Monday, August 29, 2011

Luther on the Pharisee and the Publican:
The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity; Luke 18:9-14 A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil.

[The following sermon is taken from volume IV:337-347 of The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI, 1983). It was originally published in 1904 in English by Lutherans in All Lands (Minneapolis, MN), as The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 13. This e-text was scanned and edited by Richard P. Bucher, it is in the public domain and it may be copied and distributed without restriction.]


1. Here again we have a picture and an example of the divine judgment on saints and good people. Two extraordinary persons are presented to us in this Gospel; one thoroughly good and truly pious; and one hypocritically pious. But before we take up the example and consider the terrible sentence, we must first notice that Luke here makes the impression as though righteousness came by works. For Luke is most accustomed to do this, as when we at present preach that faith alone saves, he observes that people are led to desire only to believe, and to neglect the power and fruit of faith. This John also does in his Epistle and James, where they show that faith cannot exist without works.

Thus Luke, in the beginning of his introduction, would speak as follows: I see indeed that many have preached how faith alone saves, by which they have brought the people to strive for a fictitious faith; hence I must also speak of works by which they can be assured of their faith, and prove it to the people by their acts. Consequently it sounds as though Luke everywhere taught that righteousness came by works; as you have recently heard: Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; and, make unto yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness. And here it appears as though the publican had obtained his goodness by praying and smiting his breast. So this Gospel appears as though we should become good or pious by our works.

2. Now you have heard that a man, before he can do anything good, must by all means first be good. For the truth must always stand: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit;" and again, "An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit." Thus a man must first be good, before he can do good. So he also firmly concludes that the publican smote his breast, which proves the conclusion, that he had been good.

3. This has taken place and has been written to the end that we should open our eyes and not judge the people according to their outward appearance. To do this in this instance it is necessary to examine the hearts of both, and not judge according to mere external works. For when the heart is good, the whole man is good. For if I judged the publican according to his works, my judgment would soon be false. For nothing appears in him but sin. Again, if I judge the hypocrite or Pharisee according to his works, I will also miss the mark. For he stands at the holy place, makes the best prayer imaginable, for he praises and thanks God with grand works, he fasts, gives the tenth of all his goods, harms no one; in short, everything, both outwardly and inwardly, appears well with him.

4. As he judges, all men judge; no one can condemn such an upright and virtuous life. Who dare say that fasting is not good; or that to praise God and give everyone what we owe them is evil? When I see a priest, monk, or nun with such apparent noble conduct, I regard them as pious. Who can say otherwise? Hence if I am to judge whether this one is good and the other evil, I must be able to look into the hearts of both. But I cannot see into the heart, and must make the proper distinction from their works, as Christ says: "By their fruits ye shall know them." Mat. 7:20.

5. He speaks of the publican as though he must have previously heard a word from God that touched his heart so that he believed it and thus became pious, as St. Paul says, Rom. 10:17: "So faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." When the Word falls into the heart, then man becomes pure and good. But the Evangelist does not indicate that he now first heard the Gospel here, but that he heard it somewhere, it matters not where. For he says: "God be merciful to me a sinner." This knowledge is above the powers of reason. And yet it must previously have been known to him that God is merciful, gracious and friendly to all those who confess their sins, who call upon him and long for grace. As he heard that God is gracious by virtue of his very nature, to all those who humble themselves and seek comfort in him. But to preach thus is always the pure Gospel.

6. Hence the beginning of goodness or godliness is not in us, but in the Word of God. God must first let his Word sound in our hearts by which we learn to know and to believe him, and afterwards do good works. So we must believe from this that the publican had learned God's Word. If not, it would certainly have been impossible for him to acknowledge himself to be a poor sinner, as this Gospel reports. Indeed, it has a different appearance here, because St. Luke seems to insist more strongly on external works and appearances than on faith, and lays the emphasis more on the outward character and conduct than on the root and on the faith of the heart within. Nevertheless we must conclude that the publican had previously heard the Gospel. Otherwise his smiting his breast and his humble confession would not have occurred, had he not previously had faith in his heart.

7. This is also proper fruit, since it promotes God's honor; as God desires nothing but the offering of praise, as Psalms, 50:23, says: "Whoso offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifieth me, and to him that ordereth his way aright, will I show the salvation of God." In this way the publican also proceeds, gives God the offering of thanksgiving and secures to himself the forgiveness of sin, and praises God, puts himself to shame and exalts the truth above himself. Therefore we must praise and commend his work, because he gives God the highest honor and true worship. For he says: "God, be thou merciful to me a sinner." As though he would say: I am a rogue, this I confess, as you yourself know. Here you see that he confesses the truth, and is willing that God should reprove and revile him; yea, he does this himself, and casts himself down the very lowest, and with God he again rises upward, gives glory to God that he is gracious, kind and merciful. But in himself he finds nothing but sin. Wherefore these are the true fruits of faith.

8. Thus we have learned from his fruits the publican's faith. But how shall we understand what Christ says: "This man went down to his house justified," as he had already been just through faith, before he smote his breast? He certainly must have been just before. Why then does Christ say here: "He went down to his house justified?" This is what I have often said, if faith be true, it will break forth and bear fruit. If the tree is green and good, it will not cease to blossom forth in leaves and fruit. It does this by nature. I need not first command it and say: Look here, tree, bear apples. For if the tree is there and is good, the fruit will follow unbidden. If faith is present works must follow. If I confess that I am a sinner, it must follow that I will say: Alas God! I am a rogue, do thou cause me to be good. So this publican cares for nothing and speaks freely, though he puts himself to shame before all people, he does not care for that, as Ps. 116:10 says: "I believe, for I will speak. I was greatly afflicted," and says: "God, be thou merciful to me a sinner!" As though be would say: I now see that I am lost, for I am a bad man, and acknowledge my sins. Unless I believe and hold to God's mercy, and take the cup of the Saviour and call upon God's grace, I will be ruined.

9. Thus faith casts itself on God, and breaks forth and becomes certain through its works. When this takes place a person becomes known to me and to other people. For when I thus break forth I spare neither man nor devil, I cast myself down, and will have nothing to do with lofty affairs, and will regard myself as the poorest sinner on earth. This assures me of my, faith. For this is what it says: "This man went down to his house justified." Thus we attribute salvation as the principal thing to faith, and works as the witnesses of faith. They make one so certain that he concludes from the outward life that the faith is genuine.

10. We find this also in Abraham when he offers his son Isaac. Then God said: "For now I know that thou fearest God," Gen. 22:12. Surely, if he had not feared God, he would not have offered his son; and by this we know the fruit to be thoroughly good. Let us now heartily apply this to ourselves.

11. This is why St. Luke and St. James have so much to say about works, so that one says: Yes, I will now believe, and then he goes and fabricates for himself a fictitious delusion, which hovers only on the lips as the foam on the water. No, no; faith is a living and an essential thing, which makes a new creature of man, changes his spirit and wholly and completely converts him. It goes to the foundation and there accomplishes a renewal of the entire man; so, if I have previously seen a sinner, I now see in his changed conduct, manner and life, that he believes. So high and great a thing is faith.

For this reason the Holy Spirit urges works, that they may be witnesses of faith. In those therefore in whom we cannot realize good works, we can immediately say and conclude: they heard of faith, but it did not sink into good soil. For if you continue in pride and lewdness, in greed and anger, and yet talk much of faith, St. Paul will come and say, 1 Cor. 4:20, look here my dear Sir, "the kingdom of God is not in word but in power." It requires life and action, and is not brought about by mere talk.

12. Thus we err on both sides in saying, a person must only believe, then he will neglect to do good works and bring forth good fruits. Again, if you preach works, the people immediately comfort themselves and trust in works. Therefore we must walk upon the common path. Faith alone must make us good and save us. But to know whether faith is right and true, you must show it by your works. God cannot endure your dissembling, for this reason he has appointed you a sermon which praises works, which are only witnesses that you believe, and must be performed not thereby to merit anything, but they should be done freely and gratuitously toward our neighbor.

13. This must be practiced until it becomes a second nature with us. For thus God has also introduced works, as though he would say: if you believe, then you have the kingdom of heaven; and yet, in order that you may not deceive yourselves, do the works. To this the Lord refers in John 15:17, when he says to his disciples: "These things I command you, that ye may love one another." And previous to this at the supper he said, John 13:34-35: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another: even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." And shortly before this he said, v. 5: "For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you."

As though he would say: Ye are my friends, but this the people will not know by your faith, but when you show the fruits of faith, and break forth in love, then they will know you. The fruits will not save you nor make you any friends, but they must show and prove that you are saved and are my friends. Therefore mark this well, that faith alone makes us good; but as faith lies concealed within me, and is a great life, a great treasure, therefore the works must come forth and bear witness of the faith, to praise God's grace and condemn the works of men. You must cast your eyes to the earth and humiliate yourself before everyone, that you may also win your neighbor by your services; for this reason God lets you live, otherwise nothing would be better for you than to die and go to heaven. This you now also observe clearly in the good publican.

14. So you find two judgments: one according to faith, the other according to outward works. The foundation you have in that faith is concealed; this he feels, who believes; but that is not enough, it must express itself as you see above in the publican, who breaks forth in humility, so much as not to lift his eyes to heaven, smites on his breast and praises God, by which he helps me to say when my sins oppress me: Behold, the publican also was a sinner and said: "God, be thou merciful to me a sinner;" thus too, I will do. By this will I also be strengthened so that when I see my sins I will think of his example, and with it comfort and strengthen myself, so that I can say: Oh God, I see in the publican that thou art gracious to poor sinners. Faith the believer keeps for himself, but externally he communicates its fruits to other people.

15. The publican is on the right road and is twice justified; once through faith before God, and again by his works to me. Here he gives unto God his glory, and by faith repays him with praise. Also toward me he performs the duty of love, and puts words into my month and teaches me how to pray. Now he has paid all his debts toward God and man. So faith urges him to do; without however requiring anything from God as a reward of faith.

16. This is one character of the publican, who, according to faith which is the spiritual judgment, is acknowledged justified, while according to the flesh he is unprofitable. For the Pharisee passes and does not notice him, sees not his faith, lets him stand way back, and sees him alone in his sins, and knows not that God has been gracious to him, and converted and reformed him. So when a carnally minded man would condemn a sinner according to his sins, it is otherwise impossible, he must fail.

17. Let us now consider the fool, the Pharisee. Here are most beautiful works. In the first place he thanks God, fasts twice in the week, and all this to honor God, not St. Nicholas or St. Barnabas, he gives the tenth of all his goods, nor has he at any time committed adultery, has never done any one violence or robbed him of his goods. Thus he has conducted himself in an exemplary manner. This is a beautiful honest life, and excites our wonder and surprise. Truly, after the fashion of the world no one could find fault with him, yea, one must praise him. Yes, to be sure he does this himself.

18. But God is the first to come and say, that all the work of the Pharisee is blasphemy. God help us, what an awful sentence this is! Priests and nuns may well be terrifled by it, and all their bones quake, as you scarcely ever find one of them as pious as this Pharisee. Would to God we could have many such hypocrites and Pharisees; for then they could be taught better things.

19. Well, what is the matter with the good man? Only this, he does not know his own heart. Here you see that we are our own greatest enemies, who close our eyes and hearts, and think we are as we feel. For if I should ask any such hypocrite: Sir, do you mean just what you say? he would take an oath, that it is not otherwise. But behold, see how deep God's sword cuts, and pierces through all the recesses of the soul, Heb. 4:12. Here everything must go to ruin, or fall to the earth in humiliation, otherwise nothing can stand before God. Thus a pious woman must here fall down and kiss the vilest harlot's feet, yea, her footprints.

20. Now let us better see and hear what the Lord says to this. There stands the publican and humbles himself, says nothing of fasting, nothing of his good works, nor of anything. Yet the Lord says that his sins are not so great as the sins of the hypocrite; even in spite of anyone now exalting himself above the lowest sinner. If I exalt myself a finger's breadth above my neighbor, or the vilest sinner, then am I cast down. For the publican during his whole life did not do as many and as great sins as this Pharisee does here when he says: I thank thee God that, I am not as other men are; and lies enough to burst all heaven. From him you hear no word like: "God, be thou merciful to me a sinner!" God's mercy, sympathy, patience and love are all forgotten by him, while God is nothing but pure mercy, and he who does not know this, thinks there is no God, as in Psalm 14:1: "The fool hath Said in his heart, There is no God." So it is with an unbeliever who does not know himself. Therefore I say one thing more, if he had committed the vilest sin and deflowered virgins, it would not have been as bad as when he says: "I thank thee God, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." Yes, yes, do I hear you have no need of God and despise his goodness, mercy, love and everything that God is? Behold, these are thy sins. Hence the public gross sins that break out are insignificant; but unbelief which is in the heart and we cannot see, this is the real sin in which monks and priests strut forth; these lost and corrupt ones are sunk head and ears in this sin, and pretend to be entirely free from it.

21. Further, since he has now blasphemed God and lied to him, because he is unwilling to confess his sins, he falls further and sins against love to his neighbor, in that he says: "Even as this publican." He could not bear his presence without blaming and condemning him. Here all commandments are abolished and transgressed, for he denies God and does his neighbor no good. In this way he goes to ruin, because he has not obeyed a letter of the law. For if he had said: Oh God, we are all sinners, this poor sinner is also like myself and all the rest: and had he joined the congregation and said: Oh God, be merciful unto us! then he would have fulfilled God's commandment, namely, the first, in that he gave God the honor and the praise, and had he afterwards said: Oh God, I see this one is a sinner, in the jaws of the devil; dear Lord, help him! and had he thus brought him to God and prayed to God for him, be would then also have obeyed the other commandment of Christian love as Paul says, Gal. 6:2, and teaches: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

22. Now he comes and praises himself that he is just. He has a poisonous, wicked heart, who praises himself most gloriously on account of his pretended good works, how he fasted and gave the tenth of all he had. Hence he is so full of hatred to his neighbor, if God allowed him to judge, he would plunge the poor publican down into the deepest hell. Behold, is not this a wicked heart and terrible to hear, that I would all men should go to ruin, if only I be praised? Yet all this is so finely decorated and adorned by external conduct, that no one can censure it. Here we see how we are to know the tree from its fruits. For when I view his heart with spiritual eyes, I recognize it is full of blasphemy and hatred to his neighbor. From these fruits I know that the tree is evil. For works would not be evil in themselves, but the evil root in the heart makes them evil. This is set before us that we may beware and guard ourselves against it.

23. Again, on the other hand, examine the heart also of the publican. Here we find that he believes. Hence his works are good and of service to the whole world, for he teaches that a man should humble himself and praise God. On the contrary the other with his works makes saints who are puffed up and proud of heart; for be is entrapped in sins, his soul is condemned, and is fast in the jaws of the devil, and the high minded knave steps forth and praises himself, because his neighbor over there is a sinner. To sum up all, he misleads the whole world with his hypocritical life. Thus we must judge the fruits with spiritual eyes as we have now judged these two; then we will know the tree whether it be good or evil.

24. Now, where did I obtain this judgment? Here: God has given me his law like a mirror, in which I see what is good and evil. It says: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself," Deut. 6:5, Mat. 22:37. Now the works of the publican praise God and benefit the whole world, because they teach us to know, and show us the way of God our Saviour. Therefore they are good because they praise God and benefit our neighbor. On the other hand, the hypocrite struts forth and blasphemes God, and with his corrupt life misleads the whole world.

25. I should also speak of the great and shameful vice of slander, when one belies another, exposes him and speaks evil of him; while we are all alike after all, and no one has a reason to exalt himself above another. But that the government judges and punishes crime, it does by virtue of its office. For it wields the sword to make the transgressor fear. For God will not tolerate sin, and desires that the wicked have no rest, as the prophet Isaiah says, 48:22: "There is no peace, saith Jehovah, to the wicked." Therefore where God does not internally disturb sinners, he will wipe out sin by fire and water, that they can have no peace from without. When such sins are to be punished, the officers, judges and people should think thus: Oh God! although I myself am a poor sinner and a much greater one than this person, and a much greater thief and adulterer than this one; still I will execute my office and leave him no rest in his sins and belabor him; for this is thy divine command. Concerning this I have said more on other occasions, especially in my book on the Civil Government, which you can read yourself; for the present let this suffice, and pray God for grace.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity, 2011

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity, 2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 652     I Lay My Sins on Jesus              1.24
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 #190            Christ Is Arisen            1:52

Warning for Our Time

The Communion Hymn # 308 Invited Lord            1:63
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 452     The Son of Man            1:10

KJV 1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

KJV Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. 45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; 46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. 47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, 48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

Tenth Sunday After Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy Holy Ghost hast revealed unto us the gospel of Thy Son, Jesus Christ: We beseech Thee so to quicken our hearts that we may sincerely receive Thy word, and not make light of it, or hear it without fruit, as did Thy people, the unbelieving Jews, but that we may fear Thee and daily grow in faith in Thy mercy, and finally obtain eternal salvation, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Warning for Our Time

Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

Few can appreciate the magnificence of the Roman Empire at the time Jesus spoke these words. Perhaps a lifetime of reading about this era might provide enough insights, because Rome absorbed the culture and technology of every country they conquered. The only leader they did not defeat was Herman the German, who knew how the Romans fought and set up a guerrilla attack to demolish an army.

Rome was at the peak of its power when Jesus warned Jerusalem to repent. Everything He predicted came to pass.

The Jewish people resented Roman occupation, so conditions for revolt built up. Unfortunately for them, an initial battle defeated the Romans, so they thought they could defeat Rome. The empire struck back, sending an army and thousands of slaves to level Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was so well defended by its walls and natural features that a Roman general said it was a miracle that the city fell. Rome did not work miracles, but steadily starved cities in revolt. They built a high wall around the city, to prevent help and food from entering, just as Jesus predicted.

The rest of the story is horrible, because fear of famine sent people into a panic. As Luther wrote, they resorted to eating shoe leather and cannibalism. The strong stole food from the weak.

Once the army entered the city, greed prompted the soldiers to pursue gold and jewels. According to one account, “not one stone left on another” came from the search for gold.

Those who were not killed outright were sold into slavery and scattered around the world.

This happened 40 years after the death and resurrection of Christ. For that very reason, the Christians were despised as one denomination of the troublesome Jews who revolted. While we see the two as distinctly different, the Romans did not. We imagine that few Jews became Christian in that time, but many did, until there was a great reaction against anyone in Judaism using their membership to preach about Christ.

Now the popular imagination sees Paul as simple the apostle to the Gentiles, but he worked among the Jews, as the other apostles did, and accomplished great things through the Gospel. As he wrote, he could be a rabbi among the Jews and preach Christ. That did not help his popularity with the religious leaders.

The parallel today is to be a Lutheran among Lutherans and teach Luther’s doctrine. That simply is not allowed. The only thing that matters is man-made law and old heresies. Man’s law and man’s heresies are defended at all costs, and nothing is too base, low, or dishonest to maintain error.

As the old poem says, “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.” But the second part is hope. Hope in the Word of God.

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,-
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

James Russell Lowell

This lesson is a warning for our time. We are definitely living in the Age of Apostasy. One way to measure that is to look at what conservative Lutherans are doing with Bible translations – setting aside all other issues.

The LCA never had an official translation. They even provided lectionary inserts with three translations for the three readings each Sunday. Diversity – as long as the political program is followed perfectly and robotically.

The Syn Conference favored the King James Version for a long time. I understand the ELS tended to use the New KJV, which was around in the 1980s – but is not a celebrity translation now. Celebrity translations are hyped for a few years, then fade.

The conservative Lutherans could have modernized their own KJV decades ago, if they had to. But they did not.

Missouri and WELS (puppy dog ELS too) staked their publishing future on the wretched NIV. Bibles are big business, and sales about Bible books also lucrative for everyone. Those who went along with the NIV and “helped,” like John Jeske, were rewarded in many ways. Naturally money drives the need for the New NIV, which is far worse than the horrible NIV.

Herman Otten promotes his Beck Bible, which was so up to date that it has been revised about 4 times in the last few years (the number open to debate).

Paul McCain, Otten’s political ally, shills for the ESV, which is a Calvinist revision of the obnoxious RSV. The National Council of Churches created the RSV. Concordia Publishing House will rake in the money for the ESV, and the loot will be shared with the fortunate authors.

In this Babel of translations, one name is missing. Tyndale studied under Luther and Melanchthon and worked on his English translation with their help. His first printing of his English Bible came from Germany because of this help and English persecution. King Henry VIII burned Tyndale at the stake, but King James allowed a group of scholars to work through the Tyndale translation and publish the Authorized Version, popularly called the KJV.
Everyone is celebrating the 400th year of the KJV being published in 1611. The conservative Lutherans are mum because they are so busy betraying their own members and keeping their pastoral candidates in darkness and error.

As Luther said, never has the Word of God been more available to everyone and yet scorned universally. He could point to the printing press as that tool that spread the Gospel cheaply around the world. Luther’s books alone created a fortune for those who printed them, and he just gave them away.

Today we have the biggest innovation since the printing press, the Internet. The moment I publish a sermon it is available free around the world. For someone who wrote his dissertation on a portable typewriter, coveting an IBM Selectric he could not afford, this remains a marvel.

And people have access to anything orthodox and Christian they desire. When I wanted to print Luther’s sermon on this text, I found one website after another with the sermon available (free) and easily copied in a few seconds.

Because the Word of God is available to all, the judgment against those who despise it will be far greater. There is no excuse. The evil tactics used to suppress the Gospel are signs of this despising, especially when they come from clergy who should know better.

The Gospel
The entire Bible, says Luther, is a sermon about Jesus. The Gospel not only includes Christ dying for the sins of the world, but all promises and blessings from God.

The primary preaching of the Law is to show people this sin - that they do not utterly trust in Christ for their forgiveness.

KJV John 16:8 And when He [the Holy Spirit] is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on Me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see Me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

KJV John 3:16 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. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Thus the Gospel plants and sustains faith in the hearts of those who hear it. God creates and sustains this faith through His Gospel and declares us forgiven - justification by faith.

The Visible Word
Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are the Gospel in visible form, always efficacious. For that reason we should always uphold the blessing of infant baptism and teach against those Baptists and Pentecostals who denounce it as heresy.

Likewise, Holy Communion must be closed and offered frequently to demonstrate the significance of the Word in saving and condemning.

Pastoral Work in the Word
The pastor has no other calling than to preach his own sermons, based on his own study. He should offer the Sacraments without hesitation or shame, and to take Word out on visits to shut-ins, the hospitalized, the grieving, and the spiritually indolent.

Luther and the Book of Concord
Ankle-biters like to go over minor conflicts from the last century, so they can spend a few more months pounding an issue rather than teaching the Gospel. If they spent time with the sermons of Luther and the Book of Concord, they would have something to teach.

The study of Luther's doctrine has been in complete collapse for decades, with all the synod leaders (Big Four) spending their time with the Enthusiasts at Fuller Seminary, Willow Creek, Mars Hill, Trinity Divinity, Granger, North Point, Sweet, and worse.

If a pastor or pastoral candidate understands the efficacy of the Word, he will make that the foundation of all he does, excluding:
  1. Most living authors.
  2. Synodical position papers, essays, and other trivia.
  3. Sermonic books.
Given the Biblical teaching of the efficacy of the Word in the Means of Grace, there can be no forgiveness apart from that faith created by the Gospel.

Tenth Sunday after Trinty
Sound Doctrine

"This epistle selection treats of spiritual things, thing which chiefly pertain to the office of the ministry and concern the Church authorities. Paul instructs how those in office should employ their gifts for the benefit of one another and thus further the unity and advancement of the Churches."              
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 197f.

"Whenever the Word of God has a foothold, there the devil will be. By the agency of his factions he will always build his taverns and kitchens beside God's house. So he did at first, in Paradise. In the family of Adam he entrenched himself, establishing there his church."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 198.
"But dissensions, sects and divisions are sure signs that the true doctrine is either ignored or misunderstood, men thus being left in a condition to be 'tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine,' as Paul says (Ephesians 4:4); which is indisputably the case with these same schismatics who condemn the Church and her doctrines because of some discordant ones."              
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 204.          

"Thus Paul rejects the glorying and boasting of the sects over their offices and gifts--they who pretend to be filled with the Spirit and to teach the people correctly, and who make out that Paul and other teachers are of no consequence...More than that, they demand a higher attainment in the Spirit for Gospel ministers, deeming faith, the Sacrament, and the outward office not sufficient."              
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 206.        

"You are either reproaching and cursing Jesus, or praising him and owning him your Lord. If your preaching and teaching fail to point to Christ, something else being offered, and you nevertheless boast of the Spirit, you are already judged: the spirit you boast is not the Holy Spirit, not the true Spirit, but a false one. To it we are not to listen. Rather we are condemn it to the abyss of hell, as Paul declares, (Galatians 1:8), saying: 'But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any Gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema [damned to Hell].'"  
            Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 206.       

"The same is true of other factions--the Anabaptists and similar sects. What else do they but slander baptism and the Lord's Supper when they pretend that the external [spoken] Word and outward sacraments do not benefit the soul, that the Spirit alone can do that?" Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 208. "Flesh and blood are too weak to obtain this glorious confidence; the Holy Spirit is essential. Reason and our own hearts cry out in protest: 'Alas, I am far too evil and unworthy! How could I be proud and presumptuous enough to boast myself the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ?"
            Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 210.

"The gift of prophecy is the ability to rightly interpret and explain the Scriptures, and powerfully to reveal therefrom the doctrine of faith and the overthrow of false doctrine. The gift of prophecy includes, further, the ability to employ the Scriptures for admonition and reproof, for imparting strength and comfort, by pointing out, on the one hand, the certainty of future indignation, vengeance and punishment for the unbelieving and disobedient, and on the other hand presenting divine aid and reward to godly believers. Thus did the prophets with the Word of God, both the Law and the promises."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 213.       

"Christians, however, though obliged to live among swine and to be at times trampled under foot and rooted about, have nevertheless surpassing glory; for they can look up and intelligently behold their Lord and His gifts."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 217.  

"But the discerning Christian can with satisfaction boast on this wise: 'My baptism or my absolution is not of my own devising or ordaining, nor of another man's. It is of Christ my Lord."     Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 219.  

"His gifts and works in His Church must effect inexpressible results, taking souls from the jaws of the devil and translating them into eternal life and glory."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 220.  

Church Growth Spiritual Gifts
"People Person: Have been recognized as a counselor and mediator. Brought harmony to what was once described as 'the most troubled Lutheran church in America. Personal: Born, December 6, 1941, Columbus. Married, three children. Spiritual gifts: Exhortation, teaching, administration and evangelism.
            Floyd Luther Stolzenburg 2904 Maryland Avenue Columbus, Ohio 43209-1157 614-235-5200  

"Recognizing the need for professional church growth consultation, in 1975 he [C. Peter Wagner] invited John Wimber to become the founding director of what is now the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth. Wimber got the Institute off to an excellent start, then left to become the founding pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim and Vineyard Ministries Internamtion... Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow (Regal, 1979) is approaching the 100,000 mark... Church Growth and the Whole Gospel (Harper and Row, 1981) is a scholarly discussion of criticisms of the Church Growth Movement from the viewpoint of social ethics, in which Wagner did his doctoral work."
            C. Peter Wagner, ed., with Win Arn and Elmer Towns, Church Growth: The State of the Art, Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1986, p. 271f.     

"Pastors and lay persons trained in Church Growth are leading Christians to discover their spiritual gifts. They are looking into the Scripture and discovering those verses in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 where some of the gifts are listed." [See C. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, 1979, "a discussion of gifts which relates specifically to the potential of mobilizing God's people for church growth," p. 33.]
            Kent R. Hunter, Launching Growth in the Local Congregation, A Workbook for Focusing Church Growth Eyes, Detroit: Church Growth Analysis and Learning Center, 1980, p. 26.    

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity, 2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 628            Shepherd of Tender Youth               3:74
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 #283            God’s Word               3:90

Faith and Works

The Communion Hymn # 175            When I                        3:93
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 # 50                    Lord Dismiss Us                3:86

KJV 1 Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

KJV Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Ninth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, who hast bountifully given us Thy blessing and our daily bread: We beseech Thee, preserve us from covetousness, and so quicken our hearts that we willingly share Thy blessed gifts with our needy brethren; that we may be found faithful stewards of Thy gifts, and abide in Thy grace when we shall be removed from our stewardship, and shall come before Thy judgment, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Faith and Works

This parable can be misunderstood and often is. During the Reformation, the Roman Catholic leaders used it to promote salvation by works, and that is still done today by many Protestants. One could easily say that all religions are converging on a scheme of salvation by works, which is what the natural man (unaided by the Word of God) understands.

Adding to the discomfort is the strange example of the unrighteous steward, who is admired for his shrewd behavior. Thus it is easy to bypass this lesson and find something less jarring.
If anything, this parable proves what Jesus meant by teaching parables as riddles, lest “they see and be saved.” Casual listeners cannot grasp this one and believers need to study it in the context of the entire Scriptural message.

The Parable
KJV Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

The phrase “a certain rich man” is used to show this is a parable, a short story with a lesson. The rich man had a manager for his estate. We no longer say “steward” but that was once a term used for those who took care of property and kingships, having responsibility but not ownership.

The manager was in trouble because he was accused of being wasteful. Perhaps he was lazy or corrupt.

Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

This means there was no room left for the steward to plead his case and ask for mercy. He has to bring the books up to date, give an account of his management, because he was no longer trusted.

KJV Luke 16:3 Then the steward said within himself, “What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.”

At this point the manager was in deep trouble. He cannot live by physical labor and he does not want to be a poor beggar in the streets. He has been able to live in great comfort because of the owner’s wealth. So the parable sets up the main action quickly, with most of the details reserved for what the manager did.

KJV Luke 16:4 “I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.”

Knowing he must be fired for bad management, he hatched a plan so that he can be a manager somewhere else. He will make the business partners indebted to him rather than his master.

Certain details give this away. The olive oil and wheat are large amounts, so the wealthy man is undoubtedly a commodities broker. Large amounts are involved, like when the Skakel family got into coke (from coal). They bought and sold trainloads.

KJV Luke 16:5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
Only two examples are given, but the text literally says that he called “every single one.” The words suggest a large number of business partners, all owing a large sum from previous transactions.

KJV Luke 16:6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

Here are two signs of shrewdness. One is that the manager had the partners rewrite the bills. As Lenski noted, he is not going to defraud his master (openly), but he will engage these wealthy men in fraudulent paperwork. The partners will owe the steward far more than the owner, because the steward will be able to put them out of business and throw them into prison.

I dealt with an insurance agent like that. He was breaking all the rules to take a client away from me. That led to an application that was clearly illegal for that particular contract – against company policy, due to a conflict in disability coverage. Suddenly he did not want to sign that application.

KJV Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

The wealthy man praised his dishonest manager, because the steward found a way to get a job with another firm, rather than dig or beg for a living. Doubtless the wealthy man had engaged in a number of sharp deals himself, so he saw the survivor’s instinct in his servant.

The ending perplexes many for good reason.

KJV Luke 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations

The Catholic Church teaches that this parable reveals the necessity of works, because this statement seems so obvious. They emphasize faith formed (or perfected) by works. Thus they can say “justification by faith” without qualms, because they practice mental reservation. They are not alone, because many Lutherans will do the same thing. I have a WELS meditation, which is labeled “justification by faith,” but its content is justification without faith.

Numerous Biblical passages teach justification by faith and others emphasize good works. Most people resolve this paradox the wrong way.

The Word of God does not contradict itself. That is why people need to know the basics of the faith and not be dazzled by someone’s stellar performance on one particular text.

The Bible teaches faith and works, as represented by the Ten Commandments. The first three Commandments show us our relationship to God, which is one of faith. This is the most important part of the Ten Commandments, because spiritual problems lead to sins against our neighbor. False doctrine is not trifling, because it argues against the truth of God’s Word and the majesty of the Holy Spirit. Those who play games with God’s Word will invariably end up damaging themselves, often fatally. They are like the men who broke into a power substation to steal copper. If they had thought about the danger of interrupting major electrical circuits, they might have gone somewhere else. One died. The other was injured and arrested. The painful pun in the news story said the accomplice “may face additional charges.”

The Second Table teaches us our relationship to others. No one can see our faith, but they can see our works. Also, we can judge our faith by our works. If we lie, steal, covet, and bear false witness, our faith must not rest in God but in ourselves.

Two false teachings about good works are obviously wrong and toxic when examined. One suggests that we should do good works for God, to help Him. Many wealthy people are told that their sins are forgiven when they donate large sums to fund another building “for the glory of God.” They usually have their names on the building. If that is too crass for a chapel, they have their names inside on a list of donations. When I visited the Schwan-funded chapel at Concordia Seminary St. Louis, I noticed his name, big and bold, in the donation tablet, prominently placed for everyone to admire.

That sort of trickery makes people think they can do anything as long as they pay for their sins by giving away large sums of money. Their motivation is not to help someone else but to atone for their sins. The church officials have no trouble loading students with crippling debt while they glory in their expensive chapels. Luther wondered why rich people put up churches so quickly, long before the old ones were breaking down and falling apart. Meanwhile, Lazarus lay at the gate getting nothing.

Compassion would have officials living frugally so students could graduate with little or no debt, worshiping in humble buildings, as the founders often did until they could afford something better. I have to wonder about academic leaders letting a student get a load of debt to pay for salaries while knowing a church vocation will not happen for that individual. There are many ways to rob and deceive someone.

A second argument for good works is that performing them for others will gain entrance to heaven. That should strike people as ludicrous – feeding and clothing the poor to obtain heaven. That is Pharisaic logic, doing good to get something good in return. Unbelievers are keenly aware of that kind of thinking.

That is the great, hearty joke in the parable, which comes into focus in one more verse.

KJV Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

The least is mammon. Most people measure worth in money. I used to wonder why so many mobsters were so greedy. No matter how much they made, they always wanted more and killed for more. They measure their worth in money, their so-called honor in money. That is also why the most wealthy are also unbelievers. Mammon is their god, and there is no room for the true God at their altar of holiness.

The wealthy owner loved mammon and the steward did too. So did the business partners. All were shrewd in their dealings. The owner could not keep a manager who wasted his mammon. The steward could not give up his life of mammon. The business partners were quite willing to cheat their partner to have more mammon for themselves.

This is background for the joke. God already provides for us, believers and unbelievers alike. People put all their emphasis on the least, the mammon, and often very little on the most, the Word of God.

So Jesus is saying, “Be as shrewd with the Treasure of the Word as these people were with mammon. They moved mountains for their mammon. Be as energetic in preserving and teaching the One Truth of God, the Gospel.”

Even today, people say, “This is a good church. Look at the fine buildings. They are successful.” The worst false teachers live like kings, so people admire that too. My favorite example is the TV preacher and his father who did this when a painter came to collect on a bill for the mansion. One man held him down while the other slugged him. That was in the papers. I never heard him speak on The Rich Man and Lazarus but I would have paid money to be there so I could snicker at key points.

Some think that is so clearly a problem with other churches, but they see it in their own districts, circuits, and congregations. I know many ministers who have been sent into poverty by the cruelty of false teachers, who already have plenty for themselves. But the false teachers cannot abide anyone questioning them. They substitute verbal beatings for physical beatings, because they cannot get away with fisticuffs. The results are the same. Since all turn away, falsehood is rewarded and advanced. Truth is sent packing, but God turns evil into good by moving the Gospel rain to another place.

Luther made a good point about the overall theme of this parable. The parable reveals admiration for shrewdness about mammon, but that admiration is in the eyes of unbelievers.

One might even say about a woman, “She is a shrewd flirt.” That is, she knows how to get her way. That does not commend her behavior but only states she has mastered her craft.

Or, “He is a genius at lying.” That does not suggest we should all join that person and model our behavior after his. As one factory supervisor told me, “I do not work with angels. They are crude, gross people. They are not believers. But they are disgusted with ministers who are unfaithful, who do not live according to the Word. And they know who is doing that.” Thus the factory workers look at the adulterous ministers and say, “They have no faith. That is obvious.”

The Jewish argument style is from the lesser to the greater. If people can be so keen about mammon (the lesser), then believers can be just as energetic about the pure Word of God (the greater). One is already provided by God for everyone, with extra for sharing. That is the mammon of unrighteousness. It does not forgive sins. It does not cure illness. It does not grant salvation.

The other is also provided in abundance. The Means of Grace are offered across the world in many different ways.

The Word teaches the importance of good works, that they naturally come from sincere faith. Those who abide with the True Vine, Christ, will bear fruit. John 15:1-10.

A good tree (sound doctrine) must bear good fruit. An evil tree (false doctrine) must bear corrupt fruit.

The Law recognizes sinful behavior, but the Gospel defeats and quells our sinful nature. The Law is diagnosis. The Gospel is the medicine.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity,  2011

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 39                    Praise to the Lord                              3:1  
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 #260                O Lord Look Down                3:41  

Begin with the Word of God

The Communion Hymn # 307            Draw Nigh                3:72
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 # 309     O Jesus Blessed Lord             3:70  

KJV Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Eighth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank Thee that Thou hast caused us to come to the knowledge of Thy word. We pray Thee: graciously keep us steadfast in this knowledge unto death, that we may obtain eternal life; send us now and ever pious pastors, who faithfully preach Thy word, without offense or false doctrine, and grant them long life. Defend us from all false teachings, and frustrate Thou the counsels of all such as pervert Thy word, who come to us in sheep's clothing, but are inwardly ravening wolves, that Thy true Church may evermore be established among us, and be defended and preserved from such false teachers, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Begin with the Word of God

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Luther’s sermons on this text are reminders of how far the Lutheran Church has fallen into apostasy in this generation. The world-wide banking swindle seems to alarm people the most, but they should be asking themselves this question, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith?”

This lesson is found at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, serving as a warning about false teachers and encouragement about the efficacy of the Word.

These words conclude the Sermon on the Mount:

KJV Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. 28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

The end times are marked by apostasy, falling away from the Christian faith. A man who is born an atheist and remains an atheist is not an apostate. However, the best example of apostasy can be found in those who begin as conservative Protestants and remain in church vocations while turning against the Christian faith. Rob Bell, a graduate of Fuller Seminary, is the easy and obvious poster boy for such apostasy. Pointing the finger at a distant figure is easy. The best examples are home-grown, not in big, bad ELCA, but in the Synodical Conference and its fragments.

KJV 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away  (Apostasia – Apostasy) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.

The Word of Jesus is important in every detail. The wolves are not dresses as wolves but as sheep. Lutherans have enjoyed this little game of identifying the liberals among the conservatives and crying about trivial matters involving those straying beasts. A man who attacks the basic doctrines of the Christian Faith is wearing his lupine hide on the outside. He is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing at all.

The wolves are disguised as “confessional” Lutherans. They love that delightfully vague term. Seldom do people hear “orthodox Lutheran,” far more precise, too precise for the lot of them.

The “confessional Lutherans” keep themselves busy, praising themselves, angling for better calls, and attacking the efficacy of the Word. They attack it in two ways – first by ignoring it, second by substitution.

Not long ago I received John Brug’s The Ministry of the Word, a huge book, from Northwestern Publishing House (WELS). He is the Old Testament professor at their seminary and actually has a doctorate in that field. Perhaps my eyes are worn from too much reading, but I can find nothing in that volume about the efficacy of the Word – except for one passing reference.

Efficacy of the Word.
The efficacy of the Word is taught throughout the Bible, starting with Creation. In fact, one can easily find in the yammerings of all the liberals a deliberate contempt for the efficacy of the Word. Rationalism tells them that God cannot create the universe in six, 24-hour days. Nor can He invoke a global flood or stop it from continuing – they claim. God is still handy for raising funds and endowing schools, so they still use His Name, which is now changing to suit the feminazi cause.

Luther always taught the efficacy of the Word. No one can teach Old Testament studies faithfully without that foundational knowledge. The Jews believed in it, and attributed that efficacy to rabbis. I can find rabbinical stories that support the efficacy of the Word far better than all the modern Lutheran books out there today. That includes Brug.

Put another way – Ignoring the efficacy of the Word is a direct attack upon the Holy Spirit’s power. The Bible is the Book of the Holy Spirit, as Luther wrote, and teaches us its power, efficacy, and clarity (perspicuity). Ignoring the efficacy of the Word is blasphemy, an attack against God the Holy Spirit.

When I looked up the topic of efficacy in various large academic libraries, I found almost nothing printed in all the scholarly books and journals of this era. But Luther and the Book of Concord treat the topic frequently, as the foundation for all Biblical teaching.

For various reasons many of my early courses were in Old Testament and in Judaism. I was fortunate to have a real archeologist as an Old Testament professor and a former truck driver turned Hebraist as my first teacher in Hebrew. The first loved digging up sites. The second fell into Hebrew by accident and loved teaching the language. At Yale I had an excellent teacher in Genesis, a conservative scholar, and a New Testament professor famous for his knowledge of the Old Testament. Because of independent studies, I spent a lot of time reading books about OT history and rabbinic lore. Then I had a rabbinic scholar at Notre Dame, who took us through about five rabbinic books per week for a semester.

A constant in all honest Old Testament and rabbinic books is the power of God’s Word. When God speaks, His will is carried out. This is best expressed in the Genesis Creation, in many Psalms, and in Isaiah 55. The central message of Isaiah 55:8-11 is the inevitable result of God’s Word.

We have had a drought lately in Arkansas. Our friend joked with us that his grass stopped growing and turned white. Ours was due to be cut a month ago, and it stopped too. Now the rain is rolling through, hour after hour of steady rain, not just a sprinkle. The rain greened up the grass immediately, and started it growing again. It is not because rain is water. Any farmer will agree – watering keeps plants alive but does not make them grow very much. Rain has dissolved nitrogen in each drop, so one steady rain will green up all of Creation, spike the insect population, and make the birds sing happily as they look over their new meals of bugs and seeds.

The Word of God has that inevitable effect, but it belongs to God alone. Man cannot adopt, change, or merge it with human opinions. Because the Word of God belongs to Him alone, the timing and style of its effect is up to Him. Sometimes it converts and enlightens. At other times it hardens and blinds. Pharaoh hardened his heart against the Word, even though he was privileged to have Moses speak to him. Saul lost his faith in God and became blinded by jealousy and madness.

Paul spoke and riots started. The religious leaders wanted him killed, and the civil authorities obliged. Look at all the trouble he caused! He needed killing, as they say in the South.

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that this was a necessary part of teaching the Word, bearing the cross.

KJV Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

That is why Luther spent the Augsburg Diet in another city, because the Holy Roman Empire wanted to kill him for teaching the truth. The same Emperor who hated Lutherans (and Germans) was a fine military leader against the Muslim invaders and also served as one cause for the Book of Concord being written. As Luther said, God is quite good at managing things, so we should leave the big and small issues up to Him.

Removing Efficacy by Substitution
The other way to get rid of the efficacy of the Word (in the minds of Christians) is to substitute a base metal for the treasure of the Gospel.

Henry VIII was a big spender. To pay his bills, he substituted copper for the silver in the shilling. The copper came through on his nose, in the image on the coins, so he was known for his shiny nose and corrupted coinage.

Dentists call fillings “silver” when they are a combination of silver and mercury. The mercury binds to the silver and makes it easier to fill cavities. No dentist will say, “I am using mercury in your mouth, the stuff that closes down schools when it is spilled.” He says “silver” or “amalgam.”

That is a great way to deliver false doctrine, by amalgamation. Those who teach Universal Objective Justification are the “confessional Lutherans.” All the mainline groups teach it too, especially ELCA.

Substitution works this way. The “confessional Lutherans” do not reject justification by faith in an obvious way. No, they tack it on the end of their little rants. The real message is clear – the entire world has been absolved, forgiven of its sin, without the Word. Every single baby—whether Hindu, Muslim, or cannibal—is born forgiven. That is backed up by a Eduard Preuss quotation, without mentioning that he turned and became a Roman Catholic theologian, after seeing a brilliant sunset – a sign from God! No, God’s message was in the Word, but Preuss saw the divine will in the clouds: “Turn papist!” That is their UOJ hero.

But what do these UOJ fanatics really teach? That is given away in their statements of rejection. There is such a long list of them. Recently retired blogger Paul T. McCain published this:

“Never look to your subjective feeling that there is faith in your heart. Always, always, always, look to Christ and what He has done for you and the whole world. Do not confuse faith in faith, with trust in Christ. There is a key difference.
We are Christians, not Faith-ians.”

McCain, like all his “confessional Lutheran” friends, identifies justification by faith with Calvinism.

These “confessional Lutherans” do not attack the efficacy of the Word directly. Instead, they nibble along the edges, where they feel safe. They say,

“You are already forgiven and saved, so do not even mention faith. That is Calvinism. That is having faith in faith. That is a work of man.”
Seventh Day Adventists Agree with McCain

“According to the 1888 Message Study Committee ("1888 MSC"), the 1888 message reveals many "fresh, beautiful truths . . . that are not usually understood today."[1] One such "truth" is the concept that Christ's death at the cross accomplished a legal or objective justification which is universally and unconditionally applied to all men.[2] This doctrine is said to derive from the observations that Christ has borne the sins of "all men" and has died the second death for "every man."

Known by Their Fruits
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits.

Remember, this warning is not about obvious atheists who clearly oppose anything religious. Moving the focus of this lesson is clever, lending itself to attacks against the organized Humanists (a clever name for atheists) and other sects that are engaged in the same kind of Pietistic rants, as in “Thank God we are so pure, unlike…”.

False prophets always want to do good things. They say so all the time. They cover themselves with the holiness of their works. They are “passionate about sharing Jesus with others.” They will do “anything short of sin to reach people who have never been reached before.” (Groeschel, Ski, Glende)

But teaching against God’s Word is the greatest sin of all. The claim contradicts itself, because they really mean, “We can make God’s Word effective when others have not.”

Pietism is known for two fruits – doctrinal indifference and cell groups. What God teaches clearly in His Word is dismissed as polarizing and not worth an argument. But the necessity of being in a cell group and obeying all the cell group rules is essential. Disobeying the cell is damning by itself. It leads to all kinds of cult behavior, manipulation, and disorder.

False prophets are rude, obnoxious liars. The UOJ fanatics cannot produce Gospel fruit because they reject the Gospel. Their dishonesty reveals itself when they claim the Gospel but warn people away from faith.

KJV John 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him [GJ – utterly trust in] whom He hath sent.

Jesus never taught UOJ, but always taught justification by faith. However, generations since Gausewitz are so brain-washed that they reject this passage and hundreds of others in favor of statements from ignorant essayists and synod politicians, who amalgamate the message, replacing precious metal with base metal.

Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
The answer to this is clear enough for anyone. Gardeners know that many plants look like they will bear fruit, but they are really just weeds. Every good plant has a weed that looks just like it. The initial growth is pleasing, but the best way to tell what the plant is comes from the result of the flower bearing the fruit.
Nevertheless, “confessional Lutherans” claim they can go dumpster diving at Fuller, Granger, Mars Hill, and Willow Creek, and come up with the fruit of the Gospel.

One way to test the false teachers is to hold them accountable for their teaching. When challenged, they flatter at first, then turn upon their victims with rage when the flattery fails to work. Bribes come out too. A challenged leader will pull a call out of his back pocket. Two men silenced themselves to get the calls they wanted, promotions out of the labor of parish work.

Although various tactics are designed to intimidate, they should also be seen as evidence of the thorns and thistles. I had 9 foot tall thistles in one place. When I got done tearing them out, no one ear of corn appeared. No grapes. No strawberries. No edible pod peas. Just thistle pods and stickers all over me. When the wolves show their fangs and claws, that is a blessing, according to Jesus in Matthew 5:11-12, not a reason for backing down.

Matthew 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

Faith in the Gospel of Christ can only bring about good things. All things work together for the good for those who love God.

We may suffer many indignities and slights, and real harm from those who hate God’s Word and work from within the fold to bite, devour, and slaughter the lambs. The false teachers rage, but the Holy Spirit turns their evil into good.

Many people saw the 2009 ELCA convention as a great disaster, to be followed by the 2011 ELCiC convention (in Canada, eh?). But this alleged disaster finally opened some eyes and allowed thousands to leave their Babylonian Captivity. Although I have grave doubts about the current Biblical understanding of LCMC and NALC, the new formations allow them to study issues anew without the baggage of all the officials who were placed in their positions because of their advocacy of radicalism. (One was my classmate at Yale, who lost two positions from cutbacks, ending up as head of a bankrupt seminary. The evil tree does indeed bear evil fruit. His pastor-wife bragged that their daughter is living with a female partner now, so he probably does not notice or mind.)

The Holy Roman Emperor’s rage against the Lutherans created the climate needed for the Book of Concord. The Lutherans had to unite based on doctrine and employed their greatest theologians after Luther to accomplish that miracle. The miracle came about because they sincerely studied the Word of God to create that concord, that harmony.

Matthew 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Forget ELCA. The trees being cut down now are the LCMS, the ELS, the WELS, and the fragments of the Synodical Conference. The first three have had up to 160 years to establish and maintain the Word of God and the Confessions. Instead, they have turned away (apostasy) from both to devour the false teachings of Fuller Seminary, the Church of Rome, and various factions and sects.

Over 24 years ago, a graduating senior of Mequon said, “Greg. You have a Lutheran library. Mine is full of Reformed books, which the seminary told me to buy.” The tree is being cut down and cast into the fire.

WELS DP John Seifert told the Michigan pastors, “In a few years you will not recognize the synod.” He should know, because he and his brother Don were instrumental in destroying Lutheran doctrine.

Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Invoking the Name of Jesus is not going to cover up for attacking the Word of God, whether obvious or subtle. Look at the way in which the “confessional Lutherans” rail against the English version of Luther’s Bible – the King James.
WELS leaders have lined up to support the New NIV because it offers feminazi language, Adam as a myth, and universal salvation. The old nickname for WLC has returned – Moo U.
Missouri is behind the ESV. McCain loves it and hates justification by faith.
Christian News sells the Beck Bible. Why not fragment the Lutheran readers completely, with everyone showing up with a different translation, a different set of words to translate?

No one asks these questions –
Who enrolled at Wittenberg to study under Luther and Melanchthon?
Who printed his first English Bible in Germany?
Who was betrayed, strangled, and burned at the stake to give us an English Bible?

Was William Beck?
Was Doug Moo, the Murdoch lick-spittle for the NNIV?
Was J. I. Packer, the Calvinist, who simply revised the RSV owned by the gay Communist National Council of Churches?

Packer holds to Reformed theology, also known as Calvinism.[6]

No, one man alone fits that description – William Tyndale, whose persecuted translation became the King James Version.

Matthew 7: 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Look at all the buildings we put up in Your Name. Add up all our good works. We have been writing about them for 50 years, leaving out a few unfortunate episodes that would only damage the faith of the innocent. Altogether, though, haven’t we done well? Aren’t you proud of us?

God commands that we teach His Word alone, without compromise or excuse. That may result in little communities. At least we are united across the world through the Internet. I recall the hymn as

“Do not fear little flock,” not  - Lead some cheers, mega-flock.”

Knowing God and being known by God – both come from the Word of God, which conveys Jesus and His forgiveness to us. Trusting in Him for our salvation gives us His righteousness through faith.

The fallacy of emphasis, a logical fallacy, is one where the wrong word is used to turn truth into falsehood, falsehood into truth. The anti-Gospel UOJ clan is offended by justification by faith, picking on faith. The Gospel causes and sustains faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit. God declares us forgiven, so justification by faith emphasizes trust in God’s forgiveness in Christ. Therefore, believe is forgiveness, and forgiveness is salvation.

No one knows exactly how to follow the twisty path of UOJ, which doubles back on itself so many times.

But Luther teaches clearly in his sermon on this text. Unbelief is the foundational sin, which leads to all other sin. The Son of God took on our flesh to teach us.

KJV John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on Me.

Not believing in Christ is a sin, and that foundational sin does not justify, even if the Synodical Conference now agrees with the Seventh Day Adventists and ELCA. Jack Kilcrease, an ELCA-trained servant of Rome, also teaches against justification by faith, a fact touted by one Paul T. McCain. But all the blogs in all the world do not trump a single phrase from the Word of God.

Of sin, because they believe not on Me.

If you even fall into despair and depression, your conscience accusing you (with the help of Old Scratch), there is but one remedy. Do you believe Christ died to pay for your sins? If so, then your sins are all forgiven, forgotten, and absolved.

KJV Psalm 103:
1 {A Psalm of David.} Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
21 Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. 22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

Trinity Eight
Matthew 7:15-23

"Just as true doctrine is the greatest gift we can enjoy, so false doctrine is the most baneful evil that can beset us. False doctrine is sin, it is the invention of Satan, and it imperils and destroys salvation. False doctrine is every teaching contrary to the Word of God. Scripture enjoins upon us to proclaim only the truth."
            W. A. Baepler, "Doctrine, True and False," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 501.          

"No false dogma has ever been spread in the church which was not put forth with some plausible show, for sheep's clothing is the show of false religion (says Chrysostom). Indeed, the weaker and more ruinous the cause is, the more arguments it needs, sought everywhere and in every way possible, as though to cover it over with paint or to swathe it with medicine. For Pindar [famous Greek lyric poet, 518-438 B.C.] says, 'For a just cause three words are sufficient.' Therefore the papalists have gathered very many and varied arguements in order to establish purgatory."
            Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, III, p. 325.       

"Paul calls all false spirits bold and proud. Yes, in their filth with their protectors they are proud and impudent, otherwise they are the most cowardly villains that can be found. When they are to appear and answer for their conduct, they produce a single answer. Among themselves they are bold, and venture to catch God in His own Word; but when it comes to the test, they simply despair."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, 1983, V, p. 204.       
"For every sect has always had one or more particular hobbies and articles which are manifestly wrong and can easily be discerned to be of the devil, who publicly teach, urge and defend them as right certain and necessary to believe or to keep For the spirit of lies cannot so conceal himself, but that he must at last put forth his claws, by which you can discern and observe the ravenous wolf."
               Sermons of Martin Luther,  IV, p. 282f.         

"For this reason one should not be too credulous when a preacher comes softly like an angel of God, recommends himself very highly, and swears that his sole aim is to save souls, and says: 'Pax vobis!' For those are the very fellows the devil employs to honey people's mouths. Through them he gains an entrance to preach and to teach, in order that he may afterward inflict his injuries, and that though he accomplish nothing more for the present, he may, at least, confound the people's consciences and finally lead them into misery and despair."
             Sermons of Martin Luther,  II, p. 322.  

"It is not enough that we preach correctly, which the hireling can also do; but we must watch over the sheep, that the wolves, false teachers, may not break in, and we must contend for the sheep against the wolves, with the Word of God, even to the sacrifice of our lives. Such are good shepherds, of whom few are found."
              Sermons of Martin Luthe,r  III, p. 34.  

"There are other wolves, however, who come to us in sheep's clothing. They are the false prophets, who under the form of pious and religious instruction feed pure poison to the sheep of Christ. Against these Christ warns us, that we may be constantly on our guard, lest with sugar-coated words and flattering religious expressions they mislead us, deceive us, by their cunning, and draw us to themselves, as He says in Matthew 7:15: 'Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.'"  
            Sermons of Martin Luther,  III, p. 35.

"The world desires such wolf preaching, and is not worthy of anything better since it will not hear nor respect Christ. Hence it is that there are so few true Christians and faithful preachers, always outnumbered by the members of the false church."           
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 385.  

"For nothing can feed or give life to the soul, which is not the doctrine of Christ. Although the hireling does not himself slay and destroy he does not restrain the wolf. Therefore, because you neither point out nor teach this shepherd, you shall not and ought not to be heard, but you shall be shunned as a wolf."                     
Sermons of Martin Luther, III, p. 58f.          

"Thus too, if our confidence is to begin, and we become strengthened and comforted, we must well learn the voice of our Shepherd, and let all other voices go, who only lead us astray, and chase and drive us hither and thither. We must hear and grasp only that article which presents Christ to us in the most friendly and comforting manner possible. So that we can say with all confidence: My Lord Jesus Christ is truly the only Shepherd, and I, alas, the lost sheep, which has strayed into the wilderness, and I am anxious and fearful, and would gladly be good, and have a gracious God and peace of conscience, but here I am told that He is as anxious for me as I am for Him."
Sermons of Martin Luther,   IV, p. 86.  
"No work is so evil that it can damn a man, and no work is so good that it can save a man; but faith alone saves us, and unbelief damns us. The fact that someone falls into adultery does not damn him. Rather the adultery indicates that he has fallen from faith. This damns him; otherwise adultery would be impossible for him. So, then, nothing makes a good tree except faith."   
What Luther Says, An Anthology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 475. Matthew 7:15-23.         

"They [the false teachers] fared like a man who looks through a colored glass. Put before such a man whatever color you please, he sees no other color than that of the glass. The fault is not that the right color is not put before him but that his glass is colored differently, as the word of Is. 6:9 puts it: You will see, he says, and yet you will not see it."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, 1959, II, p. 644.           

"You cannot of a truth be for true doctrine without being unalterably opposed to false doctrine. There can be no 'positive theology' where the God-given negatives have been eliminated from the Decalog."
Norman A. Madson, Preaching to Preachers, Mankato: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1952 Preface.   

"Every departure from God's Word, every error, is dangerous to the soul. There is a fearful, diabolical power in error; for every error is the devil's work, and through fellowship with error a person puts himself under the influence of the devil. Here human reason is helpless."
Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 42.

"Even the history of the world shows how great is the power of the devil's kingdom. The world is full of blasphemies against God and of wicked opinions, and the devil keeps entangled in these bands those who are wise and righteous [many hypocrites who appear holy] in the sight of the world. In other persons grosser vices manifest themselves. But since Christ was given to us to remove both these sins and these punishments, and to destroy the kingdom of the devil, sin and death,it will not be possible to recognize the benefits of Christ unless we understand our evils. For this reason our preachers have diligently taught concerning these subjects, and have delivered nothing that is new, but have set forth Holy Scriptures and the judgments of the holy Fathers."
Apology Augsburg Confession, Article II: Of Original Sin, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119.