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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. Mark 7:31-37

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The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. 2013


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #462               I Love Thy Kingdom             4:21
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 #123                O God Our Help            4:3 

Faith in Jesus Christ

The Communion Hymn # 304 An Awful Mystery            4:6 
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 #  376     Rock of Ages                                   4:47

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

KJV Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast created all things: We thank Thee that Thou hast given us sound bodies, and hast graciously preserved our tongues and other members from the power of the adversary: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy grace, that we may rightly use our ears and tongues; help us to hear Thy word diligently and devoutly, and with our tongues so to praise and magnify Thy grace, that no one shall be offended by our words, but that all may be edified thereby, 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.



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Faith in Jesus Christ – Works Follow

KJV Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.

This is a simple Gospel miracle, but like all the Scriptural texts, it is full of lessons for us, especially since all parts of the Bible are linked to each other. They teach the same truth with complete consistency.

First there is the example of faith. Those who believed in Christ, heard about His power, or even witnessed His miracles, brought their friend to Jesus.

 

This shows both faith and love. They trusted in the power and compassion of Christ, so in love they wanted to have their friend benefit from a healing miracle.

This is one aspect of faith in Christ, that there is no difference between that living faith and the action taken. They cannot give their faith to this man, but they can bring him into the presence of Christ.

When Luther preached about this, he mentioned the fantastic myth that people could donate their good works to someone to save that person. That is still being taught today in Roman Catholicism. The basis for indulgences is the claim that the pope has the keys to all the merits of the saints. He can dispense some time off Purgatory, unleashing some of those merits (and his own). Or, someone can donate all his merits in a great sacrifice. I believe that is considered a good work in itself, so the tank would not be empty in terms of eventual forgiveness.

As silly as Medieval customs and dogmas can seem, other notions sprout up in the absence of faith in the Means of Grace. Those concepts are always rooted in works rather than God’s grace. And they must be, because departing from God’s grace will inevitably lead to man’s trust in himself, in his works.

People now stress how sorry they are, as if depth of sorrow can make up for a sin. Or they say, “I will make it up to you.” Luther has written, “No sin is so great that it cannot be forgiven. No merit is so great that it can remove a single small sin.” Apart from trust in Christ as our Savior, forgiveness is not possible.

We cannot give faith to someone, and we cannot force faith on another person. Both ideas come from trust in ourselves. But we do know that faith comes from hearing the preached Word, Romans 10. Therefore, we can make the Word available and think in terms of the Word of God’s grace at all times.

In our families we can teach and practice the Gospel, knowing the Gospel will always have an effect.

33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;

The rationalists pounce on this verse and make it a magic act. They show no understanding of the context or human nature. This man could not hear, although that is usually not a 100% loss. Blindness is similar. If he could hear a little, crowd noise would be very distracting. So would the interest and gestures of others who did not know him.

When Jesus took him aside, it allowed this to happen in relative quiet. The physical gestures (touching the ears, spitting, touching the tongue) were for the deaf man, to understand that his ears and tongue would be healed.

We know that Jesus did not need to touch anyone to heal that person. In fact, the centurion confessed his complete trust in the Word of Christ. “Simply say the Word and he will be healed.”

The rationalists always mock the signs God gives us because of our weakness. Why does God need water for baptism and bread and wine for communion? I wonder how many of these skeptics have diplomas hanging in their offices and awards hanging on the walls. They do not need them. They have the awards – why a physical sign?

I told online students they would get a jpg in their email for graduation. Some took me seriously and became upset. They wanted a real diploma, not a picture. But what does that matter?

The Old Testament is full of actual signs of God’s work, from the rainbow after the Flood to the manna (bread of life) from heaven. These signs are connected so much to daily life that we should be reminded constantly of God’s grace. We wash and satisfy our thirst for water. We celebrate the birth of children. We bake and eat bread. We drink wine.

To show that God cares for each and every individual, Jesus displayed His special compassion on this man, taking care to heal him in a peaceful and understanding way.

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34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

Sighing showed the man that this healing was coming from God. This does not show that his speech was due to no hearing. He had both a hearing disability and a physical speech disability.

He really needed his mouth to speak and his ears to hear. This is an important reminder of how Christianity grows among us. It is a mouth religion, as Luther once said. Although some might be converted by the written Word of God, the chief form of giving the Gospel to others is through speaking it.

When church executive types wonder how they can reach various groups of people, I ask myself if any of them step outside their palatial offices. I walk around our neighborhood each day. Our peaceful area has Mexicans, whites, Blacks, Asians, and all religions and age groups. It is assumed in the South that strangers are friendly anywhere they meet, so it is not a sin to start a conversation with anyone. With three legs, Sassy starts a lot of conversations. Now people call out her name and she runs up to them. Ironically, one man is hard of hearing, so he calls her Sadie, and she wiggles up to him with great warmth and love.

Luther:

11. He addresses here particularly two organs of the body, the ear and the tongue; for you know the Kingdom of Christ is founded upon the Word, which cannot be apprehended or understood except by these two organs, the ear and the tongue, and he rules in the hearts of men alone by the Word and by faith. The ears apprehend the Word, the heart believes it; the tongue, however, speaks or confesses that which the heart believes. Hence, barring the tongue and ears, there is no perceptible difference between the Kingdom of Christ and that of the world.

12. For in regard to the outward life a Christian has duties like an unbeliever; he tills the ground, works his fields, and plows just like others, and he undertakes no peculiar work or deed, either in eating, drinking, working, sleeping, or anything else. But these two organs of the body make a difference between a Christian and an unbeliever; a Christian speaks and hears differently; he has a tongue which praises the grace of God and preaches Christ the Lord as being the only Savior, etc. This the world does not do; it speaks of avarice and other vices, preaches and praises its own glory.

13. In like manner the ears of both differ. A Christian’s ears have the same Word which the tongue preaches, and the heart believes; but the world prefers to hear one speak of her wisdom, understanding, honor and glory.

The ears and tongues of Christians are thus different from the ears and tongues of the world, or of unbelievers, caring nought for silver or gold, but only for that which is said of Christ, and how to speak and preach Christ.

Hospitality is the way Christianity was introduced to the world. People took Christ with them when they were invited to the homes of others. They shared Christ through the Word. When they were welcomed, their hosts were welcoming Christ. When they were persecuted, people were persecuting Christ, not them.
What Lutherans have stopped teaching is simple – the Word in its manifestations conveys Christ to people. When they are in the presence of Christ, there is always an effect.

  • Sometimes they are agitated until they study the Word enough to have faith.
  • They may be confused about an issue and find resolution for that problem.
  • Many reject the Word with a host of excuses, but they are rejecting Christ.

Heretics like Rob Bell pare Jesus down to “Love” and try to promote that as the real Christian faith. Many have done that before. But Jesus taught people to believe in Him and remain faithful to the Word.

Popular heretics like Bell seem to be teaching – forget the tree, just have plenty of apples. That seems new and exciting to some, so they flock to hear more.

What the Word brings us is Christ Himself – He is present and active in teaching us what He did then and continues to do now. He is active in teaching us to trust in Him rather than ourselves.

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 Quotations


"Nowhere in the bible is any man constituted or declared righteous without faith, before faith; all asservations and argumentations to the contrary nothwithstanding." 
Lenski, Romans, p. 382? 
Rick Nicholas Curia, The Significant History of the Doctrine of Objective or Universal Justification, Alpine, California: California Pastoral Conference, WELS. January 24-25, 1983. p. 86.

"For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which could not attain ourselves."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #38, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 689.   

"But outside of this Christian Church, where the Gospel is not, there is no forgiveness, as also there can be no holiness [sanctification]. Therefore all who seek and wish to merit holiness [sanctification], not through the Gospel and forgiveness of sin, but by their works, have expelled and severed themselves [from this Church]."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #56, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693.          

"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      

"In like manner Moses must precede and teach people to feel their sins in order that grace may be sweet and welcome to them. Therefore all is in vain, however friendly and lovely Christ may be pictured, if man is not first humbled by a knowledge of himself and he possesses no longing for Christ, as Mary's Song says, 'The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away,' Luke 1:53."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 149. Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 1:53     

"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." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 180. Hebrews 1:1-12; Hebrews 1:3;     

"Christ is speaking here not of the word of the law, but of the Gospel, which is a discourse about Christ, who died for our sins, etc. For God did not wish to impart Christ to the world in any other way; he had to embody him in the Word and thus distributed him, and present him to everybody; otherwise Christ would have existed for himself alone and remained unknown to us; he would have thus died for himself. But since the Word places before us Christ, it thus places us before Him who has triumphed over death, sin, and Satan. Therefore, he who grasps and retains Christ, has thus also eternal deliverance from death. Consequently it is a Word of life, and it is true, that whoever keeps the Word shall never see death." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 177. John 8:46-59. 

"To this incline your ears, and be persuaded that God speaks through men and forgives you your sins; this, of course, requires faith." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 200. "If I do not believe it, I will not receive its benefits; but that neither renders it false nor proves that anything is lacking in Christ." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 258. Mark 16:1-8.         

"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the HS came...." Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279. John 14:23-31.         

"All who are born into the world of man and woman are sinful under God's anger and curse, condemned to death. For all are conceived and born in sin as Scripture testifies (Psalm 51:5): 'Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.'" Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, The House Postils, 3 vols., ed., Eugene Klug, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, II, p. 26. Luke 24:13-35; Psalm 51:5       

"The 'rod of His mouth' signifies the spoken Word or the Gospel, which proceeds from the mouth of all whose teaching is pure. It is not inefficacious; it bears fruit; it justifies the godly and destroys the ungodly." [Footnote F. Pieper, Dogmatics, Word of God has twofold effect. It illumines and blinds. I, p. 125.] Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1469. Isaiah 11:4      

"Christ did indeed suffer for the whole world; but how many are there who believe and cherish this fact? Therefore, although the work of redemption itself has been accomplished, it still cannot help and benefit a man unless he believes it and experiences its saving power in his heart." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 705f.        

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