Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Jesus in Gethsemane, by Norma Boeckler

The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 10 AM Central

The Hymn #536 Awake My Soul 3.28
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 Ephesians 4:1-6
The Gospel Luke 14:1-11
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #36 Now Thank We 3.40

One Church, One Faith

The Hymn #316 O Living Bread 3.45
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 #354 In the Cross 3.84

KJV Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

KJV Luke 14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6 And they could not answer him again to these things. 7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father: We beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not exalt ourselves, but humbly fear Thee, with our whole hearts hear and keep Thy word, and hallow the Lord's day, that we also may be hallowed by Thy word; help us, first, to place our hope and confidence in Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who alone is our righteousness and Redeemer, and, then, so to amend and better our lives in accordance with Thy word, that we may avoid all offenses and finally obtain eternal salvation, through Thy grace in Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God. world without end. Amen.

One Church, One Faith

KJV Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Ephesians is another brief, eloquent epistle from Paul.

This epistle lesson is one the most famous passages in the New Testament.

In this passage, Paul connects the unity of the true Church with doctrine, and doctrine with life.

For many people, church is their congregation, or perhaps their circuit, district, or synod.

When people ask me “What synod are you?” I respond, “So you were raised a Lutheran? Only Lutherans use the term synod.” Non-Lutherans, trying to appear knowledgeable, will say, “Which sin-ODD?”

Those who obsess about statistics and make numbers the priority are far from the spirit of Ephesians.

The true Church is invisible and cannot be numbered. It is comprised of all those who trust in the merits of Christ alone for their salvation. That may include people with no formal church affiliation, although distance from the Means of Grace is not a good sign. They may be secret believers in places we do not expect – among Jews and Unitarians. I know Jewish Christians, one who said “Jesus Priceless Treasure is your best book.” Only a believer could say that. I have to omit other details.

The invisibility of the true Church also means that clergy, theologians, and teachers can be and often are unbelievers. Worst of all, they are apostates, former believers who lost faith in the Scriptures and their Savior but refuse to find work outside of the church or its institutions.

The quote below from Cicero applies perfectly to apostates. Opposition outside the Church makes it stronger. Rot from within weakens the true Church. The sects and divisions must exist, but their existence within has to be faced and addressed.
"An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself... A murderer is less to fear." --Marcus Tullius Cicero
4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord

Paul should have said, a prisoner of Rome. Most would have said that, but he said “the prisoner of the Lord.” In that phrase he expressed his acceptance of all things being God’s will. When the apostates in Missouri were losing the doctrinal battles, they cried persecution, and left eventually to become the radical nucleus of ELCA, where the terms “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” were debated as proper in their constitution!

Paul wrote this letter (and Philemon and Colossians) while a prisoner in Rome, waiting for his appeal to Nero. The emperor had his mother murdered, so the turmoil involving this scandal gave Paul more time to live and work. Nevertheless. It was a source of great grief that the apostle who worked so long in Ephesus was now facing death.

The irony had to be great, because Rome prided itself on toleration of all religions, even building a temple to “All the Gods” – the Pantheon. Luther observed, “They tolerated every god but the one true God – Christ.”

Paul worked in the great city of Ephesus for two years, longer than any other city where he labored. From Ephesus, the mother church, Paul’s pastoral assistants spread the Gospel to other localities. The Gospel spread from Ephesus to almost all of the Asian province (Acts 19:10, 26; 1 Cor. 16:19)

KJV Acts 19:10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

KJV Acts 19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. [Notice how the false teachers worried about their loot in those days, too.]

The Gospel rain moves on. The Ephesians lost their first love, and the mother church became Islamic in time. “Now they have the Turks,” Luther said.

Paul wrote Ephesians as a general letter, not addressing specific doctrinal problems and practical issues. So this little letter is more of a doctrinal summary or meditation – we don’t have to figure out the details of a conflict. For that reason, Ephesians is especially satisfying and inspiring to read.

beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Lenski prefers “admonish” to “beseech,” which sounds like begging. Admonish reminds us that this was more of a farewell letter to a host of people he knew well and valued as fellow believers. His role in converting so many through the Gospel proclamation made him a father to this church and to all the congregations in the province. The spiritual and emotional ties were infinite.

So we can see this phrase as urging them to continue to connect the Gospel with the way they lived their lives. They were surrounded with paganism, just as we are today. People openly support Satanism and the occult, thinking they have found something new. One young woman in an MA class recently said she was raised Methodist but was now interested in Wicca (witchcraft).

worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called – We are called by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

A new attitude has developed. Sin is the same from century to century, but in the past people knew they were in wrong and felt shame and guilt. However, that has changed. People imagine the Gospel means forgiveness in advance, forgiveness without godly contrition, cheap grace, with no connection between doctrine and life. In fact, there is a strong connection. Universalism teaches that everyone is going to heaven, regardless. Universal Objective Justification teaches something quite similar – that everyone is already saved, guilt free, and without sin. The old-fashioned Universalists were rather strict about morality, but that gave way to the natural implications of their creed. The same is true about UOJ, where many people say, “But we don’t mean THAT!” and yet they have united with those who say exactly that, and with hedonists who carry out the implications of already being forgiven without faith.

Paul was dealing with a universal paganism that was rooted in fertility rites and magic. Our rock concerts are the equivalent of the public entertainments of Rome. People have noticed how trendy Christian services, like the recently posted Catholic mass, imitate pagan ceremonies. In fashionable California, a cathedral was dedicated with a host of pagan rituals. That is considered a good trend in mainline churches and ecumenical events. The Gospel for them is all forgiveness or all politics, depending on the situation.

2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

Nothing sets up conflict more than arrogance, pride, demanding rights, and holding grudges. Paul could have said that, but instead he motivated people with Gospel admonitions. Lowliness and meekness are the characteristics of Christ.
KJV Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Long-suffering and forbearance are fruits of the Spirit, which come only from abiding in the Means of Grace.

3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Verse 3 introduces the seven one’s with the theme of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Some think of peace as the absence of conflict, but the New Testament context is peace from forgiveness. With all our faults and weaknesses, our Old Adam always at work, our unity comes from the Spirit at work in the Word. The bond of peace comes from the common need for forgiveness in Christ.

Weak leaders want everyone to believe that unity comes from ignoring scandalous behavior and false doctrine. Therefore, the person who objects to criminal behavior or anti-Christian teaching is the evil-doer, who must be removed at once. Weak leaders identify with the visible Church. They are easy to spot because they say, “I love the ____ synod.” Which Bible teaches us to love an institution and place it above the Word of God. Synod-worship is the great bane of modernism, supplanting our first love with a bad substitute. “We should fear, love, and trust God above all.” – First Commandment.

The Third Commandment teaches us (Large Catechism)

91] For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints or all holy and consecrated garments upon a heap, still that would help us nothing; for all that is a dead thing which can sanctify nobody. But God's Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour, then, God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. 92] Therefore I constantly say that all our life and work must be ordered according to God's Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled.
93] On the contrary, any observance or work that is practised without God's Word is unholy before God, no matter how brilliantly it may shine, even though it be covered with relics, such as the fictitious spiritual orders, which know nothing of God's Word and seek holiness in their own works.
94] Note, therefore, that the force and power of this commandment lies not in the resting, but in the sanctifying, so that to this day belongs a special holy exercise.
And also:
100] For let me tell you this, even though you know it perfectly and be already master in all things, still you are daily in the dominion of the devil, who ceases neither day nor night to steal unawares upon you, to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against the foregoing and all the commandments. Therefore you must always have God's Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle, and the Word does not sound, he breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware. 101] On the other hand, such is the efficacy of the Word, whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but creative, living words. 102] And even though no other interest or necessity impel us, yet this ought to urge every one thereunto, because thereby the devil is put to Right and driven away, and, besides, this commandment is fulfilled, and [this exercise in the Word] is more pleasing to God than any work of hypocrisy, however brilliant.
The Una Sancta – One Holy Apostolic Church

4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

The Book of Concord is written from one perspective only – that there is a single truth revealed in the Scriptures. The Lutheran Reformers were wary of using the plural term “doctrines” because there is just one single unified truth revealed in the Word of God. There are no marbles to be swapped, as if we can give up the Sacraments (an aggie and a steely) to barter for friendship with the Reformed. Because all aspects of this one doctrine are united, the denial of the Real Presence and the efficacy of the Word lead directly to denial of the Two Natures of Christ.

In addition, the Lutheran Reformers and Concordists argued that their position was identical to correct Christian teaching from the earliest days of the Church, including the Patristic Era (Augustine, Jerome) so often ignored by most Protestants today.

As soon as Lutherans wanted to be doctrinal buddies with everyone, they began giving up aspects of the One Truth uniting Christians, so doctrinal discord had to grow when doctrinal concord no longer mattered.

This unity is God-given, coming from the Oneness of the Three Persons—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—and the One Faith revealed in the divine Word of God. Unity does not come from agreeing to set aside differences, but from examining the Word of God and applying what the Holy Spirit reveals to us. The Bible judges all books and the Word discerns everything.

KJV Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

"We have no intention of yielding aught of the eternal, immutable truth of God for the sake of temporal peace, tranquility, and unity (which, moreover, is not in our power to do). Nor would such peace and unity, since it is devised against the truth and for its suppression, have any permanency. Still less are we inclined to adorn and conceal a corruption of the pure doctrine and manifest, condemned errors. But we entertain heartfelt pleasure and love for, and are on our part sincerely inclined and anxious to advance, that unity according to our utmost power, by which His glory remains to God uninjured, nothing of the divine truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to the least error, poor sinners are brought to true, genuine repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience, and thus justified and eternally saved alone through the sole merit of Christ."
Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI. Election. #94-96. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1095. Tappert, p. 632. Heiser, p. 294.

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