Sunday, September 22, 2013

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn #  44                    Ye Lands             2:41
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 #203            Morning Breaks            2:70     

Grace and Faith

The Communion Hymn # 315            I Come O Savior             2:66
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 # 467     Built on a Rock                   2:83

KJV Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

KJV Luke 14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6 And they could not answer him again to these things. 7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not exalt ourselves, but humbly fear Thee, with our whole hearts hear and keep Thy word, and hallow the Lord's day, that we also may be hallowed by Thy word; help us, first, to place our hope and confidence in Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who alone is our righteousness and Redeemer, and, then, so to amend and better our lives in accordance with Thy word, that we may avoid all offenses and finally obtain eternal salvation, through Thy grace in Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God. world without end. Amen.

Grace and Faith

This is a an interesting healing where the main lesson is not about the miracle itself but the reaction of the opposition. There is always an opponent in religion, whether the words are spoken or left unspoken.

Jesus knew, as the Son of God, that the lawyers and Pharisees objected in their hearts to Jesus healing on the Sabbath. They imagined that was work forbidden by God. Jesus responded to their unspoken words, and doubtless their faces communicated as much as their thoughts did.

One of the strangest Sabbath work stories involved the Assemblies of God church in Midland, Michigan. The newly built wall was going to blow down from a sudden windstorm. The crew naturally wanted to brace it, but the minister refused, saying he would not let them work on the Sabbath. The wall fell over in the wind and it cost the congregation $100,000 to repair. Meanwhile the minister was being followed by a private eye, because his wife knew he was violating the Sixth Commandment without the same sense of the Law.
The words of Jesus are well known – The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

But mankind is always involved in one legalism after another. As soon as anything good begins, someone wants to protect it with a wall of traditions, rules, and punishments (for those who break the invented rules).

The point of the Sabbath was to give the hard-working husband and wife a refuge against spending all day laboring at their duties, so they could relax, study the Word and worship, and not be slaves of work itself.

One farmer in Indiana said, “If I can’t get the work done in six, I won’t get the work done in seven, either.” He spent the Sabbath with his family and at church.

The new Pharisees say about faith, “That is work, so it is forbidden.” How do they know? They have a Talmud of instructions about that, and they appeal to this word – grace.

What is grace? God’s grace is not opposed to faith. Confusing the two and mangling their meanings are clever ways to take people away from the Word of God.

Salvation by grace means that God, out of His love, mercy, and compassion, chose to give us the full payment for our sins through His Son Jesus.

It is grace because we did not merit or deserve this atoning death. Nor did we ever think or imagine this could be done for us. Deserving something comes from the concept of work and the law. If we work, we deserve to be rewarded in some way.

Grace goes far beyond providing for the source of our forgiveness and salvation. God has also provided the Means of Grace and those who administer and train others.

Throughout history God has sent missionaries, pastors, and evangelists out to proclaim the Gospel to the world.

Therefore, we do not come to God – God comes to us. We do not find Jesus – the Savior is conveyed to us, by grace, through the Word.

We love God because He first loved us. But also – He loves us and watches over us because of our love of the Good Shepherd.

All this has been done from God’s good will and mercy. Merit and work have nothing to do with what God does for us.

Faith – Result of God’s Grace
Faith in Christ is the result of God’s grace. Faith is created by the Means of Grace and is also sustained by the Means of Grace.

We have no faith until the Gospel is spoken to us – often via parents through Holy Baptism, but of course it begins even earlier. Anyone could say, “I can teach my baby about Christ without baptism.” However, Holy Baptism – for our benefit – marks the moment of an infant being drawn into the Kingdom of God by the Word of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit plants faith in the baby’s heart, and the parents have the opportunity and responsibility to nurture that faith.

Without infant baptism, people wonder when children are lost early. That was always a problem – infant mortality – and it still is today. Instead of leaving parents in doubt, God gives us all a sacrament of assurance – the visible Word of Holy Baptism.

We cannot look back to when we first believed and remember that baby-moment, but we can see the date on the baptismal certificate.

Adult Faith
Many adults are converted to faith – and sometimes brought back to the faith of their childhood. This does not happen through love, rock bands, a clever presentation (Lord, Liar, Lunatic) or any other scheme. The true church is built on the Word of God alone, through the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word.

Adult baptism is just as good for adults as it is for infants. The sacrament marks the official date when the Promises of God were read and the water was applied, a visible reminder of the washing and rebirth caused by the Gospel in Holy Baptism.

Other Instruments of Grace
Absolution is directly related to Holy Baptism, because this would not be practiced without faith. Believers seek absolution and grant absolution.

The consolation of the brothers is a term used for the forgiveness offered among brothers and sisters in the faith. Nothing is more fruitful in love than forgiveness of sin.

Ordination is described as a sacrament in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession. Here it is important to remember that such terms as “Sacrament” and “Means of Grace” are shorthand inventions by man to describe what is found in the Word of God.

Like the Pharisees and lawyers of the Law in this lesson, Lutherans like to huddle together and work over definitions and punishments while ignoring the main message – God only works through the Word, and we receive His work on through faith in the Word. The Holy Spirit accomplishes this both in the giving (preaching, sacraments, mutual consolation) and in the receiving (faith being a creation of the Holy Spirit, who is powerful in the Word).

To debate whether something is a sacrament is to be a Pharisee who fails to discern that God only works through the Gospel.

I was asked to perform a traditional wedding for a friend, a believer. To do that,  I used the old TLH book, Occasional Services, shiny and black, where the wedding ceremony is packed with Scriptural references and divine advice. And I gave a short sermon as well. All partnerships fail with lack of forgiveness. A marriage can last and be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience only with the forgiveness provided by Christ.

The State of Arkansas had the power to let me perform the marriage, which is ultimately a civil affair (since a cruise ship captain can also do the same thing, with or without the Word of God). The county clerk had to give me a certificate first.

I would argue that a Christian marriage service is sacramental in nature, because the Gospel is brought to the couple and the audience in a visible form, with many symbols of Christian union. Lutherans do not usually apply that term, but it would be better if they did. It is not an occasion for entertaining people, for putting on a big show, for making everyone happy. It is an opportunity to provide the Gospel as the foundation of a marriage.

Sustaining Faith
Since faith is trust in the Good Shepherd, God recognizes our need to have that trust strengthened and sustained in the face of our human weaknesses and Satanic opposition from unbelievers.

The Pharisees and canon lawyers were admonished by Jesus in this lesson because they were obsessed with their own honor rather than honoring God and His grace. They had the very large Old Testament, filled with God’s grace and promises, but they wanted to build a wall around it with traditions, rules, and punishments.

The better the Pharisee, the greater the honors, the harder the heart.

Our modern Pharisees and canon lawyers are the synod officials, their toadies, and the laity who want to feel important. They use the words of faith to protect their turf, but they have no use for the Gospel itself. Anyone can see that in the way they protect felons and thugs and punish believes. If these neo-Pharisees had faith, they would recognize faith. Instead, they trust in themselves and must maintain that by grabbing the seats of honor.

24. The Papists have commented on these verses in their own way and twisted this Gospel, saying: Yea, the Pope is to be the least or youngest, sitting at the foot and serving others; but that is to take place in the heart.

They pretended to sit at the foot and to serve others as the humblest; but withal they lorded it over all emperors, kings and princes, yea, trampled them in the dust; just as if emperors, kings, princes and rulers should not also possess in their hearts the humility of which the Lord here treats. They thus put on airs and make a show of their carnal interpretation. If they had any humility in their hearts their lives would bear testimony to it. Christ speaks here not of outward humility alone, for the inner is the source of the outer; if it is not in the heart it will hardly be manifest in the body.

25. Therefore the Gospel aims at making all of us humble, whatever and whoever we may be, that none may exalt himself, unless urged and elevated by regular authority. That is what the Lord wants to inculcate by this parable, directing it to all, be they high or low. In this spirit he reproves the Pharisees and others who desire high places and are ambitious to get ahead of others. They may accept honors when regularly elected and forced to accept high places. I make these remarks to contravene and discredit their false spiritual interpretations.

26. But now they go and mingle and confuse spiritual and worldly things, and claim it is enough if they be humble in heart when they strive for the chief seats. Nay, dear friends, heart-humility must manifest itself in outer conduct, or it is false. All should therefore he willing to take a lower seat, even to throw themselves at the feet of others, and not move up higher, until urged to do so. Anyone who regards this rule, will do well; but he who disregards it will come to grief by so doing. That is what our Lord desires to impress upon his hearers as he closes this parable. “For every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”


"Since, therefore, so much depends upon God's Word that without it no holy day can be sanctified, we must know that God insists upon a strict observance of this command-ment, and will punish all who despise His Word and are not willing to hear and learn it, especially at the time appointed for the purpose."
            The Large Catechism, Preface, #95, The Third Commandment, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 607. Tappert, p. 378. Exodus 20:8‑11.                

"Since it is God's gracious purpose to remove every hindrance to conversion by the means of grace, and it is still possible for a man at every point to continue in his opposition to God, a man is never without responsibility over towards the grace of God, although he may mock and say that, since God is the one who does everything for our salvation, then a man has no responsibility himself, as we see in Romans 9:19.  Cf. Theses 17 and 18."
            U. V. Koren, 1884, "An Accounting," Grace for Grace:  Brief History of the Norwegian Synod, ed., Sigurd C. Ylvisaker, Mankato:  Lutheran Synod Book Company, 1943, p. Romans 9:19.              

"It is God the Holy Ghost who must work this change in the soul.  This He does through His own life‑giving Word.  It is the office of that Word, as the organ of the Holy Spirit, to bring about a knowledge of sin, to awaken sorrow and contrition, and to make the sinner hate and turn from his sin.  That same Word then directs the sinner to Him who came to save him from sin.  It takes him to the cross, it enables him to believe that his sins were all atoned for there, and that, therefore, he is not condemned. In other words, the Word of God awakens and constantly deepens ture penitence.  It also begets and constantly increases true faith.  Or, in one word, it converts the sinner."
            G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia:  Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 145f. 

                        Law Causes Contrition          
"In like manner Moses must precede and teach people to feel their sins in order that grace may be sweet and welcome to them.  Therefore all is in vain, however friendly and lovely Christ may be pictured, if man is not first humbled by a knowledge of himself and he possesses no longing for Christ, as Mary's Song says, 'The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away,' Luke 1:53."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 149.

                         Gospel Only for Humble Sinners
"All this is spoken and written for the comfort of the distressed, the poor, the needy, the sinful, the despised, so that they may know in all times of need to whom to flee and where to seek comfort and help."       
Sermons of Martin Luther II,  p. 149.

Pastors - memorize this.
It is true Pastoral Theology in one paragraph.

No comments: