Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity

The Trinity, by Norma Boeckler

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #142 A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining 1:21
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 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
The Gospel Luke 19:41-48
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #236 Creator Spirit 1:9

The Holy Spirit and the Word

The Hymn #479 Zion Rise 2:13
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 #264 Preserve Thy Word 2:55

KJV 1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

KJV Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. 45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; 46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. 47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, 48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

Tenth Sunday After Trinity
Almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy Holy Ghost hast revealed unto us the gospel of Thy Son, Jesus Christ: We beseech Thee so to quicken our hearts that we may sincerely receive Thy word, and not make light of it, or hear it without fruit, as did Thy people, the unbelieving Jews, but that we may fear Thee and daily grow in faith in Thy mercy, and finally obtain eternal salvation, 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 Holy Spirit and the Word
Fortunately for us, Corinth had a lot of problems, and Paul addressed them in his two epistles.

This particular problem involved their false understanding of the Holy Spirit.

First, I will restate what the Scriptures and Confessions teach about the Word and the Holy Spirit.
I. God’s Word is never separated from the Holy Spirit, so the Word always has a divine effect. Exactly how God works through the Word remains a mystery. One person may hear the Word of God and snicker about it for years, but find himself converted to faith in Christ in moments. Another person is baptized as a baby, taught the Gospel by his parents, and grows in understanding of the Christian faith.

II. Isaiah 55 teaches that God’s Word is always effective, so anything we say or do contrary to that teaching is false doctrine. There are many other passages teaching the same effectiveness, using different words. Hebrews 4 is another.

III. The word-group for effective is prominent in the New Testament, but this area has been neglected by all the modern scholars. Hardly anything is in print about the foundational concept of the Christian faith. Believers and those just beginning should be pointed to the Scriptures with a firm conviction that the Word is never without the Spirit and the Spirit is never without the Word.

IV. Separating the Holy Spirit and the Word is called Enthusiasm. Just as the efficacy of the Word is foundational for the Christian faith, Enthusiasm is the basis for all false doctrine, including the pagan religions of the world. Enthusiasm is repeatedly condemned by Luther and the Concordists in the Book of Concord.

Clearly some in Corinth were parading their supposed gifts of the Holy Spirit and holding themselves superior to the others. In addition, this led to a defense of ecstatic worship and anything coming from that as “from the Holy Spirit.” The typical believer was scorned while the Enthusiasts thought it proper to say “Jesus be cursed” in moments of ecstasy in worship.

Modern equivalents are the Pentecostal movement and the mainline version, the charismatic movement (where Pentecostals in faith stay within their denominations). One of the best descriptions of Pentecostalism came from a construction worker who said to his wife and later to me, “I know all about speaking in tongues, dancing in the spirit, and being slain in the spirit – that is how they worship the devil in Africa.” Ecstatic religions are not just from Africa. Fertility rites and sacred prostitution are part of ecstatic religions. But Pentecostalism came to America from Africa. It is not a racial weakness either. Blacks who grew up in liturgical Lutheran or Roman Catholic churches are quite scornful of putting on a show. I have talked to several who thought the noise and dancing were displays of entertainment, not worship.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

This is very important to understand in the negative (first part) and the positive (second part).

Part One, 1 Corinthians 12:3
False doctrine and blasphemy do not come from the Holy Spirit. In modern terms, our feelings do not verify the doctrine. Nothing trumps the teaching of God’s Word. The nice guy argument, and “he’s my friend” and “I drank a lot of beer with him at seminary” – all are irrelevant. Also, there is no Holy Mother Synod in the Bible. There is no institution to be defended because the only criterion is the Word of God, which judges and rules over everything. The Scriptures are the ruling norm of faith and conduct.

Part Two
Faith is the result of the Holy Spirit working through the Word. Therefore, anyone who says “Jesus is Lord” has been converted by the Word and shows the work of the Holy Spirit. (Some offer false confessions, as denounced by Jesus in Matthew 7:15ff, but Paul is talking about sincere faith here.)

Believers Glorify God
The Word of God and Lutheran authors have a lot to say about believers. Echoing Paul, they write that everything done in faith glorifies God, whether it is a baby soiling himself (Luther) or people going about their ordinary work. I find it strange when Lutheran clergy try to hold themselves above others, as if they have a greater portion of the Holy Spirit. They have the added burden of being held accountable for their stewardship of the mysteries (doctrines) of God.

Pastor’s Comment on UOJ
A WELS pastor phoned me, catching up on various things. He was struck—in a negative way—about the recent NPH book on being a Lutheran. The author (clearly a Shrinker, in my opinion) spends all his time on justification without faith and no time on the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. The pastor was confirming what Luther said about false doctrine supplanting sound doctrine. False doctrine is a weed that looks like sound doctrine, but it is sterile and useless. Many times in gardening I saw evidence of the slogan that “every good plant has a weed that looks like it.” I planted corn once and never realized the birds ate all my seed. I saw alleged corn plants growing where I turned over the soil and I rejoiced. I had lots of sun (Columbus) and plenty of rain. Soon I had a 8 foot stand of weeds growing – not one stalk of corn.

The Creating Word
Our trip to Los Angeles reminded me again of the power of God’s Creation. The scenery near the ocean is spectacular. The current theory is that continental drift led to land smashing against the coast. I am not qualified to say, but I wonder of the drifting took place suddenly during the time of the Genesis Flood. Regardless of how or when it happened, clearly God created our entire universe through the Word. “Nothing was created apart from Him.” (John 1)

The more I see of our Southwest, the more apparent the Genesis Flood is – especially when looking at the Grand Canyon, scoured out by the racing of gravel, stones, and boulders in a torrent of water.

There is a direct connection between the Creation and believers. Paul calls all believers “new creations,” rather than “new decisions.” The Word is so powerful that the Gospel creates faith and sustains faith.

That knowledge of God’s Word keeps us from despairing about our failings, which are many, and bragging about our accomplishments, which are few. Though the Gospel received in faith, we are declared innocent because of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross. As one pastor said in rejecting UOJ – “There’s the Atonement and faith in the Atonement. Don’t throw in a bunch of stuff I can’t find in the Bible.”

As we can see in the Holy Spirit and the Word, the two are never separated, but they are not the same. Also, the Atonement and justification go together, but they are different. The Atonement is Christ’s one-time sacrifice for the sins of the world. Pronouncing an individual innocent (justified) is another work of God, not to be confused with the Atonement. The Atonement remains true even if no one ever believed it. But the Atonement is not justification. The Atonement is not a declaration of the whole world being innocent and guilt-free. God has provided Gospel teachers to distributed this treasure to individuals through the Word and sacraments. Babies are too young to be taught sanctification and the non-reciprocity of the second genus, so God places faith in their hearts with the Holy Spirit working with the Word in infant baptism. Their faith is genuine because they do not have the skill of adults in rationalizing away the mysteries of God. Infants grow in understanding and learn to hold fast to the doctrine of the Word.

Everything accomplished in the true Church is done by the Holy Spirit, and all work of the Holy Spirit is the effective work of the Word. Those who seek an abundance of the fruits of the Spirit will find that coming from an abundance of the Word. Anything else is sowing sparingly (mixing in man’s wisdom) and therefore reaping sparingly.

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