Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jubilate - The Third Sunday after Easter

Jesus commended a child-like faith:
art by Norma Boeckler.

Jubilate, The Third Sunday after Easter

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

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
The Gospel
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
Because They Do Not Believe
The Communion Hymn # 354 In the Cross 3.84
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 # 195 (Luther) Christ Jesus 1:46

Lord God, heavenly Father, who of Thy fatherly goodness dost suffer Thy children to come under Thy chastening rod here on earth, that we may be like unto Thine only-begotten Son in suffering and hereafter in glory: We beseech Thee, comfort us in temptations and afflictions by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not fall into despair, but that we may continually trust in Thy Son's promise, that our trials will endure but a little while, and will then be followed by eternal joy; that we thus, in patient hope, may overcome all evil, and at last obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV 1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

KJV John 16:16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. 17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? 18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. 19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. 21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. 22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. 23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

To Convict the World of Sin, Because They Do Not Believe

KJV John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

The text for today is taken from the historic lesson for next week, because I glanced at another website and forgot they were using the Vatican order (3-year lectionary), which mixes things around. John 16 is a chapter worthy of considerable study, because it is Jesus’ farewell sermon and contains so much for us to know.

The work of the Holy Spirit (that is, the Word) is three-fold:
1. To convict the world of sin.
2. Of righteousness.
3. And judgment.

Whenever we speak of the work of the Holy Spirit, it is the work of the Word of God. And the reverse is also true. The Word of God is always the work of the Holy Spirit, no matter how we might be tempted to judge it.

Some say, “Do not speak so sharply about doctrine, because it makes people upset and unhappy.” But that is the work of the Holy Spirit – convicting them of sin, because they do not believe.

Verse 8 is the most upsetting of all verses in the New Testament, for two reasons.

One is the definition of sin for most people. Our first thought is the Prodigal Son, who wasted all his money on slow horses and fast women. We think of carnal sin and all the vices of the world. Most people think of sin this way because it is the primary definition in the minds of all people. That is also why they think the opposite of sin, or the cure for sin, is virtue and good works.

The second reason this upsets is that constant war against faith being waged by the stormtroopers of the Synodical Conference. Borrowing from Calvinism via Pietism, they imagine that everyone is already forgiven, without the Holy Spirit working through the Word, that salvation is believing we are already forgiven, while repudiating faith in an odd sort of way.

No matter how much we know as believers, we still go back to the world’s definition of sin. That is also why we spend so much time justifying ourselves instead of relying on the justification promised by and given by the Word of God.

To understand this properly we need to return to Luther’s concept of the Bible, which was the result of his spiritual agony, his extensive training, and his duties in lecturing on the Bible.
Luther, as a monk, thought battling sin meant confessing his sins for hours, ruining his health, torturing himself with physical pain of various types. The more he did this, the more he less he felt in control of sin. He knew the mental battle was the greatest of all. As he said in one sermon, someone can be tied up and incapable of doing anything, yet sin inwardly. Physical restraint is no cure. Nor is total fear of the consequences. If someone refrains from sin from fear, that is not conquering sin at all. Take away the fear and the impulse remains.

Because we all have a general knowledge of sin and a default attitude of paying for sin by ourselves, the Biblical solution must be different. God’s ways are not man’s ways, and God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts.

The basis for all sin is lack of faith in Christ. The Gospel alone conquers sin, so the lack of Gospel from a lack of faith is the cause of sin.

I contend that the teaching of UOJ in WELS, the ELS, Missouri, and the CLC (sic) has had catastrophic consequences for the clergy. Most laity do not grasp the false doctrine of UOJ because it is so self-contradictory. However, the clergy get UOJ left and right and know they cannot openly oppose it. For the spiritually lazy, it is wonderful, because it justifies anything they do, whether it means addiction to alcohol, drugs, adultery, or false doctrine. Under UOJ, unionism is meaningless and there is no room for the category of false doctrine (except “denying UOJ” which is condemned with fury).

The larger problem of a lack of faith in Christ comes from impatience with His results, which are never enough for us, and the experience of the cross.

Impatience with results will always lead us to doubt God’s Word and His goodness. Clergy get that experience because everything leading up to the first call is usually positive. Isn’t it wonderful is a common phrase. The vicar is almost always in a large congregation and never faces the real action. He is ordained and gets some gifts, his first real dwelling, to be shared with his shepherdess, and then it all starts. It is the bad side of teaching and preaching the Word. One member will be furious because a single announcement was overlooked.

As someone said, the actions of one person can color one’s perception of the whole group. Reaction against sound doctrine is much stronger than support of sound doctrine. That leads the clergy into ways of creating happy campers, as one Church Growth leader said, and the road to apostasy follows, especially since Satan rewards apostates to keep them in the fold.

No one looks at the last act of the apostate. Robert Schuller was the man to emulate for decades. Now various businesses are suing his church for unpaid bills. I have seen unpaid bills in a church before, but never so bad that lawsuits were filed to collect. That shows where the Power of Positive Thinking leaders. But others will follow younger, more radical wolf-shepherds and forget about old Schuller, yesterday’s news.

More importantly, people fail to grasp the Gospel when they think their battle against sin is one of works and virtue. The Law has no power to conquer sin. The Law can only convict us of our sin and stir up sin. A perfect Law sermon is this “You know why we are not growing? You are not friendly enough! We need a program of friendliness to make people want to join our church.”

That kind of Law sermon will make people upset at their unfriendly neighbors and induce people to engage in a works-program of friendliness.

All the self-improvement and addiction programs are based on works and virtue.

Fruits of Christianity come from faith in Christ. Faith in Christ comes from remaining with the Means of Grace. A forgiven Christian is motivated by love, God’s love. The Gospel alone has to power to conquer sin because believers receive the righteousness of Christ and enjoy that energy, that leaven in their lives.

I use the term energy because it is a pun on the Greek word expressing God’s Word “at work” or effective in the lives of believers. Paul and Christ warned against the bad leaven of the Pharisees but commended the constantly growing leaven of the Gospel.

As Luther said, and we read in the Confessions, the Gospel continues to work in us to make us more loving, more patient, more generous.

The unforgiven person rages against sin because he never knows how to be forgiven. The UOJ parson is in the same fix, because his solution is anti-Biblical rather than God-pleasing.

Not believing in Christ is a sin. Faith in Christ means receiving all His benefits.

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