Announcements for the week of October 28, 2018

 

Article IV: Of Justification

1] Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for 2] Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. 3] This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

 

18-10-28, Reformation Day-Observed, BA-2018B

 

 

 

 

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Announcements for the week of July 29, 2018

The Smalcald Articles Part III. Of Sin

3] This hereditary sin is so deep [and horrible] a corruption of nature that no reason can understand it, but it must be [learned and] believed from the revelation of Scriptures, Ps. 51:5; Rom. 6:12ff ; Ex. 33:3; Gen. 3:7ff Hence, it is nothing but error and blindness in regard to this article what the scholastic doctors have taught, namely:

8] Again, if a man does as much as is in him, God certainly grants him His grace.

9] Again, if he wishes to go to the Sacrament, there is no need of a good intention to do good, but it is sufficient if he has not a wicked purpose to commit sin; so entirely good is his nature and so efficacious the Sacrament.

10] [Again,] that it is not founded upon Scripture that for a good work the Holy Ghost with His grace is necessary.

11] Such and many similar things have arisen from want of understanding and ignorance as regards both this sin and Christ, our Savior, and they are truly heathen dogmas, which we cannot endure. For if this teaching were right [approved], then Christ has died in vain, since there is in man no defect nor sin for which he should have died; or He would have died only for the body, not for the soul, inasmuch as the soul is [entirely] sound, and the body only is subject to death.

 

18-07-29, Pentecost 10, BA-2018B

 

 

Announcements for the week of March 1, 2015

 

APOLOGY OF  THE  AUGSBURG CONFESSION

ARTICLE XV. HUMAN TRADITIONS IN THE CHURCH

SavedByGraceWhat need is there of a long discussion? The holy Fathers did not institute any traditions for the purpose of meriting the forgiveness of sins or righteousness. They instituted them for the sake of good order and tranquility in the church.

If somebody wants to institute certain works to merit the forgiveness of sins or righteousness, how will he know that these works please God since they do not have support in God’s Word? How will he inform men of God’s will without the command and Word of God? Does not God throughout the prophets forbid the establishment of additional ceremonies without his command? In Ezek. 20:18, 19, it is written, “Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their ordinances, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I the Lord am your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to observe my ordinances.”

If men are allowed to establish new rites and if by such rites they merit grace, we shall have to approve the religious rites of all the heathen, as well as the rites established by Jeroboam and others over and above the law. Where is the difference? If we are permitted to establish rites that serve to merit grace or righteousness, why did not the heathen and Israelites have the same privilege? Yet the rites of the heathen and the Israelites were condemned precisely because, in their ignorance of the righteousness of faith, they believed that by these they merited the forgiveness of sins and righteousness.

Finally, what  assurance do we have that religious rites established by men without God’s command can justify since we can affirm nothing about the will of God without the Word of God? What if God does not approve these acts of worship? How, then, can our opponents maintain that they justify? They cannot maintain this without the Word and testimony of God, and Paul says (Rom. 14:23), “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Since these rites have no testimony in the Word of God, the conscience must doubt whether they please God. (¶13-17, Tappert Edition)

15-03-01, Lent 2, BA-2015B

 

Announcements for the week of June 30, 2013

13-06-30, Pentecost 6, BA-2013C

“The history of the Church shows that by God’s grace and power a Church which continues in the immutable Word of the Prophets and Apostles has vitality.”  (F. Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol I, 184)

God’s Grace is Sufficient

Strength is made perfect in weakness?  How could such be?  The world works by way of what it determines as strong, mighty, glorious, wise, prestigious, recognizable, etc.  God, however, works far differently than the way the world does.  He works through weakness, through foolishness, through the lowly.  Thus do we see Christ, who through the weakness and shame of the cross, saves us from our sins.  Also through our own crosses, our own weaknesses, and our own thorns, we see God at work in us, humbling us to be His blessed people, strengthening us in the faith of His Holy Word, and crucifying our sinful flesh that we deny ourselves and follow Him.  God grant this unto us all.  Amen.

 

The Ascension of Our Lord

On the day of His ascension, Jesus, the Lord of lords and King of kings, ascended on high. Of this day, St. Paul says in today’s epistle, That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory…seated Christ at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23).

This means that the name of the Lord is above every name, even yours and even mine. Jesus Christ is not just one Name among many. His Name is above all. Nor is He Savior to one, but not to another. He is the Savior of the entire world…

Acts01.1-11, TheAscensionOfOurLord, 2011A.pdf

The Wages of sin is death…

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life

in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

St. Paul, writing by inspiration of the Lord, writes first what sounds to our ears as very harsh.  Just a few chapters before, he wrote that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  These words exclude no one.  They include everyone, for that word “all” is wholly inclusive.  Sin is described as “lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).  Indeed, it is!  Sin is the breaking of God’s commandments.  It is disobedience to God’s Holy Word.  Here there is no discrimination. Everyone is in the same boat as the other.  “No one is righteous,” acceptable in God’s sight (Psalm 14:1-3;’ 53:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10).  All are therefore deserving of death, even eternal death, because of all that we think, do, and believe contrary to God’s Word and will.

We would like to think that things are not so bad.  We naturally minimize our sin.  “I didn’t mean to do it.”  “That was not my intention.”  “I was only trying to help.”  “I really didn’t know.”  But by these we only try to cover up what God already knows (Psalm 19:12).  Though we try to convince others and ourselves otherwise, we are not able to convince God.  His Word is too strong.  Before Him, there is no way of weaseling ourselves out of our own sinfulness.  We are stuck in the hole and cannot escape.  We are falling and cannot help ourselves or any other out.  We are trapped.

Like the mouse running through the maze trying to get to the cheese, so human reason seeks the goal of easing the conscience that we feel better about ourselves.  The problem is, there is no end to this maze.  We will only keep running.  And though rest might come for a time, the unrest of a guilty conscience and shamefulness for words and actions still will come.

Sinners cannot save themselves.  They cannot minimize their sin.  Nor can they escape what is according to their sinful human nature.  The only true and lasting salvation must come from outside of the sinner and apart from human reason.  Human reason cannot mitigate God’s decrees, nor can it understand God’s promises.  “The gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Such gift is through faith, not in one’s own works, but in Christ’s works.

Rather than minimize sin, Christians recognize it for what it truly is and what it truly merits, according to God’s Word.  And in doing so, they also recognize the only help that is available for it—Jesus Christ, who through His own death put sin to death and gives forgiveness and  eternal life to all who believe in Him.  Amen.

Luther

“Human reason would like sin to have no greater force and power than it itself dreams of. Although hypocrites, who do not know Christ, may feel sorry for sin, they still suppose that they can get rid of it easily by their works and merits.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p34).

Prayer: Righteous Judge, forgive me for believing that my sin is not as great as You Yourself reveal to me.  Help me to see my sin rightly, that I believe in Your abundant grace more firmly.  Save me only for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

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