Sunday, January 13, 2013

The First Sunday after Epiphany, 2013

The First Sunday after the Epiphany, 2013

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn # 277     I heard the voice            4:57
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             Romans 12:1-5
The Gospel           Luke 2:41-52          
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 396   Oh For a Faith   4:18

Be Not Conformed

The Hymn #130   O Jesus King of Glory   4:49
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 #267   If God Had Not                      4:61

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

First Sunday After Epiphany

Lord God, heavenly Father, who in mercy hast established the Christian home among us: We beseech Thee so to rule and direct our hearts, that we may be good examples to children and servants, and not offend them by word or deed, but faithfully teach them to love Thy Church and hear Thy blessed word. Give them Thy Spirit and grace, that this seed may bring forth good fruit, so that our homelife may conduce to Thy glory, honor and praise, to our own improvement and welfare, and give offense to no one; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Be Not Conformed

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

When Epiphany itself was over, I read Luther’s sermon (in parts) and found so many paragraphs that were perfect for today. Likewise, the sermon for this Sunday, on the epistle, fits today’s world just as well as it did the late Medieval era.

Luther explained this as two kinds of holiness – the kind loved by unbelievers and the kind loved by God. There is a great fondness for the sanctity of the world today. It is a secular holiness and also an outward holiness in the church.

The secular holiness is based upon the thousand commandments of the Left. That concerns supposed global warming, which is a fraud; being a vegetarian but wearing leather; loving every religion except Christianity, etc. The more someone obeys these commandments, the more that person is honored, respected, and quoted.

Likewise, there is the outward show of holiness in the visible church. The Church of Rome has always had the corner on this market. Holy communion – the Mass – is a great show, truly entertaining. This sanctity is based on works, very showy, empty, and hypocritical. Everything except faith is important. Apart from faith, the display is everything.

God despises all this because the Gospel is given for us to believe, not as something to display apart from faith.

Christians wonder why faith in Christ is met with so much opposition and ridicule, especially from those who profess allegiance to the Savior. That is the sacrifice, also called the cross. The faithful must be willing to give up honor, friendship, even property in bearing the cross.

Our Old Adam says, “This should not be. The apostates are rolling in luxury.” Thus the subtle temptation begins. It may not affect someone at first, but later it does. Those who give in to these thoughts become part of that large group despising anyone who suffers anything disagreeable because of faith. They are the best Stormtroopers to go over and say to a friend with the same concerns, “Don’t be a martyr. This is not important.” One LCMS professor said, “Pick the fights you can win.” I would not like to follow him into battle. He sounded like the last generation of Muslim Janissaries who became so used to their luxuries that they entered battle looking for the best escape route out. And they ran. They ran so far away.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This spiritual wisdom is completely at odds with current wisdom, as it was 500 years ago.

The wisdom of today is, “Be conformed and you will do very well indeed. And everyone will love you. Those who don’t – ignore them.”

Finding this out is like passing through a wall of fire and stones and mud, only to emerge on the other side and say, “That was worth it.”

I can truthfully say that for a decade I thought it had been useless to point out the fallacies of universal absolution (UOJ) or justification without faith. It was like singing a solo in a very small coat closet. Faithful laity got me going on the project and many things were done to expose the issues, but progress was zero as people simply batted it debate away. Some understood and made real contributions, only to be verbally beaten into conformity again.

In many places it meant giving up a congregation, friends, and respect. That wears on people, to be despised, laughed at, and ridiculed.

But there is no question today that justification by faith is being confessed again, little by little. It was before, but often people kept under the radar, as they say. Now more has happened, thanks to God’s efficacious Word, and many are enjoying the benefits.

The renewal of your mind
God gives us faith through the Gospel, so it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but He has also given us minds so we grow in our understanding.

The old leaven is conformity, so that must be purged by the Gospel. There are hundreds of false conceptions based upon conformity with the world. Renewing the mind means seeing the Word of God as our gracious Heavenly Father giving us the truth and ejecting those false concepts, then adapting those concepts in all our thinking, no matter what another person says.

Conformity means believing those things, more or less, but always trimming and compromising so no one is offended or reacts against one particular article of faith.

I recall a layman becoming angry and saying, “You don’t believe in the immortality of the soul, do you?” He was a prospect, supposedly. That was said with great force and aimed at making me back down.

As I mentioned too often – two Roman Catholic theologians said, “You believe in the actual resurrection of Christ? What about the Virgin Birth?” Then “There is no use talking to you.” Both are still active leaders in the Church of Rome, American edition.

I have to shorten this today, but there it is – either the wisdom of the world or the wisdom of God. One brings temporary earthly riches. The other brings temporary earthly discomfort and the cross. But conformity brings eternal destruction while the wisdom of God leads to forgiveness, joy, and eternal life.

No comments: