Sunday, November 11, 2012

Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity:
Access to God's Grace

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 29        Praise to the Lord       3:1
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #246                Holy, Holy, Holy            3:35

Grace from God’s Word and Sacraments

The Communion Hymn #316            O Living Bread            3:45 
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #  309                 O Jesus Blessed Lord                         3:70

KJV Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

KJV Matthew 22:15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Twenty-Third Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: we thank Thee that Thou hast hitherto granted us peace and graciously spared us from war and foreign dominion: We pray Thee, graciously let us continue to live in Thy fear according to Thy will, giving no cause for wars or other punishment; govern and direct our magistrates, that they may not hinder the obedience due to Thee, but maintain righteousness, that we may enjoy happiness and blessing under their government, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Grace from God’s Word and Sacraments

The only purpose of the Bible is to reveal God’s grace in Christ to us. The term grace has been misused so much that people can easily misunderstand the word. The word itself is not difficult, but the distortions have to be removed.

Grace means God’s favor, love, and kindness, but it also includes the concept of this favor being free rather than earned. Some of that clings to our language, because working for gratis (grace) is working for free. If someone escapes the consequences of an accident or a foolish venture of any kind, the individual might say, “By God’s grace, I escaped.” That simply means, “I did not deserve the good outcome but just the opposite.”

Noah was also a sinful, mortal man, but God promised him grace.

KJV Genesis 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Lot also received grace from God –
KJV Genesis 19:18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: 19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Gideon wanted God’s grace –

KJV Judges 6:13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. 14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? 15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. 16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. 17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

There are two major errors about God’s grace.

One – people attach works to God’s grace because that is our natural, sinful way of looking at everything. Grace is revealed to us in the Word, but works are basic to the way we live and work.

Why should I help him? He has never helped me?

Or – God will reward me if I help Him do His work.

Two – people run here and there, but do not know how to obtain God’s grace. Because of that, they are easily directed to the first error, using man’s works to obtain God’s grace.

Access to God’s Grace
There can only be one way to receive God’s grace – through the Word.

We do not need to question how to find God’s grace, because He has united His Holy Spirit to His Word, His Word to His Spirit. Never the Spirit without the Word, never the Word without the Spirit – that is sound doctrine. (Hoenecke’s Dogmatics) The double negative used by Hoenecke excludes any exceptions, because too many people say “Yes, but…”

The Spirit works through the Word – someone will say, Yes, but the Spirit told me in a dream last night…

The Word works with the Spirit – Calvin says yes but a sermon can be preached, baptism and communion celebrated, with the Holy Spirit absent. Therefore, nothing divine happens.

God uses the double negative a lot in His Word, so we do not manufacture exceptions. Hoenecke was not making up a double negative but following Scriptural language.

KJV Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void, [double negative – no exceptions]
but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Double negatives -

KJV John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

KJV John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Therefore, the promise of divine energy in the Word, the Word always accomplishing God’s will, is without exception (my double negative).

Since grace is the primary quality of God, the grace of God can only come through the Holy Spirit in the Word, and never through the works of man.

This is the foundation of all false doctrine, adding works to make salvation through the Law, either Mosaic or man-made. Works salvation will make man proud or despairing. Naturally, works battle against faith. Works by themselves, as a cause of salvation or forgiveness, will only extinguish faith, because they put trust in man’s own righteousness, not the righteousness of God.

The Media – A Common Term Today
We are always discussing the media. The term is used in broadcasting, in education, in website planning.
A medium is a means or instrument to accomplish something. Media is the plural – thanks to the Roman Empire for conquering Western Europe.

We hear about the print media (newspapers) and broadcast media (radio, TV).

I teach a class called multi-media education technology. That involves using sound, graphics, and the Net as instruments to bring education to people.

In the Reformation, Lutherans adopted the media term too. The Means of Grace are Media Gratiae in Latin – Instruments of God’s grace.

The instruments are the Word and the Sacraments.

The Word is invisible in teaching and preaching, visible in Holy Baptism and Communion.

How do we know a baby’s sins are forgiven? He has been baptized.

How do we receive forgiveness as adults? We hear the Word and receive the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Faith and Grace
Faith and grace go together in God’s Word. Those who are blinded by their works-righteousness will turn against faith as access to God’s grace.

The question is easily settled by Paul. Here is one of the most beautiful expressions in the New Testament –

KJV Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

The original question was – how do we receive God’s grace? Paul says through faith. Salvation through the Mosaic Law is limited and also misleading, because the patriarch justified, forgiven, receiving God’s grace, was justified by faith without (and before) the Law – Abraham.

If the Jewish people say (John’s Gospel) we have Abraham for our father, then Paul says here – Abraham is your father, the father of faith, who received grace and forgiveness through faith. He was counted as forgiven because he believed God’s Promises.

Therefore, the people who argue against faith are also at war against God’s grace.
Faith can only come from hearing God’s Word (Romans 10) and grace can only come from faith.

Access to God’s grace is clearly described in Romans 5:1-2.

Have you ever been locked out of a building? We went to the Crystal Bridges Museum, after hours, for our training session. We knew we could get in somewhere, but we were completely puzzled about where and how.

We parked in the garage and began looking. The main entrance was closed. Various official portals were closed. We found someone who knew – and this was important.

He said – Go to that one, unique door and push the button. They will answer and give you access to the meeting room. We went to that door, which seemed insignificant looking, and found the unremarkable button to push. A still, small voice answered and we entered.

Paul answered this question about access to God’s grace –

KJV Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

In the previous chapter he described how we receive forgiveness only through faith in the Promises, just like Abraham.

And the Bible always gives us the same picture in a slightly different form, so we know it thoroughly and never doubt the plain language of the Bible.

Romans 5:1-2 summarizes Romans 4 and unites the picture of Abraham’s faith to forgiveness and access to God’s grace.

This is quite simple and basic when seen together, but it is hopelessly botched up and confused when people mess with God’s explicit, plain language. Let’s not make Paul so erudite that someone even more eloquent (in his own imagination) turns the words around.

Grace can only come from God’s Instruments (Media, Means) of Grace. That is because grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit.

And the Holy Spirit only works through the Word.

Any teaching of grace coming to anyone without the Word is false doctrine. Thus UOJ is false doctrine by definition, according to the Word. It is Enthusiasm, using the language of Luther in the Book of Concord.

Faith in Christ always receives the actual full and free forgiveness of all sins, great and small, from God. They are utterly removed and forgotten. That candy you stole from the drugstore 30 years ago? Forgotten by God, forgiven.

The portrait of the Lamb of God, John 1:29, is one of comfort rather than terror. The atonement is anticipated in Behold the Lamb of God, who bears the sins of the world.

The assurance given by John the Baptist is the completeness of payment for those sins. This Gospel message creates and sustains faith in the Promises, which give us access to God’s grace and forgiveness.

The Bible emphasizes faith because trust in God’s Word means trust in Christ. Jesus comes to us only in the Word, never any other way.

Unbelief hates faith, so unbelief persecutes and silences faith in Christ wherever possible, often through violence. Since violence is frowned upon, other methods are used.

French Catholics drove the Protestants out of their country. Some became slaves on their galley ships. Others fled to Germany. Still others went to America and England. The French crippled their own navy with this persecution, because their best men went to English to join the British and use their skills there. For that reason, the French navy never amounted to much and Britain held them in check during Napoleon’s reign with the expatriate navy. And some of them came over to be my father’s mother’s family – Noel.

One of my former members was away from church for a long time. He lives in another state and connected with me again. I said, “Take advantage of the Means of Grace. John 15:1-10. You can only be fruitful when attached to the True Vine through the Means of Grace.”

That made me remember the time he took us to pick blackberries from these enormous vines. It was such a large group of vines that we could not get more than a fraction of them.

God forgives us in Christ so that we can be fruitful.

KJV John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

The True Vine, by Norma Boecker

1 comment:

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Men have strayed Lord; for the supposed progress of man.