Sunday, June 26, 2011

The First Sunday after Trinity, 2011

The First Sunday after Trinity, 2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 427 How Firm a Foundation 2:18
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 #429 Lord, Thee I Love 2.54
They Have the Word
The Communion Hymn # 311 Jesus Christ 2:79
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 #347 Jesus Priceless Treasure 2:77

KJV 1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

KJV Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

First Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not, like the rich man, hear Thy word in vain, and become so devoted to things temporal as to forget things eternal; but that we readily and according to our ability minister to such as are in need, and not defile ourselves with surfeiting and pride; in trial and misfortune keep us from despair, and grant us to put our trust wholly in Thy fatherly help and grace, so that in faith and Christian patience we may overcome all things, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

They Have the Word, Moses and the Prophets
This Gospel obliterates any notion that God works apart from His Word. This is a parable used to express extremes, to make the lesson as clear as possible. For example, the poor man, who is despised, has a name, Lazarus. The rich man has no name, because he has been forgotten by heaven.

The two extremes are portrayed vividly, with ironic humor. The rich man feasts in great luxury every day and wears luxurious clothing. Purple was the beginning of the chemical industry. It was rare and reserved for the upper class, not that anyone else could afford it. One of the first supporters of the Church, Lydia, Acts 16, dealt with purple dye (derived from a shellfish).

We take an abundance of clothing for granted, but look at homes from the beginning of the 20th century. They had tiny closets or used wardrobes. They had few clothes. In the Louis Lamour novels, some men wear their Civil War uniforms because they had nothing else to wear. So the rich man not only had clothes but he had money to burn on the fanciest clothes possible, the best food possible.

This is another fetish of the rich – spending too much on food. When we lived in the right zip code, we got catalogs for over-priced food, such as steak butter for $16 a pound, back 20 years ago. Doubtless it was good, with a few extra flakes of seasoning in it, but that seemed a bit pricey for us. One company recently offered us cherries for $16 a pound. I always compare prices to meat prices. That was so high that I repeated the price back in shock. The cubicle saleslady said, “You don’t have to buy pounds. You can buy just two pounds.” I said, “Steak is less expensive.” That company is now in bankruptcy, no doubt precipitated by losing customers who spent all their money on needless luxuries.

The rich man had money to spare for food and clothing, but outside, Lazarus had none. He hoped for crumbs from the rich man’s table and obviously lay there in rags. Beggars seldom wear silk or purchase purple dye for their formal wear.

“Moreover the dogs licked his wounds.” Dogs are intuitive creatures. They may be in bad shape themselves, but they are instinctively protective of humans. If they find something wrong on their companion, they fix it by licking it. They also show affection the same way. I will say, “Look at Sassy Sue is curled up against you.” Sassy will respond with a tail wag and a lick.

Dogs are common, too, so they are despised, kicked, shooed away, and taken for granted. All our dogs are rescue dogs that no one wanted. All three were destined for elimination in a short time, so we gave them a home. Sassy Sue went from waiting in a cage at the pound to having her own blog, which is read all over the world. My classmates were discussing what a character Sassy is, and one of them said, “She has her own blog.” The Dairy Queen helper searched for the Sassy Sue blog and read it.

The irony is that Lazarus, the one favored in this parable, has only a dog for a companion. He is alone in the world, despised for his poverty and illness. Like a dog, he hopes for crumbs from the table. Whenever we eat anything, our three dogs go into their hope mode. They see us big, strange looking dogs, the alpha dogs who give them food. They are utterly dependent on us. Therefore, every crumb is accepted as an act of loving care, even a bit toast.

Lazarus had no job, no income, no prospects. The rich man should have cared for him out of love, since love is the first of the fruits of the Spirit.

But then the roles are reversed. Lazarus died and was carried home by the angels, into the bosom of Abraham. The expression means he was in the place of highest honor, next to Abraham in heaven. That can only mean he had faith in the Savior, since faith alone justifies and receives salvation from God.

In contrast, the rich man went to Hell and suffered great torment there. The man who spared no crumbs or clothes for Lazarus now wanted Father Abraham to send the beggar to dip his finger in water and give him some comfort. This is quite important. He does not ask for an angel or for Abraham himself, but for Lazarus. Thus in the Kingdom of God, the believer has great importance, even though he is nothing in the eyes of the world. In fact, what we should never do in view anything in the eyes of the world.

So many ministers talk about their parking lots and their new additions. Some even have new church buildings. In one case, a sedate old church spent a small fortune putting the altar in the back and facing the pews the other way. I said, “You can put on your resume – I turned this church around.” He liked that idea.

Some might see the irony of this parable at this time. I know about two families where they have been excommunicated for questioning false doctrine. Rather than offer the comfort of the Gospel, as Luther taught it, as the Book of Concord confirmed, the Lutheran Enthusiasts refused to discuss the issues and chose expulsion as the solution. As one excommunicator said, “Passionate about sharing Jesus in the Valley.” He plagiarizes Craig Groeschel, a Methodist. The other excommunicator said, “We will meet with you, but you cannot talk.” He is starting an expensive new worship site, almost next door to a brother pastor. Both excommunicators are friends and Church and Change fanatics.

Father Abraham told the rich but nameless man:

25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

There is no solution after life is over, in spite of what the Roman Catholics teach. They grasped the meaning of this parable and filled the gap. What Abraham could not deliver, they offered in abundance – comfort earned by works. If the whole family prays for the Godfather, he will get time off in Purgatory. No one knows how much time he will serve, but they are given little guidebooks for how much each act is worth. Thus the Vatican enforces the opposite of this message of the parable.

The rich man is a good salesman, which may be the secret of his worldly wealth. The first rejection leads to another request.

Send Lazarus to my brothers, so they have a chance to repent and believe. He already knew this was impossible but he asked anyway.

28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

Abraham said, “They have the Gospel already in the Old Testament Scripture. They have Moses and the prophets. Let your brothers hear them.”

That was the second rejection, so the rich man asked a third time. Someone rising from the dead would get their attention.

Abraham countered the final objection, “If they do not hear the Gospel in the Old Testament, someone risen from the dead will not persuade them either.”

Thus everything accomplished by God is done through His Word. His Law shows us our true nature, and His Gospel comforts and strengthens us. We may be the poorest of the poor in the eyes of God, but we receive the spiritual wealth of God through faith.

"Let us learn more and more to look upon the Lutheran Church with the right kind of spiritual eyes: it is the most beautiful and glorious Church; for it is adorned with God's pure Word. This adornment is so precious, that even though an orthodox congregation were to consist of very poor people - let us say nothing but woodchoppers - and met in a barn (as the Lord Christ also lay here on earth in a barn, on hay and straw), every Christian should much, much rather prefer to affiliate himself with this outwardly so insignificant congregation, rather than with a heterodox congregation, even if its members were all bank presidents and assembled in a church built of pure marble. Let us be sure that our flesh, and the talk of others does not darken the glory of the orthodox Church, or crowd it out of our sight."
Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 47.

The Efficacy of the Word – Quotations


"The world is now full of sects which exclaim that Baptism is merely an external matter and that external matters are of no use. However, let it be ever so much an external matter; here stand God's Word and command which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism. However, whatever God institutes and commands cannot be useless but must be an altogether precious matter, even if it were worth less than a straw."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 43. Large Catechism, Matthew 28:19.

"We should be on our guard against the Anabaptists and sectarian spirits, who speak contemptuously of Baptism and say that it is nothing but ordinary water, which helps no one. They look at the sacred act as a cow looks at a new door; for they see a poor preacher standing there or some woman who baptizes in an emergency, are offended at the sight, and say: Indeed! What might Baptism be? Moreover, they state: Whoever does not believe is really not baptized. In this way they dishonor and blaspheme the most worthy Sacrament, not seeing any farther than a horse or a cow sees...."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 45. John 1:30﷓32.

"But here it is written that when Christ was baptized, all three Persons of the Trinity were present﷓﷓God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit...and that the heavens stood open, too. In fact, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit daily stand about and at the side of our own Baptism....For this reason we should highly esteem and honor Baptism and say: Baptism was not devised by any human being, but God instituted it; and it is not simple water, but God's Word is in it and with it, which makes of its water a washing of the soul and a washing of regeneration."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 45. John 1:30﷓32.

"One must not make the sweeping assertion: God is not worshiped by anything external. Therefore we should not ridicule all things that are external in the worship of God. For when God speaks about a splinter, His Word makes the splinter as important as the sun. It is, therefore, profane language to say that the water of Baptism is only water; for the water of Baptism has the Word added to it. Therefore it is like a glowing or fiery iron, which is as truly fire as it is iron and does all that fire usually does. But only the pious see and appreciate the Word in the water; a cow or a dog sees only water."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 45. Psalm 122:3.

"Whoever is baptized in Christ is baptized through His suffering and blood or, to state it more clearly, through Baptism he is bathed in the blood of Christ and is cleansed from sins. For this reason St. Paul calls Baptism a "washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5); and according to what Christians say and picture, the Sacraments flow from the wounds of Christ. And what they say and picture is right." [Plass footnote: "Thus Jerome (d. 420) sees the Sacrament symbolized by the blood and water that flowed from the side of the dead Christ (John 19:34). Similarly St. Augustine (d. 430). In Luther's days pictures and woodcuts presented the same view. See W 30, II, 527, note; SL 13a, 491f.]
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 46. to Duke George, 1533 John 19:34; Titus 3:5.

[endangered infant not baptized in womb] "But the women who are present at the birth should kneel down and with a prayer of faith commit the endangered infant to God who is mighty and able to do more than we ask. Without a doubt He will accept the infant for the sake of the prayer of the believers."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 49. J. Aurifaber, undated

"I still maintain, as I have maintained in the Postil (SL 11, 496f.) that the surest Baptism is infant Baptism. For an old person may deceive, may come to Christ as a Judas and permit himself to be baptized. But a child cannot deceive. It comes to Christ in Baptism as John came to Him and as the little children were brought to Him, that His Word and work may come over them, touch them, and thus make them holy. For His Word and work cannot pass by without effect; and in Baptism they are directed at the child alone. If they were to fail of success here, they would have to be entire failures and useless means, which is impossible."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 50. Letter to two ministers, 1528

"To be sure, Baptism is so great that if you turn from sins and appeal to the covenant of Baptism, your sins are forgiven. Only see to it﷓﷓if you sin in this wicked and wanton manner by presuming on God's grace﷓﷓that the judgment does not lay hold of you and forestall your turning back. And even if you then wanted to believe and trust in your Baptism, your trial might by God's decree, be so great that faith could not stand the strain. If they scarcely remain in the faith who do no sin or who fall because of sheer weakness, where will your brazen wickedness remain, which has challenged and mocked God's grace? Let us, therefore, walk with care and fear that we may hold fast the riches of God's grace with a firm faith and joyfully give thanks to His mercy forever and ever. Amen."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 57. Treatise on Baptism, 1519 [advocates infant immersion or something similar] Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 58.

"Thus we see what a very splendid thing Baptism is. It snatches us from the jaws of the devil, makes us God's own, restrains and removes sin, and then daily strengthens the new man within us. It is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this state of misery to eternal glory. For this reason everyone should consider his Baptism as his daily dress, to be worn constantly. Every day he should be found in the faith and its fruits, suppressing the old man, and growing up in the new; for if we want to be Christians, we must practice the work whereby we are Christians. But if anyone falls from baptismal grace, let him return to it. For as Christ, the Mercy Seat, does not withdraw from us or forbid us to come to Him again even though we sin, so all His treasures and gifts also remain with us."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 61. Article on baptism, 1529

"There is on earth no greater comfort than Baptism."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 61.

The Effectiveness of the Word

1 Corinthians 3:6 (KJV) I have planted, [Apollos] watered; but God gave the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6.

Revelation 19:13 (KJV) And he clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The [Word] of God. Revelation 19:13.

Revelation 12:10 (KJV) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:11 (KJV) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the [word] of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Revelation 12:10﷓11.

Revelation 1:9 (KJV) I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the [word] of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:9.

1 John 5:7 (KJV) For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the [Word], and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 1 John 5:7.

1 John 2:14 (KJV) I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the [word] of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 1 John 2:14.

1 John 1:10 (KJV) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his [word] is not in us. 1 John 1:10.

1 John 1:1 (KJV) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the [Word] of life; 1 John 1:1.

1 Peter 2:7 (KJV) Unto you therefore which believe precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 1 Peter 2:8 (KJV) And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, which stumble at the [word], being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 1 Peter 2:7﷓8.

1 Peter 1:23 (KJV) Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the [word] of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the [word] of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the [word] which by the gospel is preached unto you.

1 Peter 2:1 (KJV) Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the [word], that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord gracious. 1 Pt. 1:23﷓25; 2:1f.

James 1:21 (KJV) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted [word], which is able to save your souls. James 1:21.

James 1:18 (KJV) Of his own will begat he us with the [word] of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:18.

Hebrews 13:7 (KJV) Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the [word] of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of conversation. Hebrews 13:7.

Hebrews 11:3 (KJV) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the [word] of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3.

Hebrews 4:12 (KJV) For the [word] of God 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 a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebews 4:12.

Hebrews 1:3 (KJV) Who being the brightness of glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the [word] of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Hebrews 1:3

Titus 2:5 (KJV) discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the [word] of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:5.

Titus 1:9 (KJV) Holding fast the faithful [word] as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1:9.

2 Timothy 4:2 (KJV) Preach the [word]; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2﷓5.

2 Timothy 2:9 (KJV) Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, unto bonds; but the [word] of God is not bound. 2 Timothy 2:9.

1 Timothy 5:17 (KJV) Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the [word] and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5:17.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 (KJV) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the [word] of God which ye heard of us, ye received not the [word] of men, but as it is in truth, the [word] of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 (KJV) And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the [word] in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 1 Thessalonians 1:6.

Colossians 3:16 (KJV) Let the [word] of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16.

Philippians 2:16 (KJV) Holding forth the [word] of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Philippians 2:16.

Ephesians 5:26 (KJV) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the [word], Ephesians 5:27 (KJV) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:26.

Ephesians 6:17 (KJV) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the [word] of God: Ephesians 6:17.

Ephesians 1:13 (KJV) In whom ye also , after that ye heard the [word] of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13.

2 Corinthians 5:19 (KJV) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the [word] of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19.

2 Corinthians 4:2 (KJV) But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the [word] of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:2.

2 Corinthians 2:17 (KJV) For we are not as many, which corrupt the [word] of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:17.

Romans 10:8 (KJV) But what saith it? The [word] is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the [word] of faith, which we preach; Romans 10:8.

Acts 20:32 (KJV) And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the [word] of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Acts 20:32.

Acts 19:20 (KJV) So mightily grew the [word] of God and prevailed. Acts 19:20

Acts 17:10 (KJV) And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming went into the synagogue of the Jews. Acts 17:11 (KJV) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the [word] with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:10﷓11.

Acts 13:48 (KJV) And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the [word] of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Acts 13:49 (KJV) And the [word] of the Lord was published throughout all the region. Acts 13:48﷓49.

Acts 13:26 (KJV) Men brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the [word] of this salvation sent. Acts 13:26.

Acts 12:24 (KJV) But the [word] of God grew and multiplied. Acts 12:24

Acts 11:1 (KJV) And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the [word] of God. Acts 11:1.

Acts 10:36 (KJV) The [word] which sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

Acts 10:37 (KJV) That [word], (I say), ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; Acts 10:36﷓37.

Acts 8:25 (KJV) And they, when they had testified and preached the [word] of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. Acts 8:25.

Acts 8:4 (KJV) Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the [word]. Acts 8:4.

Acts 6:7 (KJV) And the [word] of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. Acts 6:7.

Acts 4:29 (KJV) And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy [word], Acts 4:30 (KJV) By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. Acts 4:31 (KJV) And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the [word] of God with boldness. Acts 4:29﷓31.

Acts 2:41 (KJV) Then they that gladly received his [word] were baptized: and the same day there were added about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41.

John 17:20 (KJV) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their [word]; John 17:21 (KJV) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:20﷓21.

John 17:17 (KJV) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy [word] is truth. John 17:17.
John 17:14 (KJV) I have given them thy [word]; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. John 17:14.
John 17:6 (KJV) I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy [word]. John 17:6.

John 15:25 (KJV) But , that the [word] might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. John 15:25.

John 15:3 (KJV) Now ye are clean through the [word] which I have spoken unto you. John 15:3.

John 14:24 (KJV) He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the [word] which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. John 14:24.

John 12:47 (KJV) And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. John 12:48 (KJV) He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the [word] that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. John 12:47﷓48.

John 10:35 (KJV) If he called them gods, unto whom the [word] of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; John 10:35.

John 8:37 (KJV) I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my [word] hath no place in you. John 8:37.

John 8:31 (KJV) Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my [word], are ye my disciples indeed; John 8:31.

John 5:38 (KJV) And ye have not his [word] abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. John 5:38.

John 5:24 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my [word], and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24.

John 4:41 (KJV) And many more believed because of his own [word]; John 4:41.

John 2:22 (KJV) When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the [word] which Jesus had said. John 2:22.

John 1:14 (KJV) And the [Word] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14.

John 1:1 (KJV) In the beginning was the [Word], and the [Word] was with God, and the [Word] was God. John 1:1.

Luke 24:19 (KJV) And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and [word] before God and all the people: Luke 24:19.

Luke 12:10 (KJV) And whosoever shall speak a [word] against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. Luke 12:10.

Luke 11:27 (KJV) And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. Luke 11:28 (KJV) But he said, Yea rather, blessed they that hear the [word] of God, and keep it. Luke 11:27﷓28.
Luke 10:39 (KJV) And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his [word]. Luke 10:39.

Luke 8:21 (KJV) And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the [word] of God, and do it. Luke 8:21.

Luke 7:7 (KJV) Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a [word], and my servant shall be healed. Luke 7:7.

Luke 5:5 (KJV) And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy [word] I will let down the net. Luke 5:5.

Luke 5:1 (KJV) And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the [word] of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, Luke 5:1.

Luke 4:32 (KJV) And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his [word] was with power. Luke 4:32.

Luke 1:37 (KJV) For with God nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:38 (KJV) And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy [word]. And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:37.

Luke 1:2 (KJV) Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the [word]; Luke 1:2.

Mark 7:13 (KJV) Making the [word] of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:13.

Matthew 8:26 (KJV) And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and [rebuked] the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26.

Matthew 8:16 (KJV) When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with [word], and healed all that were sick: Matthew 8:16.

Matthew 8:8 (KJV) The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the [word] only, and my servant shall be healed. Matthew 8:8.

Matthew 4:4 (KJV) 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. Matthew 4:4

Zechariah 12:1 (KJV) The burden of the [word] of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

Ezekiel 34:7 (KJV) Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the [word] of the LORD; Ezekiel 34:8 (KJV) I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Ezekiel 34:9 (KJV) Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the [word] of the LORD; Ezekiel 34:10 (KJV) Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. Ezekiel 34:11 (KJV) For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.

Ezekiel 3:16 (KJV) And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the [word] of the LORD came unto me, saying, Ezekiel 3:17 (KJV) Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the [word] at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

Jeremiah 31:10 (KJV) Hear the [word] of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd his flock. Jeremiah 31:11 (KJV) For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of stronger than he. Jeremiah 31:12 (KJV) Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

Jeremiah 23:28 (KJV) The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my [word], let him speak my [word] faithfully. What the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Jeremiah 23:29 (KJV) not my [word] like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer breaketh the rock in pieces?

Jeremiah 23:18 (KJV) For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his [word]? who hath marked his [word], and heard ? Jeremiah 23:19 (KJV) Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.

Jeremiah 8:9 (KJV) The wise are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the [word] of the LORD; and what wisdom in them?

Jeremiah 6:10 (KJV) To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the [word] of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Jeremiah 6:11 (KJV) Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with full of days.

Jeremiah 5:13 (KJV) And the prophets shall become wind, and the [word] not in them: thus shall it be done unto them. Jeremiah 5:14 (KJV) Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this [word], behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.

Isaiah 66:2 (KJV) For all those hath mine hand made, and all those have been, saith the LORD: but to this will I look, to poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my [word].

Isaiah 40:8 (KJV) The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the [word] of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 28:13 (KJV) But the [word] of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

Isaiah 5:24 (KJV) Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the [word] of the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 2:3 (KJV) And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the [word] of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Proverbs 30:5 (KJV) Every [word] of God pure: he a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

Proverbs 13:13 (KJV) Whoso despiseth the [word] shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

Psalms 148:4﷓6 (KJV) Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that above the heavens. {5} Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. {6} He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.

Psalms 147:15﷓18 (KJV) He sendeth forth his commandment earth: his word runneth very swiftly. {16} He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. {17} He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? {18} He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, the waters flow.

Psalms 119:160﷓163 (KJV) Thy word true the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments for ever. {161} SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. {162} I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. {163} I hate and abhor lying: thy law do I love.

Psalms 119:140 (KJV) Thy [word] very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.

Psalms 119:114 (KJV) Thou my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy [word].

Psalms 119:105 (KJV) NUN. Thy [word] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalms 119:89 (KJV) LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy [word] is settled in heaven.

Psalms 119:49﷓51 (KJV) ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. {50} This my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. {51} The proud have had me greatly in derision: have I not declined from thy law.

Psalms 119:41﷓43 (KJV) VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, thy salvation, according to thy word. {42} So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. {43} And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

Psalms 119:28 (KJV) My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy [word].

Psalms 119:16 (KJV) I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy [word].

Psalms 119:11 (KJV) Thy [word] have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalms 105:8 (KJV) He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the [word] he commanded to a thousand generations.

Psalms 33:6﷓7 (KJV) By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. {7} He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

2 Chronicles 36:22 (KJV) Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the [word] of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying,

2 Chronicles 34:21 (KJV) Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the [word] of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.

1 Chronicles 10:13 (KJV) So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, against the [word] of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking of a familiar spirit, to inquire ;

1 Kings 22:19 (KJV) And he said, Hear thou therefore the [word] of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.

1 Kings 17:24 (KJV) And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou a man of God, that the [word] of the LORD in thy mouth truth.

Deuteronomy 18:20 (KJV) But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a [word] in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Deuteronomy 8:3 (KJV) And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Deuteronomy 4:1﷓2(KJV) Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do , that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the [word] which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Numbers 22:35 (KJV) And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the [word] that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

Numbers 15:31 (KJV) Because he hath despised the [word] of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity upon him.

Romans 10:13﷓17 (KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. {14} How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? {15} And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! {16} But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? {17} So then faith by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:13﷓17 Romans 10:13﷓17.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 (KJV) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received not the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which [effectually] worketh also in you that believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Isaiah 55:8﷓13 (KJV) For my thoughts not your thoughts, neither your ways my ways, saith the LORD. {9} For the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. {10} For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: {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 whereto I sent it. {12} For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap hands. Isaiah 55:8﷓12 Isaiah 55:8﷓12.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Feast of Holy Trinity

Norma Boeckler graphic. Luther wrote - "The entire Bible is a sermon about the man Jesus."

The Feast of the Holy Trinity, 2011

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 236 Creator Spirit 1:9
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 Athanasian Creed p. 53
The Sermon Hymn #237 All Glory Be 1:12

Born by the Word

The Communion Hymn # 341 Crown Him 1:70
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 #261 Lord Keep Us Steadfast 1:93

KJV Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

O Lord God, heavenly Father: We poor sinners confess that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing, and that, left to ourselves, we die and perish in sin, since that which is born of the flesh is flesh and cannot see the kingdom of God. But we beseech Thee: Grant us Thy grace and mercy, and for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that being regenerate, we may firmly believe the forgiveness of sins, according to Thy promise in baptism; and that we may daily increase in brotherly love, and in other good works, until we at last obtain eternal salvation, 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.

Born by the Word
This discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus is especially important. First of all, this long lesson is unique to John’s Gospel, so it was very significant. The value of the narrative is enhanced by the knowledge that Nicodemus was a leader among the Jews and helped in the aftermath of the crucifixion. In other words, he risked a lot by speaking with Jesus, then risked everything later.

KJV John 19:38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

This shows us the continuity between the teaching of Jesus and its effect on one of His students. This also means that the Gospel entered the center of religious life in Jerusalem. When the disciples preached on the Day of Pentecost, there was a background of support from the top to the bottom. This means that, like Jesus appearing as a boy in the Temple, God allowed for every believer to be called into the Kingdom by the Gospel.

When people ask, “Why are some saved and others not?” they are ignoring the fact of the preaching of the Gospel to all Creation. While humans seem to live on shunning others and avoiding them, God showers His grace on everyone. Many believe a short time and fall away. Others listen to false teachers and find themselves led away. Others steadfastly reject the Word, seeing only anger and condemnation where God offers the forgiveness received in faith.

The festival of Holy Trinity reminds us of the unique nature of the Christian faith. The Trinity is a mystery revealed by the Holy Spirit through the Word. So powerful is the Word of God that people understand and believe it to be true, without being convinced by man’s logic or material evidence. One Evangelical wrote that the Trinity can be proven with math. I wondered how little he trusted in the Word. Higher math is quite a key to science and technology, not that I have any knowledge of it myself. But to give all glory to math means that the Word is diminished.

The Gospels emphasize the Father-Son relationship, which we know through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Father sent the Son to redeem this fallen world, so this relationship is all important. The Son obeyed the Father and we see the result in the Gospels. When people spoke with Jesus, they heard Him speaking in harmony with the Father. His miracles were also directed by the Father.

This wonderfully preserved record of God’s work is given to us by the Holy Spirit, who witnesses to the Father and the Son.

Luther said that the Bible is a book for heretics, and John's Gospel has been especially favored in promoting false teaching. Nevertheless, the Fourth Gospel clearly teaches Christian doctrine in the simplest language. People have misused the Gospel from the beginning because its clear message.

The Gospel of John has the clearest apostolic authority, assuming the use and knowledge of the first three gospels. The other gospels have more narrative, while John's gospel has more of Jesus' teaching.

Knowledge of the original text of the Gospel can defeat many false views, but a proper understanding of the English will also defeat the wolves. English alone is enough, but when Greek is used to advance a phony argument, Greek is needed to defeat it. For instance, Lutheran feminists would have us believe that the Greek word anthropos (the root for anthropology and misanthrope) can only refer to humankind in general and never to a man. For that reason, they cannot confess that the Son of God "became man," only that he became "fully human." But let's read the first phrase of this lesson again, ” There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus…"

The word for "man" in this phrase is anthropos! It is impossible to translate the word in any feminist form and make it sound like English. Examples:
1. There was a fully human from the Pharisees named Nicodemus.
2. There was a human being from the Pharisees named Nicodemus.
3. There was a person from the Pharisees named Nicodemus.
4. There was an individual from the Pharisees named Nicodemus. (We use "individual" when we want to hide the gender and ordination status of someone. Confessions are not meant to hide information.)

I recall someone who wondered a bit about having a woman preacher at his Pentecostal church. I said, "The Bible clearly precludes women preaching to men and teaching men. And how can she be "the husband of one wife" when she is the wife of one husband? The man answered, "She says the passage doesn't mean that."

We would have funny looking homes if every builder and contractor had a different concept of one inch. The canon of Scripture means "measuring rod." The standard is unchanging. Otherwise we must argue that God's Word is infinitely flexible and constantly changing.

The use of John's Gospel by heretics can be clearly seen in this lesson. As we know from this familiar passage, Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, probably because of his fears, since he was a religious leader of the Jews. Jesus converted Nicodemus to faith in Him by teaching him the Word, as we see from the Gospel.

He spoke up for Jesus when the leaders wanted to kill the Son of God:
John 7:50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them…

In the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, the Savior said, "You must be born from above." This is a pun, because the same word can be used for again, and Nicodemus in his confusion asked how a full-grown man could be born all over again.

We might ask, "Why didn't Jesus speak more clearly?" But whenever Jesus spoke of spiritual matters, people misunderstood Him. This happened with the woman at the well and when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. It reminds us that when God speaks to us about matters of eternal salvation, we worry about the daily concerns of this earthly life.

When parents take children on a long car trip, they will ask, "When are we going to eat?" The father or mother is tempted to say, "Do you think we are going to let you starve to death? Don't be so anxious."

In the discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus defined what He meant by "You must be born from above." The decision theology people say that He meant we must make a decision for Christ, defining that moment when we decided to accept Jesus, an act of the will. This is so important that some denominations have made that a requirement, giving the date in which the person made a decision.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Here we must mention Greek again, because the original text is our standard. "Born of water and of the Spirit" is often mumbled by Baptists. Once a radio sermon by a Baptist, passed over this phrase very quickly. The actual phrase completely destroys their anti-Sacrament argument. Non-Lutheran Protestants deny that baptism grants forgiveness of sin, planting faith in the heart of the baptized person. Some of them baptize infants; some refuse to, although they dedicate them with the Word. But they agree together that baptism is not God acting upon us.

By taking this away, these same people have paved the way for Pentecostals, who separate water baptism and Spirit baptism, by saying, "I was a baptized Christian for many years, but I was not a real Christian until I was baptized by the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues." False teaching about baptism leads to confusion, two or more baptisms. Many are baptized again and again. Many tongue-speakers look for ever increasing signs of God's blessing upon them.

Jesus does not separate water and Spirit baptism. Neither should we. The phrase " Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit" lacks any articles. The Greek New Testament is very generous with its use of the word "the." Therefore, when "the" is lacking, the words can be seen as hyphenated. Except a man be water/Spirit born. This is the real meaning of the phrase. Water baptism is Spirit baptism because the Gospel promises are linked to the earthly form of water.

Luther's opponents wanted to make fun of water accomplishing anything, but they ignored the role of the Word of God connected with baptismal water. A dog or a cat would look into a baptismal font and see only something to quench their thirst. We are not to listen to God's Word and hear no more than an animal would.

Being water/Spirit born teaches us that God is indeed involved in each and every true baptism. Birth itself suggests an image of a new person. The apostle Paul also wrote of washing and rebirth. Washing is the clearest possible image of sins being forgiven. Rebirth means a new life has started.

Jesus distinguished between the carnal and the spiritual. The apostle wrote: 1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The "natural man" is used by the Greeks to describe the noblest aspect of man. Whoever is considered a great hero for all his virtues - he cannot receive Spiritual things. They are comical to him. He sees no more than a cow or a horse. Many wise men of the ages have said that the Bible is nothing but foolishness to them.

No one can believe unless the Holy Spirit has planted faith in that person's heart through the Word. Adults are converted and receive baptism as God's sacrament of forgiveness. Children hear the promises of God through baptism and are converted to faith. Their parents, then, must nurture this faith. One does not plant a seed and then let it dry up and wither away. People spend more time nurturing their gardens than nurturing their children's faith.

The comfort of baptism cannot be overstated. No baptized person need doubt his standing with God. All despair can be answered by this, "God has baptized you into His kingdom. He has done this because of His gracious, kindly and forgiving nature." If someone has fallen into deep and terrible sins, he can nevertheless rest forgiveness upon his baptism. Through faith we receive the Gospel message of Jesus redeeming us from sin, death, and the devil.

Parents also have the comfort and blessing of baptism in their children. They have no reason to question whether their baptized children are in fact in the Kingdom of God. It is a sad day when we have to plead for the innocence of children when their lives are cut short by accident or diseases. The most helpless child can be proud, obstinate, jealous, and even vindictive. The Old Adam does not wait to arrive until a convenient time. We inherit this sinful nature. But when we lose a child, we can say, "God made him a member of His kingdom through baptism."

The blessings of baptism are infinite. Children grow up with faith and hear the Word of God with great love and confidence. They have their little distractions but they do not have the skills of adults in rejecting what they hear in the Word. They are dry sponges, absorbing what they hear. One girl cried and begged her family to take her to Sunday School, when they wanted to sleep in all weekend. This does not come from the flesh, because kids like to goof around too. It comes from the Holy Spirit.

A child who grows up in the Christian faith will be blessed in many ways and be a blessing to everyone as well. His impact will be impossible to determine, but God knows.
As adults and as children, we are united by what God has done for us, so that we are water/Spirit born.

"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of grace when one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV: 'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace. First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism. Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"
John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 447.

"For now we are only half pure and holy, so that the Holy Ghost has ever [some reason why] to continue His work in us through the Word, and daily to dispense forgiveness, until we attain to that life where there will be no more forgiveness, but only perfectly pure and holy people, full of godliness and righteousness, removed and free from sin, death, and all evil, in a new, immortal, and glorified body."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #58, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 418.

Dr. Luther, Large Catechism: "Again: With this Word you can strengthen your conscience and say: If a hundred thousand devils, together with all fanatics, should rush forward, crying, How can bread and wine be the body and blood of Christ? I know that all spirits and scholars together are not as wise as is the Divine Majesty in His little finger. Now, here stands the Word of Christ: 'Take, eat; this is My body. Drink ye all of this'...Here we abide, and would like to see those who will constitute themselves His masters, and make it different from what He has spoken."
Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 22, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 979. Tappert, p. 573.

"The objection that absolution is God's prerogative (Mark 2:7) is beside the mark, since the minister forgives sins not in his own name, but in God's name."
Th. Engelder, et. al., Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 113.

"Wherever the means of grace are present, there the Lord Himself is present, and where the Lord rules there is victory. The true doctrine of justification is intimately bound up with the true doctrine of the means of grace. In order to keep the doctrine of justification in all its purity, one must ever maintain that the forgiveness of sins which Christ earned for mankind can never be appropriated by man through any other means than the Word and the Sacrament. Therefore, Walther said, the correct doctrine on justification stands or falls with the correct doctrine concerning the means of grace."
Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 327.

"If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments...Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Romans 10:17: 'Faith cometh by hearing.' But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same..."
[Luther, Bab Captivity, 3 sacraments] Article XIII, Number/Use Sacraments, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 309. Tappert, p. 211.

"These are the last and mad times of a world grown old."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 50.

"Contrition is altogether necessary in those who truly and earnestly repent. For there can be no true repentance in those who, persuaded of their own holiness, dream that they are without sin, or who disregard, minimize, excuse, cloak, and defend their sins, despise or ridicule the divine threats, do not care about the wrath of God, are not moved by His judgment and displeasure, and therefore persevere and continue in sins against their conscience, delight in sins, and seek and seize occasions for sinning and for whatever they intentionally heap up without the fear of God--in them, I say, there can be no true repentance...."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 581.

"We have now sowed a little of the Word, and this the devil cannot stand, for he never sleeps; the worms and the beetles will come and infect it. Yet so it must be, Christ will prove His Word, and examine who have received it and who not. Therefore let us remain on the right road to the kingdom of Christ, and not go about with works and urge and force the works of the law, but only with the words of the Gospel which comfort the conscience: Be happy, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 201.

"Regret, the little black dog of a belated repentance, does not stop barking and biting the conscience, even though you know your sins are forgiven."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1214. Genesis 37:18-20.

"But the sinners who confess their sins, and are repentant, who wish they had not so angered God, who find all their concern and sorrow in the fact that they have offended God and have not kept His Commandments and, therefore, pray for grace--these sinners shall find grace."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 694.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Feast of Pentecost, 2011

By Norma Boeckler

The Feast of Pentecost, 2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn #231 We Now Implore 3:38
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 #246 Holy, Holy, Holy 3:35

The Holy Spirit and the Word

The Communion Hymn #294 O Word of God 3:31
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 # 283 God’s Word 3:90

KJV Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

KJV John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou almighty Son of God: We beseech Thee, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, through Thy word, that He may rule and govern us according to Thy will, comfort us in every temptation and misfortune, and defend us by Thy truth against every error, so that we may continue steadfast in the faith, increase in love and all good works, and firmly trusting in Thy grace, which through death Thou hast purchased for us, obtain eternal salvation, Thou who reignest, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.

The Holy Spirit and the Word
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Man’s eternal quest has been communion with God and peace of mind. Both are clearly revealed in this Gospel.

My Father will love him
Every passage in the Bible is connected with all others, so any given verse is explained many times over in other parts of Scripture.

“If a man love me…” How does it happen that someone loves God? The Gospel alone produces that love, so we have the inspired Word planting faith in God through the Gospel and producing love, which is the first fruit of the Spirit.

This is always a Spirit/Word effect. The Holy Spirit works only through the Word, and the Word is never without the power and effect of the Holy Spirit. If someone says, “I do not feel God’s love” or “I do not seem to love God,” the answer is the same – “Abide in the Gospel and you will experience God’s love, which will make you respond in love.”

This does not happen because of man’s will or virtue, but solely because of the Word. Even though man may obstinately refuse to hear the Gospel, the Good News always has an effect. For many, years of refusal are accompanied by an agitation from the Word. Compelled to study what bothers them so much, they are converted by the Word.

Still, it is not God’s fault when people hear the Word and reject it from their hardness of heart. We can see that effect in mainline theologians, who reject the basic articles of the faith but blame the extreme radicals for making matters even worse (Carl Braaten blaming Seminex for ruining his seminary, LSTC!)

Hypocrisy also hardens the heart. One man used to be profoundly grateful for the Gospel whenever his heart threatened to stop working altogether. The closer he was to death, the more he loved the Word and pastoral visits in the hospital. But the healthier he became, the colder he was toward the Word. At home, still on disability, he wanted nothing to do with the Gospel.

Also, we have to wonder about those who rightly ascribe nothing to man’s virtue, will, or merit, but never stop telling us how long they have been in the same synod or who their parents and grandparents were. Pedigrees are impressive – in pets and horses – but not so much in humans. “To this man will I look, who trembles at my Word.”

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

There are two themes in this verse, and both are important. One is the relationship between loving Christ and keeping (guarding) His Word. The other is the relationship between the Father and the Son. Hearing the Son means hearing the Father, loving the Son means loving the Father.

Those who profess to love the Gospel of the Son are also constrained to tell the truth. Many in the visible church will argue that they must manipulate and lie in order to protect Holy Mother Synod from harm and bad PR. But we should not worship the visible organization and despise the Word.

One of my favorite books described the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Church in John Calvin’s writings. The author (Benjamin Milner) was a friend of my advisor (Hommes) in the program at Notre Dame. For Luther, the relationship was Holy Spirit and Word. We can see that emphasis in the Book of Concord and later generations as well.

A common fallacy today is this obsession with the visible church, whether the congregation or the larger structure. The obsession is measured in business terms – money owed, balanced budgets, and PR. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod did a self-study which predicted that the Little Sect on the Prairie will be no more than a historical footnote in 20 years. Because of tiny parishes and an elderly population, the ELS will cease to exist, fairly soon. The answer – “We have a new program to solve that problem.” Doubtless the new program is the old program, all based on business rather than the Word.

The Festival of Pentecost is one where the Holy Spirit’s work through the Word is emphasized, not the charter membership of First Lutheran Church in Jerusalem. The Church does not create the Word: the Word creates the Church.

The true Church is invisible and exists wherever the Word is proclaimed in truth and the Sacraments are administered faithfully. A visible structure does not produce the Word of God. Unfortunately, in these dark times, the organizations suppress and persecute the Word.

Nevertheless, the Word produces faith, believers, and pastors. I have told many men that – you do not need a synod. Start a Bible study if and when you are kicked out. That will lead to a congregation and you will have a church.

The Word preached and taught will gather people, convert people, and make some people madder than wet hens.

25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

How do we know this Gospel is true? Because God Himself inspired the Word and caused the disciples to remember and write down what was necessary for salvation.

The entire Bible teaches the same story with various writers, and yet there are no errors or contradictions. That alone illustrates the divine nature of the Bible, unique among all books, religious and secular.

Paul reminded his members that the Word was more than that – it was effective in converting them. They knew that the Gospel produced faith and gave them forgiveness. They experienced that themselves.

In English class we would write down, “Best poem in Eng lang.” That praise did not move us necessarily. “I stood tiptoe on a little hill” is not a poem for most guys.

Or – “MD considered best novel ever in Am.” I hated Moby Dick as a student but came to appreciate its weirdness much later in life. All the praise in the world did not make me like MD in class.

In contrast, the Gospel moves people and they cannot deny this. I had two Hong Kong members who laughed at the Gospel all through school, mocking it as they read the comic books inside their textbooks. But all that study, created by a private Lutheran school, led to their conversion. Their Asian, pagan families felt utterly rejected because this couple became Christian and loved the Gospel. The couple could not deny the power of the Word, because the Word overcame their resistance.

So why have ministers moved from the assured effectiveness of the Gospel to the shortcomings of entertainment and marketing? They have removed themselves from the Means of Grace, despised the Means of Grace, and hardened themselves against the Gospel. They really give themselves away when they plagiarize the false teachers they admire, denying what can be so easily proven in these days of the Net and Google.

The divine nature of the Word alone should make us cherish every phrase in the Scriptures, because God Himself is speaking to us. If God Himself would appear at the nearest store, would people show up to hear Him? They would block traffic for miles around. And here is God speaking and showing us His Word in this passage.

Would people like to meet and hear Jesus, the Son of God? That would create a bigger sensation. Instead of “God To Speak at Walgreens,” put up a few posters that say, “Jesus To Appear at Neighborhood Drugstore.” That part of town would be mobbed and come to a standstill. But that is true any time the Word is heard, read, or remembered. The Holy Spirit and Word are never separated. What we hear about Christ and from Him are Spirit-inspired, true, faithful to the facts, and powerful in effectiveness.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

This verse should be inscribed on every confirmation Bible and on every Thrivent trinket given as a confirmation gift.

The peace given by Christ is eternal, just the opposite of the world’s peace. The peace given by Jesus is accompanied by the cross, His cross, so people are tempted to lay both down – the cross and salvation.

It does not matter who you might be – the Word brings the cross, often through the same people who claim to be believers. This comes in various doses and measures, depending on the person.

Luther said something so profound and simple about this that I created a graphic for it. God does not take turmoil from your heart; He takes your heart away from the turmoil. The turmoil still exists, but God turns it into a paradise so that we think we are in a rose garden.

I know many who have experienced it from their new-found love of the Book of Concord, Luther, and the Word. Only conflict and turmoil can produce that reaction.

Jesus says, “Do not be troubled, nor let it be afraid.” Faith is the opponent and the antidote to fear and anxiety. That is because faith is trust in God, in His power and compassion. His Promises, blessings, and forgiveness change troubled hearts even though opposition and turmoil continue.

28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

All these things came true, so the disciples were confirmed in their trust of Christ. He rose to heaven on Ascension Day and sent the Holy Spirit, as He promised. These were astounding events which they witnessed and experienced.

Once again we see in this Gospel that believing is good. Everything has happened so that we believe in God, that we see Him in Christ, and know the Holy Spirit is at work in the Word.

The Gospel is Christ crucified for the sins of the world. This Gospel treasure is distributed through the Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments. Those who deny this are enemies of the Word, no matter how saintly their appearance.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Exaudi, The Sunday after the Ascension

Exaudi, The Sunday after the Ascension, 2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 9 O Day of Rest 1:89
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 #237 All Glory Be 1:12
Stewards of the Manifold Grace of God
The Communion Hymn # 341 Crown Him 1:70
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 #261 Lord Keep Us Steadfast 1:93

KJV 1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. 16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy Holy Spirit Thou hast appointed us to bear witness of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: We beseech Thee, inasmuch as the world cannot endure such testimony, and persecutes us in every way, grant us courage and comfort, that we may not be offended because of the cross, but continue steadfastly in Thy testimony, and be found always among those who know Thee and Thy Son, until we obtain eternal salvation through the same, Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Gaost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Stewards of the Manifold Grace of God
1 Peter: 4 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

There are only two classes of Christian leaders.

The Lords of the Church
The majority think of themselves as lords, with special privileges and powers, with claims because of birthright. They often make their claims based on the seminaries they attended, although no one thinks much of that particular school outside of the denomination. The lords take care of each other, marry into each other’s families for dynastic reasons, and protect each other when inevitable scandals erupt.

The English system of “a jury of his peers” arose so that a lord did not have to sit in front of a jury of peasants he had abused. His jury could only be made up of lords. Similarly, when a lord of the church is in trouble, he is judged only by other lords, who never find anything wrong.

In the LCA, when a bishop (district president) had a legendary break-down and did not even show up for work, he was given one of the largest congregations in the country to manage, so his staff could do his work for him.

These lords love false doctrine, which devolves into salvation by works and various heresies of the day. Salvation by works is handy for raising money. Heresies are good ways to confuse and bewilder the laity while identifying the wrong type of clergy, the ones who must be punished. No, not the heretics – but the ones who see through the heresy of the day.

The Stewards of the Manifold Grace
The second group is much smaller, because they take seriously their ordination vows. They are not lords, but stewards.

A steward is the old English word for manager. Sometimes a steward was placed on the throne until the king came of age. The steward was never considered the king, and he knew his role was to preserve the kingdom for the actual king.

Steward is used in the New Testament for the manager (steward) of the estate. He has a lot of authority, but that is used only to benefit the owner or lord of the estate. A faithful steward is someone who does his work so that the resources of the estate are preserved and protected, even expanded.

Ordination vows and countless passages in the Bible show that the only possible role for a pastor is that of steward. For that reason, the others are identified as wolves, hired hands, and tyrants.

Tyranny in religion is easy to adopt and protect. Almost everyone subscribes to a form of religion, so those who claim to be leaders can attract followers who will obey almost anything. Now we think it is absurd that anyone allowed human sacrifice as part of religion, but we have supposedly Christian leaders praying for the same, in the name of “abortion rights” and “women’s rights.” They spend vast amounts of offering money to lobby politicians to keep genocidal laws on the books. Nothing is really more tyrannical than an ongoing war against unborn babies, not to mention the damage caused to parents and all of society through this genocide.

Steward of the Manifold Grace of God
The manifold grace of God is another way of saying the Gospel. The word Gospel is used often, but most of the time the term is abused.

Although the Holy Spirit works through the Law, its role is limited. The Law stirs up knowledge of sin without solving the problem of sin. The Law makes us feel the guilt of sin but the Law cannot forgive our sins. All the “transforming” preachers of today use the Law to make people feel they do are not producing the fruit of the Gospel, but those law condemnations do not produce the desired fruit. The law programs to do that only make matters worse, filling people with notions of being holier than the rest.
This is important to realize from Luther. The Gospel alone forgives, saves, and bears the fruit of the Spirit. Some people distort that thought to embrace Antinomianism. Agricola, a brilliant man who wrote part of the Small Catechism, fell into that spirit time after time. The anti-law people are still with us, within the fold, where they can tear the flock and murder the sheep.

“The Gospel shows the Father’s grace…” When we speak of the Gospel, it is nothing but grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness. I realize people want to get the Law in there, and I mentioned that already. But the Gospel passages of the Bible, from Gen 3:15 on, are nothing but promise, forgiveness, and mercy.

The Law makes us fearful, but the Gospel gives us peace through forgiveness of sin. That forgiveness is complete and free. That is why the law-salesmen become so angry and vindictive, when their kingdom of merits is threatened in any way. They want people enslaved by their man-made laws, not set free by the Gospel. They want people to ignore the Word for their words (which are never-ending).

The stewards of God’s manifold grace must make sure that everyone knows the difference between Law and Gospel, discerning false doctrine, condemning it as a tool of Satan.

No one would bother with my little blogs if I simply stuck to quoting Luther, talking about the Gospel, and wishing we were back in the good old days. But – when their false doctrine is identified and the flocks are warned, they become enraged. They want to feast on mutton at their leisure, wear the finest wool, and do as little work as possible.

The old style of pastoral work was preach, teach, and visit. Pastoral visitations were constant, first to the shut-ins and hospitalized, second to prospective members, and never neglecting the spiritually inert. In one parish I was warned not to visit one family, because “they would never come back.” They came back were leaders in the congregation again. In another situation I worked five years to get a husband to attend, which was grief for his wife (his non-attendance). I worked with their new pastor when they moved, and the husband began attending every Sunday.

The Gospel in action is a mouth church – preaching, teaching, visiting. The opposite is planning, organizing, and being busy for the sake of bragging about “programs.” At the bottom of this decline is organizing baseball to get prospects to join. The Mormons, in days past, did the same with Boy Scouts. Those efforts say, “The church is everything except the Word of God.” No wonder the spiritually starved look for religious sustenance and often end up with cults that tell them how the Law will save them.

I used to wonder how Pentecostal churches filled up during the week. It was simple. They were ordered to attend. They were ordered to pay a lot of money for their notebooks for that day. They were ordered to bring their children, who were sequestered in another part of the building. One Pentecostal minister ordered his members to come up with $35,000 for new carpeting over the next week – and that was when 35k was a lot of money.
The Gospel in a Few Steps
The Gospel is simple to understand but easy to lose in the chaos of heresies and paganism around us. I kelmed myself below:

God's will is carried out only through His Word, and this Word is always united with the divine energy of His Holy Spirit. Isaiah 55:8-11.

The efficacious Word of God created the universe in six days and converts the blind, hardened unbeliever into a new creation. This same Word continues to work in the believer, to encourage godly contrition and sustain his faith in Christ.

The Holy Spirit works through the Law to condemn our sins against the Ten Commandments, our spiritual sins (First Table) against God, which lead to the more visible sins against our neighbor (Second Table).

God uses the preaching and teaching of the Gospel to plant and sustain faith in the crushed hearts of contrite sinners. The Gospel message is summarized:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." KJV John 3:16.

The proclamation of the Gospel is carried out through the invisible Word of preaching and teaching, the visible Word of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. God grants grace only through His instruments, the Means of Grace.

Those who believe in the Gospel of Christ receive what He has promised, complete and free forgiveness of sin. God declares that person forgiven - justification by faith. Romans 5:1-2.

The fruits of the Spirit follow from faith in Christ, and God is glorified by all things done in faith. Those who wish to harvest more for the Kingdom should broadcast the Word with complete abandon, trusting in God's Promises.

The Gospel in Our Lives
To enjoy the benefits of the Gospel, we abide in the Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments. They are the treasures of the Church which give us 100% of the blessings God wishes to impart to us.

Abiding in the Gospel also means dwelling on the Word throughout the week, in study, meditation, prayer, and edifying music. A Gospel hymn is a proclamation of God’s grace, just as a Biblical text is. The difference is that a Gospel hymn is a confession of faith, an expression of thanks, while the Biblical text is God’s own revelation.

The Confessions are also important, especially in this anti-Creed age. The Confessions guide us back to the truth of the Word and away from popular, attractive falsehoods.

Hearing the Gospel also means living the Gospel, being patient and forgiving toward the faults in others. That does not include false doctrine, of course. But most of our irritations in life are from rather small things, where a dose of patience and forgiveness will accomplish far more than the law can ever do.

Two grandchildren were fussing over a toy yesterday. I said to Alexander (age 5), “Don’t lose your temper.”

He said, “I don’t have a tempa.” There was a pause.

“I have a little tempa.”

That self-knowledge did not come from a child’s heart, but from patient instruction. In that way, parents are stewards of God’s manifold grace in the most important school their children will ever attend – the home.


"We have the comfort of this victory of Christ—that He maintains His Church against the wrath and power of the devil; but in the meantime we must endure such stabs and cruel wounds from the devil as are necessarily painful to our flesh and blood. The hardest part is that we must see and suffer all these things from those who call themselves the people of God and the Christian Church. We must learn to accept these things calmly, for neither Christ nor the saints have fared better."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 263. Exaudi John 15:26-16:4.

"From these two convictions—that they do not know Him and that they persecute and slay His advocates—Christ now passes the judgment that the so-called Church is not the Church. He then concludes that with their false doctrines and persecutions they are both liars and murderers of God and of Christ and of all His saints."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 270. Exaudi John 15:26-16:4.

"It is not the devil's aim to plague us physically; he is a spirit who is always thirsting for the tears and the drops of blood that come from our hearts. He wants us to despair and to perish from sadness. This would be his joy and delight. But he will not succeed."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1244. John 15:19.

"Nevertheless, He has said that the Holy Spirit should testify of him and that they also should bear witness; and He assures them that their testimony shall not be effaced by this rage and persecution of the world."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 258. Exaudi John 15:26-16:4.