Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Sunflower by Norma Boeckler. Fibonacci numbers by God.

The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 44 Ye Lands 2:41
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 #203 Morning Breaks 2:70
Unity of the Word
The Communion Hymn # 315 I Come O Savior 2:66
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 # 467 Built on a Rock 2:83

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.

The Unity of the Word

Ephesians 4:4 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 seven ones in this passage are no accident. Some say that seven is the perfect number because it combines the “four” used to represent the entire world with the “three” of the Trinity. This perfect number is often represented in liturgical design, such as seven candles on each side of the altar.

Needless to say, some people have to turn numbers into magic. That is a common theme in Asian religion, with an obsession about magic numbers and numerology. One of my denser students went to a Buddhist temple and was astonished that they found his magic, or favorite number. They pulled it out of box and converted him – for the moment. Since he was so talkative, he probably gave away the number during his tour. People prefer magic to revelation. Cary Grant lost his stagehand job when he was young because he let the spotlight shine on the wrong area of the stage, giving away the secret of a magic act. Magic loves darkness.

There is no doubt that God has embedded a mathematical relationship in nature, as shown by Fibonacci numbers.

This numerical relationship can be found throughout God’s Creation, and people find it pleasing to the senses. Artists use the numbers for planning their work.

The significance of one throughout the Bible is impossible to miss.

First of all, there is One God, Three Persons. This is a mystery revealed by the Holy Spirit. Human reason cannot grasp it. Whenever someone tries to subject this mystery to human logic, reason, and experience, horrible distortions appear to replace the clear teaching of the Word.

God existed before time came into being. As Augustine wrote, time is the measure of change. Until the universe was brought into being by Creation, there was no change and no concept of time.

God created time for us in the form of seven, 24-hour days. Various powerful societies have tried to change the week, to make everyone work more, but the seven-day week has continued, with one day still a day of rest and worship.

Because God is One, there is only One message – the truth of revelation. And there is only One Book where God’s will is revealed – the Bible.

There are many human authors of the Bible but only one divine author – the Holy Spirit. That gives the Scriptures a unity not found anywhere else, and yet the various human personalities come through all too clearly.

From the beginning of time in Genesis until the closing of time in Revelation, there is one message – Jesus Christ crucified for the sins of the world. The Gospel is so important in the Bible that the first Gospel promise is given already in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve were forced out of Paradise because of their sin. They were no longer innocent and carried original sin with them, but they also had the Gospel Promise of the Savior, who would crush the head of that Tempter who led them away from God’s Word.

The unity of the message of the Bible is obvious, because the Word of God has no other purpose except to convey Christ to us and to plant faith in our hearts. Sin is not believing on Jesus Christ (John 16), and justification comes from the revelation of His crucifixion and resurrection (you will see Him no more).

John 16:10 Of righteousness [justification], because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

The emptiness of the tomb is the ultimate sign of God’s victory in Christ – His conquest of sin, of death, and of Satan.

Because this is the One Truth of the Scriptures, any other message that seeks to supplant it is fraudulent, cancerous, and toxic.

The unity of the Word means that all the books of the Bible speak with the same voice, across the centuries, in many different cultures. The Word is not conformed to culture but cultures are transformed by the unchanging Word of God, from the wandering herder culture of Genesis to the powerful metropolitan culture of the New Testament.

Because there is one divine Author of the Bible, there is only One Doctrine. There are not many little doctrines that are strung together like pearls on a necklace, with people picking 27 pearls versus 36 pearls.

The reason we often talk about one article of faith is our limitations as humans.
Dividing the One Doctrine lets people think the truth of God’s Word is subject to a vote. Synod conventions continue to promote this view, by voting on doctrine and declaring anathemas on people who do not accept the latest, most popular heresy.

Therefore, this One Doctrine cannot be accused of contradicting itself. Anyone who has studied the Scriptures seriously has seen that. There is a Christ of the Psalms and a Christ of Isaiah, as if Christ is different when revealed by one author or another.

What religion has four biographies of its leader, side by side, all of them in agreement and all four in harmony with history (to the extent we can verify ancient facts)?
In fact, there is no difference between Paul’s teaching about false teachers and Jesus’ teaching, except that Jesus is even harsher in His words – whitewashed sepulchers full of dead-men’s bones, wolves in sheep’s clothing, blind guides, hypocrites, etc.

Because of this unified Doctrine, Law and Gospel are taught throughout the Scriptures, with the sole purpose of creating and sustaining faith.

We also see in the Scriptures a unified teaching about how Christ comes to us, how we receive forgiveness in Him.

I read many different religious documents, often claiming to show me the way. But they do not. They have many vague statements about Jesus, but also include odd expressions about emotions and experiences, as if I have to capture the right feeling.

The Word of God prepared mankind for the Means of Grace from the beginning, with many physical signs of God’s Promises: the rainbow, the ark (prefiguring baptism, the Passover Lamb, the pillar, the rock gushing with pure water, the serpent raised on the staff (John 3), the manna from heaven, the Promised Land (heaven). Those are just a few that prepared man to see Holy Baptism and Holy Communion as the visible Word, earthly elements combined with the power of the Word.

The Word of the Gospel exists for faith, and faith is justification.

How do I know that I am forgiven of all my sins? My feelings? No – they are deceptive and constantly changing. My experiences? No – I may think I have made up for my sins by doing some good, which is sin piled on sin.

Forgiveness is based upon the objective truth of God’s Word. Jesus died for the sins of the world, while we were weak with sin, while we were still enemies of God, while we were still sinners.

From justification by faith come the works of faith, the fruit of the Spirit.

This truth has lasted throughout each generation, no matter how many or how few believed. The Gospel is constantly attacked and persecuted and often moves on, always bringing God’s grace through the Word.

"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." (Closing of Formula of Concord, Trigl. p. 1095) Francis Pieper, The Difference Between Orthodox And Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 65. Tappert, p. 632. Heiser, p. 294. FC SD XI, #94-96.

"Thus too, if our confidence is to begin, and we become strengthened and comforted, we must well learn the voice of our Shepherd, and let all other voices go, who only lead us astray, and chase and drive us hither and thither. We must hear and grasp only that article which presents Christ to us in the most friendly and comforting manner possible. So that we can say with all confidence: My Lord Jesus Christ is truly the only Shepherd, and I, alas, the lost sheep, which has strayed into the wilderness, and I am anxious and fearful, and would gladly be good, and have a gracious God and peace of conscience, but here I am told that He is as anxious for me as I am for Him." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, IV, p. 86. Third Sunday after Trinity, Second Sermon Luke 15:1-10.

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