Sermon uploaded

 

 

A sermon entitled, “Scripture Fulfilled in Your Hearing,” based on Luke 4, the account of Jesus reading from the prophet Isaiah, has been uploaded.  Click on “Sermons on YouTube” for the site.

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“Only those who are sick require the doctor (Matt. 9:12); only the sheep that is lost is looked for (Luke 15:4); only the captive is freed (Luke 4:18; Is. 61:1); only the poor man is enriched; only the weak man is made strong; only the humble man is exalted (Luke 1:52); only what is empty is filled; only what is scattered can be assembled. The truth is, as the philosophers say: Matter cannot be given a form unless it previously was formless or its earlier from has

 

been put off…God satisfies none but the hungry and the thirsty. Therefore he who is satisfied with his own truth and wisdom cannot contain the truth and wisdom of God. These can only be received in a vacuum and an empty space. Therefore let us say to God: Oh, how gladly are we empty, so that Thou mayest be full in us! Gladly am I weak, so that Thy strength may dwell in me! Gladly am I a sinner, so that Thou mayest be justified in me! Gladly am I foolish, so that Thou mayest be my Wisdom! Gladly am I unrighteous, so that Thou mayest be my Righteousness! See, this is what is meant by: “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned….that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest”” (Ps 51:4). (Plass, What Luther Says, #2097, p674-675) 

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Study: Survey of the Old Testament

 

 

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Overview of the Old Testament

2014-Fall-Survey of the Old Testament

 

 

 

 

Announcements for the week of January 10, 2016

 

“Christ and the Apostles ‘identify Scripture with God’s Word without any restrictions.  If, therefore, we abide in the Scriptures, we hear what God declares about Himself” (F.Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol 1, 378).

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Announcements for April 5, 2015–The Feast of the Resurrection

 

He is Risen!  He is Risen, indeed!  Alleluia!

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THE SMALCALD ARTICLES

ARTICLE I. CHRIST AND FAITH

 

Jesus-AbrahamThe first and chief article is this, that Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, “was put to death for our trespasses and raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).  He alone is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “God has laid upon him the iniquities of us all” (Isa. 53:6).  Moreover, “all have sinned,” and “they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, by his blood” (Rom. 3:23-25).

Inasmuch as this must be believed and cannot be obtained or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that such faith alone justifies us, as St. Paul says in Romans 3, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Rom. 3:28), and again, “that he [God] himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).

Nothing in this article can be given up or compromised, even if heaven and earth and things temporal should be destroyed. For as St. Peter says, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “And with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).

On this article rests all that we teach and practice against the pope, the devil, and the world. Therefore we must be quite certain and have no doubts about it. Otherwise all is lost, and the pope, the devil, and all our adversaries will gain the victory. (1-5)

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He has risen, as He said

 

1Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1–10)

Jesus Christ is risen, as He said…With these words ringing in our ears, we rejoice! We rejoice because Jesus risen from the dead means that death is not the last word. Rather, Christ’s Word is, and His Word He fulfills.We rejoice in Christ’s resurrection because His resurrection means that our faith in Him is not at all futile, vain, or useless, but right, true, and full of worth and significance. Christ risen from the dead means you are no longer in your sins. Your sins do not define you. Christ’s death and resurrection do.

There, on the cross, Jesus conquered sin, death, and hell. His bodily resurrection means that these have really been conquered, defeated, and are no longer your lot. They are no longer yours to bear because on the tree, Christ already bore them in your stead. And because He bore them for you, these no more remain for you to suffer. Instead of these, in Christ, you have forgiveness, life, and heaven. Christ took all that is yours and gives you all that is His. You are complete in Him, and only in Him (Colossians 2:10).

By yourselves and of yourselves, you remain in your sin, your sin that separates you from God, your sin by which you live according to the lusts and desires of your flesh, your departure from God and His ways. By yourselves and of yourselves, and apart from Christ, your sin literally condemns you to hell, with no escape and no hope.

But thanks be to God! Now is the day of salvation. Today is the day to believe. Now is the day to cast off the works of darkness (Romans 13:12), to forsake one’s way, and to repent and believe the sweet Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that your sin does not define you, that death is not the last word, and that hell is not your final destination.

Christ has overcome death by means of His own death. Good Friday is done. “It is finished” (John 19:30). Easter Sunday is here. The death that Christ died is sufficient sacrifice for your sins and the sins of the world. His blood cleanses you from all your sin. Christ’s resurrection means that His sacrifice was accepted, approved, and meritorious for your salvation.

Now, Jesus is the risen Savior, by whom all will be saved who will be saved, but only as they are found in Him, not having any goodness or merit of themselves, but trusting in Christ’s goodness and merit alone, for there is not other help or hope for sinners.

The gods of this world are useless in offering what the sinner needs, for the real sinner doesn’t need just a remedy to relieve temporary suffering and pain. The real sinner needs a real Savior who placates God’s wrath and truly comforts the tormented and troubled conscience. Real sinners need a real Savior who doesn’t come and go as we please or simply makes us feel good for a moment, or that leaves it up to us to solve our own problems and to come up with our own solutions.

A real Savior is real, getting into the grime and the muck of our lives, who knows our in and outs, who knows what we’re going through, who addresses our real needs and not merely our felt needs of acceptance, momentary comfort, and quick fixes. A real Savior doesn’t just address the symptoms of our sin. He gets to the root of the problem.

This real Savior is, of course, none other than Jesus of Nazareth, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried, who rose again on the third day. This was He foretold of in the Old Testament and the One revealed in the New Testament Scriptures. Though naysayers and nonbelievers not only doubt, but forsake this One, He is not deterred, nor does He not keep His Word, though sinners fail to.

Jesus is the One revealed in the Bible as God’s Son and our Lord, yet the One that a growing number discount and dismiss as nothing more than a mythological hero and figment of the imagination of a delusional people whom they place their hopes in something and someone neither real or true.

Indeed, according to the Rasmussen Reports polling firm, an increasing number of Americans don’t believe that Christ rose from the dead. In 2012, for example, 7% didn’t believe this central tenet of the Christian faith, whereas that percentage in 2013 has increased to 19% who don’t believe it (“Americans Losing Faith in the Bible,” Christian News, April 21, 2014, p6; see also “Americans Losing Faith in the Bible,” Washington Times, April 14, 2014).

One can certainly question the depth and accuracy of such polls, yet, truth be told, Christianity and the teaching of our Lord seem to be becoming more and more under attack, not only from those outside of the church, but also from those within. Though atheists and gay advocacy groups, as well as activist judges and others attempt to redefine marriage, and the meaning of liberty and tolerance according to their own ideologies, Christians, knowing their Bible’s less and less, support and defend such godless positions, claiming God to be love, but apart from His demonstration of love by means of Christ’s death on the cross to save sinners. And because, for them, God is a God of love, but doesn’t speak the truth according to His Word, they determine that any kind of love that they or others might choose is the end all be all of what defines a proper union, not what God has already clearly said (see Genesis 2:24). Thus, rather than calling “sin a sin,” regardless of political or social consequence, many who call themselves Christian are approving of such ungodliness. But such lovelessness is not the will of God. It is a means of permitting what God forbids, all the while claiming the god of one’s own making to be the true God.

If this be the case concerning the growing intensity of the same-sex marriage “debate” of our day, how much more could be said about the growing number who mock the Biblical account of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead, either implicitly by not believing it is as God says, or explicitly, by attributing the account as merely fanciful and of little significance for one’s daily life or eternal well-being.

If we think that the resurrection is of little significance for our everyday lives, we’re placing ourselves above and against the Word of our Lord who spoke according to St. John’s gospel, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

But the resurrection of our Lord is not of little significance, either temporarily or eternally. St. Paul says it this way, “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable”(1 Corinthians 15:14-19).

If Christ is not risen, the Holy Scriptures are not so Holy, they are not exclusively of God, and Jesus is no Savior. If Christ is not risen from the dead, we have no reason to be here in this place, for the message of forgiveness and salvation, of peace with God and of God’s mercy in Christ would then be empty and void of any truth. If Jesus’ body is still in the tomb, the Christian Church is the deceiver of deceivers and only another sect of man’s creation.

But such, thankfully, is not at all the case! The Christian Church proclaims the truth as she preaches loud and clear that Christ is risen—that Christ is risen indeed! Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb. Christ has ascended into heaven, and you eat His very body and drink His very blood at the Lord’s Table. Because Christ is risen, you have reason to be here in this place, for the message of forgiveness and salvation, of peace with God and of God’s mercy in Christ—is the truth, even the truth of which not even death can make false. Because Christ is truly risen from the dead, the Scriptures are Holy, exclusively of God, and Jesus is your Savior, apart from whom there is no other. Only the Christian faith is the true faith. And this you know because of God’s revelation to you in Christ. This you know because God makes it known to you by means of His Holy Word. And therefore, do you diligently and regularly seek to study, read, and hear this Word, for it is your life, and by it, you live.

Take this Word away, and you will have the confusion that you have in today’s Christendom. Because so many different messages permeate the airwaves that are not of God, though they claim to be of God, many are stranded in the sea of doubt and despair, looking for a Savior apart from the One God has already sent to deliver from sin and death. All religions are not of God, nor do all who claim to speak the truth truly speaking the truth. The only place to find the truth is to look outside of yourself and into God’s revelation in Christ. And there, you will find God’s favor and love, fully and completely for you, in Christ Jesus, who is indeed risen, as He said! Amen.

The Passion of our Lord, Matthew 26:1-27:66

“The Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2).

It is all coming down to this. Today in the Church Year is Palm Sunday. It is also called, “Sunday of the Passion.” Today is the beginning of Holy Week. With Jesus riding on a donkey, He enters into Jerusalem, receiving acclamations of praise and honor from the people, “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).

That word “hosanna” is an Aramaic word for “Help/Save, I pray.” It is a calling out for divine help, and most appropriately prayed to our Lord always, not least of all on Palm Sunday. The people were right to pray these words as the Lord Jesus entered into Jerusalem, for divine help only comes from Him who sent His Son for the true and lasting divine help of everlasting peace with God.

The people were right to acclaim Jesus as “the Son of David,” for so He was. Jesus was David’s son, David’s descendant, and David’s Lord (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44). Jesus was of the line of David, the Son promised of old by Nathan the prophet who had prophesied to King David, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

God fulfilled these words in Jesus His Son, David’s descendant and Lord. Jesus was that seed whose kingdom the Father established. Jesus built a house for God’s Name and the throne of His kingdom is now established forever.

The people were right to cry out “Hosanna.” They were right to give Jesus the title, “Son of David.” They were also right to call out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” And with these latter words, they proclaimed that the One riding on the donkey was He who comes in the Name of the Lord. They identified Jesus as not coming of Himself or of another, but in the Name of the Lord. By these words, they made clear that Jesus was no counterfeit, but the real deal. Jesus was no imposter, but One whom the Father sent.

By these words of praise and honor given to Jesus and about Jesus, it would seem that the people of Jerusalem fully recognized Jesus’ identity. It would seem as if they knew who Jesus really was, not only Jesus the man, but Jesus, God in the flesh (John 1:14). It would also seem as if they were ready and prepared for the kind of kingdom God was going to establish through Him, that they acknowledged the kind of Jesus that Jesus was.

Yet, comparing the day that Jesus entered into Jerusalem on a donkey to the events later that Holy Week would seem to upset the balance. The Jesus welcomed on Palm Sunday seems a different Jesus than the Jesus hanging on the tree. The Jesus honored and praised as “Son of David” and “He who comes in the name of the Lord” seems different from the one of whom the people shouted, “Let Him be crucified” (Matthew 27:23). The man who the people call “Blessed” seems different from the man mocked with the scarlet robe and crown of thrones, blasphemed, and crucified.

One might think that the Jesus of Palm Sunday is not the same Jesus of Good Friday, or, that somehow, the Jesus of Good Friday is not the kind of Jesus that we’re looking for.   The Jesus of Good Friday is weak—meek—bruised—and beaten. He’s not only suffering and dying. He’s dead. This isn’t what kind of one we think of with the words “come in the name of the Lord” and “Son of David,” son of the mighty king whose heart was after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

One who comes “in the Name of the Lord” should be strong. The “Son of David” should not be defeated. He should be alive, living, and thriving. He should be conquering, overcoming and advancing the kingdom. He should be all-powerful, and un-stoppable.

But the kind of Jesus that the Father sent, the kind of Jesus that you have, is not the one molded or modeled according to sinners and their thoughts and their ways. The kind of Jesus that the Father sent, the kind of Jesus that you have, is indeed One whose heart is after God’s own heart.

This Jesus, “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

The Jesus of Palm Sunday, the Jesus of the Transfiguration, the healer of the blind, the lame, the deaf, and the mute, and the raiser of the dead is the same Jesus of suffering, thorns, beatings, mocking, blasphemies, crucifixion, and yes, even death. This Jesus is not the Savior of the sinless, but of sinners only. Those who are well have no need of a physician. Only those who are sick do (Matthew 9:12).

Jesus is that physician of the sick. He is the great physician, who alone heals you by taking all of that which condemns you and makes it His own. He takes it from you so that it is no longer yours, but His, and puts it to death on the cross.

He who “knew no sin” was made “to be sin for us” (1 Corinthians 5:21).

The beatings and the mocking, the blasphemies and the thorns, the insults and the injuries, the suffering, the crucifying, and the death—were yours. Jesus took them for you. Through these so-called weaknesses, salvation is yours—just because Jesus conformed to the will of His Father and suffered and yes, even died, for your sake.

If Jesus had done anything different, if He would have called down a legion of angels when He was arrested, if he would have come down from the cross and saved Himself, then you would still be in your sin, and have nothing but the consequence of eternal death upon you, now and into eternity.

But because Jesus was and is strong and mighty against the devil, because He conquered sin and death through His death, you now live and have life, for all eternity.

Because we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), we don’t judge according to appearance. We “judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24), with the Word of God. Life (and the church) might not look like much at times, but it need not to. Jesus wasn’t what people expected. But the same Jesus of Good Friday is the same Jesus of Easter Sunday. “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). Amen.

Announcements for the week of April 13, 2014

 

JesusOnCross2And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. “For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ “Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ‘ “For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. (Luke 23:27-34)

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