Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity. Luke 16:1-9

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity, 2013

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 334    Let Me Be Thine Forever, Selnecker                   2.62
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 # 479            Zion Rise                2.13

Rescuing This Text from the Works Salesmen

The Communion Hymn #306            Lord Jesus Christ               2.50  
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 # 442     Lord of Glory                                   2:61               

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

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

Ninth Sunday After Trinity

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

Rescuing This Text from Works Salesmen

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

This is a strange parable for those who do not know the Gospel, and so we can see what Jesus meant when He said that the parables were intended for those who believed and not for everyone. To this day there are many who see and yet do not see, hear and do not understand the parables.

The storyline is simple – an evil steward wasted the goods of the lord of the estate, then cheated the same lord so he would have a job in the future.

Instead of condemning this behavior, Jesus taught instead –

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

That makes it impossible for a casual observer to grasp the parable, but we can see the clarity of the teaching when we compare it to other similar passages.

The key to the false teacher’s method is to isolate Scripture and make one passage say something clearly contradicted by another passage. The Word does not contradict itself so the problem lies with the false teacher. If people object, he will cite some authority – either himself or an institution. Are you saying Holy Mother Church is wrong? The very Church that nurtured you all these years?

And the visible church is the creation of the Holy Spirit through the Word, the guardian of that truth, not the guardian of itself. Some think the church is their sandbox, where they can play King of the Hill. It is always a dangerous game to play with the Word, abuse it, and use it to deceive people.

Summary of Faith and Works

As Luther said in his sermons on this text, faith makes the tree good. Without faith, there is no goodness and no good works. From this tree, because of justification by faith, good fruit will come.

The good works are the result of God’s justification of us through faith. Both faith and good works belong to God – not to man. Faith is God’s creation and good works come from the energy of the Gospel in us.

Therefore the passages on good works are not there to teach us despair (as they do when misunderstood) but to challenge those who take faith lightly and discount faith.

It can be claimed that many congregations are dominated by unbelievers because they have not heard the Gospel or have forgotten it through neglect. Those churches love to dwell on works and are truly factories of works – the works of man.

For instance – this type of sermon – which I heard at Mequon – Do you know why this church is not growing? It is your fault. Statistics show that churches grow only when members witness to others. You have not been doing that, so it is your fault.

To his credit, when Professor Balge heard this in class, he was appalled. Obviously it came out of the Church Growth class taught by Valleskey, and it was anti-Lutheran and anti-Christian as well.

Another version – Relationship Evangelism – If you are a helpful friendly neighbor who is always happy, your neighbors will ask why. So you will tell them about your helpful, friendly, happy church and they will want to join.

In both cases, an enormous burden of guilt is placed on people to drive them into gathering up members for the congregation and church body. There is not an ounce of Gospel in either message.

Therefore the conclusion of the parable has been used by the Roman Catholics and others to say, “You must earn heaven with good works.”

Subtle Humor
The parable has a certain type of subtle humor in it. It does not commend the behavior but the savvy nature of the man who remains a scoundrel. He takes care of himself first, so he ruins the estate first from selfishness or laziness or greed, then saves his job by cheating the same master he just ruined with his behavior.

The point is – he is good at it and when facing a time of terrible suffering, uses his craft to get out of it.

The theme is not – Be like him in character and behavior
but this –
If a scoundrel can be so clever with unrighteous mammon, then you should also be just as clever in your use of mammon.

Unrighteous Mammon
Mammon means more than enough money to live on, enough to share with others.

It is God’s creation, like everything else, so we should use it wisely. But it is unrighteous, not something we should worship. God’s Word does not denounce wealth. Some have it and put it to good use. But “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Coveting turns people toward doing the most despicable acts, even the murder of their own family members. That is the first thing the police look for when there is a murder – who benefited financially?

The steward wanted the others to speak up for him when he needed a job in the future.
So this entire episode should make us smile.

Luther turns it around by saying – make yourselves friends – in our use of money in doing good works in faith. We do that in helping unborn babies, in spreading the Gospel, in challenging false doctrine, in visiting the sick and shut-in, in encouraging others.

These efforts have life-changing impacts upon others. Spending some money meant giving away books that would not normally be bought on impulse. That led to many good results in understanding justification by faith. Luther gave all his writings away, and that Word of God expository writing changed Christianity forever.

So unrighteous mammon does not help us at all in gaining heaven, but those people we helped into heaven are our spokesmen, welcoming us in.

As Luther said, they will do more good than Peter can do. Peter’s faith cannot get anyone into heaven, only one’s own faith. Those who have been helped are testimony to the effect of faith, the good works done.

Likewise, those who have cheated the faithful and tried ruin their lives will suffer in eternal life. They will not have their buildings and honors to speak for them. They will not be able to impress anything that they were presidents of the fasting shrinking Lutheran church bodies in history – or the ones with the most covered-up clergy crimes.

God says, these crooked people have no faith and have no power unless it is conceded to them. Trust in the Word of God instead of the man-made structures of this world. If the “conservative” Lutherans are going to name buildings after an unrepentant adultery who broke up two marriages, then that is not the place where the Gospel is taught anymore. “You have turned the House of God into a Den of Thieves.”



"#305. Why do you say in this article: I believe in the Forgiveness of Sins? Because I hold with certainty that by my own powers or through my own works I cannot be justified before God, but that the forgiveness of sins is given me out of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also true justification. Psalm 130:3-4; Psalm 143:2; Isaiah 64:6; Job 25:4-6 (Q. 124)." Kleiner Katechismus, trans. Pastor Vernon Harley, LCMS, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1901, p. 164ff. 

"Hence, too, the lack of emphasis, even in the best of Reformed preaching, upon the divine Word as the vehicle of regenerating grace and on the Sacraments. The office of the Word, then, is merely to point to the way of life, without communicating that of which it conveys the idea. The Word and Sacraments are declared to be necessary; their office in the Church is a divine institution; but they are only symbols of what the Spirit does within; and the Spirit works immediately and irresistibly." "Grace, Means of," The Concordia Cyclopedia, L. Fuerbringer, Th. Engelder, P. E. Kretzmann, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1927, p. 298. 

"Concerning the article on the justification of the poor sinner in God's sight, we believe, teach, and confess on the basis of God's Word and the position of our Christian Augsburg Confession that the poor, sinful person is justified in God's sight--that is, he is pronounced free and absolved of his sins and receives forgiveness for them--only through faith, because of the innocent, complete, and unique obedience and the bitter sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, not because of the indwelling, essential righteousness of God or because of his own good works, which either precede or result from faith. We reject all doctrines contrary to this belief and confession." Jacob Andreae, Confession and Brief Explanation of Certain Disputed Articles, Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977, p. 58. 

"Indeed, it has been proved more than sufficiently from the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles in the Old and New Testaments that the righteousness which avails in God's sight, which poor sinners have for comfort in their worst temptations, cannot and should not be sought in our own virtues or good works; nor will it be found there, as was proved above against the papists. Instead, it should be sought only in Christ the Lord, whom God has made our righteousness and who saves all believing Christians and makes them righteous through knowledge of Him." Jacob Andreae, The First Sermon, On the Righteousness of Faith in God's Sight, Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977, p. 67. 

"'Just git the spirit started,' said a Methodist to C. P. Krauth, 'and then it works like smoke.' 'Very much like smoke, I guess,' answered Krauth." F. Bente, American Lutheranism, 2 vols., The United Lutheran Church, Gen Synod, Gen Council, Un Syn in the South, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1919, II, p. 77.  

"For the papalists understand the word 'justify' according to the manner of the Latin composition as meaning 'to make righteous' through a donated or infused quality of inherent righteousness, from which works of righteousness proceed. The Lutherans, however, accept the word 'justify' in the Hebrew manner of speaking; therefore they define justification as the absolution from sins, or the remission of sins, through imputation of the righteousness of Christ, through adoption and inheritance of eternal life, and that only for the sake of Christ, who is apprehended by faith." Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 467. 

"And, in short, the meritum condigni is the Helen for which the Tridentine chapter concerning the growth of justification contends. For they imagine that the quality, or habit, of love is infused not that we may possess salvation to life eternal through this first grace but that, assisted by that grace, we may be able to merit eternal life for ourselves by our own good works. For concerning the meritum condigni Gabriel speaks thus: 'The soul shaped by grace worthily (de condigno) merits eternal life.'" [Kramer note - Scholastics taught that the good works of the unregenerate had only meritum congrui; the good works of the regenerate rewarded as meritum condigni, merit worthy with being rewarded with eternal life.] Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 541. see Baker, Fundamentals, III, p. 78 

"But because not doubt but faith justifies, and not he who doubts but he who believes has eternal life, therefore faith teaches the free promise, which relies on the mercy of God for the sake of the sacrifice of the Son, the Mediator, and not on our works, as Paul says in Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, that the promise might be sure according to grace.'" Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 507. Romans 4:16 

"How is a person justified before God? This occurs solely by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ; that is, freely, not because of any works or merits of one's own but only because of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, who became the sacrificial victim and propitiation on our behalf. By this sacrifice, man obtained forgiveness of sins and became righteous; that is, God-pleasing and acceptable. His righteousness was imputed to man for Christ's sake, and man becomes an heir of eternal life when he believes with certainty that God gives him these blessings for the sake of His Son." David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 105. 

"Christian righteousness is the forgiveness of sin, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and acceptance to eternal life. It is free, not the result of any virtues or works but is given solely because of Christ, the Mediator, and apprehended by faith alone." David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 106.  

"What is the difference between Christianity and paganism? Paganism has no sure Word of God and no true faith in Christ. It is unsettled. In place of the one true God, pagans worship various factitious deities and countless idols with ceremonies, works and sacrifices selected according to human judgment. They imagine that they compensate for their sins with this worship, pacify their gods and make them gracious and purchase, as it were, blessings from them." David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 19.  

"It is indeed a precious truth, that this Word not only tells me what I must do to be saved, but it also enables me to do it. [enables me to do it in italics] It is the vehicle and instrument of the Holy Spirit. Through it the Holy Spirit works repentance and faith. Through it He regenerates, converts, and sanctifies."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 132.         

"The same divine Saviour now works through means. He has founded a Church, ordained a ministry, and instituted the preaching of the Word and the administration of His own sacraments. Christ now works in and through His Church. Through her ministry, preaching the Word, and administering the sacraments, the Holy Spirit is given. (Augsburg Confession, Article 5.)
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 30.         

"The entire Scripture testifies that the merits of Christ are received in no other way than through faith, not to mention that it is impossible to please God without faith, Hebrews 11:6, let alone to be received into eternal life. In general, St. Paul concludes concerning this [matter] in Romans 3:28: Thus we hold then that a man becomes righteous without the works of the Law--only through faith."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 165. Hebrews 11:6; Romans 3:28      

"Even though the water which is used for holy Baptism continues to retain its natural essence and natural attributes after Baptism, it is nevertheless not just lowly [plain] water, but it is formulated in God's Word and combined with God's Word. Thus it is a powerful means through which the Holy Trinity works powerfully; the Father takes on the one who is baptized as His dear child; the Son washes him of his sins with His blood; the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews him for everlasting life."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 56.      

"Aus dem allen folgt die Verwerflichkeit des schwarmgeistlichen Grundsatzes, dass der Geist wirke ohne die Schrift. Geist nicht ohne Schrift, Schrift nicht ohne Geist, das is gesunde Lehre. (From this follows the repudia- tion of Pentecostal principles, that the Spirit works without the Scriptures. Spirit not without the Scripture, Scripture not without the Spirit - that is sound doctrine.)" Adolf Hoenecke, Evangelische-Lutherische Dogmatik, 4 vols., ed., Walter and Otto Hoenecke, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1912, IV, p. 17.       "Thus the Holy Spirit works only through the Word. But the Word of the Gospel comes to man in two different modes." Henry Eyster Jacobs, Elements of Religion, Philadelphia, Board of Publication, General Council 1919 p. 161.  

"The Holy Spirit works through the Word and the Sacraments, which only, in the proper sense, are means of grace. Both the Word and the Sacraments bring a positive grace, which is offered to all who receive them outwardly, and which is actually imparted to all who have faith to embrace it."
Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1871, p. 127.

"An age of darkness is a creedless age; corruption in doctrine works best when it is unfettered by an explicit statement of that doctrine." Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1871, p. 215.  

"This Word works in the Thessalonians what Paul states in 1:3; it came to them with the power of the Holy Spirit and much assurance (1:5); it turned them from the idols to the living God, to Him who raised up Jesus from the dead, the Savior from the wrath to ccome (1: 9, 10). This effect, wrought by the Word, convinces all believers, all who experience this blessed effect, that this is, indeed, God's Word."
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of Thessalonians, Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1937, p. 261. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 9, 10       

"The Gospel shows the Father's grace, Who sent His Son to save our race, Proclaims how Jesus lived and died That man might thus be justified. (2) It sets the Lamb before our eyes, Who made the atoning sacrifice, And calls the souls with guilt opprest To come and find eternal rest. (3) It brings the Savior's righteousness Our souls to robe in royal dress; From all our guilt it brings release And gives the troubled conscience peace. (4) It is the power of God to save From sin and Satan and the grace; It works the faith, which firmly clings To all the treasures which it brings. (5) It bears to all the tidings glad And bids their hearts no more be sad; The heavy laden souls it cheers And banishes their guilty fears."
Matthias Loy, 1863, "The Gospel Shows the Father's Grace" The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #297. John 3:16.   

"The apostle says 'our,' 'our sins;' not his own sin, not the sins of unbelievers. Purification is not for, and cannot profit, him who does not believe. Nor did Christ effect the cleansing by our free-will, our reason or power, our works, our contrition or repentance, these all being worthless in the sight of God; he effects it by himself. And how? By taking our sins upon himself on the holy cross, as Isaiah 53:6 tells us."
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 180. Hebrews 1:1-12; Hebrews 1:3;      

"His gifts and works in His Church must effect inexpressible results, taking souls from the jaws of the devil and translating them into eternal life and glory." Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 220. Tenth Sunday after Trinity, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11;        

"...God here directs and works wonderfully by making the first last and the last first. And all is spoken to humble those who are great that they should trust in nothing but the goodness and mercy of God. And on the other hand that those who are nothing should not despair, but trust in the goodness of God just as the others do."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 106. Matthew 20:1-16       

"Now in this way Christ strikes a blow first against the presumption (as He also does in today's Epistle) of those who would storm their way into heaven by their good works; as the Jews did and wished to be next to God; as hitherto our own clergy have also done. These all labor for definite wages, that is, they take the law of God in no other sense than that they should fulfil it by certain defined works for a specified reward, and they never understand it correctly, and know not that before God all is pure grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 108. Matthew 20:1-16; 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5     

"Faith receives the good works of Christ, love bestows good works on our neighbor." In the first place, our faith is strengthened and increased when Christ is held forth to us in his own natural works, namely, that he associates only with the blind, the deaf, the lame, the lepers, the dead and the poor; that is , in pure love and kindness toward all who are in need and in misery, so that finally Christ is nothing else than consolation and a refuge for all the distressed and troubled in conscience. Here is necessary faith that trusts in the Gospel and relies upon it, never doubting that Christ is just as he is presented to us in this Gospel, and does not think of Him otherwise, nor let any one persuade us to believe otherwise."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 109f. Third Sunday in Advent Matthew 11:2-10.

"In order to keep your faith pure, do nothing else than stand still, enjoy its blessings, accept Christ's works, and let him bestow His love upon you. You must be blind, lame, deaf, dead, leprous and poor, otherwise you will stumble at Christ. That Gospel which suffers Christ to be seen and to be doing good only among the needy, will not belie you."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 110. Third Sunday in Advent Matthew 11:2-10.      

"And such false teachers have the good fortune that all their folly is tolerated, even though the people realize how these act the fool, and rather rudely at that. They have success with it all, and people bear with them. But no patience is to be exercised toward true teachers! Their words and their works are watched with the intent of entrapping them, as complained of in Psalm 17:9 and elsewhere. When only apparently a mote is found, it is exaggerated to a very great beam. No toleration is granted. There is only judgment, condemnation and scorn. Hence the office of preaching is a grievous one. He who has not for his sole motive the benefit of his neighbor and the glory of God cannot continue therein. The true teacher must labor, and permit others to have the honor and profit of his efforts, while he receives injury and derision for his reward."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 110f. Second Sunday before Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. Psalm 17:9.         

"In the second place such teachers are disposed to bring the people into downright bondage and to bind their conscience by forcing laws upon them and teaching works-righteousness. The effect is that fear impels them to do what has been pounded into them, as if they were bondslaves, while their teachers command fear and attention. But the true teachers, they who give us freedom of conscience and create us lords, we soon forget, even despise. The dominion of false teachers is willingly tolerated and patiently endured; indeed, it is given high repute. All those conditions are punishments sent by God upon them who do not receive the Gospel with love and gratitude."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 111. Second Sunday before Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. John 5:43.   

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Luther's Sermons for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity. Luke 16:1-9.
The Parable of the Unrighteous Steward

Luther's First Sermon for the NINTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. Luke 16:1-9. The Unrighteous Steward.

This, sermon appeared under the title: “A sermon for the second Sunday after Mary’s Ascension. Preached at Wittenberg by Dr. Martin Luther, 1522.” As Easter in the year 1522 came on the 20th of April, the 9th Sunday after Trinity came on the 17th of August.

Text. <421601>Luke 16:1-9. And he said also unto the disciples, There was a certain rich man, who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he was wasting his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, What is this that I hear of thee? render the account of the stewardship; for thou canst be no longer steward.

And the steward said within himself, What shall I do, seeing that my lord taketh away the stewardship from me? I have not strength to dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the steward ship, they may receive me into their houses. And calling to him each one of his lord’s debtors, he said to the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, A hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bond, and sit down quickly and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, A hundred measures of wheat.

He saith unto him, Take thy bond, and write fourscore. And his lord commended the unrighteous steward because he had done wisely: for the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light. And I say unto your, Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness: that, wheat it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.



1. Origin of the word Mammon. 1-2.

2. Why is it called unrighteous. 3-4. This parable is to be explained in its plain meaning and no subtle or mysterious meaning is to be sought in it. 5-7.


1. This threefold misuse in general.

2. The threefold misuse of this parable and its defense in particular. a. Its defense against the first misuse. 9-13. b. Its defense against the second misuse. 14-17. c. Its defense against the third misuse.


1. This parable does not teach us how one should cheat another; for Christ calls him an unrighteous steward, and numbers him among the children of this world, therefore his wisdom is praised, not his unrighteous dealings.

2. Spiritual wisdom distributes temporal possessions to those who need them, and in their place Christ welcomes the givers into the eternal tabernacle. For he himself says, Matthew 10:20: “Whosoever giveth a cup of cold water unto one of the least of these my disciples in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward,” an. d in the day of judgment he will say, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40.

3. But the flesh and hypocrisy can not do this, for the children of the world look only to what is their own, even when they think in their way, that is, according to the flesh, that they do the very best possible and perform great deeds of kindness in behalf of other people.

4. Therefore the Lord says here to those who are born again: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.” Thus the workrighteous persons and hypocrites can not here seek any merit whatever and found a righteousness upon good works. He says: “Make to yourselves friends,” they are not the papal works and offerings and the like, unless you would understand thereby the rich canons and the rich monks.

1. This is truly a Gospel for priests and monks, and will bring them money, unless we prevent it. Before entering upon the consideration of it, we must accustom ourselves to the language used, especially the word mammon.

The Jews were acquainted with this word from the Hebrew, and it has come down to us, just like other Hebrew words, as Halleluja, Amen, Kyrie eleison. In German mammon means riches, not simply riches, but a superfluity of riches, whatever is beyond our needs. However, that which is called mammon and that which is not called mammon are distinguished in a twofold way. First, if the estimate be according to that of our Lord God and of the truth, there are many who possess mammon. But if the estimate be that of the world and of man’s mind, there are few who possess it. For our leaders in thought have taught in the high schools and even from the pulpit, that everyone should see to his station in life, what he needs, and adjust his possessions accordingly. If he be a man with wife and children, he needs more, for where many persons are there much will be needed.

And when we reckon thus, no one has anything to spare, but everyone would rather have more. If one has two thousand guilders he says, this I need for my family, to support myself, my wife and children.

2. In the second place they have taught that one is not bound to help, except in cases of the greatest need. Such teaching entirely overthrows the Gospel, so that no one has been helpful to another; but they have in the meantime built churches; and yet in doing so they did not even wait for the greatest need, until the arches were rent asunder and churches became roofless, but they gave to great excess, spreading their gold upon the walls.

To sum up the whole matter, mammon properly means, that a man has more than he needs for his support, so that he can help others without injuring himself.

3. Hence the Lord calls it “The mammon of unrighteousness,” because it is daily made use of by the wicked; as it is said: riches develop courage, and the heathen have also called it irritamenta malorum, riches tempt to evil.

Again St. Paul says, 1 Timothy 6:10: “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” whence cometh strife, pride, war and bloodshed.

Therefore it is also called here the unrighteous mammon, because it is applied to such evil uses, and is a great cause of evil to men.

4. Nevertheless it is God’s creature like wine and corn, and the creatures of God are good. Why then does he call them evil? Because they tempt us to so much evil, as Paul says to the Ephesians 5:16: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Not that the time or days in themselves are evil, but because great evil is done in them. He also says to the Romans 2:5: “The day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”

Although the day is good, but because God’s wrath will be revealed on that day, the day must take its name from it. And thus, since mammon runs into the service of evil, Christ calls it mammon of unrighteousness, namely, that which we have above our needs and we will not use in helping our neighbor; for this we possess unrighteously, and before God it is stolen goods, for in the presence of God one is bound to give and lend, and suffer himself to be deprived of it. Therefore as the saying runs, the greatest owners of property are the greatest thieves; because they possess far more than they need, and give the least possible to others. So much on the meaning of the word; we now return to the Gospel.

5. We take this parable in a common sense way, without seeking any subtleties in it, as Jerome has done, for it is not necessary to. seek a subtle meaning, the pure milk is sufficient. The parable in itself teaches how the steward deprived his master of his property, and artfully, but deceitfully and falsely, appropriated it to himself. For it is not right, that he, who previously cheated his master out of his property, should also act most deceitfully to secure for himself easy days all his life; let us abide by this explanation. For the Lord concludes that the unjust steward did wisely. He does not praise the thing in itself as good, but blames him for previously squandering his master’s goods, and afterwards shrewdly appropriating his property. This however the Lord commends, namely, that he did not forget himself, praising nought but his cunning and shrewdness. Just as when a flirt draws the whole world after her, and I say: she is a clever flirt, she knows her business. The Lord further concludes, that just as the steward is wise and shrewd in his transactions, so should we also be in obtaining eternal life.

6. And that you may understand this, take the passage of St. Paul to the Romans 5:14, Adam a type of Christ. How can the Apostle compare Adam to Christ, since Adam brought upon us sin and death, and Christ brought righteousness and life? He compares Christ to Adam in regard to origin and source, but not in regard to the fruit and work. For as Adam is the source and chief of all sinners, so Christ is the source and head of all the saints. For we have inherited from Adam nothing but sin, condemnation and the eternal curse; but from Christ we have obtained righteousness and salvation. Now these two are not alike, for sin is punishable, and righteousness is praiseworthy. But he compares them in regard to their origin; just as by Adam sin and death came upon all men, so by Christ righteousness and life come upon us.

7. Thus he compares here the unjust to the just. As the unjust man acts shrewdly, though wrongly and like a rogue, so we also should act shrewdly but righteously in godliness. This is the proper understanding of this parable. For the Lord says: “The children of this world are wiser than the children of light.” So that the children of light should learn wisdom from the children of darkness or the world. Just as they are wise in their transactions, so should also the children of light be wise in their transactions. Therefore he adds, “in their generation.” Here are truly three great questions, in which our adversaries quote this Gospel against us, when the Lord says: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.”

8. From this they try to conclude, that we must first of all do works to become good. For they say, here we read: “Make to yourselves friends,” and this surely means to do works. Secondly, they say, that God here even desires to praise works, and not only that, but also to reward them. For here we read of work and its reward, and nothing is said of faith. In the third place they claim that Christ here wishes to establish the comfort and help of the saints, when he says: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.” Thus this Gospel is made to directly oppose us, for it says: “Make to yourselves friends.” That is, do good works, that they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles. This appears to mean that we should previously merit our reception by them into the eternal tabernacles. These three points the Pope and his priests have claimed strongly for their side, and he has even called his indulgences the mammon of iniquity, mammon iniquitatis, unrighteous mammon.

9. If they thus attack us we must answer. Above all things it must be remembered that there is indeed no doubt whatever, that faith and love are the only source, as you have ever learned, that through faith we become inwardly pious, and we outwardly prove our faith by our works of love.

For I have often said, that the Scriptures speak of man in a twofold manner. At one time of the inner man, and then again of the outer man. For the Scriptures properly make distinctions, just as when I speak of a foot, I do not mean a nose. So the Scriptures at one time speak of us as of the Spirit, spiritual, how we must stand before God by faith, for this purpose he sends forth his Word to which we hold, and afterwards he follows or endows with his Spirit. Thus the tree must be good beforehand, as you have recently heard.

10. This godliness cannot be attained by anyone without grace in his heart.

If I am to make for myself friends by means of mammon, I must first be godly. For compare these two statements: A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, and again, a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. From which judge for yourself: if I am to do good and give away mammon, I must indeed be first good at heart, for God looketh upon the heart, and as he finds the heart, so he estimates our works. This I say, that . men should not cram works into the heart, but let the heart first be good through faith, that the works may flow forth, otherwise you do no one any good; for if you have before given a person anything, it did not come from the heart.

Hence the conclusion is, that I must first be good before I can do good.

You cannot build from without inward, you do not commence at the roof, but at the foundation. Therefore faith must first be present.

11. Hence the Scriptures speak of us as the outer man, as we in our flesh and blood live among men. Now, that I am good, you do not know, nor do I. Renee I must establish my faith to the satisfaction of myself and of the people, and I must do good to my neighbor in order to prove my faith; thus the outward works are then merely signs of the inner faith. Works do not make me good, but show that I am good, and bear witness that the faith in me is genuine. In this manner must you understand the Scriptures here also, when they say: Give of your mammon and thus make to yourselves friends; that is, do good, that your faith may become approved. So we must also distinguish what pertains to the Spirit and what is the fruit of the Spirit.

12. Luke has described the fruit of faith thus: Give to the poor and make to yourself friends. As though he would say: I will not now speak of faith, but how you should prove your faith. Wherefore do good to your neighbor, and if you can give from the heart you may be assured that you believe.

Thus the Scriptures speak at one time of fruits, at another time of faith.

Again, they also speak of fruits, when they teach, Matthew 25:42, how the Lord will speak to the lost on the last day: “I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was athirst, and ye gave me no drink,” and the like.

This means, you have not believed, as I will prove to you by your own works.

13. The Scriptures in some passages speak of the outward conduct, and in others of the inner. Now if you will apply that which is said of the outward to the heart and confuse matters, you pervert it and do wrong. Hence you must let the distinction remain, and observe it. These expressions: I have been hungry, thirsty, shelterless, naked, sick and in prison, and you have shown me no work of mercy, refer to the external conduct, and signify as much as: you have never exhibited any outward conduct by which you have shown your faith; and to prove this, I appeal to the poor as witnesses.

Therefore, faith alone must be present first to make us good, after that good works must follow to prove our piety. This now is one point, namely, concerning works.

14. The second point is far more difficult, when the Lord says: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.” You say, our adversaries cry: you say a person shall not do good works to obtain eternal life; behold, here it reads differently. Now, what shall we answer?

There are many passages here and there, showing how we wish to have merit on our part. By quoting these passages they intend to disprove to us God’s mercy, and to lead us to satisfy God’s righteousness by our good works. By all means beware of this, and insist that it is nothing but pure grace and mercy alone, and say: I am a poor sinner, O God, forgive me my sins, gladly will I say nothing about my merit, only say thou nothing of thy judgment! Thus David said: “Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight no man living is righteous,” <19E302> Psalm 143:2. And just for this reason Christ is given to us as our Mediator. If we wish to enter into judgment before God with our good works, we cast Christ aside as our Mediator, and cannot stand before God. Therefore let him remain our Mediator and abide thou under the shadow of his wings, as Psalm 91:4 reads: “He will cover thee with his pinions, and under his wings shalt thou take refuge.” Therefore speak thus: O God, I would not merit anything before thee by my own works, but will employ them only to serve my neighbor, and I will depend only upon thy mercy.

15. You must hence remember that eternal life consists of two things, faith and what follows faith. If you go and believe and do good to your neighbor, everlasting life must follow, although you never think about it.

Just as when you take a good drink, the taste will follow as soon as you drink, even though you do not seek it. So it is also with hell, the damned do not seek it, but it follows unsought and undesired, and he must inherit it whether he will or no. This St. Paul also says, 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16, of the persecuters of the Gospel: They “drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always, but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” As though he would say: They only persecute us to fill the measure of their sins and fairly to deserve hell, and ever urge their sins more and more until they become entirely hardened, and finally have no regard for either God or man.

16. Thus the Scriptures declare here, that we should do good, so that we may be saved; and this is not meant to say, that we must first earn salvation by our works, but that we must believe, and it will follow of itself.

Therefore mark well, that you do not take what follows for what goes before, and keep yourself free from the merit of works. Should God give us heaven for our works? No, no, he has a1ready given us heaven freely, out of mere mercy. Therefore give unto the poor, in order that the eternal tabernacles may follow, and not that you may merit them by your works.

17. Observe then that these passages are explained in two different ways.

First, that a man should seek salvation by works, which is false. Second, as a consequence of faith, which is right. Therefore, you are not to seek heaven with any kind of works, but only to do the works freely, then the result, eternal life, will follow of itself without your seeking. For if I should see heaven standing open and could merit it by picking up a straw, I would not do it, lest I might say: Behold, I have earned it! No, no, not to my deservings, but to God be the glory, who has given me his Son to abolish sin and hell for me.

18. In the third place, you should faithfully hold fast to the following words: “That they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.” Behold, they say, here it stands written that they receive us into heaven, how then can you say that we dare not place the saints as mediators before God, and that they cannot help us to heaven? Here observe, that we have but one Redeemer before God, and he is Christ. For thus St. Paul speaks, Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, one Mediator also between God and man, himself man, Christ Jesus.” Again, Christ himself in John 14:6 says: “I am the way, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Therefore we must not seek our consolation in any of the saints, but in Christ alone, through whose merits alone we and all saints are sated. Therefore I will not give a penny for St. Peter’s merits, that he should help me. He cannot help himself, but whatever he has he has from God by faith in Christ. Now then, if he cannot help himself, how then can he do anything for me?

Consequently I must have another, who is Christ, God and man in one.

19. But how can he say: “Make to yourselves friends, that they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles?” This passage we understand from Matthew 25:37-40, where Christ tells us how the King will answer them who will say on the last day: “Lord, when saw we thee hungry, athirst, homeless, naked, sick and in prison? Verily I say unto you,” he will say, “inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.” Here the Lord shows who those friends are, namely, the poor and needy. As though to say: when you make them your friends, then you have me as your friend also, for they are my members.

20. Now one thought remains: How will they receive us into the eternal tabernacles, as the text here says? Will they lead us in by the hand? No, but when we come before the judgment seat of God, poor persons whom we have assisted here, will stand in heaven and say: he has washed my feet, he gave me drink, food, clothing and the like. He will certainly be my friend and a witness of my faith, whatever words he may use to declare it. Then a beggar will be more useful to me than St. Peter or St. Paul, for there none of these can help. But when a beggar comes and says: My God, this he has done unto me as thy child! that will help me, for God will say: Whatsoever you have done unto these, you have done unto me. Therefore these poor people will not be our helpers but our witnesses so that God shall receive us. By this I would not object to your honoring St. Peter and other saints, for he is a member of Christ and of God. But you do better by giving your neighbor a penny, than by building a church of gold for St. Peter. For to help your neighbor is commanded, but it is not commanded to build a church to St. Peter. Now everything is twisted the wrong way, one goes to a certain passage in St. James, another to Aix-la-Chapelle, another to Rome, to seek help from the departed saints. But the poor people, who are the real sainthood, are left behind lying in the streets. Let this be sufficient on this Gospel.


Luther's Second Sermon for the NINTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. Luke 16:1-9.

Defense of the True Doctrine of Faith and Works.

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

This sermon appeared during the years 1522 and 1523 in eight editions. It was translated first into Latin in 1522, and again in 1525.





A. The defense of the true doctrine concerning faith.

1. The true doctrine concerning faith. 4-6.

2. The defense. 7-14.

B. The defense of the true doctrine concerning works.

1. The true doctrine concerning works. 15-16.

2. The defense. 17-19.

C. The defense of the true doctrine concerning the merits of the saints.

1. The true doctrine.

2. The defense. 21-22.


A. The three questions in general. 23.

B. The three questions and their answers in detail.

1. The first question with its answer.

2. The second question with its answer. 25-26.

3. The third question with its answer. 27-28.

1. Although in my Postils hitherto, and in my little book, Christian Liberty and Good Works, I have taught very extensively, how faith alone without works justifies, and good works are done first after we believe, that it seems I should henceforth politely keep quiet, and give every mind and heart an opportunity to understand and explain all the gospel lessons for themselves; yet I perceive that the Gospel abides and prospers only among the few; the people are constantly dispirited and terrified by the passages that treat of good works; so that I see plainly how necessary it is, either to write Postils on each gospel lesson, or to appoint sensible ministers in all places who can orally explain and teach these things.

2. If this Gospel be considered without the Spirit by mere reason, it truly favors the priests and monks, and could be made to serve covetousness and to establish one’s own works. For when Christ says: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles;” they force from it three points against our doctrine of faith, namely: first, against that we teach faith alone justifies and saves from sin; second, that all good works ought to be gratuitously done to our neighbors out of free love; third, that we should not put any value in the merits of saints or of others.

3. Against our first proposition they claim the Lord says here: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness,” just as though works should make us friends, who previously were enemies.

Against the second is what he says: “That they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles;” just as though we should do the work for our own sakes and benefit. And against the third they quote: “The friends may receive us into the eternal tabernacles;” just as though we should serve the saints and trust in them to get to heaven.

For the sake of the weak we reply to these:


4. The foundation must be maintained without wavering, that faith without any works, without any merit, reconciles man to God and makes him good, as Paul says to the Romans 3:21-22: “But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe.” Paul at another place, Romans 4:9, says: “To Abraham, his faith was reckoned for righteousness;” so also with us.

Again, 5: “Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Again, 10:10: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” These, and many more similar passages, we must firmly hold and trust in them immovably, so that to faith alone without any assistance of works, is attributed the forgiveness of sins and our justification.

5. Take for an illustration the parable of Christ in Matthew 7:17: “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” Here you see that the fruit does not make the tree good, but without any fruit and before any fruit the tree must be first good, or made good, before it can bear good fruit. As he also says, Matthew 12:33-34: “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit. Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?”

Thus it is the naked truth, that a man must be good without good works, and before he does any good works. And it is clear how impossible it is that a man should become good by works, when he is not good before he does the good works. For Christ stands firm when he says: “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?” And hence follows: How can ye, being evil, do good things?

6. Therefore the powerful conclusion follows, there must be something far greater and more precious than all good works, by which a man becomes pious and good, before he does good; just as he must first be in bodily health before he can labor and do hard work. This great and precious something is the noble Word of God, which offers us in the Gospel the grace of God in Christ. He who hears and believes this, thereby becomes good and righteous. Wherefore it is called the Word of life, a Word of grace, a Word of forgiveness. But he who neither hears nor believes it, can in no way become good. For St. Peter says in the Acts 15:9: “And he made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”

For as the Word is, so will the heart be, which believes and cleaves firmly to it. The Word is a living, righteous, truthful, pure and good Word, so also the heart which cleaves to it, must be living, just, truthful, pure and good.

7. What now shall we say of those passages which so strongly insist on good works, as when the Lord says: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness?” And in Matthew 25:42: “For I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat.” And many other similar passages, which sound altogether as though we had to become good by works. We answer thus: 8. There are some who hear and read the Gospel and what is said by faith, and immediately conclude they have formed a correct notion of what faith is. They do not think that faith is anything else than something which is altogether in their own power to have or not to have, as any other natural human work. Hence, when in their hearts they begin to think and say: “Verily, the doctrine is right, and I believe it is true,” then they immediately think faith is present. But as soon as they see and feel in themselves and others that no change has taken place, and that the works do not follow and they remain as before in their old ways, then they conclude that faith is not sufficient, that they must have something more and greater than faith.

Behold, how they then seize the opportunity, and cry and say: Oh, faith alone does not do it. Why? Oh, because there are so many who believe, and are no better than before, and have not changed their minds at all. Such people are those whom Jude in his Epistle calls dreamers, 5:8, who deceive themselves with their own dreams. For what are such thoughts of theirs which they call faith, but a dream, a dark shadow of faith, which they themselves have created in their own thoughts, by their own strength without the grace of God? They become worse than they were before. For it happens with them as the Lord says in Matthew 9:17 “Neither do men put new wine into old wine-skins; else the skins burst, and the wine is spilled.” That is, they hear God’s Word and do not lay hold of it, therefore they burst and become worse.

9. But true faith, of which we speak, cannot be manufactured by our own thoughts, for it is solely a work of God in us, without any assistance on our part. As Paul says to the Romans 5:15, it is God’s gift and grace, obtained by one man, Christ. Therefore, faith is something very powerful, active, restless, effective, which at once renews a person and again regenerates him, and leads him altogether into a new manner and character of life, so that it is impossible not to do good without ceasing.

For just as natural as it is for the tree to produce fruit, so natural is it for faith to produce good works. And just as it is quite unnecessary to command the tree to bear fruit, so there is no command given to the believer, as Paul says, nor is urging necessary for him to do good, for he does it of himself, freely and unconstrained; just as he of himself without command sleeps, eats, drinks, puts on his clothes, hears, speaks, goes and comes.

Whoever has not this faith talks but vainly about faith and works, and does not himself know what he says or whither it tends. For he has not received it; he juggles with lies and applies the Scriptures where they speak of faith and works to his own dreams and false thoughts, which is purely a human work. Whereas the Scriptures attribute both faith and good works not to ourselves, but to God alone.

10. Is not this a perverted and blind people? They teach we cannot do a good deed of ourselves, and then in their presumption go to work and arrogate to themselves the highest of all the works of God, namely faith, to manufacture it themselves out of their own perverted thoughts. Wherefore I have said that we should despair of ourselves and pray to God for faith as the Apostle did. Luke 17:5. When we have faith we need nothing more, for it brings with it the Holy Spirit, who then teaches us not only all things, but also establishes us firmly in it, and leads us through death and hell to heaven.

11. Now observe, we have given these answers, that the Scriptures have such passages concerning works, on account of such dreamers and selfinvented faith; not that man should become good by works, but that man should thereby prove and see the difference between false and true faith.

For wherever faith is right it does good. If it does no good, it is then certainly a dream and a false idea of faith. So, just as the fruit on the tree does not make the tree good, but nevertheless outwardly proves and testifies that the tree is good, as Christ says, Matthew 7:16: “By their fruits ye shall know them”--thus we should also learn to know faith by its fruits.

12. From this you see, there is a great difference between being good, and to be known as good; or to become good and to prove and show that you are good. Faith makes good, but works prove the faith and goodness to be right. Thus the Scriptures speak in the plain way, which prevails among the common people, as when a father says unto his son: “Go and be merciful, good and friendly to this or to that poor person.” By which he does not command him to be merciful, good and friendly, but because he is already good and merciful, he requires that he should also show and prove it outwardly toward the poor by his act, in order that the goodness which he has in himself may also be known to others and be helpful to them. 13 So you should explain all passages of Scripture referring to works, that God thereby desires to let the goodness received in faith express and prove itself, and become a benefit to others, so that false faith may become known and rooted out of the heart. For God gives no one his grace that it may remain inactive and accomplish nothing good, but in order that it may bear interest, and by being publicly known and proved externally draw every one to God; as Christ says, Matthew 5:16: “Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Otherwise it would be but a buried treasure and a hidden light. But what profit is there in either? Yea, goodness does not only thereby. become known to others, but we ourselves also become certain that we are honest, as St. Peter in 2 Peter 1:10 says: “Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure.” For where works do not follow a man cannot know whether his faith is right; yea, he may be certain that his faith is a dream, and not right as it should be. Thus Abraham became certain of his faith and that he feared God, when he offered up his son. As God by the angel said to Abraham, Genesis 22:12: “Now I know, that is, it is manifest, that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

14. Then abide by the truth, that man is internally, in spirit before God, justified by faith alone without works, but externally and publicly before men and himself, he is justified by works, that he is at heart an honest believer and pious. The one you may call a public or outward justification, the other an inner justification, yet in the sense that the public or external justification is only the fruit, the result and proof of the justification in the heart, that a man does not become just thereby before God, but must previously be just before him. So you may call the fruit of the tree the public or outward good of the tree, which is only the result and proof of its inner and natural goodness.

This is what St. James means when he says in his Epistle, James 2:26: “Faith without works is dead.” That is, as the works do not follow, it is a sure sign that there is no faith there; but only an empty thought and dream, which they falsely call faith. Now we understand the word of Christ: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness.” That is, prove your faith publicly by your outward gifts, by which you win friends, that the poor may be witnesses of your public work, that your faith is genuine. For mere external giving in itself can never make friends, unless it proceed from faith, as Christ rejects the alms of the Pharisees in Matthew 6:2, that they thereby make no friends because their heart is false. Thus no heart can ever be right without faith, so that even nature forces the confession that no work makes one good, but that the heart must first be good and upright.


15. Christ means this when, in Matthew 10:8, he says: “Freely ye receive, freely give.” For just as Christ with all his works did not merit heaven for himself, because it was his before; but he served us thereby, not regarding or seeking his own, but these two things, namely, our benefit and the glory of God his Father; so also should we never seek our own in our good works, either temporal or eternal, but glorify God by freely and gratuitously doing good to our neighbor. This St. Paul teaches the Philippians 2:5: “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” That is, for himself he had enough, since in him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and yet he served us and became our servant.

16. And this is the cause; for since faith justifies and destroys sin before God, so it gives life and salvation. And now it would be a lasting shame and disgrace, and injurious to faith, if any one by his life and works would desire to obtain what faith already possesses and brings with it. Just as Christ would have only disgraced himself had he done good in order to become the Son of God and Lord over all things, which he already was before. So faith makes us God’s children as John 1:12 says: “But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become the children of God, even to them thai: believe on his name.” But if they are children, then they are heirs, as St. Paul says, Romans 8:17, and Galatians 4:7.

How then can we do anything to obtain the inheritance, which we already have by faith?

17. But what shall we say of passages that insist on a good life for the sake of an external reward as this one does: “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness?” And in Matthew 19:17: “But if thou wouldst enter into life, keep the commandments.” And Matthew 6:20: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” We will say this: that those who do not know faith, only speak and think of the reward, as of works. For they think that the same rule obtains here as in human affairs, that they must earn the Kingdom of heaven by their works.

These, too, are dreams and false views, of which Malachi 1:10, speaks: “Oh, that there were one among you that would shut the doors, that ye might not kindle fire on mine altar in vain!” They are slaves and greedy self-enjoying hirelings and day laborers, who receive their reward here on earth, like the Pharisees with their praying and fasting, as Christ says, Matthew 6:2.

However, in regard to the eternal reward it is thus: inasmuch as works naturally follow faith, as I said, it is not necessary to command them, for it is impossible for faith not to do them without being commanded, in order that we may learn to distinguish the false from the true faith. Hence the eternal reward also follows true faith, naturally, without any seeking, so that it is impossible that it should not, although it may never be desired or sought, yet it is appropriated and promised in order that true and false believers may be known, and that every one may understand that a good life follows naturally of itself.

18. As an illustration of this take a rude comparison: behold, hell and death are also threatened to the sinner, and naturally follow sin without any seeking; for no one does wickedly because he wants to be damned, but would much rather escape it. Yet, the result is there, and it is not necessary to declare it, for it will come of itself. Yet, it is declared that man might know what follows a wicked life. So here, a wicked life has its own reward without seeking it. Hence a good life will find its reward without any seeking it. When you drink good or poor wine, although you do not drink it for the taste, yet the taste naturally follows of itself.

19. Now when Christ says: make to yourselves friends, lay up for yourselves treasures, and the like, you see that he means: do good, and it will follow of itself without your seeking, that you will have friends, find treasures in heaven, and receive a reward. But your eyes must simply be directed to a good life, and care nothing about the reward, but be satisfied to know and be assured that it will follow, and let God see to that. For those who look for a reward, become lazy and unwilling laborers, and love the reward; more than the work, yea, they become enemies of work. In this way God’s will also becomes hateful, who has commanded us to work, and hence God’s command and will must finally become burdensome to such a heart.


20. This is so clear that it needs no proof. For how can the saints receive us into heaven, as every one himself must depend on God alone to receive him into heaven, and every saint scarcely has enough for himself? This the wise virgins prove, who did not wish to give of their oil to the foolish virgins, Matthew 25:9, and St. Peter, 1 Peter 4:18, says: “The righteous is scarcely saved.” And Christ in John 3:13: “And no one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of Man, who is in heaven.”

21. What then shall we reply to: “Make to yourselves friends out of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles ?” We say this: that this passage says nothing about the saints in heaven, but of the poor and needy on earth, who live among us. As though he would say: why do you build churches, make saints and serve my mother, St. Peter, St. Paul and other departed saints?

They do not need this or any other service of yours, they are not your friends, but friends of those who lived in their days and to whom they did good; but do service to your friends, that is, the poor who live in your time and among you, your nearest neighbors who need your help, make them your friends with your mammon.

22. Again, we must not understand this reception into the eternal tabernacles as being done by man; however, men will be an instrument and witness to our faith, exercised and shown in their behalf, on account of which God receives us into the eternal tabernacles. For thus the Scriptures are accustomed to speak when they say: sin condemns, faith saves, that means, sin is the cause why God condemns, and faith is the cause why he saves. As man also is at all times accustomed to say: your wickedness will bring you misfortune, which means, your wickedness is the cause and source of your misfortune. Thus our friends receive us into heaven, when they are the cause, through our faith shown to them, of entering heaven.

This is enough on these three points.

23. In this connection we will explain three questions, that we may better understand this Gospel. What is mammon? Why is it unrighteous? And why Christ commands us to imitate the unjust steward, who worked for his own gain at his master’s expense, which without doubt is unjust and a sin?

24. First, mammon is a Hebrew word meaning riches or temporal goods, namely, whatever any one owns over and above what his needs require, and with which he can benefit others without injuring himself. For Hamon in Hebrew means multitude, or a great crowd or many, from which Mahamon or Mammon, that is, multitude of riches or goods, is derived.

25. Second, it is called unrighteous, not because obtained by injustice and usury, for with unrighteous possessions no good can be done, for it must be returned as Isaiah 61:8, says: “For I, Jehovah, love justice, I hate robbery with iniquity.” And Solomon, Proverbs 3:27, says: “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thy hand to do it.” But it is called unrighteous because it stands in the service of unrighteousness, as St. Paul says to the Ephesians 5:16, that the days are evil, although God made them and they are good, but they are evil because wicked men misuse them, in which they do many sins, offend and endanger souls. Therefore, riches are unrighteous, because the people misuse and abuse them. For we know that wherever riches are the saying holds good: money rules the world, men creep for it, they lie for it, they act the hypocrite for it, and do all manner of wickedness against their neighbor to obtain it, to keep it, and increase it to possess the friendship of the rich.

26. But it is especially before God an unrighteous mammon because man does not serve his neighbor with it; for where my neighbor is in need and I do not help him when I have the means to do so, I unjustly keep what is his, as I am indebted to give to him according to the law of nature: “Whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them.” Matthew 7:12. And Christ says in Matthew 5:42: “Give to him that asketh thee.” And John in his first Epistle,1 John 3:17: “But whoso hath the world’s goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him?” And few see this unrighteousness in mammon because it is spiritual, and is found also in those possessions which are obtained by the fairest means, which deceive them that they think they do no one any harm, because they do no coarse outward injustice, by robbing, stealing and usury.

27. In the third place it has been a matter of very great concern to many to know who the unjust steward is whom Christ so highly recommends? This, in short, is the simple answer: Christ does not commend unto us the steward on account of his unrighteousness, but on account of his wisdom and his shrewdness, that with all his unrighteousness, he so wisely helps himself. As though I would urge some one to watch, pray and study, and would say: Look here, murderers and thieves wake at night to rob and steal, why then do you not wake to pray and study? By this I do not praise murderers and thieves for their crimes, but for their wisdom and foresight, that they so wisely obtain the goods of unrighteousness. Again. as though I would say: An unchaste woman adorns herself with gold and silk to tempt young boys; why will you not also adorn yourself with faith to please Christ? By this I do not praise fornication, but the diligence employed.

28. In this way Paul compares Adam and Christ saying: “Adam was a figure of him that was to come.” Romans 5:14. Although from Adam we have nothing but sin, and from Christ nothing but grace, yet these are greatly opposed to each other. But the comparison and type consist only in the consequence or birth, not in virtue or vice. As to birth, Adam is the father of all sinners, so Christ is the father of all the righteous. And as all sinners come from one Adam, so all the righteous come from one Christ.

Thus the unjust steward is here typified to us only in his cunning and wisdom, who knows so well how to help himself, that we should also consider in the right way the welfare of our souls as he did in the wrong way that of his body and life. With this we will let it suffice, and pray God for grace.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Eighth Sunday after Trinity. Matthew 7:15-23

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity  2013

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 39                    Praise to the Lord                              3:1  
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #260                O Lord Look Down                1.4  

Metaphor Ignored

The Communion Hymn # 307            Draw Nigh                3:72
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 309     O Jesus Blessed Lord             3:70  

KJV Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Eighth Sunday After Trinity

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

Metaphor Ignored

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

Why are Luther’s sermons ignored so ferociously, especially among the “conservative” Lutherans? There are plenty of excuses for the non-Lutherans and the openly apostate Lutherans, but why is this so among those who claim to be “confessional” and even “orthodox”?

Lenker in print is my favorite reading material while waiting in doctor’s offices, so I am increasingly familiar with the scope and depth of his sermons. Recently I noticed how insightful he was about the norms of society now, even though he was writing about Medieval man.
One idea, still true today, is that people get better at their jobs as they progress through life and tend to earn more money. That is natural from having a well worked farm, additional skills and experience, or a business that has grown by gaining the trust of others.

Luther compared that to the ministry, where it often impoverishes someone, especially for doing a good job – that is, being faithful to the Word of God. We can see that with Luther’s wife, who managed several farms to support the family household. Chemnitz was the greatest genius of the age, after Luther died, but Chemnitz was driven from his position as bishop for questioning the ruler’s appeasement of the Romanists. Gerhardt the hymn-writer, likewise, wrote the greatest hymns of his age, but he barely managed. Teaching the Word invites a special scorn and hatred that others never experience or even imagine.

The corollary, so true today, is that many ministers avoid being faithful to the Word because the money is in false doctrine. They look at the fortunes of people in secular occupations and truly worship the golden calf, hoping to appease these men of business so they can have their share of the money and luxuries they covet.

If we look at “conservative” Lutherans today with a gimlet eye, we can see the synods and the congregations measuring everything with money and nothing with fidelity to the Word (except to execrate such an odd and dangerous position).

The wealthy clergy have only a portion of the rich man’s table, but they enjoy being a part of it, being associated with wealth, and giving pious sermons that offer homage to business philosophy. They nod with approval when their local guru says, “Every church should be run like a business,” although few argue that every business should be run like a church.

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

During the Reformation, the money was on the pope, and the selling of indulgences was a fantastic business for everyone. It was religious tourism and garnered a lot of money. A fake handkerchief from St. Peter was worth a fortune, simply because pilgrims would come to that town and parish to bow before it and earn credits against their time in Purgatory.

1. Christ warns us of the teachings of Satan, who will come speaking lies in hypocrisy, 1 Timothy 4:2; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, 2 Timothy 3:5, who profess that they know God; but in works (which they ascribe to righteousness) they deny him. These St. Peter in 2 Peter 2:1 calls false teachers, who privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them: but there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, Matthew 10:26. Therefore the folly of these misleading teachers shall be manifest unto all men, 2 Timothy 3:9.

2. Therefore one should not apply this here in the Gospel to coarse public sins, whose fruits we see today clearly, when God opens our eyes; but the Lord is speaking of those who come in sheep’s clothing, and say: Lord, Lord, have we not cast out devils in thy name? Have we not in thy name done many wonderful works? These are the ones of whom Christ warns us, to whom he will say in the last day in terrible judgment: I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Why? Because they sought such works and through them they thought they were pleasing to God. and trusted in them to be saved.

The key to this lesson is Jesus’ warning against the greatest danger, the false teaching from wolves who appear as sheep. They dress themselves up as harmless and docile. They only want to help. But they take on this pose only to get close to the flock, to murder those they can and scatter the rest.

When animals are warned in advance of predators, they often drive them away by ganging up on them. Some surprisingly weak animals on their own are quite formidable when they team up against a lion or another predator. Satan roams about like a lion, seeking whomever he can – to devour. 1 Peter.

Simply by going on alert, a group of animals will warn the unwary. The doctrinal predator does not want that. He wants fat, docile sheep who do not fight back or warn others. That is why the “conservative” Lutherans spend so much time silencing anyone who questions the purity of their motives and the blessedness of their results.

Luther did not arouse opposition by teaching the Gospel for the first time ever – a common misunderstanding. He sparked the kindling of the Reformation by saying, “If this is the Gospel, then the pope’s teaching is wrong. Here is why…”

Pure Christian, Biblical teaching is marked first by the truth and then by a clear rejection of false teaching that obscures or opposes this truth. Jesus and St. Paul taught this way. So did Luther. The Book of Concord always has the truth of the Bible taught plus those positions that oppose it.

But false teachers only offer their own ideas as the truth and condemn the people (as horrible sinners) who question them. They do not say anything like this –

“They believe in justification by faith, but we teach justification without faith.”
That makes their false teaching all too clear. People who acquire a basic knowledge of the faith from the Word of God will go on the alert when they hear something so clear.

2. We must boldly consider the two kinds of doctrine, the true and good, and the false and erroneous, and that they will always accompany each other, for thus it has been from the beginning, and thus it will continue to the end of the world. Hence it will not do for us to creep along in silence, and resort to a safe and secure manner of life. The evil teachings of men and the doctrines of devils, and all our enemies oppose us without ceasing, and hence we dare not think that the issue is settled. We are not yet across the river. Therefore the Lord diligently warns us and says: “Beware of false, prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

This is one of many Creation comparisons, so clear that no one can dispute it. Last night Chris plucked a sand burr (thistle) from Sassy’s face. No one would mistake it for a grape, and grape vines do not look like thistles.

As Luther teaches so clearly, this teaching is directed at every single individual, because faith is individual. So many want to claim, “I am loyal to the infallible pope,” or “I belong to a faithful synod,” but no one is justified by a pope or a synod. When we face the Day of Judgment, we will have no Advocate but the Holy Spirit and no Savior except Christ. What good will a plaster saint, marble altar, or the praise of a synod do at that time?

The CEO of IBM said yesterday, “We produce more information in one day than all the information produced since the beginning until 2003. That happens every single day.  The winners will be those who manage that information.”

In the Middle Ages, the great discovery was the Bible, the printed Bible and printed religious literature that everyone could enjoy. The Protestants said, “The Word of God is our truth – not the pope, not the organization.”

The pope still argues against that by saying, “You need Me for clarity.” Yes, they capitalize the personal pronouns of the pope, since He is Christ-on-earth, they imagine.

The papists rage against the Protestants for not accepting the pope, but they have taken great strides in changing that by encouraging church entities to sit down with them in talks. If the Protestant church popes sit down with the real pope, everyone will accept the notion of a pope deciding on the truth and legislating it.

All this information is available for free but ignored. The pope makes up dogma, and the Lutherans make up dogma just as shamelessly. UOU is true because an MDiv with no business teaching claims that truth on his own authority.

So the minder sheep, in cahoots with the wolves-as-sheep, tell the others, “At ease. You have nothing to fear. This is a good sheep, a wise sheep, one heaped with honors from Holy Mother Synod. Come very close and listen to him. Ah, we see you are warm in this weather. This good sheep will fleece you first, so you are more comfortable and lend your best wool for his comfort.”

All this is done and said so there are no comparisons between truth and falsehood, the Word of God and displacing falsehood of their Father Below.

8. Then they began to say: Yes, but how can we know what is God’s Word, and what is right or wrong? This we must learn from the Pope and the councils. Very well then, let them conclude and say what they please, yet I will reply, you cannot put your confidence in that nor thus satisfy your conscience, for you must determine this matter yourself, for your very life depends upon it. Therefore God must speak to your heart: This is God’s Word; otherwise you are undecided.

9. But our bishops, Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod insist upon it and rage so terribly, that a person must think them insane. They bring forth St.
Augustine’s declaration: I would not believe the Gospel, if the honor of the church did not move me; and think they have already won. Then you answer: What does it concern us whether St. Augustine or Jerome, St.
Peter or St. Paul, or even the archangel Gabriel from heaven, who is still greater, said it; yet it will profit me nothing, for I must have God’s Word, I will only hear what God says.

I know that has been done many times recently. District President Jon Buchholz quoted Martin Luther in favor of UOJ, calling him “Uncle Marty” in front of a congregation. By their fruits – what kind of a smart aleck would show so much disrespect toward the Reformer respected by all Protestants and hated by all true Romanists?

I have collected all the Big Name claims for UOJ – they are few and far between, until the Age of Pietism and Ecumenism. Even if one were true, and even if the entire pile is huge (when adding Bishop Stephan, STD, Walther the kidnapper, and a host of synod stooges) – so what?

Walther will not hold your hand on the Day of Judgment. The DP may likely be in another place, even if he wrote a precious synod essay on the topic.

Paul wrote to the Galatians – “even if I or an angel from heaven teaches another doctrine…”

Notice what is NOT omitted – the Holy Spirit. That is because the Holy Spirit always works with the Word and the Word never lacks the Holy Spirit. Or, we could say, the Savior comes to us only through the Word and bestows His grace on us through the Spirit.

We cannot put anything between the Word and us, as if the truth must be verified by some human agent. But that is exactly what the false teachers want everyone to believe. Do not believe the Word of God by itself, they say. Believe in us and what we teach about the Word of God.

I knew something was foul when I associated with the Synodical Conference and found almost no interest in Luther, the Reformation, or the Book of Concord. In fact,  I found a loathing of Luther especially and a self-serving use of Luther or the Confessions to excuse the worst kind of false doctrine and anti-Christian behavior.

“We are not good on sanctification” means – We do not have to obey the Ten Commandments. By their fruits you will know them.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Sound teaching can be determined by asking a simple question – What makes a tree good?

The answer is – faith. Though faith the tree (the individual) is declared forgiven and saved. Good fruit comes from the power of the Gospel in that believer.

I see this with the enormous rose family of plants. Apple trees are more valuable when they produce the best fruit. Their apples sell for twice the normal price.

There are many types of roses but the best roses cost the most, and they produce exquisite flowers. Bad rose bushes produce bad roses, just as bad apple trees produce bad apples.

Every false teacher emphasizes the appearance not the source. They give themselves away by braying, “Look at our buildings, our parking lots, our endowments. We must be doing something right.”

False teachers direct people to the speakers themselves, first of all, and then to each individual – not to the Word.

26. However, by the fruits of the Spirit true prophets are known, which fruits St. Paul mentions to the Galatians 5:20: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Yet these fruits no one can see or know without the Holy Spirit. For this reason the decision and judgment of spiritual things should not be based on external things, as on the work and person, but on the inner condition of the heart.

One knows another indeed by his fruits, but only in the Spirit. The fruits and good works do not make any one good or pious; but he must first be good and pious at heart. As the apples do not make the tree, for the tree must first be there before the fruit.

27. If I understand this, then I notice there is no work so bad that it will necessarily condemn a man, nor none so good that it will save him.
But faith alone saves us and unbelief alone condemns us. For one to commit adultery, the deed does not condemn him, for the adultery only shows that he has fallen from the faith, this condemns him, otherwise it could not be possible. Nor does anything make one good but faith, and nothing makes one wicked but unbelief. Therefore our Lord also says, that the tree shall be cut down. He does not say that the fruit shall be cut down. Thus the works of love do not make me good, but faith alone, in which I do these works and bear this fruit.

This lesson should frighten those who participate in false doctrine by making excuses for their organization or leaders.

But it also comforts us to realize how unbelievers and Satan rage against faith. It must be so. The opposition is automatic and even helps us to realize the priceless value of the Gospel itself.

Spiritual people – Christian believers – can discern the fruits of the Spirit, but others cannot. The opponents see everything good as evil while promoting their evil a good, useful, and God-pleasing.

Trinity Eight
Matthew 7:15-23

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

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

"Paul calls all false spirits bold and proud. Yes, in their filth with their protectors they are proud and impudent, otherwise they are the most cowardly villains that can be found. When they are to appear and answer for their conduct, they produce a single answer. Among themselves they are bold, and venture to catch God in His own Word; but when it comes to the test, they simply despair."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, 1983, V, p. 204.      

"For every sect has always had one or more particular hobbies and articles which are manifestly wrong and can easily be discerned to be of the devil, who publicly teach, urge and defend them as right certain and necessary to believe or to keep For the spirit of lies cannot so conceal himself, but that he must at last put forth his claws, by which you can discern and observe the ravenous wolf."
               Sermons of Martin Luther IV, p. 282f.        
"For this reason one should not be too credulous when a preacher comes softly like an angel of God, recommends himself very highly, and swears that his sole aim is to save souls, and says: 'Pax vobis!' For those are the very fellows the devil employs to honey people's mouths. Through them he gains an entrance to preach and to teach, in order that he may afterward inflict his injuries, and that though he accomplish nothing more for the present, he may, at least, confound the people's consciences and finally lead them into misery and despair."
             Sermons of Martin Luther II, p. 322. 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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