great Commission includes, Go, Baptize, and teach all that I have commanded.”

I agreed and said Luther’s whole emphasis was upon Jesus coming to us through the Word and teaching us.

The Matthew 7 passage and this parable from Luke teach the same in different words because they come from the same Lord and the same Spirit.

The Pharisee condemned himself for saying, “Look at what I do,” while despising the tax collector.

But the tax collector is different.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

We know he had faith because he saw the vast difference between God’s holiness and his sins. Instead of suggesting that God should thank him, he asked for God’s mercy. Only a person with faith would ask for mercy.

When Peter saw the divine power of Jesus the Son of God, he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”

Moreover, we know the judgment of Jesus upon this tax collector, because He said,

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

As people admit, even when in the throes of UOJ addiction, justification in the Bible always means justification by faith. Forgiveness is received through faith, and justification is the word used to describe that forgiveness. God gives us the Gospel, which produces faith in Christ, and this God-given faith receives the forgiveness promised by the Word of God.

Because faith receives this forgiveness continuously, nourished by the Means of Grace, the believer is forgiven of all sins, each and every day.

The danger we face is growing Pharisaical, neglecting the Word and Sacraments, and no longer trusting in the Word. This does not happen at once or in sudden dramatic moments, but in slow, insidious ways.

The Parable of the Sower illustrates three general ways in which the Word is lost, but not because the Word lacks efficacy. Difficulties can be one reason. So can the cares and riches of the world. Many fall into a fascination with false doctrine, with something new. We tire of the truth and find falsehood to be a glittering temptation: exciting, new, enticing, emotional.

Although the liturgy changes almost all the words each week (and it could be 100% with many variations, such as a hymn liturgy), people got rid of the liturgy saying, “It’s always the same.”

Nothing is more “same” than contemporary worship services, where they get rid of the creeds, liturgy, appointed lessons, and hymns. A Pentecostal services is almost exactly the same as a Lutheran contemporary worship service. Lutherans are now copying the Pentecostal movie screen, too. And they cannot wait to tear out the priceless pipe organ.

The simple truth of the traditional worship service is that it gives Jesus to us – His Word, His body and blood, and His teachings. He condemns us for our unbelief and shows us once again to trust only in Him, not in our merits or worthiness.

Do we doubt His love for us? We only need to look at what He has done for us.

Thou Christian heart, Who ever thou art, 
Be of good cheer and let no sorrow move thee!
For God’s own Child, In mercy mild, 
Joins thee to Him; how greatly God must love thee!
Paul Gerhardt

Quotations
                      

"Now, that faith signifies, not only a knowledge of the history, but such faith as assents to the promise, Paul plainly testifies when says, Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, to the end the promise might be sure.'  For he judges that the promise cannot be received unless by faith.  Wherefore he puts them together as things that belong to one another, and connects promise and faith."
            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 135. Tappert, p. 114. Romans 4:16.                

"Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins.  This faith God imputes for righteousness is His sight.  Romans 3 and 4."
            Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45. Tappert, p. 30. Romans 3 and 4.        

"Identisch mit der papistischen Lehre, dass der Glaube nicht als Mittel und nicht allein rechtfertige, ist die andere papistische Lehre, dass die Werke rechtfertigen." "Identical with the papistic teaching, that faith alone is not a means and does not alone make righteous, is the other papistic teaching, that works make one righteous."]
            Adolf Hoenecke, Evangelisch‑Lutherische Dogmatik, 4 vols., ed., Walter and Otto Hoenecke, Milwaukee:  Northwestern Publishing House, 1912, III,  p. 386.  

"The article of justification is the master and prince, the lord, the ruler, and the judge over all kinds of doctrines; it preserves and governs all church doctrine and raises up our conscience before God.  Without this article the world is utter death and darkness.  No error is so mean, so clumsy, and so outworn as not to be supremely pleasing to human reason and to seduce us if we are without the knowledge and the contemplation of this article."    
            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 703. June 1, 1537.      




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