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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pastor Bickel on the Present Sufferings

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and
was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom...
KJV Luke 16:22.

Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has left a new comment on your post "Fourth Sunday after Trinity. Romans 8:18ff":

Ichabod -

You say in this posting:

>>>>>>>>> Once people worried about keeping their pastors, because they saw that as a good thing. Now a minority can work with the district presidents or bishops to get rid of the faithful. This is a regular occurrence. And it is no different, among the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Methodists, and the rest. <<<<<<<<

NMB says:

Yes! Spot on! I can identify with what happens. I am familiar with having been stabbed in the back and having been thrown off the ecclesiastical bus. It's a type of [attempted] ecclesiastical molestation. But, I thank the good Lord that He gave me the faith to work through it all and move on. I kept my integrity and did not sign away my right to speak about it someday. And, you are correct - it happens across the denominational spectrum..........

You say:

>>>>>>>>When people say they are disillusioned by the visible church, I say, “Good! It was an illusion. Now you see the truth.” <<<<<<<<<<

NMB says:

Yes. So true. Faithful Christians and faithful Christian pastors soon learn when they get hacked up by the visible church, that their spiritual senses become alive. There is nothing like witnessing the flimsy facade and recognizing genuine substance. Those who go through such, are then graciously reminded and comforted with what they confessed many times, - "......I believe in the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins......"

You say:

>>>>>>>> Lutherans supposedly have no issue with the divinity of Christ, but the leadership opposes justification by faith (while pretending to teach it). <<<<<<<<<<

I recently witnessed this, what you stated, going on before my very ears. This week I attended my grandson's VBS closing [service] program. No mention in this "Christian" Lutheran sanctuary of "God's grace through faith," but what was rather highlighted, was smackings of "universal objective justification." No mention of belief and personal faith and the narrow way that leads to life eternal. And, according to universal objective justification teaching, there is no need, because all have been justified [forgiven] by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Oh yes, - part and parcel is the usual omission of the Holy Spirit and His work of authoring and sustaining personal faith.

Finally, - Ichabod - I always appreciate the Scripture of what the Apostle Paul was blessed to pen, - and, of which you have highlighted in this posting:

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." - Romans 8:18 - KJV

I believe that the Lord chose the Apostle Paul to write that Holy Spirit inspired [authored] Scripture because the Apostle was no stranger to want, persecution and suffering. Given his religious background at the [then] time, the Lord knocked him off his horse to part with the “ecclesiastical” ways of his time. His emergent influence was not a swift Jack in the Beanstalk Growth, but a faith nurtured relationship with the Lord which brought him through those personal trial tough times. And so the Lord again blessed him to be the Holy Spirit inspired pen to write the following:

Galatians 6:17 - "Henceforth, let no man trouble me; for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus." - KJV

NMB - Nathan M. Bickel


Adolph Hoenecke has left a new comment on your post "Pastor Bickel on the Present Sufferings":

I just spent a few moments brushing up on my Ichaslang. I would like to add that in my time Dr. Martin Luther College was also called "Dead Man's Last Chance." If you couldn't find a girl at DMLC, well....

FYI- That's DOCTOR Larry Olson to you.


GJ - Ichaslang can be studied here -

Joe Paterno Reportedly Played Major Role in Penn State Cover-Up - Yahoo! News

Perps have their cover-up helpers.
The bigger the scandal, the faster they jump in to help their felonious buddy,
to hinder the truth from coming out.
That is a WELS specialty.

Joe Paterno Reportedly Played Major Role in Penn State Cover-Up - Yahoo! News:

""The only downside for us is if the message isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road."

It was in that same email that Spanier used "humane" to describe the way they were planning on handling the situation. All three men have been fired from Penn State, but Schultz and Curley could face perjury charges for lying to the grand jury if these allegations are true. Besides Spanier's acknowledging how awful it is that they didn't report Sandusky abuse, the emails will hit Paterno's legacy the hardest if it's true the university decided to not go to authorities after a conversation he had with Tim Curley."

'via Blog this'

Former Abortion Rights Chief Sued by Attorney General’s Office - Metropolis - WSJ

Former Abortion Rights Chief Sued by Attorney General’s Office - Metropolis - WSJ:

"The office of state Attorney General  Eric Schneiderman filed a civil suit in Manhattan that accuses former NARAL Pro-Choice New York president Kelli Conlin of using more than $250,000 in charity funds during her tenure to for her own benefit, despite a compensation package that reached $380,000 in 2010."

'via Blog this'


Brett Meyer has left a new comment on your post "Former Abortion Rights Chief Sued by Attorney Gene...":

Thrivent financing those who finance abortions. Not only does Thrivent finance the slaughter of men, women and children around the world through their ongoing support for the satanic United Nations and finances called worker abortions in the ELCA but they are also financing, through matching funds, the slaughter of helpless babies via Susan G. Komen's ongoing support for Planned Parenthood.

The Glory of the (W)ELS, LCMS and ELCA


GJ - I met a pastor who was asked to write a paper on AAL. He wrote about problems then and was kicked out of the WELS ministry because of the paper. Likewise, WELS kicked pastors out for being critical of the NIV.

That is an abusive cult at work.

Fourth Sunday after Trinity.
Romans 8:18ff

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 452     The Son of God                1:10
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 #531            Come Ye Disconsolate            1:15

Expectation for the Truth Revealed

The Communion Hymn # 308            Invited Lord                1:63
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 # 413     I Walk in Danger                   1:67

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

KJV Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

Fourth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, who art merciful, and through Christ didst promise us, that Thou wilt neither judge nor condemn us, but graciously forgive us all our sins, and abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul: We pray Thee, that by Thy Holy Spirit Thou wilt establish in our hearts a confident faith in Thy mercy, and teach us also to be merciful to our neighbor, that we may not judge or condemn others, but willingly forgive all men, and, Judging only ourselves, lead blessed lives in Thy fear, through Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Expectation for the Truth To Be Revealed

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present period are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us.
“For” = in order that you may understand the better what has just been said about our suffering together with Christ and our also being glorified together with him. All of this will become clearer when we view ourselves in the midst of the entire suffering creature world which longs for our glorification at the last day. Do not occupy your mind exclusively with the little suffering which you individually endure but see this vast creature world groaning, and we with it, but having all its hope centered in us as the sons of God, centered upon us and on our deliverance. This is a mightier thing than the deliverance of us Christians only; and the more we see its vast proportions and the way in which God has bound up the whole creature world with us, his sons, the truer, surer, greater our own hope and assurance will become. “I reckon,” Paul writes and expresses his own personal conviction with the purpose of implanting the same conviction and insight into his readers.
From our suffering together with Christ, from the cross, the suffering we endure for Christ’s sake, Paul turns to our suffering in general, much of which is not for Christ’s sake, some of which is due only to our own sins and our faults which necessitate chastisement (Heb. 12:4–11), some of which is due to evil men, and some of which is incidental to our earthly existence. The only kind of suffering in which we glory (5:3) and can glory is that endured for Christ’s sake.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Columbus, Ohio : Lutheran Book Concern, 1936, S. 529.

This epistle teaches us about the paradoxical nature of the Christian faith. A paradox is a seeming contradiction. There are many passages about peace in the Bible, almost every single one referring to the peace that comes with forgiveness of sin. Many people strive for that kind of peace, so why would the Gospel talk about and promise suffering?

Paul is talking about suffering and the cross. Lenski has divided the topic of suffering into three categories:
  1. Suffering because of the Word – the cross.
  2. Suffering because of our own sins and mistakes, which bring chastisement (Hebrews 12:4-11. Peter distinguishes between this and the cross in 1 Peter.)
  3. Suffering from evil people, which is part of living in this sinful world.

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

The current measuring stick for congregations is now entirely material. Are the bills paid and the budget big? Is everyone happy? Are the numbers always improving?

Rob Bell became famous for having one of those huge churches, but he had to resign once his denial of Biblical truths became known. I published about him but had to look up his name. He was trained at Fuller Seminary.

Some obvious flaws in Bell’s thinking are found here:

Luther wrote about this topic, showing that the Bible does not teach about glory, but about the cross. The message of the cross, suffering because of the Word, is a constant in Luther’s sermons, just as it is central in the message of Jesus.

That is the contradiction. People want success for their denomination or parish, but the foundational requirement from God is faithfulness to His Word, which brings the cross.

Doubtless everyone thinks that being a Christian in a Christian country, with freedom of religion, should be rather peaceful. But that is not so.

The reason is plain. As soon as the Holy Spirit takes root in a person, through faith, Satan wants his original disciple back. Children may experience this. Adolescents do, and adults never stop experiencing this warfare. Luther called it Two Kingdoms – the battle between Christ’s Kingdom and Satan’s.

But already in this one verse, Paul describes the situation and offers Gospel promises. The suffering now (the cross) is nothing compared to the glory to be revealed.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Even in our sinful state we wait for the time when all truth will be revealed. This is a burden, to belief in this truth and to see it case aside with such scorn and hatred. Where we want to see faithfulness to that truth, we find rejection.

I have learned to spot atheistic posts on the Net. I read a few to see what their line of thinking is. But they are all too predictable and a pitiful lot at that. Their Father Below rewards them for now, but he will have his harvest soon enough.

The hard part, as Luther observed, is to find this same attitude among the great and wise leaders of the church. Luther was a nothing  in the church at the time, easily stopped and killed – like Huss, Tyndale, and Robert Barnes.

Lutheran orthodoxy is clearly defined in the Augsburg Confession, which is little more than a booklet. Anyone can grasp all the important parts. Some later articles are not too interesting to us, because they involve the Medieval Church. But the basics are expressed with child-like simplicity, in brief but powerful statements.

People know that, but where is that taught among the great and wise today? That is part of the suffering today, not only to experience the blindness, but to feel the hatred and scorn for the truth. The Lutheran papacy is no better than the Roman papacy of the Reformation.

Once people worried about keeping their pastors, because they saw that as a good thing. Now a minority can work with the district presidents or bishops to get rid of the faithful. This is a regular occurrence.

And it is no different, among the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Methodists, and the rest.

I do not agree with them, but I see the same basic battle – faith versus unbelief, the obvious confessions or documents of that group versus the obvious apostasy of the leaders. And they richly reward their apostates with money from…the faithful.

Meanwhile we can easily see a massive retaliation against the Christian faith world-wide, whether in Africa or China. As one member said long ago, “In the West, the persecution takes the form of indifference.”

Although we wait for the manifestation of the truth, the fact remains that this truth will come out at the end.

KJV Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This great confession and hymn and poem in Philippians is clearly expressing the end of time, when every truth will be revealed for all to see.

This is the paradox – that everything in this world was created by Christ the Creating Word (Genesis 1 and John 1). That is what everyone loves – what they see. But they do not like the Creator and scorn the Messiah.

Although the Son of God became flesh to reveal the grace and mercy of God, He was met with rebuke, suffering, and the cross.

When the Holy Spirit has revealed this to people through the Word, everything makes sense, from the beginning of Creation until now. However, we are still weak and frail, easily made timid or confused the difference between the truth we know from the Word and the things we see around us.

When people say they are disillusioned by the visible church, I say, “Good! It was an illusion. Now you see the truth.”

Others would rather have the false peace of protecting the illusion, which leads to ever more absurd statements, such as, “The Holy Spirit appointed him, so I cannot disagree. That is like arguing with God Himself.” That reasoning comes straight from Roman Catholicism but it is current today among Lutherans – and also rewarded by them. (Likewise – Pope Pius IX punished everyone who argued against his infallibility, except his son – the cardinal, and rewarded all those who promoted his divine status. The Ultramontanes, as they are called, have been in control ever since.)

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

It seems shameful, that the minority must defend the basic Gospel, justification by faith, in the face of opposition. But there are only three main attacks against the Christian faith:
Against the divinity of Christ.
Against the humanity of Christ.
Against justification by faith.

Many of my counterparts, in various denominations, are arguing the divinity of Christ through the authority of the Scriptures.

Lutherans supposedly have no issue with the divinity of Christ, but the leadership opposes justification by faith (while pretending to teach it).

In either case the defenders have the opportunity to see the Word tested and defined, their own trust in the Scriptures growing with each battle.

Salesmen call it The Takeaway. Tell people, “You cannot afford this,” and they say “Yes we can!” Tell them, “You are not ready to decide,” and they will say, “I have decided.” Salesmen even pull the item or the contract away while saying those words.

The Takeaway works with the Gospel, the liturgy, the Creeds, the hymns. When someone takes away what we took for granted, we hold onto it all the more.

In 1530, Justification by Faith Prevailed.
Apology of the Augsburg Confession

Art by Norma Boeckler

Part 5

We think that even the adversaries acknowledge that, in justification, the remission of sins is necessary first. For we all are under sin. Wherefore we reason thus:-To attain the remission of sins is to be justified, according to Ps. 32, 1: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. By faith alone in Christ, not through love, not because of love or works, do we acquire the remission of sins, although love follows faith. Therefore by faith alone we are justified, understanding justification as the making of a righteous man out of an unrighteous, or that he be regenerated.

It will thus become easy to declare the minor premise [that we obtain forgiveness of sin by faith, not by love] if we know how the remission of sins occurs. The adversaries with great indifference dispute whether the remission of sins and the infusion of grace are the same change [whether they are one change or two]. Being idle men, they did not know what to answer [cannot speak at all on this subject]. In the remission of sins, the terrors of sin and of eternal death, in the heart, must be overcome, as Paul testifies, 1 Cor. 15, 56 sq.: The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. That is, sin terrifies consciences, this occurs through the Law, which shows the wrath of God against sin; but we gain the victory through Christ. How? By faith, when we comfort ourselves by confidence in the mercy promised for Christ's sake. Thus, therefore we prove the minor proposition. The wrath of God cannot be appeased if we set against it our own works, because Christ has been set forth as a Propitiator, so that, for His sake, the Father may become reconciled to us. But Christ is not apprehended as a Mediator except by faith. Therefore, by faith alone we obtain remission of sins when we comfort our hearts with confidence in the mercy promised for Christ's sake. Likewise Paul, Rom. 5, 2, says: By whom also we have access, and adds, by faith. Thus, therefore, we are reconciled to the Father, and receive remission of sins when we are comforted with confidence in the mercy promised for Christ's sake. The adversaries regard Christ as Mediator and Propitiator for this reason, namely, that He has merited the habit of love; they do not urge us to use Him now as Mediator, but, as though Christ were altogether buried, they imagine that we have access through our own works, and, through these, merit this habit and afterwards, by this love, come to God. Is not this to bury Christ altogether, and to take away the entire doctrine of faith? Paul, on the contrary, teaches that we have access, i.e., reconciliation, through Christ. And to show how this occurs, he adds that we have access by faith. By faith, therefore, for Christ's sake, we receive remission of sins. We cannot set our own love and our own works over against God's wrath.

Secondly. It is certain that sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ, as Propitiator, Rom. 3, 25: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation. Moreover, Paul adds: through faith. Therefore this Propitiator thus benefits us, when by faith we apprehend the mercy promised in Him, and set it against the wrath and judgment of God. And to the same effect it is written, Heb. 4, 14. 16: Seeing, then, that we have a great High Priest, etc., let us therefore come with confidence. For the Apostle bids us come to God, not with confidence in our own merits, but with confidence in Christ as a High Priest; therefore he requires faith.

Thirdly. Peter, in Acts 10, 43, says: To Him give all the prophets witness that through His name, whosoever believeth on Him, shall receive remission of sins. How could this be said more clearly? We receive remission of sins, he says, through His name i.e., for His sake; therefore, not for the sake of our merits, not for the sake of our contrition, attrition, love, worship, works. And he adds: When we believe in Him. Therefore he requires faith. For we cannot apprehend the name of Christ except by faith. Besides he cites the agreement of all the prophets. This is truly to cite the authority of the Church. [For when all the holy prophets bear witness, that is certainly a glorious, great excellent, powerful decretal and testimony.] But of this topic we will speak again after a while, when treating of "Repentance."

Fourthly. Remission of sins is something promised for Christ's sake. Therefore it cannot be received except by faith alone. For a promise cannot be received except by faith alone. Rom. 4, 16: Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace, to the end that the promise might be sure; as though he were to say: "If the matter were to depend upon our merits, the promise would be uncertain and useless, because we never could determine when we would have sufficient merit." And this, experienced consciences can easily understand [and would not, for a thousand worlds, have our salvation depend upon ourselves]. Accordingly, Paul says, Gal. 3, 22: But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. He takes merit away from us, because he says that all are guilty and concluded under sin; then he adds that the promise, namely, of the remission of sins and of justification, is given, and adds how the promise can be received, namely, by faith. And this reasoning, derived from the nature of a promise, is the chief reasoning [a veritable rock] in Paul, and is often repeated. Nor can anything be devised or imagined whereby this argument of Paul can be overthrown. Wherefore let not good minds suffer themselves to be forced from the conviction that we receive remission of sins for Christ's sake, only through faith. In this they have sure and firm consolation against the terrors of sin, and against eternal death and against all the gates of hell. Everything else is a foundation of sand that sinks in trials.

But since we receive remission of sins and the Holy Ghost by faith alone, faith alone justifies, because those reconciled are accounted righteous and children of God, not on account of their own purity, but through mercy for Christ's sake, provided only they by faith apprehend this mercy. Accordingly, Scripture testifies that by faith we are accounted righteous, Rom. 3, 26. We, therefore, will add testimonies which clearly declare that faith is that very righteousness by which we are accounted righteous before God, namely, not because it is a work that is in itself worthy, but because it receives the promise by which God has promised that for Christ's sake He wishes to be propitious to those believing in Him, or because He knows that Christ of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor. 1, 30.

In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul discusses this topic especially, and declares that, when we believe that God, for Christ's sake is reconciled to us, we are justified freely by faith. And this proposition, which contains the statement of the entire discussion [the principal matter of all Epistles, yea, of the entire Scriptures], he maintains in the third chapter: We conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law, Rom. 3, 28. Here the adversaries interpret that this refers to Levitical ceremonies [not to other virtuous works]. But Paul speaks not only of the ceremonies, but of the whole Law. For he quotes afterward (7, 7) from theDecalog: Thou shalt not covet. And if moral works [that are not Jewish ceremonies] would merit the remission of sins and justification, there would also be no need of Christ and the promise, and all that Paul speaks of the promise would be overthrown. He would also have been wrong in writing to the Ephesians, 2, 8: By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works. Paul likewise refers to Abraham and David, Rom. 4, 1. 6. But they had the command of God concerning circumcision. Therefore, if any works justified these works must also have justified at the time that they had a command. But Augustine teaches correctly that Paul speaks of the entire Law, as he discusses at length in his book, Of the Spirit and Letter, where he says finally: These matters, therefore, having been considered and treated, according to the ability that the Lord has thought worthy to give us, we infer that man is not justified by the precepts of a good life, but by faith in Jesus Christ.

And lest we may think that the sentence that faith justifies, fell from Paul inconsiderately, he fortifies and confirms this by a long discussion in the fourth chapter to the Romans, and afterwards repeats it in all his epistles. Thus he says, Rom. 4, 4. 5: To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Here he clearly says that faith itself is imputed for righteousness. Faith, therefore, is that thing which God declares to be righteousness, and he adds that it is imputed freely, and says that it could not be imputed freely, if it were due on account of works. Wherefore he excludes also the merit of moral works [not only Jewish ceremonies, but all other good works]. For if justification before God were due to these, faith would not be imputed for righteousness without works. And afterwards, Rom. 4, 9: For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. Chapter 5, 1 says: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, i.e., we have consciences that are tranquil and joyful before God. Rom. 10, 10: With the heart man believeth unto righteousness. Here he declares that faith is the righteousness of the heart. Gal. 2, 15: We have believed in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law. Eph. 2, 8. For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.

John 1, 12: To them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 3, 14. 15: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish. Likewise, v. 17: For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned.

Acts 13, 38. 39: Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses. How could the office of Christ and justification be declared more clearly? The Law, he says, did not justify. Therefore Christ was given, that we may believe that for His sake we are justified. He plainly denies justification to the Law. Hence, for Christ's sake we are accounted righteous when we believe that God, for His sake, has been reconciled to us. Acts 4, 11. 12: This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. But the name of Christ is apprehended only by faith. [I cannot believe in the name of Christ in any other way than when I hear His merit preached, and lay hold of that.] Therefore, by confidence in the name of Christ, and not by confidence in our works, we are saved. For "the name" here signifies the cause which is mentioned because of which salvation is attained. And to call upon the name of Christ is to trust in the name of Christ, as the cause or price because of which we are saved. Acts 15, 9: Purifying their hearts by faith. Wherefore that faith of which the Apostles speak is not idle knowledge, but a reality, receiving the Holy Ghost and justifying us [not a mere knowledge of history, but a strong powerful work of the Holy Ghost, which changes hearts].

Hab. 2, 4: The just shall live by his faith. Here he says, first that men are just by faith by which they believe that God is propitious and he adds that the same faith quickens, because this faith produces in the heart peace and joy and eternal life [which begins in the present life].

Is. 53, 11: By His knowledge shall He justify many. But what is the knowledge of Christ unless to know the benefits of Christ, the promises which by the Gospel He has scattered broadcast in the world? And to know these benefits is properly and truly to believe in Christ, to believe that that which God has promised for Christ's sake He will certainly fulfil.

But Scripture is full of such testimonies, since, in some places, it presents the Law, and in others the promises concerning Christ, and the remission of sins, and the free acceptance of the sinner for Christ's sake.

Here and there among the Fathers similar testimonies are extant. For Ambrose says in his letter to a certain Irenaeus: Moreover, the world was subject to him by the Law for the reason that, according to the command of the Law, all are indicted, and yet, by the works of the Law, no one is justified, i.e., because, by the Law, sin is perceived, but guilt is not discharged. The Law, which made all sinners, seemed to have done injury, but when the Lord Jesus Christ came, He forgave to all sin which no one could avoid, and, by the shedding of His own blood, blotted out the handwriting which was against us. This is what he says in Rom. 5, 20: "The Law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Because after the whole world become subject, He took away the sin of the whole world, as he [John] testified, saying, John 1, 29: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." And on this account let no one boast of works, because no one is justified by his deeds. But he who is righteous has it given him because he was justified after the laver [of Baptism]. Faith, therefore, is that which frees through the blood of Christ, because he is blessed "whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered," Ps. 32, 1. These are the words of Ambrose, which clearly favor our doctrine; he denies justification to works, and ascribes to faith that it sets us free through the blood of Christ. Let all the Sententiarists, who are adorned with magnificent titles, be collected into one heap. For some are called angelic; others, subtile; and others irrefragable [that is, doctors who cannot err]. When all these have been read and reread, they will not be of as much aid for understanding Paul as is this one passage of Ambrose.

To the same effect, Augustine writes many things against the Pelagians. In f the Spirit and Letter he says: The righteousness of the Law, namely, that he who has fulfilled it shall live in it, is set forth for this reason that when any one has recognized his infirmity he may attain and work the same and live in it, conciliating the Justifier not by his own strength nor by the letter of the Law itself (which cannot be done), but by faith. Except in a justified man, there is no right work wherein he who does it may live. But justification is obtained by faith. Here he clearly says that the Justifier is conciliated by faith, and that justification is obtained by faith. And a little after: By the Law we fear God; by faith we hope in God. But to those fearing punishment grace is hidden; and the soul laboring, etc., under this fear betakes itself by faith to God's mercy, in order that He may give what lie commands. Here he teaches that by the Law hearts are terrified, but by faith they receive consolation. He also teaches us to apprehend, by faith, mercy, before we attempt to fulfil the Law. We will shortly cite certain other passages.

Truly, it is amazing that the adversaries are in no way moved by so many passages of Scripture, which clearly ascribe justification to faith, and, indeed, deny it to works. Do they think that the same is repeated so often for no purpose? Do they think that these words fell inconsiderately from the Holy Ghost? But they have also devised sophistry whereby they elude them. They say that these passages of Scripture, (which speak of faith,) ought to be received as referring to a fides formata, i.e., they do not ascribe justification to faith except on account of love. Yea, they do not, in any way, ascribe justification to faith, but only to love, because they dream that faith can coexist with mortal sin. Whither does this tend, unless that they again abolish the promise and return to the Law? If faith receive the remission of sins on account of love, the remission of sins will always be uncertain, because we never love as much as we ought, yea, we do not love unless our hearts are firmly convinced that the remission of sins has been granted us. Thus the adversaries, while they require in the remission of sins and justification confidence in one's own love, altogether abolish the Gospel concerning the free remission of sins; although at the same time, they neither render this love nor understand it, unless they believe that the remission of sins is freely received.

We also say that love ought to follow faith as Paul also says, Gal. 5, 6: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love. And yet we must not think on that account that by confidence in this love or on account of this love we receive the remission of sins and reconciliation just as we do not receive the remission of sins because of other works that follow. But the remission of sins is received by faith alone, and, indeed, by faith properly so called, because the promise cannot be received except by faith. But faith, properly so called, is that which assents to the promise [is when my heart, and the Holy Ghost in the heart, says: The promise of God is true and certain]. Of this faith Scripture speaks. And because it receives the remission of sins, and reconciles us to God, by this faith we are [like Abraham] accounted righteous for Christ's sake before we love and do the works of the Law, although love necessarily follows. Nor, indeed, is this faith an idle knowledge, neither can it coexist with mortal sin, but it is a work of the Holy Ghost, whereby we are freed from death, and terrified minds are encouraged and quickened. And because this faith alone receives the remission of sins, and renders us acceptable to God, and brings the Holy Ghost, it could be more correctly called gratia gratum faciens, grace rendering one pleasing to God, than an effect following, namely, love.

Thus far, in order that the subject might be made quite clear, we have shown with sufficient fulness, both from testimonies of Scripture, and arguments derived from Scripture, that by faith alone we obtain the remission of sins for Christ's sake, and that by faith alone we are justified, i.e., of unrighteous men made righteous, or regenerated. But how necessary the knowledge of this faith is, can be easily judged, because in this alone the office of Christ is recognized, by this alone we receive the benefits of Christ; this alone brings sure and firm consolation to pious minds. And in the Church [if there is to be a church, if there is to be a Christian Creed], it is necessary that there should be the [preaching and] doctrine [by which consciences are not made to rely on a dream or to build on a foundation of sand, but] from which the pious may receive the sure hope of salvation. For the adversaries give men bad advice [therefore the adversaries are truly unfaithful bishops, unfaithful preachers and doctors; they have hitherto given evil counsel to consciences, and still do so by introducing such doctrine] when they bid them doubt whether they obtain remission of sins. For how will such persons sustain themselves in death who have heard nothing of this faith, and think that they ought to doubt whether they obtain the remission of sins? Besides it is necessary that in the Church of Christ the Gospel be retained, i.e., the promise that for Christ's sake sins are freely remitted. Those who teach nothing of this faith, concerning which we speak, altogether abolish the Gospel. But the scholastics mention not even a word concerning this faith. Our adversaries follow them, and reject this faith. Nor do they see that, by rejecting this faith, they abolish the entire promise concerning the free remission of sins and the righteousness of Christ.


GJ - This is identical to the original post, since both have the graphics added. The UOJ spin-doctors should study this easy-to-read page and reveal how forgiveness without faith emerges from the Scriptures and the Confessions. Really - I am dying to find out.

More about Reading Trends on the Blog

Ida and Bethany adored each other.

The favorite posts, since Blogger began their stats, are somewhat interesting, but I like to look at the last week's and the last 24 hours. Every so often a post from several years ago will be among the most popular for that time period.

I am guessing that someone has linked a particular post and shared the URL. I do not get 50 emails at a time, telling me this is why, so I am not sure. I use a Google search now to find my own posts, so I expect others do too. The software tells me what people did to find the page, such as searching on Ichabod and Martin Luther College.

I normally link anything worthwhile within a post, especially since content is removed from the Net, for reasons unknown. That is also why I copy verbatim while linking it, since pastors often immediately erase what they have just published.

Speaking of old posts - now that we have another heat-wave, last year's Photoshop of the St. Louis Arch melting is the most popular for the week.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Downsizing Library for Move

Our landlord had a catastrophic stroke, which has disabled him. His wife and family decided to sell the house
where we live, after some major renovations are done.

The house will be put up for sale after the projects are done, but we will continue to rent while it is on the market. Given the situation in this area, where new homes are being built, the landlord's sister, a realtor, does not expect a quick sale. She said, "Maybe never."

Nevertheless, we are downsizing. That means I will sell off most of my library. I do not have many Lutheran books left, because most of them are digitalized on my computer or available on the Net.

I do have quite a bit of literature, great Folio books and Easton leather bound books. I am not interested in selling a book or two, but larger lots. If you have a serious interest, send me an email at (or my main email address).

I have two boxes of books for Lutherans - about 10 copies of the English-only Triglotta, and some copies of Luther's Works.

If someone can use either box, the modest price can be worked out. I would rather see them used.

Epistle Sermons for Trinity 4 - From Luther

Norma Boeckler



ROMANS 8:8-22. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to vanity not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.


1. Paul’s language here is peculiar. He speaks in a manner wholly different from the other apostles. There is something particularly strange about the first sentences of the passage. His words must be faithfully studied and their meaning learned by personal experience. The Christian life consists altogether in the practice and experience of what the Word of God tells us.

He who has no experimental knowledge of the Word will have but little conception and appreciation of Paul’s words here. Indeed, they will be wholly unintelligible to him.

2. Up to the point where our text begins, Paul has been assuring us in this epistle that through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ we attain the high privilege of calling God our Father; that the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts of our sonship, and makes us bold enough to come, by faith in Christ the Mediator, joyfully before God, trusting him to fill and bless us.

Then Paul draws the conclusion, first, that we are children of God; next, he says: “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” The second conclusion is the outcome of the first. For the reason that we have the boldness and assurance to call God our Father in sincerity and nothing doubting, we are become not only children but heirs, heirs of God and brethren to Christ, joint-heirs with him. But all this, as Paul says, is true “if so be that we suffer with him” ( Romans 8:7).

3. The high prerogative of heirship, Paul faithfully enjoins, is dependent on a sacred duty. Let him who would be Christ’s brother, and joint-heir with him, remember he must also be a joint-martyr and joint-sufferer with Christ. The apostle’s meaning is: Many are the Christians, indeed, who would be joint-heirs with Christ and gladly enjoy the privilege of sharing his inheritance, but who object to suffering with him; they separate themselves from him because unwilling to participate in his pain. But Paul says this will not do. The inheritance follows only as a consequence of the suffering. Since Christ, our dear Lord and Savior, had to suffer before he could be glorified, we must be martyrs with him, with him be mocked by the world, despised, spit upon, crowned with thorns and put to death, before the inheritance will be ours. It cannot be otherwise.

A consistent sympathy is essential to Christian faith and doctrine. He who would be Christ’s brother and fellow-heir must also suffer with him. He who would live with Christ must first die with him. The members of a family not only enjoy good together but also share in their ills. As the saying is, “He who would be a companion in eating must also be a companion in labor.”

4. Paul would earnestly admonish us not to become false Christians who look to find in Christ mere pleasure and enjoyment, but to remember that if we are to participate in the “eternal weight of glory” we must first bear the “light affliction, which is for the moment.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

By the words “if so be that we suffer with him” the writer means that we are to do more than exercise the sympathy that grieves over another’s misfortune, though such sympathy is binding upon Christians and is a superior Christian virtue, a work of mercy: we ourselves must suffer, non solum affectu, sed etiam effectu, that is, we are overwhelmed by like sufferings. As Christ our Lord was persecuted, we also must endure persecution. As the devil harassed him, we also must be harassed unceasingly. And so Satan does torment true Christians. Indeed, were it not for the restraining hand of the Lord our God, the devil would suffer us to have no peace. Paul has reference to a heartfelt sympathy intense enough to enter into actual suffering. He says to the Hebrews ( Hebrews 10:32-23): “Ye endured a great conflict of sufferings; partly, being made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions.”

5. And in the verse preceding our text he tells us that as our blissful inheritance through brotherhood and joint-heirship with Christ is not a mere fancy and false hope of the heart, but a real inheritance, so our sympathy must amount to real suffering, which we take upon ourselves as befitting joint-heirs. Now Paul comforts the Christian in his sufferings with the authority of one who speaks from experience, from thorough acquaintance with his subject. He seems to view this life as through obscurities, while beholding the life to come with clear and unobstructed vision. He says: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shal be revealed to usward [in us].”

6. Notice how he turns his back to the world and his face to the future revelation, as if seeing no suffering anywhere, but all joy. “Even if it does go ill with us,” he would argue, “what indeed is our suffering in comparison with the unspeakable joy and glory to be revealed in us? It is too insignificant to be compared and unworthy to be called suffering.” We fail to realize the truth of these words because we do not see with our bodily eyes the supreme glory awaiting us; because we fail to grasp fully the fact that we shall never die but shall have a body that cannot suffer nor be ill. If one could conceive the nature of this reward he would be compelled to say: “Were it possible for me to suffer ten deaths by fire or flood, that would be nothing in comparison to the future life of glory. What is temporal suffering, however protracted, contrasted with eternal life? It is not worthy to be called suffering or to be esteemed meritorious.”

7. In this light does Paul regard suffering, as he says, and he admonishes Christians to look upon it similarly. Then shall they find the infinite beyond all comparison with the finite. What is a single penny measured by a world of dollars? though this is not an appropriate comparison since the things compared are both perishable. The suffering of the world is always to be counted as nothing measured by the glorious and eternal possessions yet to be ours. “I entreat you, therefore, beloved brethren,” Paul would say, “to fear no sufferings, not even should it be your lot to be slain. For if you are actually joint-heirs, it must be your fortune, a part of your inheritance, to suffer with others. But what is your pain measured by the eternal glory prepared for you and obtained by the sacrifice of your Savior Jesus Christ?

It is too insignificant to be contrasted.” So Paul makes all earthly suffering infinitely small — a drop, a tiny spark, so to speak; but of yonder hopedfor glory he makes a boundless ocean, an illimitable flame.

8. Why cannot we take his view of the insignificance of our afflictions and the magnitude of the future glory? The extravagance of our conduct is apparent in the fact that but a harsh word uttered by one to his fellow will make the injured one ready to overturn mountains and uproot trees in his resentment. To them who are so unwilling to suffer, Paul’s word of encouragement here is wholly unintelligible. Christians are not to conduct themselves in this impatient manner. It ill becomes them to make extravagant complaint and outcry about injustice. “But,” you say, “I have truly suffered injustice.” Very well, so be it. But why do you make so much of your sufferings and never give a thought to what awaits you in heaven?

Why not exalt the future glory also? If you desire to be a Christian, truly it will not do to conduct yourself in this impatient manner. If you must air your grievances, surely you may do it quietly and decorously.

9. In this life it must be otherwise than in the life of glory. If you essay to be a joint-heir with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not suffer with him, to be his brother and are not like unto him, Christ certainly will not at the last day acknowledge you as a brother and fellow-heir. Rather he will ask where are your crown of thorns, your cross, the nails and scourge; whether you have been, as he and his followers ever have from the beginning of time, an abomination to the world. If you cannot qualify in this respect, he cannot regard you as his brother. In short, we must all suffer with the Son of God and be made like unto him, as we shall see later, or we shall not be exalted with him in glory.

10. Upon this same topic Paul addresses also the Galatians ( Galatians 6:17): Henceforth let no one confuse me, say nothing to me about the doctrine that friendship is rewarded on earth; for I bear branded on my body the marks of my Lord Jesus Christ. His reference is to the signs in ancient paintings of Christ, where the Savior was represented as bearing his cross upon his shoulders, with the nails, the scourge, the crown of thorns and other emblems in evidence. These marks or signs, Paul instructs, all Christians as well as himself must exhibit, not painted on a wall but branded in their flesh and blood. They are made when inwardly the devil affrights and assails us with all manner of terrors and overwhelming afflictions, and at the same time outwardly the world slanders us as heretics, laying her hand to our throats whenever possible and putting us to death.


Such marks, or scars, for Christ the Lord, Paul admonishes all Christians to exhibit. Thus he encourages them not to be terrified though they suffer every conceivable wrong, such as our brethren here and there have suffered now for several years. But brighter days are in store for us when once the hour of our enemies and the power of darkness shall come. Our adversaries annoy us now with malignant words and slanderous writings, and indeed they may take our lives. So be it. We must in any event suffer if we are ever to attain true glory. But what they will secure by putting us to death they certainly shall experience.

11. In Paul’s reference to the glory that shall be revealed in us there is a hint as to the cause of man’s unwillingness to suffer: faith is yet weak and fails to descry the hidden glory; that glory is yet to be revealed in us. Could we but behold it with mortal vision, what noble, patient martyrs we should be! Suppose one stood on yonder side of the Elbe with a chest full of gold, offering it to him who should venture to swim across for it. What an effort would be made for the sake of that tangible wealth!

12. Take the case of the adventurous officer. For a few dollars per month he defies spears and guns, exposing himself to almost certain death. The merchant hurries to and fro in the world in a frenzied effort to amass riches, hazarding life and limb, apparently careless of physical cost so long as God’s mercy preserves to him but the shattered hulk of a body. And what must not one endure at court before he realizes, if he ever does, the fulfillment of his ambition?

In temporal things man can do and suffer everything for the sake of honor, wealth and power, because these are manifest to earthly vision. But in the spiritual conflict, because the reward is not discernible to the senses it is very difficult for the old man in us to believe that God will finally grant us glorious bodies, pure souls and hearts of gladness, and make us superior to any earthly king. Indeed, the very reverse of this condition obtains now.

Here is one condemned as a heretic; there one is burned or in some other way put to death. Glory, wealth and honor are not in evidence now. So it seems hard for us to resign ourselves to suffering and wait for the redemption and glory yet unrevealed.

Again, no hardship is too great for the world to undergo for the sake of sordid gain; it willingly suffers whatever comes for that which moth and rust consume and thieves steal.

13. Paul means to say: “I am certain there is reserved for us exceeding glory, in comparison wherewith all earthly suffering is actually of no consideration; only it is not yet manifest.” If we have to face the slightest gale of adversity, or if a trifling misfortune befalls us, we begin to make outcry, filling the heavens with our false complaint of a terrible calamity.

Were our faith triumphant, we would regard it but as a small inconvenience to suffer, even for thirty or forty years or longer; indeed, we should think our sufferings too trifling to be taken into account. May the Lord our God only forbear to reckon with us for the sins we have committed! Why will we have so much to say about great sufferings and their merits? How utterly unworthy we are of the free grace and ineffable glory which are ours in the fact that through Christ we become children and heirs of God, brethren and joint-heirs with Christ!

Well may we resolve: “I will maintain a cheerful silence about my sufferings, boasting not of them nor complaining about them. I will patiently endure all my merciful God sends upon me, meanwhile rendering him my heartfelt gratitude for calling me to such surpassing grace and blessing.” But, as I said, the vision of glory will not enter our hearts because of our weak and miserable flesh, which allows itself to be more influenced by the present than by the future. So the Holy Spirit must be our schoolmaster to bring the matter home to our hearts.

14. Note particularly how Paul expressly states that the glory is to be revealed in us. He would remind us that not only such as Peter or Paul are to participate in the blessing, as we are prone to believe, but that we and all Christians are included in the word “us.” Indeed, even the merest babe obtains at death, wherein it is a joint-sufferer with mankind, this unspeakable glory, which the Lord Jesus into whose death it was baptized has purchased and bestowed upon it. Though in the life beyond one saint may have more glory than another, yet all will have the same eternal life.

Here on earth men differ in point of strength, comeliness, intellect, yet all enjoy the same animal life. So in the other life there will be degrees of radiance or glory, as Paul teaches ( 1 Corinthians 15:41), yet all will share the same eternal happiness and joy; there will be one glory for all, for we shall all be the children of God.

15. Now the first point of consolation is that we turn our backs upon all suffering, saying: “What is all my pain, though it were tenfold greater, compared to the eternal life unto which I am baptized, to which I am called? My sufferings are not worthy to be so termed in connection with the exceeding glory to be revealed in me.” Paul magnifies the future glory to make the temporal sufferings the more insignificant. Then follows: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the revealing [manifestation] of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope: [For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope;]”

16. Here is the second point of consolation. Paul holds up as an example to us the condition of the whole creation. He exhorts us to endure patiently, as the creature does, all the violence and injustice we suffer from the devil and the world, and to comfort ourselves with the hope of future redemption. Remarkable doctrine this, unlike anything elsewhere found in the Scriptures, that heaven and earth, sun, moon and stars, leaf and blade, every living thing, waits with sighing and groaning for the revelation of our glory.


17. Such sighing and agony of the creature is not audible to me, nor is it to you. But Paul tells us he sees and hears it, not expressed by one creature alone, but by all God has made. What does he mean? What is the sighing and longing of creation? It is not that annually the leaves wither and the fruits fall and decay: God purposes that every year new fruits shall grow; he decrees the shattering of the fallen tree. But Paul refers to the creature’s unwilling subjection to the ungodly; “subject to vanity,” he phrases it.

For instance, the blessed sun, most glorious of created things, serves the small minority of the godly, but where it shines on one godly man it must shine on thousands and thousands of knaves, such as enemies of God, blasphemers, persecutors, with whom the world is filled; also murderers, robbers, thieves, adulterers. To these it must minister in all their ungodliness and wickedness, permitting its pure and glorious influence to benefit the unworthy, most shameful and abandoned profligates. According to the apostle, this subjection is truly painful, and were the sun a rational creature obeying its own volition rather than the decree of the Lord God who has subjected it to vanity against its will, it might deny every one of these wicked wretches even the least ray of light; that it is compelled to minister to them is its cross and pain, by reason of which it sighs and groans.

Just as we Christians endure many kinds of injustice and consequently sigh for and implore help and deliverance in the Lord’s prayer, so do the creatures sigh. Although they have not human utterance, yet they have speech intelligible to God and the Holy Spirit, who mark the creatures’ sighs over their unjust abuse by the ungodly.

18. Nowhere else in the Holy Scriptures do we find anything like Paul’s declaration here concerning the earnest expectation and waiting of the creatures for the revelation of the children of God; which waiting the apostle characterizes as a sighing in eager desire for man’s redemption. A little later he compares the state of the creature to a woman in travail, saying it cries out in its anguish. The sun, moon and stars, the heavens and earth, the bread we eat, the water or wine we drink, the cattle and sheep, in short, all things that minister to our comfort, cry out in accusation against the world because they are subjected to vanity and must suffer with Christ and his brethren. This accusing cry is beyond human power to express, for God’s created things are innumerable. Rightly was it said from the pulpit in former times that on the last day all creatures will utter an accusing cry against the ungodly who have shown them abuse here on earth, and will call them tyrants to whom they were unjustly subjected.

19. Paul presents this example of the creatures for the comfort of Christians. His meaning is: Be not sorrowful because of your sufferings; they are small indeed when the ensuing transcendent glory is considered.

You are not alone in your tribulation and your complaint at injustice; the whole creation suffers with you and cries out against its subjection to the wicked world. Every bleat of the flock, every low of the herd, is an outcry against the ungodly as enemies of God and not worthy to enjoy the creatures’ ministrations; not even to receive a morsel of bread or a drink of water. Along this line St. Augustine is eloquent. “A miserly wretch,” he says, “is unworthy the bread he eats, for he is an enemy of God.”

Paul tells us the whole creation groans and travails with us, as if desiring relief from anguish; that it suffers like a woman in travail. For instance: the heavenly planets would gladly be freed from serving, yes, in the extent of their anguish would willingly suffer eclipse; the earth would readily become unfruitful; all waters would voluntarily sink from sight and deny the wicked world a draught; the sheep would prefer to produce thorns for the ungodly instead of wool; the cow would willingly yield them poison rather than milk. But they must perform their appointed work, Paul says, because of him who has subjected them in hope. God will finally answer the cry of creation; he has already determined that after the six thousand years of its existence now passed, the world shall have its evening and end.

20. Had not our parents sinned in paradise, the world would never be dissolved. But since man has fallen in sin, we all — the whole creation — must suffer the consequence; because of our sins, creation must be subjected to vanity and dissolution. During the six thousand years, which are as nothing compared to eternal life, all created things must be under the power of a condemned world, and compelled to serve with all their energies until God shall overthrow the entire world and for the elect’s sake purify again and renew the creature, as Peter teaches. 2 Peter 3:13.

21. The sun is by no means as gloriously brilliant as when created. Because of man’s ungodliness its brightness is to an extent dimmed. But on the day of visitation God will cleanse and purify it by fire ( 2 Peter 3:10), giving it a greater glory than it had in the beginning. Because it must suffer in our sins, and is obliged to shine as well for the worst knave as the godly man, even for more knaves than godly men, it longs intensely for the day when it shall be cleansed and shall serve the righteous alone with its light.

Neither would the earth produce thistles nor thorns were it not cursed for our sins. So it, with all creatures, longs for the day when it shall be changed and renewed.

22. This is the explanation of Paul’s remarkable declaration concerning the “earnest expectation of the creation.” The creature continually regards the end of service, and freedom from slavery to the ungodly. This event will not take place before the revealing of the sons of God; therefore the earnestly expectant creation desires that revelation to come without delay, at any moment. Until such manifestation the world will not consider godly souls as children of the Father, but as children of the devil. So it boldly abuses and slanders, persecutes and puts to death, God’s beloved children, thinking it thereby does God service. In consequence the whole creation cries: “Oh, for a speedy end of this calamity, and the dawning of glory for the children of God!”

23. We have plain authority for the interpretation of the groaning of creation in Paul’s further words, “the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will.” He thus makes all creation — sun and moon, fire, air, water, heaven and earth with all they contain — merely poor, captive servants. And whom do they serve? Not our Lord God; not for the most part his children, for they are a minority among those ministered unto. To whom, then, is their service given? To the wicked — to vanity. The created things are not, as they would be, in righteous service. The sun, for instance, would choose to shine for Paul, Peter and other godly ones. It begrudges to wicked characters like Judas, Pilate, Herod, Annas and Caiaphas the least ray of light; for it is useless service, yielding no good. To serve Peter and Paul would be productive of pleasure and profit; well may its benefit be bestowed upon these godly ones. But the sun must shine as well for the wicked as for the ungodly. Indeed, where it fittingly serves one godly individual, thousands abuse its service.

The case is similar with gold and other minerals, and with all the articles of food, drink and clothing. To whom do these minister? Wicked desperadoes, who in return blaspheme and dishonor God, condemn his holy Gospel and murder his Christians. This is wasted service.

24. So Paul says, “The creature was made subject to vanity;” it must render service against its consent, having no pleasure therein. The sun does not shine for the purpose of lighting a highway robber to murder. It would light him in godly deeds and errands of mercy; but since he follows not these things the service of the blessed sun is abused and that creature ministers with sincere unwillingness. But how is it to avoid service?

A wicked tyrant, a shameful harlot, may wear gold ornaments. Is the gold responsible for its use? It is the good creature of the Lord our God and fitted to serve righteous people. But the precious product must submit to accommodating the wicked world against it will. Yet it endures in hope of an end of such service — such slavery. Therein it obeys God. God has imposed the obligation, that man may know him as a merciful God and Father, who, as Christ teaches ( Matthew 5:45), makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good. For the Father’s sake the blessed sun serves wickedness, performing its service and bestowing its favors in vain. But God in his own good time will reckon with those who abuse the glorious sunlight and other creatures, and will richly recompense the created things for their service.

25. Beloved, Paul thus traces the holy cross among all creatures; heaven and earth and all they contain suffer with us. So we must not complain and excessively grieve when we fare ill. We must patiently wait for the redemption of our bodies and for the glory which is to be revealed in us; especially when we know that all creatures groan in anguish, like a woman in travail, longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For then shall begin their redemption, when they shall not be slaves to wickedness but shall willingly and with delight serve God’s children only. In the meantime they bear the cross for the sake of God, who has subjected them in hope. Thus we are assured that captivity will not endure forever, but a time must come when the creatures will be delivered. “Do ye likewise, beloved Christians,” Paul would advise, “and reflect that as the creature will rejoice with you on the last day, so does it now mourn with you; that not you alone must suffer, but the whole creation suffers with you and awaits your redemption, a redemption so great and glorious As to make your sufferings unworthy to be considered.”


Norma Boeckler



ROMANS 8:18-22.


1. We have heard how Paul comforts the Christians in their sufferings, pointing them to the future inconceivable and eternal glory to be revealed in us in the world to come; and how he has, for our greater consolation, reminded us that the whole creation as one being suffers in company with the Christian Church. We have noted how he sees, with the clear, keen eye of an apostle, the holy cross in every creature. He brings out this thought prominently, telling us it is not strange we Christians should suffer, for in our preaching, our reproving and rebuking, we easily merit the world’s persecution; but creation must suffer being innocent, must even endure forced subjection to the wicked and the devil himself.

2. Could the sun voice its experience from Adam’s time down, what misery it has witnessed and endured, undoubtedly it would tell of its heavy cross in being compelled to serve innumerable adulterers, thieves, murderers, in fact, the devil’s whole kingdom. Yet it is a noble and admirable work of creation, fit to serve only God, angels and pious Christians, who thank God for it. But it must serve those who blaspheme and dishonor God and who are guilty of all wickedness and lawlessness. Notwithstanding its dislike of such service, it is with every other created thing obedient to God.

3. This is a fine and comforting thought of the apostle’s, that all creatures are martyrs, having to endure unwillingly every sort of injustice. The creatures do not approve the conduct of the devil and of the wicked in their shameful abuse of creation, but they submit to it for the sake of him who has subjected them to vanity, at the same time hoping for a better dispensation in the fulfillment of time, when they shall again be rightly received and abuse be past. Hence Paul points to another life for all creation, declaring it to be as weary of this order as we are and to await a new dispensation. By his reference to the earnest expectation of the creature he means that it does not expect to remain in its present condition, but with us looks toward heaven and hopes for a resurrection from this degraded life into a better one where it will be delivered from the bondage of corruption, as he says later.

4. By these sayings Paul gives us to understand that all creation is to attain a perfection far beyond its present state where with us it must be subject to tyrants. These tyrants wantonly abuse our characters, our bodies, our property rights, just as the devil abuses our souls. But we must suffer our lot, remembering that mankind is captive on earth in the kingdom of the devil, and all creation with it. The earth must submit to be trodden and to be cultivated by many a wicked one, to whom it must yield subsistence.

Likewise is this submission true of the elements — air, fire, water — all creation having its cross, yet hoping for the end of the dispensation.

5. There is a refined and comforting perception in the apostle’s exposition where he represents the entire creation as one being, with us looking forward to entrance upon another life. We are satisfied that our present life is not all, that we await another and true life. Likewise the sun awaits the restoration coming to it, to the earth and all creatures, when they shall be purified from the contaminating abuse of the devil and the world.

6. And this condition is to come about when the children of God are revealed. True, they are God’s children on earth, but they have not yet entered into their glory. Similarly, the sun is not now in possession of its real glory, for it is subject to evil; it awaits the appointed time when its servitude shall cease. With all creation and with the true saints it waits and longs, being meanwhile subject to vanity — that is, the devil and the wicked world — for the sake of God alone, who subjects, yet leaves hope that the trial shall not continue forever.

7. We are children of God now on earth. We are blessed if we believe and are baptized, as it is written: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Mark 16:16. And again: “As many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12. Baptism is a visible rite and we behold with mortal vision those who receive it; the Word of the Gospel we hear, and we have in ourselves the witness of the Holy Spirit that our faith, however weak, is acceptable to God. But who among men recognizes us as children of God? Who will apply the term to a class imprisoned and tortured and tormented in every conceivable way, as if they were children of the devil, condemned and accursed souls?

8. Not without significance is Paul’s assertion that the glory of God’s children is now unmanifest but shall be revealed in them. In Colossians 3:3-4 he declares: “Ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.” So long as God’s children are here upon earth they are not arrayed in the garb of his own, but wear the livery of the devil. It would be fitting for the children of the devil to be bound, fettered and imprisoned and to suffer all manner of misfortune; but it does not so come to pass. They have the world’s pleasures. They are wealthy and powerful, have honor and money in plenty and withal bear God’s name and wear the garb of his children, as if having his approval. Meanwhile they regard us as heretics and enemies of God. Thus the rightful order of things is reversed: they who are God’s appear to be the devil’s, and the devil’s to be God’s.

This condition is painful to the pious. Indeed, heaven and earth and all creatures cry out in complaining protest, unwilling to be subject to evil and to suffer the abuse of the ungodly; to endure that dishonor of God that opposes the hallowing of his name, the extension of his kingdom and the execution of his will on earth as in heaven.

9. Because God’s children are thus unrevealed and denied their true insignia, all creation, as Paul says, cries out with them for the Lord God to rend the heavens and come down to distinguish his children from those of the devil. Considering the unrevealed state of God’s own on earth, the ungodly in their great blindness are not able to discern them. The doctrine of the righteous which magnifies God’s grace manifest in Christ is by the wicked termed error, falsehood, heresy and diabolical teaching. So Paul says the whole creation waits for the manifestation of the children of God.


John, also, says: “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him.” 1 John 3:2. That is, when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with his loved angels and we are drawn up into the clouds to meet him in the air, he will bring to God’s children a glory consistent with their name. They will be far more splendidly arrayed than were the children of the world in their lifetime, who went about in purple and velvet and ornaments of gold, and as the rich man, in silk. Then shall they wear their own livery and shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Such is the wonderful glory of the revelation that the radiant beauty of poor Lazarus who lay in wretchedness at the rich man’s gate surpasses all expectation.

Upon this topic, see Wisdom of Solomon, Song of Solomon 5:2ff.

10. The hope of this wonderful glory, Paul says, is ours and that of all creation with us, for creation is to be purified and renewed for our sakes.

Then will we be impressed with the grandeur of the sun, the majesty of the trees and the beauty of the flowers. Having so much in prospect, we should, in the buoyancy of our hope, attach little importance to the slight suffering that may be our earthly lot. What is it compared to the glory to be revealed in us? Doubtless in yonder life we shall reproach ourselves with the thought: “How foolish I was! I am unworthy to be called the child of God, for I esteemed myself all too highly on earth and placed too little value upon this surpassing glory and happiness. Were I still in the world and with the knowledge I now have of the heavenly glory, I would, were it possible, suffer a thousand years of imprisonment, or endure illness, persecution or other misfortunes. Now I have proven true that all the sufferings of the world are nothing measured by the glory to be manifested in the children of God.”

11. We find many, even among nominal Christians, with so little patience they scarce can endure a word of criticism, even when well deserved.

Rather than suffer from the world some slight reproach, some trifling loss, for the sake of the Gospel, they will renounce that Gospel and Christ. But how will it be in the day of revelation? Beloved, let us be wise now and not magnify our temporal sufferings; let us patiently submit to them as does creation, according to Paul’s teaching. We may imagine the earth saying: “I permit myself to be plowed and cultivated for man’s benefit, notwithstanding the Christians whom I bless are in the minority, the great mass of those profiting by me being wicked men. What am I to do? I will endure the conditions and permit myself to be tilled because my Creator so orders; meanwhile I hope for a different order eventually, when I shall no longer be subject to wickedness and obliged to serve God’s enemies.”

12. Peter also alludes to the new order of creation, saying: “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat… But according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:10 and 13. In other words: Here on earth men as a rule are dishonorable and wicked and obey not the will of the Lord God as it is done in heaven; but the day will come when only righteousness and holiness shall dwell on the earth — none but godly, righteous souls. As in heaven all is righteousness, the devil being banished, so on the last day, Satan and all the ungodly shall be thrust from the earth. Then will there be none but holy ones in both heaven and earth, who will in fullness of joy possess all things. These will be the elect.

This is Peter’s meaning in the words, “According to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Paul adds that all creation waits with us for the revelation, groaning and crying out in anguish.

13. But Paul protects the creature from condemnation and reproach for sinful submission to abuse. He says, in effect: “True, it is subject to vanity, yet not willingly.” Likewise I do not desire to suffer reproach as a heretic and a deceiver, but I endure it for God’s sake, who permits it. This attitude on my part does not make me partaker of the sin committed against me by enemies of the truth who reproach me. The case is the same as that of the creature suffering abuse for the sake of him who has subjected it. And you Christians are to imitate the example of creation. The sun seems to say: “Great God, I am thy creature; therefore I will perform, I will suffer, whatsoever is the divine will.” So when the Lord God sends upon you some affliction and says, “Endure a little suffering for my sake; I will largely repay it,” you are to say: “Yes, gladly, blessed Lord. Because it is thy will, I will suffer it with a willing heart.”


It also belongs to the consolation against suffering to be conscious that the suffering will not last forever, but will sometime have an end — on the day of judgment, when the godless shall be separated from the godly. For this life on earth is nothing else than a masquerade where people walk in masks, and one sees another different than he is. He who appears to be an angel is a devil, and those considered the children of the devil are angels and the children of our dear Lord. Hence it is that they are attacked, plagued, martyred and put to death as heretics and children of the devil.

This masquerade must be tolerated until the day of judgment; when the wicked will be unmasked and will no longer be able to pass as holy people.* The text now continues: “That the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” “[Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.]”

14. We Christians are not the only beings to receive deliverance, Paul declares; the creature in bondage has the same hope of release as the poor, enslaved human being. Sun, moon and every other created thing is captive to the devil and to wicked people, and must serve them in every form of sin and vice. Hence these sigh and complain, waiting for the manifestation of the children of God, when the devil and the ungodly shall be thrust into hell, and for all eternity be denied sight of sun and moon, the enjoyment of a drop of water or a breath of air, and forever deprived of every blessing.

15. So the apostle tells us, “Creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption.” In other words, creation must now subserve most shameful ends. Sun, moon and all creatures must be slaves to the devil and the ungodly because God so desires. He wills for his beautiful creation to lie at the feet of Satan and his adherents and to serve them for the present.

Likewise many a sensitive heart is compelled to obey a tyrant or a Turk because the Lord has imposed that servitude upon it. Some may even have to clean the Turk’s boots, or perform still more menial duties, and in addition suffer all sorts of indignities from that individual.

16. These words, “Creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption,” signify that all created things must until the final reckoning be servants and menials, not to the godly, but to the devil and wicked men.

Paul himself regards with pity the sun and other creatures because of their forced service to Satan and to tyrannical beings. The created works no more desire such servility than we desire subjection to the Turk.

Nevertheless, they submit and wait — for what? The glorious liberty of the children of God. Then shall they be released from slavery and be no longer bound to serve the wicked and worthless. More than that, in their freedom they will have a grandeur far in excess of their present state and shall minister only unto God’s children. They will be done with bondage to the devil. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”

17. Paul uses forcible language here. Creation is aware, he says, not only of its future deliverance from the bondage of corruption, but of its future grandeur. It hopes for the speedy coming of its glory, and waits with the eagerness of a maiden for the dance. Seeing the splendor reserved for itself, it groans and travails unceasingly. Similarly, we Christians groan and intensely desire to have done at once with the Turks, the Pope, and the tyrannical world. Who would not weary of witnessing the present knavery, ungodliness and blasphemy against Christ and his Gospel, even as Lot wearied of the ungodliness he beheld in Sodom? Thus Paul says that creation groaneth and travaileth while waiting for the revelation and the glorious liberty of the children of God.

18. “And not only so,” he adds, “but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” We pray, we cry with great longing, in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” meaning: “Help, dear Lord, and speed the blessed day of thy second advent, that we may be delivered from the wicked world, the devil’s kingdom, and may be released from the awful distress we suffer — inwardly from our own consciences and outwardly from the wicked. Afflict to the limit these old bodies of ours so long as we may obtain others not sinful, as these; not given to iniquity and disobedience; bodies that can never know illness, persecution or death; bodies delivered from all physical and spiritual distress and made like unto thine own glorified body, dear Lord Jesus Christ. Thus may we finally realize our glorious redemption. Amen.”

19. Paul uses a peculiar word here in the text, which we cannot render by any other in our language than “travail.” It carries the idea of pains and pangs such as a woman knows in childbirth. The mother’s ardent desire is to be delivered. She longs for it with an intensity that all the wealth, honor, pleasure and power of the world could not awaken. This is precisely the meaning of the word Paul applies to creation. He declares it to be in travail, suffering pain and anguish in the extremity of its desire for release.

But who can discern the anguish of creation? Reason cannot believe, nor human wisdom imagine, the thing. “It is impossible,” declares reason. “The sun cannot be more glorious, more pleasing and beneficent. And what is lacking with the moon and stars and the earth? Who says the creature is in travail or unwillingly suffers its present state?”

The writer of the text, however, declares creation to be weary of present conditions of servitude, and as eager for liberation as a mother for deliverance in the hour of her anguish. Truly it is with spiritual sight, with apostolic vision, that Paul discerns this fact in regard to creation. He turns away from this world, oblivious to the joys and the sufferings of earthly life, and boasts alone of the future, eternal life, unseen and unexperienced.

Thus he administers real and effectual comfort to Christians, pointing them to a future life for themselves and all created things after this sinful life shall have an end.

20. Therefore, believers in Christ are to be confident of eternal glory, and with sighs and groans to implore the Lord God to hasten the blessed day of the realization of their hopes. For so Christ has taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” May he who has commanded give us grace and strength to perform, and a firm faith in our future glory. Our faith is not to be exercised for the attainment of early riches, but as a means to bring us into another life. We are not baptized unto the present life, nor do we receive the Gospel as ministering to our temporal good; these things are to point us to yonder eternal life. God grant the speedy coming of the glad day of our redemption, when we shall realize all these blessings, which now we hear of and believe in through the Word.