Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fourth Sunday after Trinity.
Romans 8:18

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 452     The Son of God                1:10
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 #531            Come Ye Disconsolate            1:15

Expectation for the Truth Revealed

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 # 413     I Walk in Danger                   1:67

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

KJV Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

Fourth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, who art merciful, and through Christ didst promise us, that Thou wilt neither judge nor condemn us, but graciously forgive us all our sins, and abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul: We pray Thee, that by Thy Holy Spirit Thou wilt establish in our hearts a confident faith in Thy mercy, and teach us also to be merciful to our neighbor, that we may not judge or condemn others, but willingly forgive all men, and, Judging only ourselves, lead blessed lives in Thy fear, through Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Expectation for the Truth To Be Revealed

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present period are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us.
“For” = in order that you may understand the better what has just been said about our suffering together with Christ and our also being glorified together with him. All of this will become clearer when we view ourselves in the midst of the entire suffering creature world which longs for our glorification at the last day. Do not occupy your mind exclusively with the little suffering which you individually endure but see this vast creature world groaning, and we with it, but having all its hope centered in us as the sons of God, centered upon us and on our deliverance. This is a mightier thing than the deliverance of us Christians only; and the more we see its vast proportions and the way in which God has bound up the whole creature world with us, his sons, the truer, surer, greater our own hope and assurance will become. “I reckon,” Paul writes and expresses his own personal conviction with the purpose of implanting the same conviction and insight into his readers.
From our suffering together with Christ, from the cross, the suffering we endure for Christ’s sake, Paul turns to our suffering in general, much of which is not for Christ’s sake, some of which is due only to our own sins and our faults which necessitate chastisement (Heb. 12:4–11), some of which is due to evil men, and some of which is incidental to our earthly existence. The only kind of suffering in which we glory (5:3) and can glory is that endured for Christ’s sake.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Columbus, Ohio : Lutheran Book Concern, 1936, S. 529.

This epistle teaches us about the paradoxical nature of the Christian faith. A paradox is a seeming contradiction. There are many passages about peace in the Bible, almost every single one referring to the peace that comes with forgiveness of sin. Many people strive for that kind of peace, so why would the Gospel talk about and promise suffering?

Paul is talking about suffering and the cross. Lenski has divided the topic of suffering into three categories:
  1. Suffering because of the Word – the cross.
  2. Suffering because of our own sins and mistakes, which bring chastisement (Hebrews 12:4-11. Peter distinguishes between this and the cross in 1 Peter.)
  3. Suffering from evil people, which is part of living in this sinful world.

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

The current measuring stick for congregations is now entirely material. Are the bills paid and the budget big? Is everyone happy? Are the numbers always improving?

Rob Bell became famous for having one of those huge churches, but he had to resign once his denial of Biblical truths became known. I published about him but had to look up his name. He was trained at Fuller Seminary.

Some obvious flaws in Bell’s thinking are found here:

Luther wrote about this topic, showing that the Bible does not teach about glory, but about the cross. The message of the cross, suffering because of the Word, is a constant in Luther’s sermons, just as it is central in the message of Jesus.

That is the contradiction. People want success for their denomination or parish, but the foundational requirement from God is faithfulness to His Word, which brings the cross.

Doubtless everyone thinks that being a Christian in a Christian country, with freedom of religion, should be rather peaceful. But that is not so.

The reason is plain. As soon as the Holy Spirit takes root in a person, through faith, Satan wants his original disciple back. Children may experience this. Adolescents do, and adults never stop experiencing this warfare. Luther called it Two Kingdoms – the battle between Christ’s Kingdom and Satan’s.

But already in this one verse, Paul describes the situation and offers Gospel promises. The suffering now (the cross) is nothing compared to the glory to be revealed.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Even in our sinful state we wait for the time when all truth will be revealed. This is a burden, to belief in this truth and to see it case aside with such scorn and hatred. Where we want to see faithfulness to that truth, we find rejection.

I have learned to spot atheistic posts on the Net. I read a few to see what their line of thinking is. But they are all too predictable and a pitiful lot at that. Their Father Below rewards them for now, but he will have his harvest soon enough.

The hard part, as Luther observed, is to find this same attitude among the great and wise leaders of the church. Luther was a nothing  in the church at the time, easily stopped and killed – like Huss, Tyndale, and Robert Barnes.

Lutheran orthodoxy is clearly defined in the Augsburg Confession, which is little more than a booklet. Anyone can grasp all the important parts. Some later articles are not too interesting to us, because they involve the Medieval Church. But the basics are expressed with child-like simplicity, in brief but powerful statements.

People know that, but where is that taught among the great and wise today? That is part of the suffering today, not only to experience the blindness, but to feel the hatred and scorn for the truth. The Lutheran papacy is no better than the Roman papacy of the Reformation.

Once people worried about keeping their pastors, because they saw that as a good thing. Now a minority can work with the district presidents or bishops to get rid of the faithful. This is a regular occurrence.

And it is no different, among the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Methodists, and the rest.

I do not agree with them, but I see the same basic battle – faith versus unbelief, the obvious confessions or documents of that group versus the obvious apostasy of the leaders. And they richly reward their apostates with money from…the faithful.

Meanwhile we can easily see a massive retaliation against the Christian faith world-wide, whether in Africa or China. As one member said long ago, “In the West, the persecution takes the form of indifference.”

Although we wait for the manifestation of the truth, the fact remains that this truth will come out at the end.

KJV Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This great confession and hymn and poem in Philippians is clearly expressing the end of time, when every truth will be revealed for all to see.

This is the paradox – that everything in this world was created by Christ the Creating Word (Genesis 1 and John 1). That is what everyone loves – what they see. But they do not like the Creator and scorn the Messiah.

Although the Son of God became flesh to reveal the grace and mercy of God, He was met with rebuke, suffering, and the cross.

When the Holy Spirit has revealed this to people through the Word, everything makes sense, from the beginning of Creation until now. However, we are still weak and frail, easily made timid or confused the difference between the truth we know from the Word and the things we see around us.

When people say they are disillusioned by the visible church, I say, “Good! It was an illusion. Now you see the truth.”

Others would rather have the false peace of protecting the illusion, which leads to ever more absurd statements, such as, “The Holy Spirit appointed him, so I cannot disagree. That is like arguing with God Himself.” That reasoning comes straight from Roman Catholicism but it is current today among Lutherans – and also rewarded by them. (Likewise – Pope Pius IX punished everyone who argued against his infallibility, except his son – the cardinal, and rewarded all those who promoted his divine status. The Ultramontanes, as they are called, have been in control ever since.)

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

It seems shameful, that the minority must defend the basic Gospel, justification by faith, in the face of opposition. But there are only three main attacks against the Christian faith:
Against the divinity of Christ.
Against the humanity of Christ.
Against justification by faith.

Many of my counterparts, in various denominations, are arguing the divinity of Christ through the authority of the Scriptures.

Lutherans supposedly have no issue with the divinity of Christ, but the leadership opposes justification by faith (while pretending to teach it).

In either case the defenders have the opportunity to see the Word tested and defined, their own trust in the Scriptures growing with each battle.

Salesmen call it The Takeaway. Tell people, “You cannot afford this,” and they say “Yes we can!” Tell them, “You are not ready to decide,” and they will say, “I have decided.” Salesmen even pull the item or the contract away while saying those words.

The Takeaway works with the Gospel, the liturgy, the Creeds, the hymns. When someone takes away what we took for granted, we hold onto it all the more.

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