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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Third Sunday in Advent.

The Third Sunday in Advent, 2013

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 8 Father Who the Light            2. 20
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 #76 A Great and Mighty Wonder            2.2  

Stewards of Mysteries Revealed Only by Faith

The Hymn # 77:1-8 All My Heart               2.25
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 # 77:9-15            All My Heart               2.25

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

KJV Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. 7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Third Sunday In Advent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst suffer Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to become man, and to come into the world, that He might destroy the works of the devil, deliver us poor offenders from sin and death, and give us everlasting life: We beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may seek no other refuge than His word, and thus avoid all offense to which, by nature, we are inclined, in order that we may always be found among the faithful followers of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Stewards of Mysteries Revealed Only by Faith
KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

As Luther pointed out, and everyone knows, the Corinthians were divided into factions, lining up according to the men they followed. Nothing reveals conflict more than this manner of settling doctrinal problems. We can see that today when people line up according to this man or that man, taking turns attacking each man. It reminds me of John 9 and the Keystone Kops, chasing around foolishly.

Paul addressed this problem with great eloquence and simplicity, giving us the greatest possible treatment of the ministry – which is why it is so widely ignored today.

This word “account” is an interesting one. It could be translated as “reckon” and we usually associate it with justification by faith. Abraham believed and it was accounted as righteousness (Gen 15, Romans 4, Galatians).

So this is a job evaluation. If any human being wants to be give a job evaluation of Paul and the apostles – we are ministers (servants) of Christ and stewards (managers) of the mysteries of God.

This one sentence condenses all we need to know about how the Christian Church works in its gracious operation.

Paul is clearly arguing against the wrong definition implied by these words. Is he popular? Are his numbers good? Is everything running smoothly? Are they changing so they do not die, as the popular apostates teach (to loud applause).

His job evaluation cannot be done by people and he awaits the only possible one, done by God alone.

Minister means servant, so Paul is a servant of Christ – as all the apostles were. This is the opposite of being the servant of people, or as the pope calls himself, Servant of the Servants of God. That is why he is infallible.

Stewards of the mysteries of God contains the most important phrase of all. Luther did not know how he could translate the term mysterion, so he left it the same in German, as we do in English.

Secrets could be another term used. Each synonym has other associations, so we have to look at what it means. The mysteries are articles of faith, known only to believers. A non-believer may know the term Holy Trinity and define it, but it remains a mystery until he believes it. This happens through the Holy Spirit’s power in the Word.

If someone wants to look at the popular claim that the Trinity does not appear in the Bible, he only needs to study those passages where the Divine is spoken of in groups of three, from the Aaronic benediction in Numbers 6 to Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts (Isaiah 6:3). Add to that the man Father/Son references and the Spirit’s role in witnessing. Use a computer t find Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within two verses – the Trinity is all over the New Testament and begins at Genesis 1.

The arguments against this shorthand term (Trinity) are lame when confronted by faith and knowledge. Trinity itself as a term is not found in the Bible, since it was first used about 500 years after Christ. But the Trinity is there in the Scriptures. One must be blind not to see it – and that is a clue. One can read the verses all day and become more blind to the mysteries because of a proud arrogance judging the Word of God as one more religious book.

The job description of the minister of Christ is to teach the mysteries of faith and nothing more. Apart from teaching and preaching and take the Word to others in visitation and evangelism, a minister has no other task to accomplish.

Holy Spirit work is Word work. If it is not Word work, it does not belong to God but to man. So there is a clamor to have so much of man’s work that there is no time or energy left for God.
Man’s wisdom excludes God’s wisdom in the church, and vice versa. Studies show, as Fuller Seminary likes to say, that studies prove nothing and only serve to blind more people to the truth of the Word.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Steward simply means manager. In an estate he was the chief servant who ran the estate for the owner. In Europe, the stewards were those who sat on the throne until the prince came of age, so he could rule. In various applications the steward has great power, but it is subordinated to the master, so it is required that a steward be faithful in his duties.

Faithful does not mean successful in man’s terms, but in God’s terms. Staying out of prison would be a good thing for most church organizations, but John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress) did more in prison than most evangelists do in a lifetime – and his work continues today in teaching the Word of God, justification by faith apart from the works of the Law.

What counts today is conformity to the structure of the organization. The agenda keeps changing but the conformity mandate does not. One criterion (reckoning) excludes the other. To be judged faithful to the synod is to be unfaithful to the Word of God.

When the poor, innocent, and helpless are attacked and used by clergy perverts, the synod says, “Erase the evidence, because the lawsuit will cost us $10 million.” When I pointed out that one such lawsuit cost $40 million, an advocate for UOJ called me a liar because he did not know such a thing to be true. So I provided the evidence that ELCA did this and faced the judgment for their evil judgment in ordaining a known predator against boys.

These evils continue because men are not faithful to the Word but to the synod that rewards them for infidelity.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Many things are coming to light already, but far more will be known, revealed in Judgment. Those who enjoyed rich benefits and benefices for their denominational loyalty will be exposed, their homes and BMWs no more comfort to them.

We hear all the time about what recent professors said, but what did Luther say about this crucial passage?

11. Their claim that in addition to the teachings of Christ, the commandments of the Church may be taught and they intimate that their teachings are the doctrines of the Church is of no significance. Paul’s teaching here continues to stand, that the Church belongs neither to Peter nor Paul, but to Christ only, and acknowledges none but the servants or ministers of Christ. You see, then, the blasphemy of the Pope in crying obedience to his doctrines as the road to salvation, and disobedience to them the road to damnation. Paul here makes obedience to these things a work of the devil; as he does also in 1 Timothy 4:1-3: “But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth.” And Christ says: “My sheep hear my voice, and a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers. I know mine own, and mine own know me.” John 10:5-14.

18. So, then, the mysteries of God are simply the blessings in Christ as preached through the Gospel and apprehended and retained by faith alone.

Paul says relative to the matter, speaking on how men should behave themselves in the house of God: “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; he who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16. This is spoken of Christ, who was manifest in the flesh. He dwelt among men who had flesh and blood like himself, yet he was still a mystery. That he was Christ, the Son of God, the life, the way, the truth and all good, was hidden.

19. Yet he was “justified in the Spirit;” that is, through the Spirit’s influence believers received, acknowledged and retained him as all we have mentioned. “To justify” means simply to pronounce just, or at least to admit as just; as we have in Luke 7:29: “All the people when they heard, and the publicans, justified God.” Again, in Psalm 51:4: “That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest.” This is equivalent to saying:

The believer in Christ justifies him, and acknowledges the truth that Christ alone is our life and righteousness and wisdom, and that we are sinners, condemned and perishing. For such Christ is, and such is his claim. He who acknowledges this his claim justifies him in the Spirit; but he who does not justify him relies upon his own works; he does not see himself condemned but contends against and condemns Christ. [This justification of Christ is effected by no one unless he possesses the Holy Spirit, whose work alone it is. Flesh and blood cannot do it, even if it be publicly presented to our eyes and preached into our ears.]

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