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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. Where we go one, we go all.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve - 2013. Holy Communion, 7 PM Central Standard Time.

Circumcision and Name of Jesus
New Year’s Day

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 7 PM Central Time

The Hymn # 81 O Jesus Christ, Thy Manger Is          3:60
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 # 90                  Come, Your Hearts         3:83

 Christmas – The Story of Faith

The Hymn #119   Great God We Sing                        3:20
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 # 283           God’s Word                  3:90
Galatians 3:23-29
King James Version (KJV)
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Luke 2:21-40

King James Version (KJV)
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Christmas – The Story of Faith

Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law. It was the custom to give the baby a name at this time, and this Baby was already named by God through the angel – Jesus.
Jesus means salvation, and this word is found throughout the Psalms and many other places. In many places we can substitute Jesus the name for the term salvation and it makes perfect sense. In other words, God was preparing His people for His Son being salvation for His people.
And so we end prayers in the Name of Christ, as He taught us to pray. Notice that generic religion forbids this. People are urged at massive gatherings to bow their heads in silence (no prayer) and in one instance, to “pray to whatever God you believe in.” Those solemn words by the un-offending chaplain at the university was a tribute to polytheism – all gods being equal.
But believers pray to the one and only God, through Christ alone, not through any other agents.
Names are powerful. We get someone’s attention with that individual’s name, not with Hey You. And every soul has a name.  The naming of Jesus is a beautiful transition from the era of the Old Testament to the New Testament, something we take for granted.
God chose Paul to preach this transition, from the demand so of the Law to justification by faith. In fulfilling this Law, Joseph and Mary displayed their faith in God. Human reason could have made them think they and the Baby were above all that now, with so many divine Promises.
Human reason is not contrary to faith, but people often put reason above faith and judge faith through reason. They say, “I cannot believe this unless it is reasonable.”
The Christmas story is just the opposite. One miracle after another prompts the individual to acknowledge the effect of the Word – God has done this. Only He can work this way. I believe in His love and mercy as shown in the birth of His Son.
Yesterday I read the biography of Theodore Schmauk, a forgotten Christian leader. I was able to get a rare book in perfect condition for only $10. It was signed by an equally famous (at one time) leader – Luther D. Reed. When I was in seminary, everyone studied Luther Reed about worship. Now they study the guitar and bongo drums. Reed put his bookplate in the book – naming it as his book – and signed it.
When I was reviewing Schmauk’s life earlier, I was astonished by his whirlwind of accomplishments. That prompted to get the book to find out more. And I did. He lost his little sister due to her fragile health, and he spent most of his life going from one near fatal crisis to another.
When Schmauk was a nationally known leader and writer, he led a workshop in teaching Sunday School. He sat on a tiny chair (he was a very large man) and held his little audience of 5-6 year-olds in rapt attention. He was as lost in the story about Jesus as they were. His role was planting faith and building faith in the hearts of those children.
When I read some of his statements in his letters, it was like reading from the greatest works of the Christian leaders. He always connected the teaching of the Word with the work of the Holy Spirit, and that was how he conducted his life.
Lenski wrote long ago, “Programs come and go, but only one thing builds the Church – the Word of God.”
In contrast, I heard one highly visible church leader say, “Get baseball going. That is how we got all our new members, from the baseball tournaments.” I wondered how St. Paul would have responded to games as the foundation for the Kingdom of God. Doubtless it would have prevented the apostle from being driving out of towns, arrested, and facing capital punishing.
Reason says – forget troubles. Use tricks, hooks, and gimmicks to please people.
Luther saw this temptation, because the Reformation seemed to move in reverse after it went so well at first. If he had counted the numbers, as they do today, he would have given up. He even saw how his own people were letting false doctrine rise up and take over during his own life.
The question is not, “Are we successful because we look at results that please us?” but rather, “We trust that God’s Word will always achieve His purpose in powerful, effective way, but according to His time and His purpose.
Our tendency is to merge human reason with our emotions, a dangerous mix. It is more obvious among college students, who imagine that their experience trumps what someone might conclude from research and many decades of experience. Thus younger adults will say loudly what others say in a more subtle fashion – “You have upset me, so you must be wrong.”
This is where the Word takes our human reason and pitches it overboard. That reminds me of when I was going against a tiny guy in judo. Only he had a brown belt. I had him locked up until I suddenly (and effortlessly) became airborne, landing on the mat several feet away.
The Word says to us, “You thought God should work your way, but He chooses to work His way.”
Nothing says this better than the Savior born of a Virgin in a stable and honored only by poor working men at first. Various aspects of the birth of Christ make people stumble, as God intends. It may be a prophecy from centuries before. It may be the simple item of Virgin Birth.
I have known many different people, active in the church as leaders, who simply rejected the Virgin Birth of Christ. I had lunch with Herb Children, the former head of the ELCA. When he published on the topic, he changed it from the Virgin Birth to Christ being born of an unwed mother (factually wrong on two counts – Joseph and Mary were married, plus the denial of the Virgin Birth).
Methodists changed their hymn to reflect this rationalism – “Offspring of the Chosen One” instead of the offensive (to them) “Offspring of the Virgin’s Womb.”
The real offense – the Big Miracle – is God becoming man. What they are really saying is – Jesus is only a man. The Incarnation is the miracle of miracles, greater than Creation.
The Word teaches us this – because human reason cannot accept it. No one can prove it through reason and likewise any so-called proof based on reason will suffer from that weakness.
The Word is so powerful that we know its truth and experience it as well. The Nativity shows us how reason clings to salvation by works, but faith receives and enjoys the Promises of God,

Martin Luther's Sermon for New Year's . Circumcision and Name of Jesus.
Bethany Will Broadcast a New Year's Eve Holy Communion Service

Norma Boeckler

Luther's Sermon for NEW YEAR’S DAY. Luke 2:21

This sermon appears in the Erl. Ed. 10, 319; W. 11, 391; St. L. 11, 284.


Luke 2:21. And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him, his name was called Jesus, which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.



* A judgment on “Distributing the New Year”, as was done from the pulpit. 1.


1. How to rescue circumcision from the offense reason takes at it. a. The offense reason takes at circumsion. b. The rescue. 3-4.

2. The reason for circumcision a. The first reason, which is temporal. b. The second reason, which is spiritual. 6-9.

* Of natural depravity. 8-9.

3. Why God confined circumcision only to the male.

4. Why the rite had to be performed just on the eighth day. a. The first reason. 11-13. b. The second reason. c. The third reason.

5. Why the rite was not given also to the fathers, who lived before Abraham.

6. Why the rite was abolished in Christ.

7. Whether the rite is so abolished in the New Testament, that it is a sin to be circumcised.

* What is the nature of holy Baptism. 19.


1. Why Christ did not receive his name from the circumcision. 20ff.

* How and by what means Christ became lord over death and the law. 21-23.

* How and by what means believers become lords over death, law and sin. 24-26.

2. The spiritual meaning of the naming of the child.

1. It is the custom “to distribute the New Year” from the pulpit on this day, as if there were not enough other useful and salutary matter to preach, and it were necessary to present such useless fables in place of the Word of God, and to make a sport and disgrace of so serious an office. The Gospel requires us to preach on the circumcision and the name of Jesus; and this we will do!


2. First let us ask the wise woman, Dame Jezebel, natural reason: Is it not a foolish, ridiculous, useless command, when God demands circumcision?

Could he find no member of the body but this? If Abraham had here followed reason, he would not have believed that it was God who demanded this of him. For in our eyes it is such a foolish thing that there can scarcely be anything more absurd. The Jews had to endure great infamy and disgrace on account of it, were despised by everybody and treated as an abomination. Moreover, there is no use in it. What benefit is it, if the body is mutilated? Man is made no better by it, for everything depends upon the soul.

3. But such are all of God’s commandments and works, and such they are to be. In our eyes they appear most foolish, most contemptible, and most useless, in order that haughty Reason, who deems herself clever and wise, may be put to shame and blinded, and may surrender her self-conceit and submit to God, give him honor, and believe that whatever he appoints, is most useful, most honorable, and most wise, although she does not see it and thinks quite differently. If God had given a sign which would have been suitable to her and useful, wise, and honorable in her estimation, she would have remained in her old skin, would not have surrendered her haughtiness, would have continued in her custom of seeking and loving only honor, gain, and wisdom on earth, and so would have become ever more deeply rooted in worldly, temporal things. But now that he presents to her foolish, useless, and contemptible things, he tears her away from the seeking after gain, honor, and wisdom, and teaches her to regard only the invisible, divine wisdom, honor, and gain, and for its sake willingly to suffer the lack of temporal honor, gain, and wisdom, and to be a fool, poor, unprofitable, and despised for God’s sake. Therefore God was not concerned about the circumcision, but about the humiliation of proud nature and reason.

4. So we also have baptism in the New Testament, in order that we should be buried in the water, and believe that we are thereby cleansed from sins and saved; also, that Christ’s body is in the bread of the altar; also, that we worship the crucified man as Lord and God. All this is immeasurably far above, and contrary to, reason. So the works and words of God are all contrary to reason, and this, in turn, is also contrary to God and recoils at the sign that is spoken against. Before men it was a very foolish speech, when Noah built the ark and said, the world would be flooded. So Lot must needs have been a fool, when he said, Sodom and Gomorrah would perish. Moses and Aaron were fools before King Pharaoh. In short, God’s Word and his preachers must be fools, as St. Paul says, 1 Corinthians 1:21. In all this God seeks nothing but this humility, that man bring his reason into captivity and be subject to divine truth. Abraham and his seed received the foolish rite of circumcision, in order that by it they should give glory to God and suffer him alone to be wise.

5. Now circumcision was an external mark, by which God’s people were known in distinction from other nations; just as we see that every prince gives his people and army his standard and watchword, by which they are known among themselves and by which foreigners can tell, to what lord they belong. Thus God has never left his people without such a sign or watchword, by which it can outwardly be known in the world where his people are to be found. Jews are known by circumcision: that was their divine mark. Our mark is baptism and the body of Christ. Therefore the ancient fathers called these signs, characters, symbola, tesseras, that is, watchwords or standards, what we now call sacraments, that is, sacred signs. For where there is baptism, there certainly are Christians, be they where they will in the world. It matters not if they are not under the pope, as he claims; for he would like to make of himself a sacrament and a Christian watchword.

6. Let this be enough concerning the temporal reason for circumcision. We will now also look at the spiritual reason and its significance. First, why did he not command to circumcise a finger, hand, foot, ear, or eye, or some other member? Why did he select just that which in human life serves for no work or employment and which was created by God for natural birth and multiplication? If evil was to be cut off, then certainly the hand or the tongue, of all members, ought to have been circumcised: for by the tongue and hands all wickedness is perpetrated among men.

7. It is said that it was done for the reason, that evil lust manifests itself most in this member of the body; wherefore also Adam and Eve felt the disobedience of their flesh there, and sought a covering for their nakedness.

That is all true; but in addition to that it also signifies, as we are wont to say, that God does not condemn or save the person on account of his works, but his works on account of the person. Accordingly, our fault lies not in our works, but in our nature. The person, nature, and entire existence are corrupt in us because of Adam’s fall. Therefore no work can be good in us, until our nature and personal life are changed and renewed.

The tree is not good, therefore its fruits are bad.

8. Thus God has here taught every one, that nobody can become righteous by works or laws, and that all works and labors to become righteous and be saved are in vain, as long as the nature and person are not renewed.

You see now that, had he commanded to circumcise the hand or the tongue, this would have been a sign that the fault to be changed lay in the words or works; that he was favorable to the nature and person, and hated only the words and works. But now, in selecting that member which has no work except that the nature and personal existense arise thereby, he gives clearly to understand that the fault lies in the entire state of the nature, that its birth and its origin are corrupt and sin. This is original sin, or the sin of the nature, or the sin of the person, the truly chief sin. If this did not exist, there would neither be any actual sin. This sin is not done, like all other sins; but it exists, lives, and does all sins, and is the essential sin, that sins not for an hour or a season; but wherever and as long as the person exists.

9. God looks at this sin of the nature alone. This can be eradicated by no law, by no punishment, even if there were a thousand hells: but the grace of God alone, which makes the nature pure and new, must purge it away. The law only manifests it and teaches how to recognize it, but does not save from it; the law restrains only the hand or member, it cannot restrain the person and nature from being sinful; for in birth the nature has already anticipated the law, and has become sin before the law could forbid it. Just as little as it lies in one’s human power to be born and to receive natural existence, so little does it lie in his power to be without sin or to escape from it. He who has created us, he alone must take it away. Therefore he first gives the law, by which man recognizes this sin and thirsts for grace: then he also gives the Gospel and saves him.

10. In the second place, why does he command to circumcise males only, when nature and birth involve the woman also? The prophet also complains more of the mother than of the father, when he says, Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” It was surely done on account of Christ and his mother, because he was to come, and because it was possible that a natural man and person could be born of a woman without sin and natural intercourse. But in all conception from a man, the man sins as well as the woman, and sin on either side cannot be avoided. Therefore Christ willed not to be conceived of a man, in order that his mother also might not be under the necessity of sinning and of conceiving him in sin. Therefore he made use of her womanly flesh and body for natural birth, but not for natural conception, and was conceived and born a true man without sin. Since, therefore, it is possible that a pure, innocent birth, nature, and person may be derived from a woman; but from a man only a sinful birth, nature, and person; therefore circumcision was imposed upon males only, in order to signify that all birth from man is sinful and condemned, requiring circumcision and change: but that a birth derived only from a woman without a man, is innocent and uncondemned, requiring no circumcision or change. And here one may apply what John writes, in John 1:12-18: “To them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”—with the understanding that “the will of man” refers to birth from man. If it were possible now that more women could bear without men, these births would be altogether pure and holy; but this has been reserved for this one mother alone.

11. In the third place, why was it necessary to perform it on the eighth day?

Here again the sin of nature is indicated. For the poor babe has no actual sin of its own; nevertheless it must be circumcised and assume the sign of purification from sin. If he had commanded to circumcise after eight years, one might say it was done for sins committed and for the avoidance of future sins. But by commanding to circumcise on the eighth day he excludes both ideas, that it is done for sins committed and for the sake of future sins; without doubt, because a greater than any actual sin is born and ingrained in human nature.

12. But here it might be objected that Abraham and his servants and household were circumcised when they were grown and old, Genesis 17:23: therefore circumcision might signify actual committed sins. The answer is: Scripture anticipates and abolishes the idea that Abraham was justified by circumcision, for he was already justified of his sins when he received circumcision; for it is written in Genesis 15:6 that he was made righteous by his faith before his circumcision, when he was eighty years old or a little more, and circumcision he received when he was ninety-nine years old; so that circumcision was instituted almost twenty years after his justification. From this St. Paul, in Romans 4:11, concludes, against the Jews, that not circumcision, but faith without circumcision justifies, as Abraham’s example cogently shows. Therefore circumcision is not a putting off of sin, but a sign of such putting off, which is accomplished by faith alone, as was the case with Abraham. Therefore it demands, as in Abraham so in all men, faith, which removes the sin of nature and makes the person righteous and accepted.

13. If now Abraham’s faith had not been described before his circumcision, it would have been a certain sign of original sin in him, as it is in the case of children, whose faith is not described beforehand. The Scriptures have ordered it so, that Abraham first believed and afterwards was circumcised, and others were first circumcised and afterwards believed, in order that both truths might stand: first, that circumcision is only a sign of justification and nobody is justified by it; secondly, that faith justifies alone without the cooperation of circumcision, and therefore faith and its sign are clearly distinguished, to the discomfiture of the righteousness that trusts in works.

14. Perhaps the eighth day was also appointed for bodily reasons, in order that the babe might first grow stronger, lest it might appear that it had died from the circumcision, if it were circumcised directly after birth and had died from weakness.

15. But the spiritual significance is of greater importance. Seven days signify the time of this world until the last day, because this present time is measured by the week or seven days described in Genesis 1. The eighth day is the last day after the present time, when weeks, months, and years will cease, and there will be only an eternal day. On that day circumcision shall be fulfilled, when not only the soul, but also the body, shall be redeemed from sin, death and all impurity, and shall shine as the sun.

Meanwhile the soul is circumcised from sin and an evil conscience by faith.

16. So we see that the Scriptures in all places urge to faith, but only to faith in Christ. Therefore circumcision was not given by the law of Moses, nor to the fathers before Abraham, but to Abraham, to whom Christ, his seed, was promised for a blessing, so that the bodily circumcision might everywhere be in accord with the spiritual circumcision.

17. Why then has it ceased, if that same faith in Christ, to which it points, still remains? The answer is, God has always, from the beginning of the world to the end, maintained one faith in Christ; but he has not given only one sign of it. If all the signs which refer to faith remained, who could keep them? But since faith is inward and invisible, God has foreshadowed it to men by many external signs, in order that they might be incited to believe as by many examples, and has permitted each to continue for its time. How many signs did Moses alone do in Egypt and in the wilderness, which have all passed away and lasted during their time, and still were all signs of faith? So when God promised to Abraham the blessings in his seed and gave to him a sign of it, namely circumcision, it could not exist by virtue of that promise longer than the fulfillment of the promise. But when Christ, the blessed seed, came, the promise was finished and fulfilled; it was no longer to be expected. Therefore the sign also necessarily was finished and fulfilled; why should it continue any longer, when the promise on which it depended was finished? But that which it signified, faith, remains always, whether the promise with its sign passes away or remains.

18. Yet circumcision has not been abolished in such a way that it is sin to be circumcised, as St. Jerome and many others contend; but it has become free. If anybody wishes, he may circumcise himself, or not circumcise himself, as long as he does not act from the opinion, that it is necessary and commanded, or that the promise of God to Abraham is unfulfilled and still to be expected. For faith can endure none of these opinions. Therefore it does not depend upon the work, but upon the imagination and opinion of the one doing the work. If anybody circumcise himself with the same opinion with which he cuts his hair, beard, or skin, in love and service to another, he would not commit sin; for he would do it bound not by the law and by necessity of justification, nor against the fulfilled promise of God, but from free volition and his own choice, because the promise is fulfilled and the sign attached to it is finished.

19. Moreover, God never has had the custom of establishing a sign again, when once it has come to an end, but he has always instituted other new signs. So after the fulfillment of his promise, after the coming of Christ, he instituted for Abraham’s seed another new sign, namely, baptism. This indeed is the last sign to be instituted before the last day, because he instituted it in person. Nevertheless the same faith in Christ, which was in Abraham, abides always; for it knows neither day nor night, nor any outward transformation. This baptism has the same significance as circumcision, as is to be shown at the proper time.


20. Finally, it was the custom to give the child its name in circumcision, as we see here and in the instance of John the Baptist, to whom his name was also given in his circumcision. However, just as Christ was not obliged to be circumcised and this sign was empty in this case, so also his name had been given to him before by the angel, so that he did not obtain it by circumcision. This was done and is written, to the end that he should be altogether free from the law and from sin above all other men, and only serve us by submitting to the law and becoming like unto us in order to redeem us from it, as St. Paul said in the last Epistle: “He was born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law,” Galatians 4:4-5.

21. For when death fell upon him and slew him, and yet had no right or cause against him, and he willingly and innocently submitted and suffered himself to be slain: death became liable to him, did him wrong and sinned against him, and completely exposed itself, so that Christ has an honest claim upon it. Now the wrong which death became guilty of toward him, is so great that death can never pay nor atone for it. Therefore it must be subject to Christ and in his power forever: and so death is overcome and killed in Christ. Now Christ did not do this for himself, but for us, and has bestowed upon us this victory over death in baptism. Therefore all who believe in Christ must also be lords over death, and death must be their subject, nay, their criminal, whom they are to judge and execute; even as they do when they die and at the last day. For by the gift of Christ death has also become guilty to all those, who have received this gift from Christ.

Behold, this is the sweet and joyous redemption from death through Christ; these are the spiritual victories of Joshua over the heathen of Canaan, notably the five kings, upon whose necks the princes of Israel put their feet by his command, Joshua 10.

22. So also circumcision did Christ wrong, for he was not subject to it.

Therefore it is justly subject to him and he has power over it, has conquered it, and has granted to us, that it must cease and has lost its right over those who believe in Christ. He has released us from circumcision only by submitting to it innocently and by bestowing his right against it upon us.

23. Behold, this is putting Christ under the law, in order that he might redeem those who were under it. Galatians 4:5. Moreover, he has subjected himself to all other laws, to none of which he was bound, being Lord and God over all. Therefore they have all fallen into his power, have done him wrong, and must now justly be subject to him.

24. Now all this he has also given to us. Therefore if we believe in Christ, and the law would endeavor to punish us as sinners, and death would insist upon it, and try to drive the wretched conscience to hell; and if you then hold up to them in turn their sin and wrong, which they have done to Christ, your Lord: do you not suppose that they also shall be put to shame and be more afraid of you than you of them? Death shall feel its guilt and flee in disgrace; the law shall be compelled to give up its terror and smile friendly upon Christ. In this way sin must be banished by sin. The sins, which they have committed against Christ and now also against you on account of your faith, are greater than those which you have committed against them. In this case God, the just Judge, will not suffer that a great thief should hang a little one; on the contrary, if the great one is to be free, much more must the little one go free. Of this St. Paul says, Corinthians 15:55-57: “O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ; for death is swallowed up in victory.” Behold, is not this a precious redemption from the law through him, who innocently subjected himself to the law?

25. Praise God, what an exceedingly rich and mighty thing faith is! It indeed makes of man a god, to whom nothing is impossible, as Christ says, Mark 9:28: “If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth,” Therefore it is also said in Psalm 82:6: “Ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High.”

26. His name is rightly called on this day Jesus, that is interpreted, Savior: for Savior we call one who saves, redeems, brings salvation and is of help to everybody; this one the Hebrew language calls Jesus. So the angel Gabriel spoke to Joseph in sleep, Matthew 1:21: ‘She shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins.” Here the angel himself explains why he is called Savior, Jesus, namely, because he is help and salvation to his people. We have now heard how this comes to pass through faith, to which he gives all his right and possession, that he has over sin, death, and the law. He makes it righteous, free and blessed.

27. Now as circumcision signifies our faith, as we have heard: so the naming of children signifies that by faith we have a name and are known before God. For God knows none of those who do not believe, as is said in Psalm 1:6: “For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the wicked shall perish.” And in Matthew 25:12: “Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.” What then is our name? Doubtless as Christ gives us all that is his, so he also gives his name to us; therefore we are all called Christian from him, all God’ children from him, all Jesuses from him, all Savior from him, and whatever is his name, that also is ours; as St. Paul writes, Romans 8:24: “In hope were ye saved,” for ye are Jesuses or Saviors. Behold, there is therefore no measure to the dignity and honor of a Christian! These are the super abundant riches of his goodness, which he pours out upon us, so that our heart may be free, joyous, peaceable, and unterrified; and willingly and cheerfully keep the law. Amen.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Thrivent Planned Parenthood Post Is Leading for the Week - Phenomenal Views in Two Days,
But Ichabod Has Covered This Topic for Years

A WELS pastor, Mark/Avoid Jeske, sits on the Thrivent board of directors,
but this is not an issue for WELS,
according to the Zen philosophy of Jim Huebner, WELS VP and Fuller Alumnus.


If you graduated from Mequon - the blue lettering means you can click on the link and get the post. I often use embedded links because they make additional research easy.

Maybe the Heretics Will Lighten Up about Being the Objects of Satire -
From LutherQueasy
The Great Kidnapper Has Spoken the Final Word on This Topic

There is no love like that of one UOJ fanatic for another.

Rick Strickert (Carlvehse)
Senior Member
Username: Carlvehse

Post Number: 4321
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 3:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Here is Rev. Joel R. Baseley's translation of an article, "Ist es erlaubt, die Gegner der Wahrheit lächerlich zu machen und ihrer Irrthümer zu spotten?" ("Is it Allowed to Make Fun of Opponents of the Truth and to Ridicule Their Heresies?") published by C.F.W. Walther in Der Lutheraner, Vol. 4, No. 5, November 4, 1847, p. 40. The article is basically excerpts from a 1656 letter to the Jesuits by Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), a French Roman Catholic mathematician, physicist, inventor of the first mechanical calculator, writer, and Christian philosopher. Here the article is broken up into paragraphs for readability:
Pascal (Cf. the article on him in The Lutheran III, 13) writes: "There is a great distinction between one’s ridiculing religion and ridiculing those who profane it by their weird ideas. It would be ungodly if the truths which the Spirit of God has revealed would not be given the respect due them. But it would also be ungodly if disrespect were not shown to the untruths placed against them by the human spirit. – The verities of our religion have two properties, a divine beauty which makes them beloved and a divine majesty which makes them honored; and heresies have two corresponding characteristics, impiety, which makes them despicable and impertinence, which makes them ridiculous.

Therefore just as saints always experience love and fear for the truth, so they also hate and despise heresy, and they just as zealously labor to powerfully repel the evil of godless, as to also quell their heresy and folly with mockery.

So do not hope, my fathers (the Jesuits), to convince the world that it would be unworthy of a Christian to treat heretics with mockery, since it is easy to show those who do not know it that this method is just, since it is common in the church fathers and from the holy Scripture through the examples of the greatest saints, and approved by God himself.

For don’t you see that God both hates and despises sinners as a whole, that in the hour of death, when their condition is most miserable and tragic, divine wisdom will add mockery and derision to his vengeance and wrath, which will condemn them to eternal damnation: "You refuse all my counsel and do not want my rebuke, so I also will laugh at your disaster and mock you when you arrive at what you fear." Prov. 1.25-26. And saints, moved by the same Spirit, do the same, since they, according to David, when someday they see the evil punished, will both tremble and laugh about it "The righteous will see and fear, and they will laugh at him." Ps. 52,6.

And Job even says this: "The righteous will see it and be glad, and the innocent his mockers." Job 22.19. The prophets, filled with the Holy Ghost also employed such mockery, as we see in the examples of Daniel and Elijah. Love sometimes compels to laughter over the heresies of people in order to move they themselves to laughter and to depart from them."

Tertullian: There are many things that must be mocked and ridiculed so they are not battled as something serious, as if they had significance. Nothing serves vanity better than to make fun of it. And laughter and derision of its foes is actually fair and appropriate for truth that is happy and sure of victory. It’s true that care must be taken that the mockery is not borne of jealousy or truth would be cheapened. But as this is settled, it is a duty to put this into practice if one is equipped to do so.

Augustus: "Who may assert that the truth must remain unarmed against the lie and that it would be allowed enemies of the faith to cower believers with strong words and to frighten them with godless insinuations while the orthodox would only be allowed a dispassionate style that would put their reader to sleep?"
One can read another translation of Pascal's entire August 18, 1656, Letter XI, "Ridicule a fair weapon when employed against absurd opinions-Rules to be observed in the use of this weapon-The profane buffoonery of Fathers LeMoine and Garasse," in The provincial letters of Blaise Pascal: a new translation, with historical introduction and notes (Blaise Pascal, Thomas M'Crie, Edinburgh:J. Johnstone, 1847, pp. 167-184) or in the original French in Les lettres provinciales de Blaise Pascales lettres provinciales de Blaise (Longmans, Green & Company, 1920, pp. 121-134).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Words of Wisdom from David Virtue

PB Katie destroying The Episcopal Church
will not help anything.

Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby Face Enormous Hurdles in a Post-Christian World 
Can they succeed in reaching Millenials for Christ?


By David W. Virtue DD
December 27, 2013

By any standard, the challenge facing both Western Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church in the coming decade is how and who will reach Millenials for Jesus Christ.

With mainline Protestant denominations in the US and Canada aging and dying, and having played out liberal Protestantism to its logical conclusion - a total loss of transcendence and an attendant focus on social issues - a whole generation has been lost to the gospel.

Evangelicalism in America has become so vapid and lightweight it is little more than a sentimental repetition of Bible verses, bad "Christian" TV, and simplistic choruses that fail to touch the deepest roots of the angst that Millenials presumably feel when they are alone with nothing but their thoughts.

I know whereof I speak. I have a nephew who is an American None. He believes in nothing. No, he is not an angry atheist -- that would take hard work. He is not even an agnostic, because that presumes he knows enough to care about what he does or does not believe. He is not a bad person. He abides by the law. He has never had so much as a speeding ticket. He is not a skeptic about religion. He is not against religion nor is he against Jesus. He quite simply sees no point in believing anything that does not touch him. Cajoling him about his need of a Savior doesn't touch him. He has never taken drugs. He doesn't drink. He has a job; he is not interested in marrying or having children. He simply exists from day to day, mindlessly going through life as though nothing really matters. He is probably depressed but denies it. He watches sports on a large TV screen with his friends, goes out on the town with his friends, and then, when they all get bored they go their separate ways. He can be induced into having sex with a girl but there is no sense of commitment to her or to marriage. He rents because he doesn't want the angst of owning a house and paying a mortgage because he might lose his job and then lose the home. He has seen enough of his friends already getting divorced so he says he will never marry even though he is 38. He has no ticking clock because he never wants children. He works out to keep his body fit, but doesn't know why. It fills in a few hours each week. He is alone and doesn't care. He is the new American male.

He is not alone. I am told there are literally millions of American men like him. He is one of the reasons women are angry that they can't find a husband, because men like my nephew won't make a commitment to anything or anybody for very long. 

I have also met better-educated Millenials with better paying jobs, but the mentality is just the same. They are not interested in committing themselves to a woman because they are now so wealthy that they fear losing it in the event of a divorce. Some of these men are nominal Catholics, but their faith means nothing. They go to church only when their parents insist, but it leaves them feeling empty. Secular Jews I meet are no different or better. They maybe smarter, more aggressive in business, but when it comes to religion they have none. If they observe the high holy days, it is at the insistence of parents, but for them, it means nothing. They too are Nones. To all intents and purposes God is dead. They are not even waiting for Godot...and so for Millenials, Christianity and Judaism are quite simply irrelevant. Some of them believe in something called "spirituality", but they don't really know what it means. They don't believe in Oprah or Jesus, care little for politics, and could not care less if you are Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, or Baptist. They simply don't care.

Let me be absolutely clear. Nones are not bad people. They don't go around breaking the law; they hold down jobs; they save money; but they are committed to NOTHING spiritually. That is the tragedy.

What I want to know is: who and how is someone going to reach my nephew and the millions of other men (and women) like him for Christ? I have been praying for my nephew for more than a quarter of a century to no avail. I once told him I had been praying for him for over three decades and he simply said, "Well it hasn't done much good has it?" He wasn't mad or disappointed. It was simply an observation. He was not trying to hurt me. He just simply didn't see the point.

can tell you this. Billy Graham crusades won't touch Millennials, neither will ALPHA courses. Mega churches won't touch them, either. Bishops who wear pointy hats and clergy in collars leaves them unmoved. They are way too cynical for the health and wealth prosperity gospel they see and hear on TV. Islam sends them flying to the hills. Death and destruction on TV leaves them unmoved when it happens in real life. They have seen so much of it on television that it now leaves them cold. Watching Aleppo (in Syria) being bombed might just as well be a scene from a movie. For them, Jesus does not save. They don't even know what the questions are.

The raw naked truth is that virtually nobody has a handle on reaching a generation of men and women who have no denominational loyalty, no sense of sin, no apparent fear of God, and no apparent real need of God or a savior.

If you think I exaggerate, go to any local bar and start talking to men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Ask them what makes them really tick. It might be money, it might be sex or sports, for a few it might be power. One thing it won't be is fear of God, or judgment or eternity without Christ.

Enter two new religious leaders.

First on the scene is an evangelical Anglican, Archbishop Justin Welby, an ALPHA convert who came by it honestly through family tragedy. He is not a None. (Rowan Williams was staggeringly irrelevant not only to the Anglican Communion but to anyone without faith.) Welby really believes in Jesus. There is no doubt about his own personal conversion and, like St. Paul, he wants to spread the word. To date he has not been very successful. He is flip flopping on (homo)sexuality issues (most Nones really don't care about what sexual preference you like or have) so he is coming across as weak and insecure.

Ninety percent of the British public could not care less about the Church of England and, if Archbishop George Carey is right, the CofE won't be around in 25 years anyway. Disestablishment might hold off disintegration for a while, perhaps even jump start things, but don't hold your breath. Death is in the air for the Church of England. You can smell it. Islam is quietly growing and become more insistent in its demands with each passing year in the British Isles. They will not be stopped. The whole homosexual enterprise and drive is nothing more than the bankrupt end of a dying decrepit church. Pansexuality saves no one and nothing.

Next on the scene is a Global South leader in the person of Pope Francis. To no one's surprise, the election of Pope Francis was selected as the year's No. 1 religion story by the journalists in the Religion Newswriters Association, with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI being the No. 2 story. Pope Francis was also named "Religion Newsmaker" of the Year.

This humble man has shown that he wants a church focused on mission, that keeps Catholic doctrine but with a renewed commitment to mercy and pastoral care for the poor, the powerless and those of little or no faith. He wants to build a church defined by its actions, not just by words, as one commentator noted. He lambastes the rich, feels for the poor, practices humility and will probably pick up a Nobel Prize for peace at least once in his life time. 

Fair enough. But will that jump start Millenials who don't give a damn about doctrine. They have heard, seen and been inundated with calls to give money to more organizations than you can swing a cat at. They have been solicited by organizations ranging from the Salvation Army to the ASPCA and everything in between and they are inured to it. Reaching out with a helping hand works for healthy seniors and retirees with money and time on their hands, but it won't move Millenials.

For all his humility, honesty and love of the poor, admiration for this man will temper over time because the culture, already in free fall, will catch up with him and ultimately sideline him. Mainstream media will get bored with him. Pansexualists will rise up to call him homophobic because they will discover that he really hasn't changed his or his church's teaching on sexuality. They will quickly discard him.

There is no William Buckley with his cool Catholic intellectualness or a Cardinal Sheen capable of jumpstarting faith in Millenials waiting in the wings.

Orthodox Protestant soteriological differences with Rome won't touch Millenials. That day is gone.

So the question must be asked, what will jump start Millenials in North America and Western Europe to faith in Jesus Christ?

There are seeds of hope. Small non-denominational storefront churches are reaching out to Millenials with some success, but they are few and far between. Pastors of these churches I talk to have to work through layers and layers of fundamentalism, fear, abuse, and rejection before they get to first base with the faith. The few they reach are drops in the bucket, but they are drops.

Christian therapists I talk to spend hours with Millenials untangling horror stories of faith once believed, then lost, and now hated.

Is revival possible? Can there be a revival without the ground work being laid first? Perhaps. Or is it, as one theologian wrote, "I am so weary of the tyranny of the gay lobby. I fully expect physical persecution from this quarter soon. What accounts for the sudden contagion in so many societies? It can't be nature all of a sudden. It has to be a moral plague as a result of psychological susceptibility to Satanic suggestion exerted culturally with enormous persuasive force in a blind and godless world."

But then he said something that scared me. "Divine restraint is being withdrawn [in the land] and horrible violence and inhumanity will inevitably ensue. Government and media and worthless celebrities are ensnared in the deceit. I tremble." And so will Millenials. Perhaps then and only then will the fear of the Lord be the beginning of wisdom.


Working on Broadcasting Problem - May Have Solution

We lost connections four times and could not broadcast this Sunday.

I had some fairly quick responses from Ustream and received some tutoring from Little Ichabod, plus comments from our retired broadcaster in Michigan.

Ustream's position is that I need more bandwidth, so I phoned Cox. They doubled it for $11 more a month.

That is the easiest and fastest fix. There are a few tricks in getting more data out the door, besides even more bandwidth. I am checking into those as well.

A New Low Standard in Websties - Illuminati or WELS?

Bad everything. That is their grey type - not my fault. The Bible is well represented in the Confessions! I did not know that.


This seal was designed for Martin Luther and is probably the most 
well-known Lutheran logo.
This seal was designed for Martin Luther and is probably the most well-known Lutheran logo.
Illumine Church follows the Bible first and foremost. We find that the teachings of the Bible are well represented in the Lutheran Confessions (or here). These documents were prepared in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. Undeniably, life is not the same today as it was in Germany in the 1500s, but fortunately for all of us, God remains the same forever. The truths of grace and love and redemption and the practical wisdom for life that God has given us through his word are just as real and useful as they were when Christians 500 years ago sat down to summarize them so that God's people could see them more clearly.