Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cantate, The Fourth Sunday after Easter

Cover by Norma Boeckler

Cantate, The Fourth Sunday after Easter

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 199 Jesus Christ is Risen Today 1:83
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 # 262 A Mighty Fortress 1:86

Three-fold Work of the Word and Holy Spirit

The Communion Hymn #308 Invited Lord 1:63
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 #187 Christ Is Arisen 1:45

Fourth Sunday After Easter
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst through Thy Son promise us Thy Holy Spirit, that He should convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: We beseech Thee, enlighten our hearts, that we may confess our sins, through faith in Christ obtain everlasting righteousness, and in all our trials and temptations retain this consolation, that Christ is Lord over the devil and death, and all things, and that He will graciously deliver us out of all our afflictions, and make us forever partakers of 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 James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

KJV John 16:5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 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. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Three-fold Work of the Word and Holy Spirit

In this parting sermon, Jesus promises once again to bind the Holy Spirit to His Means of Grace.

Naturally, the Bible is God’s revealed Word, so it is not a doctrinal textbook. That is why we do not have an orderly, library-like catalogue, but a unified revelation of truth, each part reflecting upon another part.

If we look at this part alone, we find all we need to know about the error of Enthusiasm, which separates the Holy Spirit from the Word.

Jesus sends the Holy Spirit.
First, we find Jesus saying that He will send the Holy Spirit.

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

This can only mean one thing – By the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

The Word of God refers both to the Scriptures and to faithful teaching and preaching. Besides this, God uses the liturgy, Creeds, and hymns to teach His Word.

God has made sure that there will be faithful pastors to study His Word, preach and teach it. The condition of a call is that the minister do this. All Lutheran pastors (in the past, at least) were read the appropriate passages from the epistles about the work of a called shepherd. So, even if a denomination is on the far edge of apostasy, the minister is obliged to be faithful to God’s Word and not the denomination’s embrace of a recent fad, whether it is social activism, socialism, or homosexual ordination and marriages.

A Lutheran minister may not teach Reformed doctrine, even if it is all the rage. He may not teach Pentecostalism or Roman Catholicism in any form, overt, covert or demi-semi-covert. He is not allowed, according to his promises, to teach what is popular at the moment instead of the content of the Word and the Confessions. That also means he must be studious with the Word and sound doctrine, and eager to apply this faithfully, such as calling on the sick and shut-in, visiting mission prospects, and carrying out a regular visitation of members.

The cross is always found with the Word, so a pastor is also obliged to bear the cross and teach it as well. In Europe, they used to tell the laity – no cross, no crown.

Not trusting the Holy Spirit in the Word, but trusting man’s word instead – that is clearly blasphemy. That is saying to God, “Thank you for the church and the office of the ministry, but I have to follow what the marketing people say. Thou art good up to a point, but Thou goest too far.”

And yet that sentiment, so often expressed, is exactly the opposite of the Epistle for today –

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

The Three-fold Work of the Holy Spirit Through the Word
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

I have to confess – I look this text up in Lenski every year, because the formulation is different and I want to give it justice. That is the point of repeating the lessons, so the minister and members have a deeper knowledge of the same texts.

Some people are converted from reading the Scriptures, but the Church is mainly a mouth-church, as Luther said. People become believers chiefly through preaching and teaching. Babies also become believers through the spoken Word – at their baptisms.

9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

All world religions and all false doctrine have this in common – they oppose sin with virtue. They identify sin with the law and think they can defeat sin with the law. The Emerging Churches also fall into that error, as if an x-ray that reveals a broken bone can also be used to heal that broken bone.

Jesus says sin is not having faith in Him. Most people have a concept of sin, but they do not know how to defeat temptation and sin until they hear the Gospel. The Gospel is forgiveness, and faith is justification.

Faith is not virtue but trust in God’s mercy, which is conveyed through the Gospel Promises. From faith and the Means of Grace will come the fruits of the Spirit. Another way to say this is – If you are diligent in hearing the Gospel and participating in Holy Communion, the Gospel will bear fruit in your life through the work of the Holy Spirit.
As one ancient writer said, “If the hem of the garment of Jesus can heal a woman, how much more will His body and blood heal us?”

The unforgiven person runs from God, but the person justified by faith loves God’s forgiveness in Christ. Although the Law has value apart from the Gospel (in guiding the nations of the world and showing us our sin) the Law cannot make us serve God willingly. That would be the equivalent of someone ordering everyone to be friendly. I sometimes see the photos of a little girl who has grown up now. She was the oldest of five children. When she went into the house and we were first-time visitors, she yelled at her brothers, “TRY to act normal.” That still makes us laugh, because the first-born sister’s attitude was, “You are not normal, but pretend for our guests.” That is how the law works on us.

However, the Gospel moves us to love God’s teaching and to obey God out of love rather than fear or compulsion. If the terrors of the Law kept people from sinning, then all the 12 step programs would work, and they do not.

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

How would this convict people of righteousness – Jesus going to the Father?

This is a summation of Jesus’ work. When He ascended as the risen Messiah, His public ministry was completed, so He sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost to rule and guide the Church.

The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word –
1. Jesus is the Son of God
2. This innocent Lamb of God suffered and died for the sins of the world.
3. His righteousness is ours through faith.
4. His Ascension is another sign of His divinity, majesty, and Sonship.

Victory over death is victory over sin. How can we not see this when Jesus is triumphant over sin, death, and Satan. His victory is ours.

The preaching of the true Gospel is a proclamation of the alien righteousness of Jesus. Lutherans use that term “alien” to show that it is outside of us (Extra Nose – just like the blog), and not from our own strength, merit, or virtue.

Those who come from non-Lutheran or Pietistic backgrounds know that there is always an implied Law command within their distorted Gospel. You are justified by faith alone, but you must also do this or refrain from doing that. Forgiveness is made conditional and that defeats the Gospel, turning Jesus into Moses and Moses into the Savior. Some outcomes are:
1. You must witness or else.
2. You must be friendly.
3. You must redeem society.

Soon the “must” part of the mixed message becomes the only message.

And yet, this does not obliterate the Law. Only a believer can say, “God commands what is good for us.” Once we see Torah as teaching (the real meaning of Torah), the Old Testament is full of Gospel and Gospel preparation – even in those odd requirements of kosher and temple worship. Everything in the OT points toward the Lamb of God and His blood sacrifice for our sins.

Notice that even in this one verse (8), Jesus teaches Law (not believing in Him), Gospel (righteousness coming from Him), and assurance (Satan has lost his power, because of the Gospel). Each explanatory verse teaches us what those phrases mean, but they are a puzzle to unbelievers.

Unbelievers will say, “This is not something I can process with my logic.” That is the idea. The Gospel is a mystery revealed by the Holy Spirit.

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

This verse gives us assurance that Satan’s reign is over. “One little Word (of God) will fell him.

One of the fables of this world is that Satan has won or is winning, so why not join him, enjoy his extraordinary pay, and quit worrying.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is confronted by Satan. “Come back to me and work for me.”

Christian says, “I worked for you before. I do not like your wages.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. KJV Romans 6:23.

Satan’s temptation is to make us think he is winning when in fact he is losing. The closer we come to the end of history, the more he will rage and capture as many as he can. Already we see a vast harvest through gambling, porn, drugs, and infidelity.

Satan’s greatest weapon is our emotions. As Luther said, Satan does not want a drop of our blood. He wants us to suffer emotionally, to be depressed, to want to give up, to fall into despair and say, “What is the use any more?” We are weakest in our emotions, which are so volatile. A lack of sleep, bad nutrition, physical pain, and financial reverses can make us tumble like a house of cards, doubting the goodness of God. Overwork is such a problem that it goes back to the Exodus, when Moses was warned against trying to do too much on his own.

Here we can see how the pure grace of the Gospel defeats the old evil foe. Christ has already won the victory and condemned Satan. Easter is that year-around celebration of His conquest of sin, temptation, despair, and death.


Remember in your prayers - Norma Boeckler will have cataract surgery this week.

Gary Meyer will soon have double-knee replacement.

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