Lutheran Worship and Resources

Sunday, November 3, 2013

All Saints Sunday, 2013

All Saints Sunday, 2013
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 371     Jesus Thy Blood                   4:6
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 # 463            For All the Saints                   4:31 

The Beatitudes

The Communion Hymn #305            Soul, Adorn Thyself             4:23 
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 # 657            Beautiful Savior            4:24  

KJV Revelation 7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. 9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

KJV Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.


O almighty and everlasting God, who through Thine only-begotten and beloved Son, Jesus Christ, wilt sanctify all Thine elected and beloved: Give us grace to follow their faith, hope, and charity, that we together with them may obtain eternal life: through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Beatitudes

There are just eight Beatitudes. They are well named because each verse in the original begins with the word for blessed. Many have tried to improve on the KJV wording, but no one has succeeded so far.

One way to emphasize a concept is to begin the sentence with that word. This is what Jesus did in the Beatitudes, so it is odd to have someone improve on them by saying, “The poor in spirit are happy because…”

Naturally, happy is a poor word for blessed. People can say that bearing the cross is a blessing, but no one says that bearing a cross makes them happy. That would be a contradiction, because the cross is always vexing. Otherwise it would be dessert, a prize, a surprise, but not the cross of Christ.

Every year I get to say to one student, “Did you go to a Roman Catholic school?” Usually the student says no. I continue, “You are the type that makes Sister Maria Perpetua say – You are my cross to bear this year.”

The Beatitudes read like a Psalm; μακάριοι at once recalls the blessed of Ps. 1:1. “Blessed!” intoned again and again, sounds like bells of heaven, ringing down into this unblessed world from the cathedral spires of the kingdom inviting all men to enter. The word, like its opposite “woe,” is neither a wish regarding a coming condition, nor a description of a present condition, but a judgment pronounced upon the persons indicated, stating that they must be considered fortunate. The form is almost exclamatory: “O the blessedness of those who,” etc.! And it is Jesus who renders this judgment, which is, therefore, absolutely true although all the world may disagree. Each of the eight judgments is at once established by revealing in what the blessedness actually consists; and the eighth judgment is even doubled, and its blessedness is unveiled in two strong statements. All this blessedness is spiritual, each part of it coming from the great Messianic kingdom, true soul-blessedness, a rich possession now but with a glorious promise of still greater riches—the very opposite of the word’s happiness which is poisoned already in the bud and soon blasted forever. “Blessed” means joy for those concerned. But this is the heavenly way: the great gifts of the kingdom are ours, insuring a constant flow of joy, so that, even if for a moment we be sad and sorrowful, the joy will again well up in our hearts. John 15:11.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 183.

The Sermon on the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes, should give us pause. How important are they? They are the front page of the Sermon, more like the Table of Contents. Each one is succinct and full of meaning.

“The multitudes,” with its Greek article, points back to 4:25, and thus strengthens the inference that the sermon was spoken at the height of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. It was customary for teachers, and for preachers to sit cross-legged while speaking, the hearers assuming the same position. The writer saw a speaker sitting thus on a raised platform in a mosque in Damascus in 1925, another in the mosque of the dervishes in Constantinople, the hearers in each case sitting on the floor. The word disciples means more than pupils or learners, namely those who have learned, who have imbibed their master’s spirit. They may still learn, but what they have already learned is what makes them “disciples.”
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 182.

So we can call the Beatitudes – a Psalm, an Introduction, a Table of Contents for the Gospel of Matthew and for all the Gospels.

It was an innocent mistake to divide the books of the Bible into chapter and verses. More people should denounce that instead of the Internet and computers. Versifying led people into looking at one verse at a time, one part of a verse, and constructing a new philosophy based on that verse alone.

Since the Bible is one unified Truth, versifying is a bad idea. If the cross is found in one part of the Bible, the concept will be found elsewhere too. Therefore, even the worst and densest skeptic  will stop and exclaim things like this, “Paul agrees with John!” or “These words are only found in John’s Gospel, except for one place, where the same wording is found in Matthew.” (No one knows the Father except the Son…)

So the Beatitudes, Jesus’ Psalm, should always be on our minds as that singular expression of His theme of Gospel and grace, the irony of God’s truth pitted against man’s so-called wisdom.

We should see the Beatitudes as our guide in the Christian life. And we also recognize and remember people on All Saints, all the believers who have gone before us.

In our little group, Walter Boeckler, my mother, and Brenda Kiehler were part of getting a congregation, to enjoy traditional Lutheran worship in an age where this was being abandoned.

There are many more in our circles who have passed into eternal life before Bethany Lutheran Church began.

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We can often discern the positive meaning by looking at the negation. The opposite ones are proud, arrogant, boastful, and easily angered. They are the ones who want to rule and oppress others by force. Their might status makes unreceptive to the Law and blind to the Gospel. The Law is something they wield against others. They shout, demand, threaten, and undermine. They know their rights and make sure they get their rights – and then some.

Who are beggarly in spirit? They are the ones who accept what comes to them in the Kingdom of God. Jesus told His disciples to leave everything behind and follow Him. That was a great challenge, to rely on a wandering teacher, but so great was the attraction of His grace that they counted that wealth and left home, family, friends, and self-esteem to wander with Him.

Now we know the sharpness and pain of being out of step with society, which is  no longer Billy Graham President Eisenhower middle of the road friendly to old-fashioned values and Christianity. The opposite is true. I have had many people afraid to say, in a public place, why they left ELCA. We had to draw a sign of a fish on the floor, in a sense, talking around the topic. They are wary, afraid of being attacked for being normal.

And many are freely available to ask to right questions, to pounce, as one religion teacher did when we were waiting for our classes to start. In three questions he knew I was a traditionalist and he was drilling down for more information, more like a prosecutor than someone who wanted to know more.

To be poor in spirit means to receive the Gospel in faith and to receive all that goes with it. As Luther said about the First Commandment, we all have faith. If we have faith in the wrong thing, we worship a false god. But if we fear, love, and trust God above all other things, there are natural blessings for that faithfulness.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Many famous people have mourned without comfort. Sigmund Freud (German for joy) never stopped mourning. A number of Jews have told us, “Christians are much better with grief than we are.”

One of blessings of life is the friendship we have with other believers, and love within our family, but with that comes a lot of loss. Central to the message of the Gospel is eternal life.
We have comfort in mourning, because our time on earth is short while eternity promises us fellowship with all the saints.

Of course, the term saint does not mean in the Bible what it does in common conversation. Saint does not mean a perfect person (dead or alive), although the Catholic mythologies and Synod Conference fables have tried to paint that picture.

In the Bible, the saints (aka the righteous) are those who believe in Christ and are without sin because of His grace received through faith. Everyone who believes in Christ is a saint, and the New Testament addresses them as such – holy – made holy by Christ.

All those who believe in Christ as their Savior are in Christ. They are saints. They are sinful on this earth and yet are forgiven their sins through God’s declaration: justified by faith, not by works.

Apart from Christ, without the Word, this is not true. Apart from Christ, all the greatest works are sinful. No one is forgiven without Christ. No one is declared forgiven without faith.

This second pronouncement is as paradoxical as the first. The verb denotes loud mourning such as the lament for the dead or for a severe, painful loss. The sorrow for our sins in true contrition should not be excluded from this mourning. Do our sins inflict no loss upon us? Do they not rob us of what is dearer than relatives, money, or other goods? Instead of excluding sorrow for sin, this is the chief part of the lament. But, of course, we must include all other grief and sorrow due to the power of sin in the world as this inflicts blows, losses, and pain upon the godly. It includes every wrong done us, as well as every painful consequence of our own wrongdoing. It is almost self-evident that this mourning is not like that of the world which howls loud enough when its sins find it out: “but the sorrow of the world worketh death,” 2 Cor. 7:10.
Behind this sorrow of the godly lies the recognition of the merciless power of sin and of our helplessness to ward it off and to escape. Hence this mourning is a constant cry to God in their distress. The substantivized participle is the present tense and thus characterizes the godly as mourning constantly. As far as contrition is concerned, let us keep in mind the first of Luther’s famous 95 Theses, that our entire life must be a continuous contrition and repentance. As far as other sorrows are concerned, “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22; in fact, all the passages that speak of tribulation belong here. God’s people are, indeed, a mournful lot!
But how can they be called blessed, emphatic αὐτοί, “they, just they,” “they alone”? Because they are the only ones who “shall be consoled.” The passive implies that God is their consoler. And this is a future tense. Chiliasts interpret: “shall be consoled in the glorious earthly Messianic Millennium, when all the forces of evil are crushed, when all the Christians shall at last be triumphant.” Until that time these mourners must remain comfortless save for the prospect of that distant comfort. But Christ says, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” John 14:18; and when he came, we read, “Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord,” John 20:20. No; this chiliastic comfort kingdom is but a mirage. The future tense is future to the mourning: the comfort always at once follows the mourning. Remember the “little while” in John 16:16. The greatest of all comfort is the absolution pronounced upon every contrite mourning sinner. Without this all other comfort is vain. And in tribulation God’s Word, God’s deliverance and help, God’s support, cheer and uplift us as nothing else could so. Finally, God’s promises of future deliverance from all evil in the heavenly kingdom of glory fill us with abounding comfort. As our mourning rises unto God in this vale of sin and tears, so his constant comfort flows down to us. Thus we who mourn are of all men most blessed, for we, indeed, are comforted.
       Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 186.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Psalm 37

King James Version (KJV)
37 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon theLord, they shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
13 The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lordupholdeth the righteous.
18 The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lordshall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for theLord upholdeth him with his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
28 For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
32 The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
34 Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.

One advantage of experience is seeing these things come true. The spiritual tyrants have the greatest and most painful downfalls. I can name many who were princes of their church bodies – many who kicked out of the ministry, some who went to prison, others who were found out for what they were.
No matter what evil people do or try to accomplish, the Holy Spirit is more powerful. He can turn the greatest evil into the greatest good. Man cannot do that.

Having complete trust in God means allowing that this can and does happen all the time, but not according to our plans – only through God’s plans.

Therefore, the believers inherit the earth. Faith gives us heaven and earth and all the blessings of life that matter.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Our greatest longing is for the forgiveness of sin, because guilt eats away and weighs us down. The worst prescriptions for guilt make matters worse, which is why our world groans from all the false religions and fake version of the Christian faith.

The irony is that so many treat every brand as the enemy while dismissing the real theme of the Bible – to teach faith in Christ. I have more in common with those who teach justification by faith than those peacocks who teach against justification by faith and call their unbelief the Chief Article of the Christian Faith.

Jesus promises us that we will be satisfied with forgiveness because of the overabundance of grace distributed by the Holy Spirit in the Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Four Beatitudes look toward God.
Three look toward man.
The last one teaches the Cross.

The agent back of the passive “shall be treated mercifully” is again God, and again the future means at once as we show mercy. In this future tense we ought to see the impossibility of a reference to the hereafter. There will be no misery there and thus no possibility of merciful treatment on the part of God. God first makes us merciful and then even blesses us for being merciful. This beatitude has stimulated God’s people to do all manner of eleemosynary work. It is well known how absolutely bare of even the idea of mercy many heathen religions are. The mercy of unchristian men about us, such as it is, disjoined from Christ, relieving only physical distress, is one of the indirect results of Christianity, never an outgrowth of the natural heart as such. The fearful cruelty which slumbers in the unregenerate heart, when occasion brings it out, is often appalling, and its worst feature is “man’s cruelty to man.”
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 191.

The Gospel has been a powerful force in moving believers to care for their neighbors. That has been shown many times in generous outpourings of aid for disaster victims and even for our enemies. This is multiplied through individuals and families who do the same.

In regions of the country where the Gospel is not believed, helping the neighbor (by whatever definition) is not practiced. Where people believe in Christ, help is prompt and offered without being asked.

Mercy is the fruit of the Gospel, the result of forgiveness.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Ps. 24:4; compare 73:1; Gen. 20:5, 6; and then 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Pet. 1:22, and Zahn’s conclusion is evident: “pure in heart” = sinceritas, singleness of heart, the honesty which has no hidden motive, no selfish interest, and is true and open in all things. Nothing is lost by thus specifying this virtue, for it is possible only in a heart that is justified and sanctified by God.
As the virtue, so the reward of grace: “just they shall see God.” Whatever may be said regarding seeing God in his Word by faith and regarding seeing him spiritually in communion with him in this life, “shall see God” must here be the visio Dei in the other world, promised to the glorified saints, 1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 3:2, 3. Between God who is pure and the pure in heart (the dative as in v. 3) an affinity exists, the consummation of which is reached in heaven. The greatest joy of heaven will be the vision of God. We need not think of looking into the unfathomable essence of God; for as God’s presence delights the angel hosts and fills them with ineffable blessedness, so his presence will be made manifest to the pure in heart. Blessedness will flood them like light in the beatific vision of the All-pure.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 192.

Children exemplify purity of heart, and Jesus commends us to follow their example. Lenski calls it singleness of purpose, something that can only be accomplished by God in justification and sanctification – forgiveness and holiness.

Visio Dei – That is also called the beatific vision. When Stephen was being stoned to death, he looked into heaven and saw what awaited him. When we say the Creed together, we are doing the same, because the echoes of those saints’s voices are in the background of our confession of faith. I always see them in my mind’s eye as I say the Creed. They confessed the true Faith. They suffered and died for this truth.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Compare Eph. 4:3; Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 14:33; Heb. 12:14; etc. At peace with God and thus themselves filled with sweet peace, they live in peace, if possible, with all men and work to keep and to make peace wherever peace is threatened or lost. Theirs is the work of true Christians who follow in the footsteps of the Prince of Peace. Nor is this “peace at any price,” which ignores confessional principles and is unwilling to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). These are not unionistic peacemakers who combine contrary doctrines by agreeing to disagree. Truth of God comes first, peace with men second. Friends are dear, the Word of our greatest Friend dearest. No “blessed” was spoken by Jesus upon the disrupters of the church who insist on their false views, nor upon those who regard the peace and the fellowship of their brother-confessors as being of slight value, so that they may run after other fellowships. The true peace of the church is a blessed possession, we cannot guard it too closely. Contentious, stubborn, obstreperous church members—this beatitude ought to make them impossible. Also in the world, wherever strife arises, the followers of Christ work for peace in the spirit of their Master.
The passive “shall be called” implies “by God,” for he alone can bestow the title “God’s sons” in truth and in reality. Here, too, the future tense means that God shall call them his sons now when they prove their relation to him by their peacemaking. Chiliasts again think of their future mirage kingdom, and others of the world to come. “God’s sons, shall they be called; the title is not “children.” The latter carries rather the connotation of tender affection, the former that of dignity and high standing. Hence also “they shall be called” God’s sons; this high distinction shall be accorded to them, and by God himself. God himself shall own them as sons of his. He who sent his Son to make peace between God and man will acknowledge as his sons those who in the spirit of his Son also make peace.
[1]Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 193.

One way to interpret this is through forgiveness. Peacemakers forgive, and that causes peace. That means overlooking one another’s faults and those conflicts that come from living and working together. “A soft answer turns away wrath.”

This is commonly misunderstood as covering up doctrinal differences, as Luther and Lenski observed. Instead people shun others for irritating them or not belonging to the right in-group. We should tolerate the faults of others, since we have so many ourselves, but there is no forgiveness for false doctrine. It must be identified and conquered before a minor point becomes the central dogma of the group.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The capstone of the Beatitudes is this declaration of the cross. A similar expression can be seen in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where the Christ figure uses both oil and wine on the wounds. The oil is the comfort of the Gospel and the wine is the sharpness of the cross that follows.

“No cross, no crown” is the motto found in many European churches. They also have a crown around the cross, which reminds us of the teaching of Christ and the example of the first Christian martyr – Stephen (crown in Greek).

The Word and the Cross

"Patient continuance is so altogether necessary that no work can be good in which patient continuance is lacking. The world is so utterly perverse and Satan is so heinously wicked that he cannot allow any good work to be done, but he must persecute it. However, in this very way God, in His wonderful wisdom, proves what work is good and pleasing to Him. Here the rule holds: As long as we do good and for our good do not encounter contradiction, hatred, and all manner of disagreeable and disadvantageous things, so we must fear that our good work as yet is not pleasing to God; for just so long it is not yet done with patient continuance. But when our good work is followed by persecution, let us rejoice and firmly believe that it is pleasing to God; indeed, then let us be assured that it comes from God, for whatever is of God is bound to be crucified by the world. As long as it does not bring the cross, that is, as long as it does not bring shame and contempt as we patiently continue in it, it cannot be esteemed as a divine work since even the Son of God was not free from it—(suffering for the sake of the good He did)—but left us an example in this. He Himself tells us in Matthew 5:10, 12: 'Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake... Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.'"
Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, Romans 2:6-10, trans. J. Theodore Mueller, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976, p. 55.

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