Sunday, February 21, 2010

Invocavit - The First Sunday in Lent

By Norma Boeckler

Invocavit Sunday, The First Sunday in Lent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn #148 Lord Jesus Christ 3:61
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 # 146 Lamb of God 3:62

Doing and Believing – The Difference

The Hymn # 153 Stricken Smitten 3:63
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 # 154 Alas and Did My Savior 3:14

KJV 2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

First Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, inasmuch as the adversary doth continually afflict us, and as a roaring lion doth walk about, seeking to devour us: We beseech Thee for the sake of the suffering and death of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to help us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and to strengthen our hearts by Thy word, that our enemy may not prevail over us, but that we may evermore abide in Thy grace, and be preserved unto everlasting life; 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.

Doing and Believing – The Difference
The three-fold temptation of Jesus shows Him to be truly man, subject to all our trials, and true God, having the will and power to withstand all temptation without sinning.

Jesus’ trials began immediately after He was baptized by John in the river Jordan.

This is a parallel to the life of the ordinary Christian believer. Our temptations begin after God has planted faith in our hearts. As one person told me, “I was never tempted before I became a Christian. I did whatever I wanted.”

Jesus fasted in the desert and Satan sought to capture Him. As Luther saw so clearly, Satan pursued the Chosen People from the moment God predicted that Someone would arise who would crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). The prophet foretold that this would not happen until a non-Jew was on the throne of David.

By that time, as Luther said, nothing was left of Israel except a stump. It was occupied territory, ruled by pagans, taxed to death, humiliated in every possible way.

The Savior was revealed at the Baptism of Jesus and Satan went to work, returning later at His crucifixion, the final act of Satan’s drama.

First Temptation
During the temptation of Jesus, Satan made three different offers. The first one was to have Jesus prove His divinity by changing stones into bread. During a fast in the desert, every round stone would look tempting. The same temptations are offered today – take care of yourself. Many feel triumphant when they do that. From clergy to well known frauds, there is a great deal of smugness in getting away with it and reminding others of the successful strategies of greed, malice, and trickery.

Jesus responded with the Word,

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

This is a statement which includes a direct reference to Isaiah 55:

KJV Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

This is a great reminder that the Word, going out from God (since it belongs to Him alone) is our life – we live by it – and the sole cause for accomplishing God’s will.

I see books about Bernie Madoff in the bookstores. For many years, people knew he was crooked. Yet they gathered billions of dollars from investors, promising them impossible investment returns, and lived high and mighty. When the schemes came crashing down, as they had to, the same money men were filled with despair and some gave up their lives. They lived on falsehoods and died in shame, turning stones into bread but realizing at last they were just stones after all.

Every generation has its fraudulent churches, which glory in their material success. Visit any urban area and you will see these monuments, neo-gothic splendors maintained with endowments and almost empty. They have lost their grip of God’s Word and comfort themselves with spending the interest from their funds. A lot of money must be spent to tuck-point the brickwork, clean the curtains, and send the clergy to more conferences.

On an individual basis, many have gone into an easy form of crime to turn their life of want into luxury, only to discover that this led them to the hoosegow. There are always those temporary lulls where all the schemes seem to be working. One coke dealer (and I do not mean soda pop) took every precaution, even to the point of avoiding areas where he could be hurt or arrested. Nevertheless, while sunning himself on the beach, he saw men with sub-machine guns descending from ladders on helicopters, all running toward him at once. They were federal agents who were drawn to his cause by his very success in getting away with it.

Jesus was asked to trust in His own devices, and He had the power to do so. But He quoted God’s Word instead. When we think we can solve our own difficulties, with our own cleverness, we are saying, “I trust in me, but not in God’s Word.”

Second Temptation
In the second temptation, Satan urged Jesus to throw himself from the highest point of the Temple, so that angels would take care of Him, as promised in the Word.

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Tempting God has become a major trend among American churches. For instance, I saw this notice in an Episcopalian church and similar ones published all over: “We have prayed that God will increase our membership by 10% per year in the next three years.” There are many variations on that, but they all concern man telling God what to do and when to do it, combined with some sort of deal about what man will do, such as organizing and spending to make this happen. It is a business plan for churches and it has not worked for most of them. The one with the earliest success, Garden Grove (Schuller’s) is floundering and failing, trying to sell off assets to survive. Schuller claimed, “I started the Church Growth Movement.”

On an individual basis, people tempt God by demanding He take action according to their dictates and time schedules. This is also tempting God, putting Him on trial. “I will believe in you if You obey me.” If God obeyed man, He would not be God. Many pagan religions are based upon deals with idols. Feed the idol incense or human sacrifice and he will perform miracles.

Herman Melville, the free-thinker, made fun of this in Moby Dick. These false teachers do not appreciate how much they feed the fires of atheism until they become part of that everlasting furnace themselves. In the name of salvation, they pull others down with themselves.

Third Temptation
Satan took Jesus to the highest mountain, so He could see the vast power He would have if He only bowed down to worship Satan. Jesus responded with the Word:

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

In one course I teach, we look at Billy Graham versus his partner in the Evangelical Church, Templeton. As I mentioned before, Templeton went from being the most influential minister in Toronto to being an outright atheist. I was interested in Templeton’s version of all this. He was dazzled by the intellectuals at Princeton, and he felt that Christianity had to conform itself to the rationalistic demands of the world. He never got over his anger than Graham failed to go through the same brain-washing.

If Templeton had searched among faithful teachers, he would have realized that rationalism is the final step of Calvinism. Princeton broke with the old ways, so the conservatives marched off. All of Templeton’s questions could have been addressed by the great scholars of the Lutheran Church – Chemntiz, Chytraeus, Luther. Instead he was fed mush and he found it distasteful.

One of the Fuller boys had to have a Princeton degree too – C. Peter Wagner. That did not make him any better either. Lutherans have failed to create their own universities. Instead they have parochial schools and long for the prestige of old, large apostate universities.

The cross individuals must bear is the disapproval of the world, which is always eager to witness to its lack of faith. The fallen-away are the worst of these.

Conclusion from Temptations
There is a crucial difference between Biblical Christianity and Pietism/Romanism/Eastern Orthodox.

Most people follow the wrong path and define Christianity by issues of doing, not believing.

When Evangelicals and Catholics talk, they give this away by describing their lives by what they do.
An Evangelical will talk about not watching TV or the movies, about avoiding the wrong kinds of dress. Christianity is bound up with the act of praying.

A Roman Catholic will speak about Mass, the peak being daily Mass.

So the ultimate criticism of Christianity, people imagine, is “How can you do that if you call yourself a Christian?” Manipulation is easy, “How can you NOT help out if you call yourself a Christian?”

A definition based on doing will always lead to Pietism and then to rationalism, because we should all do good things together, no matter what we believe – they say. Thus the Word of God is obsolete.

In contrast, Jesus’ answers were all directly connected with believing the Word of God.

Christians are not condemned for being sinners, because all of us remain in that state.

Believing in the Word of God means we can fight against temptation with the Word rather than our dubious virtue. We are weak and frail, bound to fall many times over. We may suffer the same temptation for decades and continue to battle it. The Gospel of forgiveness is the only power that can defeat sin, first through justification by faith, secondly with the fruits of the Spirit.

John Bunyan was a perfect example. He was the most obnoxious cursing and blaspheming man in the area. The Gospel tamed him and he became a local wonder, an example of the power of the Word. He immersed himself in Luther and taught the difference between Law and Gospel.

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