Announcements for the week of August 12, 2018

 

The Smalcald Articles

Part III, Article II. Of the Law

4] But the chief office or force of the Law is that it reveal original sin with all its fruits, and show man how very low his nature has fallen, and has become [fundamentally and] utterly corrupted; as the Law must tell man that he has no God nor regards [cares for] God, and worships other gods, a matter which before and without the Law he would not have believed. In this way he becomes terrified, is humbled, desponds, despairs, and anxiously desires aid, but sees no escape; he begins to be an enemy of [enraged at] God, and to murmur, etc. 5] This is what Paul says, Rom. 4:15: The Law worketh wrath. And Rom. 5:20: Sin is increased by the Law. [The Law entered that the offense might abound.] (4-5)

 

18-08-12, Pentecost 12, BA-2018B

 

 

Advertisements

The Word of faith which we preach


 

“ ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’

(that is, the word of faith which we preach)”

Romans 10:8

Commenting on 2 Corinthians 11, verse two,[1] Luther writes some penetrating words (see below).  In the context, St. Paul writes, “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 2:3-4).

Paul seems to indicate that there is only genuine Jesus.  All others are other Jesus’.  In other words, only One Jesus is Savior from sin.  All other Jesus’ are counterfeits.  So does Paul also indicate this where he distinguishes gospels, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.  For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.  But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-12).

According to God’s inspired Word through His servant Paul, one who seeks to please men cannot also at the same time be a “bondservant of Christ.”  Those preachers who do seek to please men preach a different gospel and not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Here we must say that just as there are preachers who seek to please men, there are also hearers who seek to please, not God, but themselves, for they do not seek out the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ, but another.  They look for that which God has not promised.  They seek to have their “itching ears” scratched.  They do not seek to repent at the hearing of God’s Word, but they seek another Jesus.

Thus, when they hear things they don’t like to hear or how they like to hear it, they turn the power button off and refuse to further listen.  Rather than test the preaching they hear with the Holy Scriptures, they test it according to what they would like to hear or how they would like the message to be delivered.

Essentially, however, doing these things only demonstrates the characteristic of so many who are Christians in name only—the refusal to listen to the Word and the despising of the very Office of preaching which God has established.

Here, the question arises, “How does God come to us?” “How does Christ give us the forgiveness we so desperately need?”  Another way of asking the question is this, “by what means does God give His forgiveness of our sins that we know with certainty that it is ours?”

Some would, of course, answer the question with the word “faith.”  But is it upon your faith that you have absolute certainty of God’s grace and favor?  If the answer here were yes, then certainty is really upon you. And any certainty upon you is really nothing but uncertainty.

On the other hand, if the answer to the question of means is not on my/our faith, but on that which is sure and true, that which God does and gives, there can be no uncertainty in it at all, except that which we add to it of ourselves, if it were possible for us to do so.

Faith has been defined by some as “certainty.”  Such a definition does not have foundation in itself.  We do not trust our faith to be certain because of or on account of our faith.  Rather than trust in one’s own faith or in one’s own certainty, the Christian trusts in nothing less and nothing more than the Word of God that establishes that faith.

And where is that Word preached and heard?  In the Lord’s house.  And by whom?  The pastor.  And what is the pastor to be preaching in the Lord’s house?  Only the Word—only Christ.  Where the pastor is doing this, there you can be sure that God is forgiving sins.  There, you can be sure that God is giving you salvation, because of the Word that is preached.

Also in the Lord’s house, God established the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar.  For what purpose?  For the purpose of bringing to you that salvation won by Christ’s cross.  Thanks be to God for such gifts!  And instead of murmuring and grumbling about the way God brings these gifts (i.e. through human voice, water, and bread and wine), we rejoice all the more in them (see 1 Corinthians 1:27-31), trusting God’s Word and sure of His goodness, not because we “see,” but because of His blessed promises.

Luther

“Christ has instituted this (apostolic) office as if to say, ‘I send you that you should claim and fetch me my bride who was previously prepared or was washed from sins and became pure and holy.’  Now this happens daily in Christianity through the preaching office, in which one proclaims and preaches that Christ has given himself for you, as St. Paul says.  This was done when he suffered and died on the cross and on the third day was raised again.  For through that he has earned grace and the forgiveness of sins for us.  But if that were left there, it would not yet help us.  For even if he earned the treasure for us and has done all, we would not yet receive it.  But how does this same salvation which he has bestowed finally come to us?   For has he now gone up to heaven and left us behind?  He says it must go to us through the Word and Baptism which he has mandated the apostles to bring to us, to bring us home.  Namely, that through them they should bring us  forgiveness of sins, in his name.” (Geo. Link, Luther’s Family Devotions, 648-649)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant that my faith not be founded on anything in me, but only upon You and Your Holy Word.  Keep me from doubting the way You work and the means by which you give me life and salvation through Jesus Christ.  Rather, lead me to give thanks and to rejoice all the more in Your blessed kindness and favor in coming to me in what is esteemed as humble and lowly in the eyes of the world, that Your Holy Name be exalted continually.  Amen.


[1] “For I have betrothed you to a man so that I present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Saying and Doing

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:21-24

Many say that they believe in Christ.  It is quite easy to do so.  However, a disconnect exists between the words and actions of those who say that they believe in Jesus.  You’ve heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.”  Why is it, then, that so many, in fact, all, who say that they are Christian, fail the test of backing their own words with their actions?  Many speak contrary to the Word of God, and yet they claim that what they are saying is Christian.  Others say that they are Christian, but live immorally (living together before marriage, “sleeping around,” cheat on their taxes, use other people for their own gain, etc.).  Still, others who claim to be Christian think little of other people and are only concerned about themselves—and none other (see 1 John 4:7-11).

These things, and our own experience, demonstrate that words can be deceiving.  However, they also show the weakness of our sinful flesh.  Christians do indeed say one thing, and often do another.  Such was the struggle of St. Paul (Romans 7), and such is our own struggle with sin.

 Christians, as well as nonChristians, see and know the contrast that exists in what Christians say and do.  This cannot be avoided, because Christians are, in truth, sinners.

This is very frustrating, not only because of the way the world sees the words and actions of Christians and how inconsistent they truly are, but because the Christian also knows these things.  They say one thing and do another.  They confess their sin, and do the same thing again.  They say, “I’m sorry” the one moment, and the next, keep doing that thing that they had said they were sorry for.

It’s quite tempting to become despondent and despair because of one’s own shortcomings and failures, in fact, of one’s own sin.  This is a cross that Christians are to bear (Matthew 10:38-39).  Here, it’s a great temptation to consider others somehow more worthy of God’s grace and favor than oneself.

But remember, even St. Paul had said, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

God’s grace and favor does not depend on your worthiness or unworthiness.  It depends on Christ.  Here, one is not more worthy than any other.  Here, God’s mercy and compassion through His Son is all that you need.

Should you come bringing your own “worth” to God, you then will most certainly not have His grace upon you.  But seek the mercy of God in Christ, without any merit or worthiness in you, and God’s grace you most certainly will have—sin forgiven and peace with God (Romans 5:1).

Believing such revealed truth is faith, faith that believes in the heart, and the faith that doesn’t merely speak with the mouth (Romans 10:4-13).  One who so believes will constantly struggle with their sinful flesh, confess their sins to God, believe in the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, and seek to amend their sinful life.   Though life will be one of falling and failing, the Lord does neither.  And in Jesus is our trust, comfort, and hope.  So the Christian will constantly seek to do better, knowing that salvation rests in Jesus alone.  Amen.

Luther

“It is easy for you to say and believe that Christ, the Son of God, was given for the sins of Peter, Paul, and other saints, who seem to us to have been worthy of this grace. But it is very hard for you, who regard yourself as unworthy of this grace, to say and believe from your heart that Christ was given for your many great sins.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p34).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for not being and doing who you have called me to be and what you have called me to be doing.  Direct my eyes, not to any worthiness in me or in any other, but to Christ Jesus and Him alone (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Help me to do better.  Give me a firm faith, that I boldly confess Your Holy Name and also live a godly life, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Readings for Wednesday in Holy Week (Year A)

Isaiah 62:11—63:7

        11Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion,  “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”  12And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.  63:1Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength?   “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.”

     2Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?

        3“I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.  4For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.  5I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.  6I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”  7I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

 Romans 5:6–11

6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Luke 22:1—23:56

1Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.

      3Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

      7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

      14And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

      24A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

      28“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

      31“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

      35And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

      39And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

      47While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

      54Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62And he went out and wept bitterly.

      63Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. 64They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

      66When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, 67“If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 71Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

      23:1Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

      6When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

      13Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16I will therefore punish and release him.”

      18But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

      26And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

      32Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

      39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

      44It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

      50Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

      On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Collect of the Day

Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Reformation Day Sermon, 2010

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther placed his 95 Theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg. Luther had no idea that these theses would bring about such a great commotion in the church of his day. He simply responded to the discrepancies he saw between the church and Scripture itself. He responded out of a great struggle which he himself fought tooth and nail to remedy, but found that he himself could not. Luther’s struggle for a clear conscience before God could not be remedied by what the church taught. In the Augustinian monastery in which he served as a monk, he saw his sin ever before him. He was guilty before a just and holy God. He was not able to take comfort in fasting, confession, bodily discipline, or anything he did. The phrase in which he struggled with was from For in it (that in the Gospel) a righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith( just as it is written( ‘the just/righteous one will live by faith’ (Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4).

Rom03.19-28, Reformation, 2010C.pdf

%d bloggers like this: