The Glory Has Departed

Lutheran book boxes sent to three African seminaries -
a third one has been sent now.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central Daylight Time.


Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page
WWG1WGA

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Alec Satin, Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Sermon



The Nativity by Federico Barocci (c. 1535-1612)


KJV Isaiah 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

KJV Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Christmas

The Hymn #87
The Invocation p. 15
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 Isaiah 9:2-7
The Gospel Luke 2:1-14
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #102
The Sermon
The Prince of Peace

The Offertory p. 22
The Hymn #94
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 #646

Prophesies Fulfilled – The Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

A layman interested in theology phoned me recently. We talked about prophesies in the Bible and many other topics.

The scoffers who pretend to know the Bible claim all prophesies are about the immediate future. Their real message was that the Bible was a man-made book and could never have something miraculous within it: nothing divine, nothing beyond the realm of human reason.

The Old Testament is not a monument to a forgotten past but the cradle of all Christian promises. One indication is the number of Jews who have become Christians in spite of rabbinical and family opposition. I recall vividly how the liberal Old Testament scholars (nominal Christians, genuine Unitarians) wrote that we must see the Old Testament the way Jews did, without any Christian assumptions. All my life I have encountered people raised in Judaism who became Christians. I know the opposition they encountered. Yet at some point they saw how Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament promises.

The Isaiah passages are quite astonishing.

KJV Isaiah 7:10 Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Ahaz refused to accept a miraculous sign from God. In reality, he refused to obey a command, since this was God speaking in the imperative mood – “Ask.” God was commanding, not suggesting. God gave Ahaz a sign – Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

There are at least three things to note here:
1. The miraculous sign comes from the Lord himself. This shows us how important it is.
2. A Virgin shall conceive. This is the bugbear of all liberals. The RSV changed the wording to “a young woman.” If someone refuses to believe in the Two Natures of Christ, this passage must be twisted into something within human experience. The Hebrew word does mean virgin, just as our word maiden has the sense of “young woman” but primarily “virgin.” A maiden voyage and a maiden speech exemplify what maiden means in the primary sense. So it is with almah, Hebrew for virgin, young woman.
(To this day, a Jewish wedding is completed when the couple is ushered into a room and the door closed for 10 minutes. According to Jewish tradition, if a woman is alone with a man, she is “married.” Therefore, it was always important not to compromise a young woman before marriage.)
3. His name will be Immanuel, God with us. No king of Israel was called God with us, but the name is perfect for Jesus.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

One never finds a child actually becoming a ruler as a baby, yet Jesus was born the Savior. For centuries people who believed in Him were justified by faith, like Abraham, the father of faith, who believed and was counted as righteous. (Romans 4)

Gibbons (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) does describe an ancient king crowned before birth. The soothsayers predicted that the queen would give birth to a son, so they placed a crown where they thought his head would be, “and paid homage to their insensible and invisible sovereign.”

Infant kings have potential power, but no real power. Regents are appointed to exercise royal power. Jesus was king at birth, Savior before birth. The mystery of the Incarnation is this – the Son of God existed from the beginning. The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament was the Son of God before the Incarnation. When the Virgin Mary conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God took on our human nature: God with us.

Every believer must realize that the Son of God became Incarnate to benefit us, so we would see and hear God. He became Incarnate to die for our sins and rise as the firstfruits of all who would rise from the dead.

If someone can get around the government being placed on the shoulders of this little baby, they must still deal with the everlasting expansion of his government. Israel was pursued by Satan from the moment God promised a child would crush his head (Genesis 3:15, which makes no sense, apart from Christ). By the time Jesus was born, only a stump remained of Israel. The crown had passed from Jewish rulers to a non-Jew, Herod. All the conditions of the Old Testament were fulfilled. Soon after the death and resurrection of Christ, Jerusalem was captured by Rome (70 AD). About 60 years later, Jews revolted again and were expelled from Jerusalem by Roman decree. The nation of Israel did not exist again until 1948.

In contrast, the Christian faith has expanded throughout the world and is the world’s most populous religion. Islam is second. The Gospel rain moves on, as Luther said. Believing Christians are few in America and Europe, but the growth of the faith in Africa and China is amazing. Many religions have risen up and still exist in distant corners of the world. Christianity has defied persecution and affluence (which is far worse than persecution) to extend throughout the world.

his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

How could a human king be called The Mighty God? This one title is related to Immanuel, a different word, the same concept. One of the greatest blessings of the Word is seeing how the Holy Spirit teaches us the divine, revealed truths. How do we know that the Savior is human and divine, the Two Natures united in the One Person, Christ? We know this from dozens of passages throughout the Bible.

At times people have been troubled to learn that the Savior was a human being. They did not want their Savior to be born of a woman, suffer, and die. Countless passages reveal that Jesus never lost His human nature, even after the resurrection.

Now we have people who will allow for Jesus being a teacher, as long as He is just an ordinary man. The pastor of St. John’s, Ellisville, Missouri (LCMS) portrays Jesus as a demanding simpleton, someone endlessly annoyed by people giving Christmas gifts. Thomas Jefferson saw Jesus as a moral leader only. His Jefferson Bible selected the parts of the New Testament he liked and eliminated the rest. (Give him points for honesty.) His status as a heretic moved him to promise “church and state separation” because the states did not trust him. They did not want their established churches (different in each state) to have any interference from the federal government. Yes, indeed, the states could and did define voters as communing members of one denomination. Some even had religious definitions for state office holders, at first.

Someone who denies the divinity of Christ has separated himself from the Christian faith. One can be a member in name and yet not be a believer. “A mouse may be in a cookie jar, but that does not make him a cookie.” Corrie Ten Boom.

Losing faith can be very gradual. The Lutheran Confessions are clear in pointing out the dangers of associating with false doctrine, the dangers of becoming indifferent about sound doctrine. That is why it is good to have turmoil about the teachings of the Bible. If nothing disturbed our thoughts, we would become more and more numb to what mattered.

The Prince of Peace

What does peace mean in the Bible? The primary meaning does not concern war or a lack of war. (Nominal Christian peace groups are always appeasement groups.)

Peace is the result of forgiveness, justification by faith, and salvation. Our natural inclination is toward justification by works. American Protestants have all come from a Pietistic background, which measures people by what they do. Old-fashioned Pietism banned tobacco, alcohol, card playing, theater of any kind, cosmetics, and other visible signs of the faith.

Pietism was keen on missions and good works. In both areas the leaders said, “Let’s not fight about doctrine so we can work together.” And they did. World-wide enterprises began as cooperative ventures. Lutherans often joined the Reformed in these efforts. Prussia commanded that the Reformed and the Lutherans unite in one church. This resulted in one Reformed church, not one Lutheran church. Some Lutherans escaped and came to America. The Loewe missionaries asked the Perry County Lutherans to join them in what became the Missouri Synod. They were against unionism. The Wisconsin Synod began as an indifferent, unionistic group. Walther and Hoenecke helped them wise up. Now Missouri and WELS work with ELCA on all kinds of union projects, from Lutheran World Relief to evangelism and worship. The ELS is mute.

The trouble with Pietism is not just with the end result – Unitarianism. The real trouble is with any thought process where judgment is based on works. “If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand?” That question from the Psalms (used in funerals) should remind us of the difficulty of justification by works. When a law requirement is added to justification by faith, the law dominates and destroys peace.

Peace cannot come from the Law, because the Law always condemns. Jesus is the Prince of Peace because His Gospel promises are based upon His merits, not ours. When the Body and Blood of Christ are distributed, no merit is required from the recipients. Instead, we receive the merit of Christ, the righteousness of the Prince of Peace. Holy Communion is an instrument of God’s grace, the Word in visible form. As Luther said, do not concentrate on the elements but on the Word – Given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sin.

For the peace that passes all understanding.

For the life of the world.

Amen.