Sunday, April 29, 2012

Improve your Google Search skills -

"Today we hunt dragons."

Improve your Google Search skills -

By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times
April 27, 2012, 7:09 p.m.
Think you're a Google Search power user? You might not know all the ways to get faster, more focused search results. Here are five tips:

Exclude terms. If you're looking for information on Vikings, the old Norse explorers, you don't want pages on football's Minnesota Vikings. Use a minus sign to tell Google to exclude pages that contain a certain word, like this: Vikings - Minnesota.

Site search. Limit your search to a single website or a specific group of sites, by using site: followed by a Web address or ending. For example, type in your search and you'll get results only from the Los Angeles Times website. To get results only from U.S. government sites — which have Web addresses ending in ".gov" — add site:gov to your search. Use site:edu for colleges or site:mil forU.S. military sites.

Wildcard search. Use the asterisk to substitute for any word in a phrase. This can be handy for identifying a particular fact or finding a missing word in a song lyric. Put phrases in quotes. For instance, "Perris is in * county" or "in Penny Lane there is a * showing photographs."

Math and conversions. Enter a math problem into Google Search and it will give you the answer (use * for multiplication and / for division). It will also convert currencies and temperatures. Enter, for example, $100 in euros or 72 Fahrenheit in Celsius.

More shortcuts. Put "define" before any word (for example, define photobomb), and Google will give you a definition at the top of the results. Similarly, entering "movies" or "weather" before a ZIP Code or a city name will produce a list of films playing nearby or a weather forecast for that area.

'via Blog this'

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jubilate - The Third Sunday after Easter, 2012.
John 16:16

Jubilate, The Third Sunday of Easter, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn #  536     Awake My Soul  3.28
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual        
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 36     Now Thank We        3.40

No Man Takes Your Joy Away

The Communion Hymn # 354      In the Cross 3.84
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #231 We Now Implore                                    3.38 


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

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

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

Sorrow and Joy

The Sundays after Easter are also the Sundays before Pentecost. We are taught from the Word about the change  - from His local public ministry to the global ministry of the Spirit through the Word and Sacraments.

This ministry continue and expanded, but it remained the same ministry – conveying Christ and His forgiveness to the world.
1.    In the Old Testament, the Messiah was promised, and people believed in Him, justified by faith.
2.    In the Gospels, Jesus taught and performed miracles, teaching people that righteousness came from faith in Him.
3.    After Pentecost, the apostles were given the mission to teach justification by faith, to offer grace through the Means of Grace, Word and Sacrament.

This lesson came from immediately after the Last Supper, when the disciples were sorrowful about the reality of Jesus’ suffering and death. Our need to be taught the same things repeatedly is clearly shown in the Gospels, where the disciples were taught many times about His suffering, death, and resurrection.

16) The return of Jesus to his Sender brings such an advantage to the disciples (v. 7) in the coming and the work of the Paraclete that joy instead of great sorrow should fill their hearts. Now Jesus adds the further comfort that the separation shall be for “a little while” only. We have the same connection in 14:16, 17, the promise of the Paraclete, and v. 18, 19, the promise of Jesus’ coming and of the disciples’ beholding him. A little while, and you no longer behold me; and again a little while, and you shall see me. The separation is to be short. The first “little while” embraces only a few hours, the afternoon of this very day (Friday); the second “little while” shall be equally short. The change in verbs, first “to behold” and then “to see,” is of no special import. However painful a separation may be, if its duration is short, that is great comfort indeed.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1093.

John 16:16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. 17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?

This lesson repeats “a little while” so many times that Luther took note of it being a bit annoying. But it is characteristic of the Fourth Gospel and a good way to emphasize an answer to our impatience.

We grow impatient when difficulties seem to last forever, so that reminds us it will be “a little while.”

The disciples had enjoyed a time of great joy and wonder, with Jesus teaching them daily for three years, performing miracles and drawing enormous crowds. They knew the conflict was building because Thomas voiced his fear that they would all die when they went to help Lazarus.

Instead Lazarus was raised from the dead and a crowd followed them to Jerusalem, a crowd came out of the city to surround Him, and they heard Jesus hailed as the Messiah, the Son of David. When there is group excitement, everyone feels it. But that changed to sorrow quickly, and sorrow seems to last far longer than anyone can bear.

When the winter in New Ulm featured weeks of 60 below wind chill, a native said, “I can’t take this any longer.” It was so cold that the politicians had their hands in their own pockets. An older man said, “You can take and you will take it.” Soon the winter was over, but it was brutal at the time. I fed the birds and wrote a book.
Although weather seems minor in comparison, the trouble of the moment can seem to be overwhelming as it seems to stretch out into infinity.

But this lesson says, so many times, “a little while.”

Verse 17 – In retrospect, the “little while” seems to be very short. Jesus died on Good Friday and was away from the disciples a short time. But after He died on the cross, the interval between death and resurrection was painful, stretched out, seeming to last forever, as Jesus warned. But it was a little while.

This shows us the kindness and compassion of Jesus, supporting their growing faith and giving them a foundation when their world was shattered by His death as a criminal.

This also shows God’s compassion for us, because—like Peter and the disciples—we make vows that we can never keep. The Old Adam is still active, and we question God’s grace and goodness. The fake religions say this can never be, and they impress upon their disciples a concept of perfection plus a system of works in case they fail – they must work and suffer to atone for their own sins. This is either depressing or hardening, because the more sensitive realize they can never be perfect. The works-saints become certain of their sanctity, and often remind everyone of their exalted state.

Biblical psychology is the only true psychology – the study of the soul. The apostles, like us, showed their failings and needed the forgiveness of Christ.

18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. 19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?

These two verses seem to repeated the previous ones, needlessly. But something else is happening. The verses are poetic repetition in the Hebraic style. That would relatively easy to teach people, with the same term used many times over. It is a type of catechism.

I noticed this when our granddaughter said, as a tiny little girl, “You have to wait.” I said to my wife, “I think she had heard that advice many times already.”

A little while – that gives people hope and keeps them from magnifying the problem. I tell students that college seems to be too long, but soon it will be foreshortened in their memories. The time will have seen to have rocketed by, but it is not so during the studies, when two or three more years seem like infinity.

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. 21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

A second principle of teaching is to use a concrete example, a picture to communicate the same point.

What does a little while mean, in terms of suffering and sorrow?

Answer – it is like childbirth. During labor, the time seems to last forever. There is often crying and always great physical stress. Of course, the emotional stress is also considerable – the worries, the hopes, the fears. Recently a pastor’s wife went through a difficult birth. She and the baby were both quite fragile. Everyone prayed for them as they slowly got stronger. It was quite worrisome for days. Then they both went home and there was great joy – and that baby will be especially treasured, and the mom too.

That congregation will always remember this little parable better because it is so personal. And so will the pastor and his family. “A little while of sorrow and pain” will have great meaning for them, because they experienced all the agonies of the wait.

22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

We must always keep in mind that God allows these sorrows to happen. He protects us from many more. Today we met a woman with enormous medical bills and no coverage. We discussed the fact that Chris got superb coverage for free for several years, then Medicare at an early age with a decent supplement, then more plans. She seemed to be the trapeze artist who kept grabbing one more trapeze during a time great convulsions in the medical market. She worried over leaving a plan she liked in Phoenix, only to have much better care here in Arkansas. Pharmacies are a huge headache, but one opened up near our house, with great prices and personal care. Those are mundane details to show that one of the great fears of our age has been taken care of by One who is a good manager, with millennia of experience.

Sorrows can also mean loss of loved ones. This time on earth without them is very short. It seems long but it goes by in a blink. Heaven comes down to us in forgiveness and the promise of eternal life.

The greatest pains of the moment also include the opportunity for joy. In this last week we had conversations with four people who wanted to read Angel Joy and one who also received The Story of Jesus in Pictures and Wormhaven. Some people talk about going out to people, but we find the opportunities come to us, so we carry books in the car to give away. Each one has a single purpose – to convey the Gospel in some form. The books involve personal conversations about life and death issues, so they are more than brochures handed to the unwilling.

Ken Ham needs a $27 million museum to prove Creation to people, but a free book does the work with the Word of God.

In Paradise Lost, Milton says “The mind can make a heaven out of Hell, and a Hell out of heaven.” That is the difference between faith and unbelief. In faith, sorrows turn to joys. In unbelief, the greatest joys seem to be hellish. We spent a day with a wealthy man who could not get over his son having a minor defect – a cleft palate. He was a little boy filled with happiness and wonder, but the father could not experience that. He was in a hell he built for himself.

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

This verse is another example of Jesus building up our faith, then encouraging us to ask anything in His Name, in faith. He encourages us especially because He ends with this promise – Ask in My Name and He will give it to you.

And so Jesus once more tells how all their needs will be met. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you shall ask the Father he will give to you in my name. Compare 14:13, 14; 15:7 and 16; and on “amen,” etc., 1:51. Here the verb used is “to ask,” “to beg.” As regards the knowledge of the truth, neither asking nor inquiring will be necessary for the disciples, for the Spirit of the truth will attend to that of his own accord, 14:26; 16:13, 14. Jesus equipped his apostles completely in this respect, Acts 1:8. They will not inquire as Peter and John did in 13:24, etc.; as Peter alone did in 13:36, etc.; as Thomas did in 14:5, or Philip in 14:8, or Judas in 14:22; or as several would like to have done in 16:17, etc. The one inquiry just before his ascension in Acts 1:6 belongs with the others just listed, for the Spirit had not yet come. But as regards petitions of all kinds in all the exigencies of life, Jesus most definitely invites them.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1099.

Because of His human nature, Jesus understands our sorrows, needs, and fears. Because of His divine nature and sacrifice, God answers those prayers on behalf of the Son.

In the Gospel of John we find a special emphasis of the Father and Son relationship, witnessed by the Holy Spirit – the Threeness of the One God, the unity of the Three Persons.

Jesus was tempted, just as we are, but He did not sin. Knowing the temptations of our frail flesh – and emotions are the weakest of all – He has compassion on us. He does not let us be crushed by them, but lifts us up and encourages us.

Many people have asked for the quotation, and now the quotation with the graphic – that God does not necessarily take the sorrow from our heart, but our heart from the sorrow. He can turn it into such joy that we imagine we are in a garden of roses.

In that Photoshop I blended tornado wreckage with a rose garden. That is a metaphor. We lost two daughters, but their happiness and antics and love brighten each day as we remember them. We grieve for the pain and suffering of friends in the church at large, but we also have joy in sharing their experiences, in being friends.

This is an insight about prayer that someone mentioned a long time ago. When we pray for someone, we remember that person much better, even if we have never met. It creates a bond that overcomes the failings of human memory. When people join together, God does not simply get one memo signed by Christ, but many memos. As we experience those answers to prayer, our trust grows and fears diminish. We will need to have profound trust in the Word as the years go by and the next generation will too.

The trust earned by previous generations of church leaders has been squandered. Actions that would have had people riding out of town on a rail are now accepted and supported. Persecution is not from the outside for Americans, but from their own denominations.

Prayer is not the point of congregations – it is the natural consequence of justification by faith. Prayer is the fruit of faith. The congregation exists to create that faith through the Gospel and to sustain and deepen that faith in the Means of Grace.

Also, good works are the fruit of faith. They are not the purpose of the congregation but the natural consequence of justification by faith in Word and Sacrament. Christ teaches us to be faithful first, and His success will follow – with the cross.

Any gardener knows that an abundance of seed sown will produce an abundant harvest. There really was a Johny Appleseed, and he provided a remarkable example, creating orchards everywhere – thousands of apple trees. If a congregation that wants an abundant harvest, as judged by God alone, not by man, the people will sow the seed abundantly.


"The nice, envious person who is sad when another prospers, and would
gladly have one eye less if thereby his neighbor had none, is the product of
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 102.

 "Here in this Gospel we see how the Lord comforts and imparts courage to His children whom He is about to leave behind Him, when they would come in fear and distress on account of His death or of their backsliding. We also notice what induced the evangelist John to use so many words that he indeed repeats one expression four times, which according to our thinking he might have epressed in fewer words."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 73f.

 "An example is here given us, which we should diligently lay hold of and take to heart; if it went with us as it did in the time of the apostles, that we should be in suffering, anxiety and distress, we should also remember to be strong and to rejoice because Christ will rise again."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 75.

"Therefore we must also feel within us this 'a little while' as the dear disciples felt it, for this is written for our example and instruction, so that we may thereby be comforted and be made better. And we should use this as a familiar adage among ourselves; yes, we should feel and experience it, so that we might at all times say, God is at times near and at times He has vanished out of sight. At times I remember how the Word seems neither to move me nor to apply to me. It passes by; I give no heed to it. But to this 'a little while' we must give heed and pay attention, so that we may remain strong and steadfast. We will experience the same as the disciples."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 75f.

"And although we do at times depart from the Word, we should not therefore remain altogether away from it, but return again, for He makes good His Word. Even though man cannot believe it, God will nevertheless help him to believe it, and this He does without man's reason or free will and without man adding anything thereto."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 76.

 "So very little does the free will and understanding of man know of the things pertaining to the salvation of the soul. These temporal things the free will can perceive and know, such as the cock crowing, which he can hear and his reason can also understand it; but when it is a question of understanding the work and Word of God, then human reason must give it up; it cannot make head or tail of it, although it pretends to understand a great deal about it. The gory thereof is too bright, the longer he beholds it the blinder he becomes."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 76f.

"We should take to heart and firmly hold fast to these words and keep them in mind when in sorrow and distress, that it will not last long, then we would also have more constant joy, for as Christ and His elect had their 'a little while,' so you and I and everyone will have his 'a little while.' Pilate and Herod will not crucify you, but in the same manner as the devil used them so he will also use your persecutors. Therefore when your trials come, you must not immediately think how you are to be delivered out of them. God will help you in due time. Only wait. It is only for a little while, He will not delay long."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 77.

[ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy] "This is spoken to all Christians, for every Christain must have temptations, trails, anxieties, adversities, sorrows, come what may. Therefore He mentions here no sorrow nor trial, He simply says they shall weep, lament, and be sorrowful, for the Christian has many persecutions. Some are suffering loss of goods; others there are whose character is suffering ignominy and scorn; some are drowned, others are burned; some are beheaded; one perishes in this manner, and another in that; it is therefore the lot of the Christian constantly to suffer misfortune, persecution, trials and adversity. This is the rod or fox tail with which they are punished. They dare not look for anything better as long as they are here. This is the court color by which the Christian is recognized,and if anyone wants to be a Christian, he dare not be ashamed of his court color or livery."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 79.

 "Why does God do this and permit His own to be persecuted and hounded? In order to suppress and subdue the free will, so that it may not seek an expedient in their works; but rather become a fool in God's works and learn thereby to trust and depend upon God alone."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 79f.

 [woman in travail] This parable of the woman is a strong and stubborn argument against free will, that it is entirely powerless and without strength in the things pertaining to the salvation of our souls. The Gospel shows very plainly that divine strength and grace are needed. Man's free will is entirely too weak and insignificant to accomplish anything here. But we have established our own orders and regulations instead of the Gospel and through these we want to free ourselves from sin, from death, from hell, and from all misfortune and finally be saved thereby. A great mistake."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 81.

[woman in travail] "The woman is here in such a state of mind that she is fearful of great danger, and yet she knows that the whole work lies in the hands of God; in Him she trusts; upon Him it is she depends; He also helps her and accomplishes the work, which the whole world could not do, and she thinks of nothing but the time that shall follow, when she shall again rejoice; and her heart feels and says, A dangerous hour is at hand, but afterwards it will be well. Courage and the heart press through all obstacles. Thus it will also be with you, when you are in sorrow and adversity, and when you become new creatures. Only quietly wait and permit God to work. He will accomplish everything without your assistance."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 81.

[woman in travail] ..."but wait thou patiently and permit God to do with you according to His will. He shall accomplish it; permit Him to work. We shall accomplish nothing ourselves, but at times we shall feel death and hell. This the ungodly shall also feel, but they do not believe that God is present in it and wants to help them. Just as the woman here accomplishes nothing, she only feels pain, distress and misery; but she cannot help herself out of this state."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 82.

John 16:20 - "Such people, however, do not understand divine things, they think they will suddenly enter death with Christ, whom they have never learned to know except in words. Thus was Peter also disposed, but he stood before Christ like a rabbit before one beating a drum. Notice, how the old Adam lacks courage when under the cross! The new man, however, can indeed persevere through grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 85.

"In suffering pious persons have no aim of their own, but if it be God's will they bear good fruit like the tree planted by streams of water; and that is pleasing to God, and besides all presumption is condemned, all show and every excuse however good they may be. But he who battles heroically will receive for his suffering here joy, the eternal in place of the temporal. Of this Christ says: 'Your joy will be turned into sorrow.'"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols.,
III,  p. 86.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Misericordias Domini – The Second Sunday after Easter, 2012

The Empty Tomb, by Norma Boeckler

Misericordias Domini – The Second Sunday after Easter, 2012

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 # 426               The Lord My Shepherd Is            3:81

Pastor Means Shepherd

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 #50                 Lord Dismiss Us                3:86

Second Sunday After Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, who of Thy fatherly goodness hast been mindful of us poor, miserable sinners, and hast given Thy beloved Son to be our shepherd, not only to nourish us by His word, but also to defend us from sin, death, and the devil: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that, even as this Shepherd doth know us and succor us in every affliction, we also may know Him, and, trusting in Him, seek help and comfort in Him, from our hearts obey His voice, and obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

KJV John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Three of Luther’s sermons on this text:

Pastor Means Shepherd

KJV John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.

This example of the Good Shepherd should be read as immediately connected with the Keystone Kops chapter, John 9, where the opponents are portrayed with ironic humor as the blind while the man blind from birth sees Jesus as the Messiah.

Without a break or a pause Jesus continues to speak before this audience, namely his disciples, the formerly blind beggar, the Pharisees, and other Jews. The connection of thought is close. Jesus has told the Pharisees in his audience that their wilful blindness entails abiding guilt. That statement deals with them as far as their own persons are concerned. But they posed as men who “see” and who “know” over against the common people  who do “not know” the law, and whom they thus look down upon as accursed (see 7:49), among them being this wretched beggar: “and dost thou teach us (9:34)?” Thus these Pharisees set themselves up as the only true teachers and leaders of the people (Rom. 2:19, 20). In reality they were pseudo-teachers and pseudo-leaders. So Jesus continues and now treats these Pharisees in their damnable influence and work upon others.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 710.

Lenski continued:
In the strict sense of the term a parable relates a definite story or case, it may be one that is ordinary, and again one that is quite beyond the ordinary; while a paroimia describes actions as they are known regularly to occur (the shepherd always uses the door; the robber always avoids the door and climbs over the wall). Moreover, in a paroimia an allegorical correspondence appears between the realities presented and the illustrative features used; in a parable no allegory is found. In explaining his own mashal Jesus gives us the key-point in the allegorical statement, “I am the door of the sheep” (v. 7).
“We see!” say the blind Pharisees. Very well, Jesus puts them to the test. He presents a simple, lucid mashal. Do they see? Not in the least (v. 6). To tell them that they are blind makes no impression on them; perhaps this public demonstration of their blindness will accomplish more. To be sure, blind men cannot see, nor did Jesus expect these blind Pharisees to see what his paroimia means. Part of their very judgment is that they shall not see. Yet for such blind people the use of this uncommon way of teaching does at least one thing: by its very strangeness it remains in the memory and long after challenges the mind to penetrate to the true meaning. Perhaps thus at last the light will succeed in penetrating. In this case Jesus even condescends to explain his mashal and to elaborate it quite extensively (v. 7–18). In the case of many even this was in vain (v. 20), but others began to catch something of the light (v. 21). Read Trench, the first three chapters of The Parables of our Lord.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 710.

Because John’s Gospel is so clear and plain, we can spend even more time in explaining the details.

I know many people appreciate animals as God’s creations, and some are familiar with sheep. This comparison is one of the most loved because we see ourselves as the sheep and Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

He warned in Matthew 7:15ff that false teachers pretend to be sheep but are really wolves. The slavering fangs and sharp claws come out when they are identified for what they are. Until that moment they hide behind the fleece and pretend to be innocent sheep.

We not only have the 23rd Psalm in mind when we read this, but also the passage in Isaiah, describing the Messiah-Shepherd, with a triadic structure:

KJV Isaiah 40:11
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom,
and shall gently lead those that are with young.

The shepherd’s role in New Testament times shows how this comparison or parable explains Jesus as the ultimate shepherd.

The shepherds gathered their flocks together in a fenced area, to protect them at night from predators. One would be the night watchman. The shepherd slept in the open doorway, so he was the gate that kept them in and kept others away. Predators and thieves came over the fence to steal and rend the flock. The actual shepherds came to the gate to gather their sheep.

The shepherd knew his own sheep and gave them with such pet names as Black Nose, Fat-Tail, and so forth. The sheep knew the voice of their own shepherd and followed behind him as he called them out in the morning to get their food and water in the pasture, beside the still waters. He walked ahead and they followed him.

John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

Once we know the practice of the shepherds at that time we can see where the actual details of caring for the flock match the work of Christ as the Ultimate Shepherd.

Luther makes an important point here, because false teachers are not sent by God. They come on their own and assert themselves. They do not break into a sweat doing any work. They do not shed a drop of blood. They take over the labor of others to steal sheep.

So we see here that Jesus begins by warning against false teachers. He does warn the seminary and college professors, the synodical leaders and circuit pastors. He warns everyone. Therefore each individual has the responsibility to hear the Word and guard it, as Jesus says so many times in this Gospel.

The Gospel of John is the Gospel of love, where that word is use more than anywhere else. But love does not exclude guarding against error. Love means confessing the truth and denouncing error.

What we have now are lazy, false shepherds
  • who lead their flocks into fields of deadly nightshade (belladonna) because it is the thing to do – (Valleskey urging people to read Church Growth books in a Lutheran magazine article).
  • Who lead their flocks away from water and food – (emergents like Ski and Gunn, not having communion and hiding the baptismal font)
  • Who make themselves the object of worship and lead many into shame and disgrace (typical CG gurus).
They are thieves and robbers.

2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
We know that to be true of animals we know and love. We call them by name and they follow.

A genuine pastor will not sneak over the fence to steal but gather his own. I have urged many men to use the Word to gather a congregation and continue their work without Holy Mother Synod. The more one believes in an organization, the less he trusts in the Word.

Luther has some strong words about that, and they are worth borrowing from one of his sermons. The least God does for us is to provide food, water, shelter, and clothing. That is small change and He does that for believers and unbelievers alike.

Being anxious about the basics is akin to distrusting God about His automatic provisions for us, the small change.

Forgiveness of sin is a great provision, very special, a treasure. If we doubt the small change (the necessities of life) how can we trust Him for the treasures of the Gospels?

That is why so many have gone off the shallow end, thinking that mammon would give them the big church that would make them feel good about themselves. If only they could have lots of money and the latest thing in church fads.

Norma Boeckler pointed out that we do not need a church building to reach the world and to provide books (free) everywhere. I am going to explore more ways of providing Luther’s materials on the blog for instant access around the world. When I began copying Luther’s sermons onto the blog, page-reads increased by 50%.

5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

The true flock will not follow false teachers, so the abundance of followers is not proof of success. The pastoral epistles make it clear (as 2 Thess 2 does) that the Era of Apostasy will mean people running to false teachers. What Lenski and others say happening in the 1930s was only a prelude to what we have now.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Verse 11 tells us what makes Jesus the Good Shepherd (which really means the noble, the unique, or ultimate Shepherd). No shepherd on earth died for his flock.
But Jesus gave up His life for his wandering sheep, that He might gather them with the Gospel and keep them with the Means of Grace.

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

Now the Lutherans (and the other confessions) are saying they have no confession. They have no denomination, so their lack of confession quickly leads to rejection of the Scriptures. Thus, because they eyes glow with dollar signs, they are hirelings who only see the flock as a way to feed their appetites (not just their mouths). They are not shepherding but scattering, and their work will soon be scattered. Every parish and denomination that abandons its beliefs for “peace” and “growth” will find itself an empty shell in one or two generations.

Note that the Schuller flock, which started all this, is already scattered, with the founding family going in all directions.

13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

The Bible only knows two categories. One belongs to the flock or does not. One believes in Christ or does not. The hired hand runs away from the wolves, because he has no ownership in the flock and is only interested in wages. Synod Presidents’ salaries and benefits are the best, but they are hirelings. They prove it by running away from the wolves or by feeding the sheep to the wolves. SPs Harrison, Schroeder, and Moldstad are hired hands for Thrivent. They sell insurance policies, using their church bodies as promotional vehicles in exchange for millions of dollars.

Missouri gets $50 to 60 million, so ELCA must get $100 million. They love working with ELCA and going to those fancy retreats for free.

WELS must get about $6 million. In spite of their claims and denials, they work with ELCA and have for decades. They just the truth a little better.

The ELS gets free napkins and a bouquet of plastic flowers once a year, because they are so small.

These con artists were at work in the Reformation too, and it seemed as the flock would never be spared. But God knows who belongs to Him, and that is not measured with statistics.

15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

This is an important part of the Gospel. Jesus knows us, and we know Him – just as well as the Son knows the Father and the Father knows Him. This is the unique relationship between the believer and the Savior.

How is sin conquered? Through faith in Jesus.

The entire ministry of the Holy Spirit is summed up as damning the world for its unbelief. That is why people denounce the Christian Faith and Christians. Today I heard Tim Tebow, who began doing missionary work when he was 15 years old. He wanted to play football, but he wanted to help others through his Christian faith. Why do people pour abuse on him? Because they feel damned for their unbelief.

When we encounter that we should say, “Good. They are getting the message.” The first thing I hear from such people is this – “You are a bad person.” They are usually quite articulate and say much, much more. What agitates them? They are damned for their unbelief, so they strike back.

But it is this process of calling and enlightening that separates the flock, the sheep from the goats.

"For we can definitely assert that where the Lord's Supper, Baptism, and the Word are found, Christ, the remission of sins, and life eternal are found. On the other hand, where these signs of grace are not found, or where they are despised by men, not only grace is lacking but also foul errors will follow. Then men will set up other forms of worship and other signs for themselves."    What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., II,  p. 914. Genesis 4:3.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Luther - O Lord Look Down from Heaven - The Lutheran Hymnal #260

"O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold"
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

1. O Lord, look down from heaven, behold
And let Thy pity waken:
How few are we within Thy Fold,
Thy saints by men forsaken!
True faith seems quenched on every hand,
Men suffer not Thy Word to stand;
Dark times have us o'ertaken.

2. With fraud which they themselves invent
Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent
On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show,
They lead the people to and fro,
In error's maze astounded.

3. May God root out all heresy
And of false teachers rid us
Who proudly say: "Now, where is he
That shall our speech forbid us?
By right or might we shall prevail;
What we determine cannot fail;
We own no lord and master."

4. Therefore saith God, "I must arise,
The poor My help are needing;
To Me ascend My people's cries,
And I have heard their pleading.
For them My saving Word shall fight
And fearlessly and sharply smite,
The poor with might defending."

5. As silver tried by fire is pure
From all adulteration,
So through God's Word shall men endure
Each trial and temptation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross,
And, purified from human dross,
It shines through every nation.

6. Thy truth defend, O God, and stay
This evil generation;
And from the error of their way
Keep Thine own congregation.
The wicked everywhere abound
And would Thy little flock confound;
But Thou art our Salvation.

Hymn 260
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Ps. 12
Author: Martin Luther, 1523
Translated by: composite
Titled: "Ach Gott vom Himmel, sieh darein"
Tune: "Ach Gott vom Himmel"
1st Published in: Enchiridion
Town: Erfurt, 1524

This is Martin Luther College's Schwan Cathedral - irony.

VirtueOnline - News - Exclusives - PHILADELPHIA: Bishop Bennison lashes out at "Tabloid Journalism". Defends Rector

Bishop Bennison saw his own brother having sex with a minor and did nothing.
Conservative Lutheran clergy report such things, don't they?
I have a copy of a lawsuit that says the opposite (LCMS),
and we all know Hochmuth was discovered but not reported - by at least two different parties.

VirtueOnline - News - Exclusives - PHILADELPHIA: Bishop Bennison lashes out at "Tabloid Journalism". Defends Rector:

Following VOL's exposé of Fr. Gordon Reid's sexual past when he was in Scotland before coming to St. Clement's in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bishop Charles E. Bennison has come out in defense of Reid saying that no such improprieties were ever reported to him, calling the unsolicited articles in the Scottish tabloid "sensational" and "a transgression of God's commandment against bearing false witness."

An investigative report in the Sunday People, a British newspaper dated November 8, 1987, details the activities of the Rev. Gordon Reid, when he was Provost of Inverness Cathedral in 1984. It is a shocking account of what Reid said in a tape-recorded interview to a reporter posing as a young man who wanted counseling. The young man was subjected to the sexual advances of Reid. In the tape-recorded conversation, Reid admitted to engaging in sexual activity with hundreds of partners, in group sex orgies, extreme sadomasochistic sex acts and prostitution.

These newspaper reports were sent to VOL and published here:

VOL has since learned that a book The Church in Crisis by Charles Moore, A N Wilson and Gavin Stamp, published 1986 by Hodder and Stoughton, describes in specific detail on pp 193-196 the abysmal events at All Souls' Leeds under the ministry of Fr. Alan Sanders, the "reporter" in VOL's story.

Fr. Sanders, himself a homosexual, was paid off by the Diocese of Ripon with a very large amount of money. After he resigned from the parish as agreed, he came to an arrangement with the Sunday People, to visit all the clergy he knew armed with a hidden tape recorder on the pretext of asking for advice about his relationship with his male partner, who had been his Churchwarden at All Souls. He accompanied him on these visits. In addition to money, Sanders was provided with a hire (rental) car for the tour around the country. It was a classic sting operation.

Sanders had known Reid as a fellow cleric in the gay sub culture in the UK. In order to gain entry and the confidence of those he interviewed, Sanders lied saying that he was coming for advice when in fact he was armed with a hidden tape recorder.

Some clergy were wise enough to send him out into the night; some invited him in, opened a bottle or two, and the gossip which ensued was all recorded. The Very Rev. Gordon Reid, then Provost of Inverness, was the first to be exposed in the course of a series of exposures by the newspaper using the hidden tape recordings.

Up to that point, Reid had been a rising star in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and was expected to become a Bishop. He had also been a prominent supporter of the Conservative Party. When the story was published, he swiftly vanished from Inverness and from the UK, turning up as an assistant priest in Ankara, Turkey, presumably having obtained the help of the Bishop of the Diocese in Europe, +John Satterthwaite. Once in that diocese, Reid was promoted again and again, as if nothing had happened in Scotland.

Another prominent priest known to Sanders, who had formerly been Vicar of St Alban, Hull, and Director of Clergy Training in the Diocese of York, was Canon Gordon O'Loughlin, who by now was priest in charge of a parish in Brighton on the south coast. He, too, fell for the ploy, and was duly reported on the front page of the Sunday People, advocating oral sex and claiming that married clergy were the most eager to engage in homosexuality with other men. Gordon O'Loughlin died died some 15 years later of lung cancer. A number of other priests were "outed" by the Sunday People. Original copies are available in London as part of the national newspaper archive.

Alan Sanders no longer appears in Crockford's Clerical Directory. The details of his fall were almost certainly recorded by Lambeth Palace to prevent his future employment as a priest in the Church of England. The Scottish Episcopal Church does not have a comparable blacklist.

Bennison, in a letter to the diocese, said no such improprieties in Canon Reid's history were reported through the Oxford Document background check carried out for the Diocese in 2003 when Canon Reid was a candidate for election as St. Clement's rector. "To our knowledge, there is no evidence that substantiates the alleged accusations. Indeed, his years in such positions as Vicar-General of the Diocese in Europe, Dean of Gibraltar, and Archdeacon of Italy & Malta show how absurd such rumors were. Throughout his tenure in the diocese, Canon Reid's ministry has been exemplary."

Bennison, who was found guilty of covering up his brother's sexual abuse of a minor and for which charges of "conduct unbecoming a priest" still hangs over his head despite a statute of limitations decision which got him off the hook, said attempts to stain another's honor in such a manner is to risk transgression of God's commandment against bearing false witness. To not sign one's name to such a letter is the height of personal cowardice and, inasmuch as it effects anxiety and division, an assault on the Body of Christ.

Not to put a too finer point on it, Bennison has been assaulting the "Body of Christ" with heretical teachings for more than 30 years. He has doctrinally shredded the historic faith in the diocese by allowing non-celibate homosexuals to be employed in the pastoral ministry. He also said he could not confirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, or Christ's substitutionary atonement and is a powerful supporter of Bishop John Shelby Spong's 12 Theses.

Bennison concluded by asking for prayer for Canon Reid, for the people of St. Clement's, and those who have sought to damage his ministry in that Church.

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Luther - Matthew 7:15 - Second Sermon

MATTHEW 7:15-23.

This sermon first appeared in a separate tract entitled: A Sermon Giving Warning to Beware of False Prophets.

1. Two reasons why God sends among us divisions and sects.

2. The two-fold call to the ministry.

3. How we should in three ways prove and examine the spirits.

Martin Luther, Wittenberg, 1525. Printed at Wittenberg by George Rhaw, 1525.

N. B. It appears probable that this is the sermon which Luther preached on his journey occasioned by the peasants’ war, according to the testimony of Lingke (see history of Luther’s Journeys, p. 156), on Monday after Miseri.

Dom. , May 1st, 1525, in the church at Wallhausen, near Eisleben, on the text Matthew 7:15-23: “Beware of false prophets.”

1. Christ our Lord preached this part of the Gospel in concluding his long sermon on the mount. After teaching his disciples all things necessary for them to know, he concludes by warning them against false prophets, as all good ministers are accustomed to do in closing their sermons, exhorting the people to abide in the true doctrine, and to beware of false teachers. As Paul also did when he departed from Ephesus, saying among other things: “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Wherefore watch ye, remembering, that by the space of three years, I ceased not to admonish everyone night and day with tears.” Acts 20:28-31.

2. Thus time and again, in all his Epistles, he adds an admonition, that they should beware of false teachers and false Apostles, as Peter also warns us in his second Epistle, 2:1-3: “But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also, there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And in covetousness shall they with reigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” So there shall at all times be false prophets and teachers.

3. In this manner also Christ here proceeds. Having finished his sermon he warns and admonishes his disciples and the people, ever to hold fast to what he told them, and watch that they be not misled by false teachers, and says: “Beware of false prophets.”

4. In the first place we perceive from this that we must be prepared, because it will always happen, that after the true ministers come the false ones; yea, they will indeed even enter along side of them and mingle with them. What other need was there that Christ should so faithfully warn us, saying: Beware, take care; if he had known that the doctrine would always remain pure? Therefore he warns us to be assured that we will have false prophets, and does this especially in closing this sermon. We have a similar example in the book of Judges 2:10, when they had died, whom God gave the people as teachers and judges, who knew what the will of God was, what was acceptable and not acceptable to him, then immediately the people of Israel began to turn from God and his Word One worshiped this idol, another that, and they were divided into factions so that they fell from the true doctrine, and departed from the ways of their fathers.

5. So it happened in the days of the Apostles. Then the church was still pure, but as soon as they died who held fast to the pure doctrine, then came the false prophets and the evil spirit, who desired to change everything, as the Epistles of St. Paul sufficiently show. And inasmuch as this is so, and as we can expect nothing else, Christ our Lord warns us here as a faithful shepherd and bishop should, that we beware, so that, when the Gospel comes, that we hold firmly to it and not depart from it, though it cost our life and our treasures. For it cannot be otherwise, as the time passes than that there will be changes.

6. Thus it will also happen with us. God be praised; we, as well as other cities, now have the Gospel in all its richness and purity, as men have never had it since the times of the Apostles. But as soon as we and others, who now assist in preaching it, are no longer with you, you will have other and false preachers, for they already begin to make their appearance. May the Lord consume them with the Spirit of his mouth. 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

And blessed are they, who in accordance with our Gospel lesson will be diligently on their guard and will not believe every wind of doctrine, but will remain constantly firm in what they have learned. This Christ teaches first by the word, “Beware,” be warned, as though he would say: You certainly are now in possession of it.

7. Here you may say: Why does the Lord do this? Why does he permit false prophets to come among the faithful, and follow the true ministers? Is he not strong and powerful enough to prevent it, so that the Gospel might remain pure and in all its force? Verily, he could indeed do this; but he does not, and for this reason, that he might prove those who are his, and punish the unthankful. For St. Paul says, 1 Corinthians 11:19: “For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you;” that is, in order that those whose faith has been proved may become known, so that their spirit and word may appear and find a field of influence.

8. Since God gives us his Word, his Spirit and his gifts, he does not want us to be lazy, sleepy or idle. For if you have the true Word and the right understanding of it, the world will rise to oppose you. Then, on the other hand, the devil will labor to tear you from it, so that not only the tyrants of the world will persecute it with the sword, but also our own reason and the wisest heads in the world, in order that God may exercise you in his Word, and give work to the Spirit whom he has bestowed upon you, that you may learn that God’s wisdom is more excellent than the wisdom of this world, and that God’s strength is stronger than the strength and power of this world, which you will not be able to learn without a struggle like this.

9. When God permits a faction to oppose thee, he would thereby stir thee up, saying: Defend yourself, grasp firm hold of the Word and test God’s wisdom and the powers of his Word, and learn how great is the folly of this world. Thus the power and wisdom of God’s Word will become manifest, that you may learn that it cannot be conquered by human power and wisdom; but that it will conquer all power, and put to shame all knowledge and wisdom, in order to awaken the truth and to show forth what is right, that the people may experience it. This is one reason God sends divisions and sects among us, who crowd in edgewise, as though they were useful and served to make the Word, the truth and spirit better and clearer; however in other respects, divisions and sects do harm.

10. Another reason is to punish the unthankful, who will not accept the Word, lest they be converted and saved, as Christ says to the Jews in John 5:43: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” And as St. Paul says, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11: “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

11. Thus severely God punishes this sin which we regard so lightly, for he punishes it with blindness and error, which are the greatest sins on earth.

Men regard it as a small matter, that we now again have the Gospel by God’s grace. For how many are there who ever thank God for it? We forget it, cast it to the winds and become lazy and careless. It is approved by none; no one tastes it; no one lifts up his hands in thankfulness to God for it. We are so very richly overloaded with the Gospel that we become satiated with it, and St. Paul has rightly prophesied, 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts and will draw away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.”

12. Here and there throughout the whole Scriptures we see how greatly it offends God, who regards it as the greatest sin when his Word is despised; which is so dear and precious, that it cost him the blood of his own dear Son, and we cast it to the wind as though it were of little importance. For this reason he sends us the severest calamities, which cannot be compared to the present calamity now going on in the world, that during and after the peasants’ war so many have been slain, of which there seems to be no end, for who knows when it will cease? Yet all this is but playwork in comparison to the misfortune when men are hardened, blinded and misled by false prophets, by which heaven is closed against them and hell opens to receive them, and everlasting life is lost forever. What does it matter, as die we must at any rate, if we are killed by the sword? But that the soul should be forever given to the devil, this is an eternal calamity, an everlasting misfortune and torment.

13. I would gladly prevent it, if I could, by preaching, praying and writing.

Now God has begun to visit us with the temporal and bodily calamity of the sword, but a far greater plague will come when the Holy Gospel is taken away from Germany. Then false teachers will be sent and will come to us. One will teach this, the other that. Then the kingdom of heaven will be locked up, and the false preachers will not allow it to be opened. On this account it would indeed be well worth while for us to pray earnestly. But our hearts are cold, for our walls are not yet on fire. Nevertheless, the devil intends to drown all Germany in blood and take away the Gospel, unless he be prevented and hindered by the prayers of pious Christians.

14. When the devil saw he could not accomplish anything by the Pope and his false apostles, he now begins to rage through the peasants and the rebels, and will entirely take the Gospel from us and make us its enemies, and afterwards cut off our heads and cast our souls into hell. For this reason I give warning, that we should not think so little of this matter but open our eyes, not regarding it merely as the word of a man. It is a precious Word, and if we sleep and snore and do not keep awake to hear it, we need not be angry when he strikes us on the head by sending us false prophets, but remember that we have richly deserved it.

15. Already there are but few who stand steadfastly. Sectarianism is rampant, and few there be who contend against it and preserve the true doctrine; their names could all be written on a little card. What shall come to pass when once it breaks out with force? Therefore let no one consider it child’s play, for the Word is not an insignificant Word. It stands for something. The words of Christ leave an impression; they are meant for the whole world, when he says: Beware, be warned! that we receive the Word with fear and trembling hearts. So you have now heard why divisions and sects arise, namely, that those who are tempted and tried may become the more glorious, and that the others, the unthankful ones who despise the Word, may be punished. The Gospel lesson further says: “Who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.”

16. No one sends them. They come of themselves. This is the true description of false prophets, that they force themselves into the ministry.

Some, in order to find their bread and butter, which I do not consider of much importance, for even there they will not find a paradise. For those who intrude into this office with the pretension that they do so on account of Christian love, for the sake of the truth, and because the Holy Spirit urges them, and that they do it for the sake of love and the salvation of souls, and that they seek nothing else but their salvation; beware of all such people, for the devil has most certainly sent them, and not God. For those whom God sends are called or compelled to it. They do not boast greatly of themselves. Yet, when they do boast, they prove it by miracles. Hence beware, because the Lord says, they will come, not being sent or called, but they come and the devil calls them.

17. But do they not boast they have the Holy Spirit? I answer: Whoever would persuade you that the Holy Spirit moves him, and that he does it from a Christian suggestion, say to him: As you boast so much of the Spirit, give me a proof. You bear witness of yourself, and the Scriptures have forbidden me to believe you on your own testimony alone, for even Christ, the living Son of God would not bear witness of himself, as we read in the Gospel of John 5:31f. But when he did so he also did miracles besides, so that men might know that his Word and doctrine were true.

And inasmuch as you say you have the Holy Spirit, give me a proof of your Spirit; prove it by real signs that a man may believe you, for here a divine witness is necessary to prove the Spirit of God, so that there may be two of you, yourself and God. This is a divine call, and unless it is forthcoming, cast the other away and let it go to pieces.

18. And even though I grant that such a one is really a true spirit, and has the Holy Spirit; even then you must not hear him. Nor will God be greatly angered at you for this, as he has commanded you to keep his ordinances, to ask for two witnesses, and to call for a miracle. For if he sends you one with a true spirit, he does it to test you, to see whether you will keep his ordinances, receiving no one unless he gives you a proof beforehand.

Therefore say: I do not want you, even though you have the right Spirit.

For God desires thus to prove me, whether I will abide by his order. Hence he is also satisfied and well pleased, when you do not accept his Spirit. For he tests us by offering us the contrary, to see whether you on this account would depart from his Word. He acts like a father who plays with his child, whom he has given an apple and takes it away again, in order to see whether the child loves him or not.

19. Then give heed here, whether he be right or wrong, and say: I will not go with you, I care not what you preach, I only ask whether you have been sent, or whether you came of yourself? If you came of yourself I will not hear you, even though you have the Holy Spirit. For the devil in the Gospel can also say: Let us alone; hold, “what have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Nazarene? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” Mark 1:24. Thus the common crowd also cries out: Here is the true and faithful Word of God, which this man preaches, let us hear him. But see thou first whence he cometh. The devil also can preach, but he does it to provide himself an opportunity to win adherents.

Then he comes forth and sows his poisonous seed, so that the condition becomes worse than in the beginning. Hence these are nothing but warnings, by which Christ warns us against those who come of themselves.

Therefore wait, until they are sent or called. For he drives and urges those whom he wants, so that in short they must come whether they will or not.

20. The other call is the request of the congregation or of the government to go. This is a call of love, which does not come down from heaven nor out of faith, but flows from love. For you and I owe it to each other to love our neighbor as ourselves. For when he needs my assistance and asks for it, I am in duty bound to come to his help, for the Word of God commands that I should serve my neighbor. Then this call does not require a miracle, because they themselves desire it, and the Word of God urges me thereto.

This is to be in demand, to be called and to be driven. That which comes from heaven is called a sending, when the Holy Ghost comes and performs miracles. To the others, whether they boast of the Spirit or the flesh, reply’ I care nothing for that. As our fanatics at present boast, that they have devoured the Holy Spirit, feathers and all, and are thoroughly filled with the Spirit and say, that the Holy Ghost has spoken to them from heaven, and has revealed something special to them, and the like. I myself cannot boast very much of the Spirit. They become Spirit all too soon for me. I boast of the Spirit of love, otherwise I am nothing but a poor, carnal sinner. I too ought to know something of the Spirit of which they boast.

But alas, they are all too highly spiritualized for me.

21. However, what is this Christ says: They come in sheep’s clothing?

These sheep’s clothing are, that they make an external exhibition of all things the true Christians and ministers teach. For we, who are the lambs of Christ, wear the sheep’s wool. This is not only the works, the showy hypocritical life they lead, praying a great deal and wearing gray gowns, walking with downcast countenances, carrying a pater noster about their necks, fasting often and going to church a great deal; but the worst of all is that they make use of God’s Word and the Holy Scriptures, which in the prophets are called God’s wool and linen. For preaching together with admonition and Scripture passages are the true clothing with which they would adorn and array themselves, saying: Here is Christ, here is Baptism, here is the name of God, here is he who quotes the Scriptures, which is the Word of God, and immediately they add to all this God’s name, God’s Spirit and Christ.

22. This then, is coming in sheep’s clothing, namely, so to preach and to quote the Scriptures that it may appear as the true doctrine; for it is not said that they come in wolves’ clothing, or with teeth and spears. They do not publicly preach anything destructive or without Scripture, otherwise people might recognize them, as for instance when they preached Aristotle in the high schools, and common law or the law of the emperor and said’ There is no God in Christianity. Now, however, they do not only adorn themselves with external works, but also with the Holy Scriptures, with which God clothes and covers our souls; for if they would not do this, the unthankful would not be thus blinded, and we would not be so wretchedly deceived.

23. Therefore it is true as men say, the holy Bible is a book for heretics, that is, it is a book that heretics dare to claim for themselves most of all.

For there is no other book which they so wickedly misuse, than just this very book. And there never was a heresy so bad or gross, that they did not try to patch up or cover with the Scriptures. Just as men say, God is the God of rogues, because they, who are the largest crowd in the world, claim for themselves the name of God, not that God is to blame, bat the rogues, who thus take the holy name of God in vain. Thus the holy Bible must be a book for heretics, not that the holy Bible is to blame, but the rogues, who so shamefully misuse it. Should I for this reason neglect the Bible and not read it? By no means! As men are accustomed to say in the proverb: “In God’s name all misfortune begins,” which is true. Well then, I will not use the name of God at all, and guard myself against misfortune. But what talk is this? What blame can attach to a name, which is given us in order that we might be saved? God will surely punish such rogues and knaves. Thus the Bible is a book for heretics, but I will not for this reason cast it away, but so much the more study and learn it, because these rogues oppose it.

24. Therefore let now every person be thus well prepared and thoroughly equipped, that he may not so easily be led astray by their showy life, although they even attempt to quote Scripture to you, for ravening wolves are most certainly back of it. And although they think they feed and satisfy you, they actually rend you, destroy and devour you. However, without spiritual eyes no one will be able so soon to decide or judge of this matter.

The crowd and common people will not do it; the largest crowd despises the Gospel and are unthankful, while only the smallest flock accept it and can appreciate it. I have often said, and will always say it, that the greatest and most difficult contest is, for a person to contend with the Scriptures against the Scriptures; to strike aside another man’s sword and wrench it out of his fist, to slay him with his own sword; to take from him his weapon, and with it strike him again. This no one can accomplish, except he who is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, so as to be able to recognize these rogues.

25. You have often heard from me the safest doctrine and rule, by which to prove the spirits, as John tells us in his first Epistle 1 John 4:1-3. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not Jesus, is not of God: and this is the spirit of the Antichrist.” The other rule is given by Paul in Romans 12:6: “Whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith.” That is, all teaching must harmonize and agree with faith alone, so that nothing else be taught but faith. It follows that he, who has not faith, does not know Christ, and cannot judge of doctrine, for to do this the carnal minded are not required, who are worldly wise and smart, but pious, spiritual hearts. Many say: Christ is a man who is the Son of God, born of a pure, chaste virgin, became man, died, and rose again front the dead, and so forth; all this is nothing. But that he is Christ, that is, that he was given for us, without any of our works; that he without any of our merit has earned for us God’s Spirit, and made us children of God, so that we might have a gracious God, and with him become lords over all things in heaven and on earth, and have eternal life besides through Christ: this is the faith, and this means rightly to know Jesus Christ. This is the touchstone, the level and the scales, by which all doctrine must be weighed, tried and judged. The others also know what to call Christ, that he is the Son of God, died, rose again from the dead, with what follows. For this is the real sheep’s clothing.

26. But pay attention to their dilemma: If they say Christ died for us, was buried and rose again and the like, then they must also conclude: therefore our works are of no avail. This point they will not touch, but flee from it, like the devil flees from incense or the cross, as it is said; although he does not really run away from it so very much. He permits them to preach that Christ was born, died anti. rose again, and sitteth at the right hand of his heavenly Father; but when in addition they also preach: thus and thus you must do, this and that you must omit; this is the devil who mingles his poison with the truth. As the Pope writes and puts on the sheep’s clothing in his bulls, namely, that Christ by his death and shedding his blood has merited for us that we are the children of God and are saved, and have eternal life; but to all this he adds: Whoever is not obedient to the Roman church, is a child of perdition; but he, who is obedient and does what the church of Rome commands and appoints, shall be saved, his soul shall rise straight up to heaven. Does not the Pope require his rules to be more strictly observed than the Gospel? Only compare them and see. If the death of Christ does this, then my works cannot do it. It would be quite another matter if he would preach: You must obey me out of Christian love, but not to be saved thereby, for this the blood of Christ alone can do. But this nut he never tries to crack.

27. Therefore I warn you once again, to think of this when I am no longer with you in the flesh, and closely observe their doctrine whether they preach Christ correctly, that is, whether they boast of their own works before God: then you will be able to judge. I often said and repeat it, that you will find them always requiring some good little deed, not thereby to serve the people, but in order to merit salvation, that whoever does and keeps this shall be saved, but he who does not observe and do this, shall be damned. Thus they force you to trust in works, as the fanatics drove the mob to break up images by saying: Whoever breaks an image or tears down a painting does a good work, and proves himself a Christian. Soon the crowd rushed forth, thrust and broke to pieces by the wholesale, for they all wanted to be Christians, just as though the Jews, the heathen and the Turks, and the worst rogues could not do the same things.

28. Such fanatics do not destroy confidence in works, but rather give more value to works and permit confidence in them to be retained. Work there, work here, only cut out of it all confidence and trust, and do not put your trust in works as in a god, but let them only serve your neighbor, that confidence in your works may be in your neighbor, that is, that he feels certain you will do him every kindness, and that you have like confidence in him. Your confidence for your salvation must rest alone in Christ, for which you dare not trust in your works a hair’s breadth. When they preach thus, it agrees with faith. If it is according to the proportion of faith, then Christ is not annihilated nor broken to pieces, but remains whole in knowledge as he really is. And although the devil also pretends that he preaches Christ through his own apostles, do not believe him, he only seeks to win your soul through deceit and cunning, and will deceive you. Well, let this warning be sufficient; but it does not help any [among those who will not hear it]; [he who shall be lost, will be lost]. Yet it aids those who are to be reformed. Here follows the third proof and way of knowing the spirits, and reads: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

29. These fruits are their works and behavior. Yet spiritual eyes are needed to see this, that one may learn well to know the really good works, which Paul mentions to the Galatians 5:22, where he says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control.” These are the true fruits of the Spirit. But the works of the flesh are “fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, revelings, and such like.” Galatians 5:19-21.

30. Now, take heed rightly to distinguish works from one another. In all their works you will not find a single spark of love. You will indeed find that they are friendly within their own sect, calling one another Christians and brethren; but there is nothing in them but the very poison of the devil.

They have neither mercy nor patience, nor friendship for any one who is not of their sect. For if they could destroy us body and soul in an hour or a moment they would do it. This fruit flesh and blood do not see, but in the meantime they wear gray gowns and belong to a quiet order, and observe the same rule and habit.

31. These are not works of love; for works of love are such as are exercised toward the needy, and toward our enemies, when we are merciful to sinners, instruct and teach the ignorant, and serve the poor bodily with our goods and honor, as Christ teaches in Matthew 25:35f. You will not find these works in any false prophet. Any one may indeed conduct himself like a spiritual man by his extraordinary behavior, like barefooted and Carthusian monks do. But what benefit is all this to me? And that others break down cloisters and images, what good does that do their neighbor? All this merely makes a show and when you view it superficially there seems something in it; but there is no benefit in it. Love, however, requires works that will do some good.

32. Now watch and see if the false prophets give anything to the poor. To be sure, they accept gifts, being greedy and stingy. But I have not yet seen any who give cheerfully, for they only want to have, and that we should give to them. Dear me, ye golden friends, who would not like this? You speak much of good works and a good life, and do not know what it is, namely, to be of use and benefit to your neighbor. From these fruits you may know them. Again, they do not only not assist any one, nor help the poor, but rejoice and are glad at their neighbor’s misfortunes. When one is in disgrace they will not protect him with their honor, nor help him out of his trouble, but plunge him still deeper down, spread the news and sing doggerels about him and laugh at him secretly besides.

33. Again, when one falls into sin, they have no tender heart for him; their heart being hardened they enjoy their neighbor’s fall and use it to set off their own goodness. What shall we say to sum up this matter? They have rough, bitter, poisonous hearts; they have a black, poisonous tongue, and can cut up everybody on their slaughter bench, give every one a black mark and leave no one without blame; they judge, condemn and decry every one, and think little of anyone’s injury. Alas, what pious spirits we have here!

34. Therefore open your eyes and see whether they do the works that are beneficial to men, and you will find out that you cannot gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles. A good grape on the vine does not devour itself nor us, but is eaten; it is useful only and harms no one. But no one enjoys the thorns; they prick, and scratch and injure every one. Mark then, whether they do such works which benefit others. That they wear gray gowns and shirts of hair-cloth, that they lie on woolen cloth, creep into a corner; for all this let the devil thank them! If, how. ever, they would lend me money in my distress and open their purses, and lend corn to those who have neither flour nor bread, into whose homes the sun enters before bread; here they are not found. Give me a coat, something to eat and drink; visit me when I am sick; comfort me in my sins; this might help me. Yes, you may wait until you find such a person, or come again in the morning!

35. But to stand in the choir and howl and chant vociferously, to enjoy good easy days without work, to sleep, to feast and get drunk, all this they are willing to do. Oh! my dear, who could not do this? It would be easy to put a cap even on a donkey, girdle him with a rope, shave him a tonsure and stand him in a corner and make him fast and feast to the glory of the saints, so that in all things he may behave similarly to you and all your false works!

So likewise, when I fall into disgrace, and become guilty of murder or adultery, there is no grace for me, and no one is so merciful as to help me quiet and better my conscience, but they laugh at me, and all the world must know it, and have grand books written about it.

36. So in their whole body and soul, you will be unable to find one single good work. They are hateful, envious, stingy; such fruits of the flesh will ye observe in them. Let them quote the Scriptures and pretend to be holy as much as they please, only observe whether their doctrine harmonizes with the proof of faith; and see to it that Christ be not dethroned, that his knowledge remain entire and undisturbed, and in the third place see whether they exercise good works toward their neighbor or not. This they will doubtless omit, for the devil can do no good work. This is what Christ the Lord means when he adds: “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”

37. Here we must notice what he says: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” He does not say: Ye shall make them out of their fruits. For who ever made a pear tree out of a pear, or a cherry tree out of a cherry? It is, however, the law of nature that the tree should make the fruit, an apple tree the apple, and so forth. The tree is known by its fruits, but is not made by its fruits. Just as Abraham when he offered his son Isaac was previously good and obedient, yet, it was said to him, Genesis 22:12: “Now I know that thou fearest God.” He does not say: Now you have become godfearing; but by this work it is revealed and made known that you fear God.

38. Hence these are two distinct things, to be or become something, and that something be made known, or revealed. There are many things that are known to God alone, but when it is revealed it also becomes known to man. Here Christ teaches that the fruits shall serve the purpose to know the tree, whether the tree be good or evil. Abraham became known by his works, as one who feared God and was pious and righteous. Therefore, before the fruits come they must be good, since they do nothing else but show forth the nature of the tree. To reveal a thing is by far a different matter from the existence of the thing itself. So my external works aid nothing to the end, that I am or become good, but make known and reveal the good treasure, and the heart in which it lies concealed. For this treasure that lies concealed in the heart, God desires to make known, and not to be left concealed.

39. Thus in so far the works make us good, pure and holy externally before the people, but not internally before God. For this Christ and faith alone must do. Speaking in this manner you will speak correctly and distinctly.

However, if any one is so stiff-necked and stubborn that he will not allow himself to be instructed, let him go, for we cannot give good advice to such people, nor is such preaching meant for them; but we seek hearts gone astray, who eagerly desire to be good and to understand it correctly; they also accept our instruction, and to them we preach. Hence he further says: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

40. The work righteous are corrupt trees. But do they not perform many good works? Indeed, what is a good work? Here let me ask, whether their hands, pockets, cellars and farms are at the service of mankind to help them in body and soul? But they cannot. Again, a good tree bringeth not forth evil fruit, that is, a Christian, be he ever so weak and helpless, he will do his neighbor no harm. Do not understand me to say that he cannot fall; for David also was a good tree, and yet he fell, 2 Samuel 12, but he did not become a corrupt tree. As long as a Christian is true and remains in the faith, you must not expect he will do anything to harm his neighbor, but much rather to help him. And if at times things should occur as with David, you should not be offended at them, for God permits such mishaps to occur, that his saints at times stumble and suffer, by which their faith may be strengthened and increased, and that they may learn their own weakness. So far as the tree is good, so little is the harm it does; and the more evil the tree is, the greater harm it does. We are not yet wholly good, but we labor to the end that day by day we may become better. But our consolation is that which the Lord adds, saying: “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

41. Sects and factions will not last, if we are only able to await their destruction; but a faithful minister will be victorious and will endure. For the Word of God abideth forever. Isaiah 40:8. But what the devil sows runs like a mad dog, as David the prophet says in the first Psalm: “The ungodly shall not stand,” they will be driven hither and thither, and will be dispersed like dust on the threshing flood. Thus they now run and break forth, but at length they will be cut down and cast into the fire. Here he closes and says: “Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

42. This is one kind of knowledge, as I said. Paul speaks of a different kind in Romans 12:2; and John in his first Epistle,1 John 4:1 — that we should criticize and judge their doctrine according to the knowledge of Christ, also whether their teaching is in harmony with faith. But their works and life, of which he here speaks, we must measure and judge according to love. But whoever has not the first kind of knowledge and judgment, will easily be deceived by works.