Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Record - 102,000 Page-Views in March, 2013.
Beats Last Year's Record by 33%.



Late last year, a month with 75,000 page-views was quite impressive. That happened when WELS honored the Reformation by excommunicating a pastor and expelling a congregation for fidelity to justification by faith.

March saw steady viewing of 3,000 to 4,000 pages per day.

Cyberbrethren (Paul McCain) went on hiatus from plagiarizing the Church of Rome and the blogs of his friends. HT to one of those friends.

Some traffic may be due to people wondering when WELS will face the music about a certain situation that SP Mark Schroeder knows all about.

A Request from Your Planned Giving Counselor - Thrivent Salesman


Corruption in the Church in India.
VirtueOnline - News

VirtueOnline - News:

CHENNAI, India: Corruption Stalks Church of South India 
Fifteen out of 21 Anglican bishops said to be corrupt according to Central Intelligence Authorities
Nearly two million dollars given for Tsunami victims by The Episcopal Church that were siphoned off reveal tip of financial corruption


Special Report

By David W. Virtue in Chennai 
www.virtueonline.org 
March 27, 2013

Nearly two million dollars given by Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), the social service arm of The Episcopal Church, for victims of the 2004 Tsunami never got to those for whom it was intended. A Church of South India General Secretary diverted a third of the money to a private clinic run by her medical daughter, a Dr. Beneta.

The money was supposed to have gone to fishermen who lost their boats following giant earthquake driven Tsunami waves that killed 155,000 people and decimated the fishing industry. Money was given to rebuild their homes and to buy new fishing boats destroyed by the 50 foot waves. They received minimal sums of money for boats but nothing for reconstructing their lives and homes.

This is just one of numerous stories of a decades-long history of corruption in the Church of South India that has left Christians cynical that change is possible and good order can ever be restored to the biggest Protestant Church in India. One Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) detective (the equivalent of the FBI) says that the problem remains so widespread in the Church of South India that as many as 15 of the church's 21 bishops have been tainted by corruption over the years.

Major J. Victor, an Anglican lay activist, General Secretary, Laity Association of CSI and whistle blower who has railed against corruption of the Church of South India for years, sat down with VIRTUEONLINE in Chennai. He told the story of corruption that has riddled his Church, resulting not only in fines and jail time for crooked bishops, but a weakened witness for the gospel while bishops grew fat on money from Anglican agencies abroad including The Episcopal Church.

"What has been going on here for at least a decade is unconscionable, unbiblical and has undermined the gospel enterprise. The Anglican Church has not grown because of the corruption, while Assemblies of God, Pentecostal churches and other denominations have flourished." According to Victor, many members of CSI pay a nominal sum to keep their membership in the church for the sake of baptism, marriages and burial while they attend other churches on a weekly basis and give their tithing to them.

Corruption has emanated from the highest levels of the church - its bishops - with charges of tax fraud, cronyism, nepotism, money hijacked from land deals, hospital fraud, stolen Tsunami funds, vote buying, and much more.

Despite new and ongoing revelations, corruption remains endemic in the Indian church, Victor charges. One state investigator alleges that 15 of the CSI's 21 bishops are tainted by corruption. "At one point in 2010, I told Suzanne Parks, an assistant to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, about the corruption in the CSI but nothing was done. This was a shocking abdication of responsibility," added Victor.

The whistle blower showed VOL hundreds of pages of documents and files detailing decades of corruption. Some of it led to legal action with charges and arrests brought against bishops resulting in protracted law suits, court battles with the bishops slipping through the legal system owing to corrupt judges bribed by the bishops. "There is not one case the bishops have won in the law courts, what they have succeeded in doing is delaying the legal process by years to prevent final judgment," said Victor.

"Over the years, I estimate that as much as $4 million dollars has been stolen by bishops who then purchased expensive new foreign cars, built multi-level homes and lined their own pockets," Victor told VOL.

Most of the bishops come from the despised Dalit classes, India's poorest who suffer from poor self esteem. Christianity has brought them wealth from old colonial British days via money left in properties that the bishops now hold in trust and can dispose of without any accountability. It is their ticket out of poverty. Psychologically, many are still trapped in deep feelings of inferiority. For the Dalit class, money is a way to climb out of the deep personal self-judgment they feel. Dalits are not respected like Brahmins, India's ruling class. When judgment in the courts or by police looks like it is going against them, they play the Dalit card, said Victor.

"That is no excuse for taking money and misusing it for personal reasons. It goes against the gospel and it results in widening ripples of corruption that never gets fully resolved and only weakens evangelistic efforts of the church," said Victor.

BISHOP DEVERAJ BANGERA

As recently as March 20, The Times of India reported that a former Karnataka Southern (CSI-KSD) Diocesan Bishop Devaraj Bangera was sentenced to three years simple imprisonment and fined $275.00 in a case relating to forgery and cheating on his birth certificate. Bangera was given bail.

The case pertained to the former Bishop allegedly forging his birth certificate in order to secure an additional year's tenure as bishop. Bangera was the CSI Bishop from 2005 to 2009. He retired after reaching 65, the superannuation age in the church. Bangera filed a suit in the civil court contending that he was born a year later (1945) and therefore had one more year of tenure as CSI Bishop, but the fifth additional civil court (junior division) dismissed it.

A private complaint was filed by advocate Chandrahas K at the Second CJM court based on the initiative of Udayaraj Kaunds, now the treasurer of CSI-KSD - after they found out that Bangera had allegedly indulged in financial irregularities.

STOLEN TSUNAMI FUNDS

Perhaps the most egregious of corrupt acts and the rip off of the decade occurred in 2009 when detectives from the Central Crime Branch of the Madras police arrested the former General Secretary of the Church of South India (CSI), Dr. Pauline Sathiamurthy, on charges of stealing almost $1.5 million of the $3,340,000 million donated by Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) to the CSI to help in relief efforts following the 2004 tsunami.

Dr. Sathiamurthy is the daughter of the former moderator of the CSI and Bishop in Tiruchi-Thanjavur, Dr. Solomon Doraisawmy. Sathiamurthy, her husband, daughter and nephew were arrested on October 13, 2009 following a 10-month investigation by police. The thefts came to light in 2007 when the Rev. Moses Jayakumar was appointed General Secretary of the CSI succeeding Dr. Sathiamurthy. After assuming office, the Rev. Jayakumar found that Dr. Sathiamurthy had ignored a request for an accounting for the funds from ERD and that ERD had cut off further funding pending an audit.

Ironically, Victor told VOL that he himself travelled to New York in 2009-2010 and confronted Robert W. Radtke, ERD President. Victor berated him for blithely handing over millions of dollars instead of giving it in smaller sums with frequent accountability of how it was being spent. "I told him that he was an absolutely irresponsible man. The Episcopal Church lost millions in this Tsunami crime."

(This is not the first time The Episcopal Church has lost millions of dollars. VOL documented the loss of over $1.5 million to the Anglican Church of Mexico in 2004 when an archbishop and bishop absconded with TEC funds never to be heard from again.)

The CSI asked retired Madras High Court Judge J. Kanagaraj to head the committee charged with investigating the theft. Mrs. Sathiamurthy declined to cooperate, but Judge Kanagaraj found that she had appointed her husband to oversee the construction of houses built for survivors of the tsunami, with her daughter (Dr. Benita) to head up medical relief efforts, and her nephew to serve as a liaison officer for tsunami rehabilitation work - all at inflated salaries running into the tens of thousands of rupees over and above their regular salaries. An estimated $1.4 million was spent on air conditioned cars and computers that went to the bishops along with medical equipment for her private clinic.

In December 2008, the Rev. Jayakumar was forced to turn Judge Kanagaraj's report over to the police. The Synod appointed Mr. Rozario to serve as the church's attorney in the affair. The police began a criminal investigation and arrested Dr. Sathiamurthy. She was subsequently released on bail and has since disappeared.

Following the election of the Bishop in Karnataka Central Diocese, S. Vasanthakumar became the Moderator of the CSI in January 2010 and promptly replaced Mr. Rozario as the church's attorney. 

Bishop Vasanthakumar, who was the subject of corruption and abuse of office claims and whose election as moderator was marred by accusations of vote buying, was serving as Deputy Moderator of the CSI when the Tsunami funds were stolen.

Under Bishop Vasanthakumar, the CSI declined to press the police to track down Dr. Sathiamurthy and recover the stolen funds. With Mr. Rozario's return to office, anti-corruption activists hope new interest will be shown by the church in resolving the scandal. [Partial source for this section comes from CEN]

KANCHIPURAM HOSPITAL

At a Church of South India hospital, an audit revealed financial misappropriation of hospital funds, cash, medical equipment, and unpaid drug bills all running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions of rupees) by the Nursing Superintendent. Among the charges are fraudulent bills submitted for baby packs with bills in the name of the superintendent's husband, submitted and paid "to keep her happy." Funds for the CSI's polio center were given to repay personal loans along with bogus bills. Vital documents that would have revealed even more corruption have been destroyed by fire. VOL has seen the audited statement prepared and submitted by the audit company, Messrs R. Krishnakumar and Associates, running to 200 pages. This audited report was hushed up and was never given to the Synod or Income Tax department.

BISHOP CHRISTOPHER ASIR

Corruption charges against Bishop Christopher Asir of Madurai-Ramnad were brought by the Indian government for tax fraud. The District Revenue Collector of Madurai charged the bishop with being part of a criminal ring that defrauded the diocese of $1,400,000 by selling college land and pocketing the proceeds. The bishop died in February 2012 before he could be indicted.

As part of the same charges, an Indian court in October of 2012 overturned the appointment of the head of the Church of South India's American College, arguing that the now deceased bishop in Madurai-Ramnad had colluded with his son-in-law to engineer the younger man's appointment as principal.

As a result of a lawsuit brought by a member of the staff, Justice Vinod Kumar Sharma quashed the appointment of M. Davamani Christopher as principal of the church-owned college. The court accepted the petitioner's claim that the bishop and his son-in-law had created a search committee composed of their cronies and had participated in subsequent board meetings "without revealing the fact that Mr. Christopher had applied to the post of Principal as early as February 21, 2011. It is clear proof of collusion between the two."

Bishop Asir was elected bishop in Madurai-Ramnad in 2003. He was also elected deputy moderator of the CSI in 2008. In 2010, he stood for election as Moderator, but lost by 8 votes.

TAX AUTHORITIES RAID CSI CHURCH

Recently, Income Tax authorities raided a CSI church in Coumbatore following a complaint by a member from that diocese saying that a church member had sold the church property and received a kick back for the sale. The sale money was not accounted for properly. A complaint was sent to the Moderator regarding the sale requesting that action be taken against the church member. The complainant also warned the Moderator that if he failed to take action, the Income Tax Authorities would be informed. It is not unusual for Moderators not to take action. It was later learned that the Moderator was hand in glove with the sale.

THE MADRAS DIOCESAN TRUST ASSOCIATION SCANDAL (MDTA)

For 200 years, the St. Georges Cathedral Trust functioned under the Madras High Court by established law. The properties in and around St. Georges Cathedral are also vested in their Custody. They have proof of ownership (patta) in their name. They produced the encumbrance certificate for a period of 100 years. Bishop Devasahayam, using dubious methods, obtained proof of ownership (patta) for four properties in the name of MDTA. The cathedral trustees to the Collector (head of revenue) of Chennai challenged this. After a prolonged and thorough Official Commission of enquiry, an order by the revenue division (DRO) was issued blaming MDTA for resorting to unfair means in order to obtain these pattas illegally and they cancelled them. "This is a serious crime and can be charged under the Land Grabbing Act punishable by imprisonment and a criminal case can also be filed in the Madras High Court. The Bishop tried to shift the blame on a diocesan Property officer who has since died," said Victor.

The question arises, how is it possible that a low level official in the diocese without the approval of the property committee for which the bishop himself is the chairman could have done this. When it came to the notice of the bishop, the question was why did he not rectify the mistake immediately. Instead, he argued at the Enquiry commission that he was right. However, the collector said what he did was wrong and illegal.

THE CSI NAGARI HOSPITAL SCANDAL

The importation of medical equipment worth $1.2 million from Dr. William Thomas Haywood, an American for the CSI Nagari Hospital, resulted in a huge scandal when it was learned that the equipment was undervalued at the time it was imported.

In order not to pay taxes on the full $1.2 million, the equipment was declared to be worth only $1,800.00. The CSI Laity Association made a formal complaint to the commissioner of Customs who did not take action for over two years. Subsequently, under pressure, through the CBI, he was forced to act. At the end of a through inquiry lasting six months, the final order was issued resulting in the CSI having to pay $555,000 to compensate for tax evasion. For the personal involvement in this criminal act, Bishop Devasagayam and the Medical Superintendent Dr. Sundar both had to pay personal fines of nearly $100,000 each. It is still pending in the courts.

CSI TRUST ASSOCIATION CONFRONTED BY REGISTRAR OF COMPANIES

A 19-page report by the Registrar of Companies (ROC) of the CSI Trust in Chennai revealed multiple lapses in poor administration practices and corruption of land dealings.

No satisfactory response was given to the allegations so the ROC issued 19 show cause notices to all the trustees of the CSITA prior to filing criminal prosecution charges.

Hundreds of complaints with documentary evidence were presented to the Officers of the Synod that included complaints against Bishop Devakadasham, the moderator from Kaniakumari, some 500 miles south of Chennai. Bishop Devasirvatham was also involved in shady land sales and is in deep trouble himself.

THE MEDAK HOSPITAL SCANDAL

An ex treasurer of the synod and a retired deputy secretary to the Govt. of Tamilnadu was authorized by the CSI to study and give a report on the feasibility of starting a medical college in Dichpally in the state Andhra Pradesh about 30 miles from Hyderabad.

The project was deemed unwise and not in the church's best interest. However, then Bishop of Medak and Moderator CSI Bishop Suganthar forced it through using his position and money. Bishop Devasagaym, MDTA chairman, went along with the project and gave written authorization for 450 acres of land in Dichpally to be registered under the MDTA so that Suganthar could use it for the project. He gave no reasons. People said his motives were to start a medical college to help the poor, but to start it he collected capitation fees from each student ranging from $80,000 to $90,000. 

To have a medical college, he needed a training hospital attached to it, so he constructed one with a loan of $700,000 from the banks. He got the loan and constructed the hospital building.

He then got permission to start the college from the Medical Council of India. When a special MCI team was sent on a surprise check of the hospital and college, they found they did not have qualified staff. They were cheating the MCI by having a few medical college students around pretending to be the paid doctors of the hospital. Some pastors and teachers were forced to fill the hospital beds by granting them three days leave. When the MCI discovered this, they canceled their permission to run the college. On appeal, the students were accommodated in different government run medical colleges. The government also froze a deficit of $700,000.

The bishop then tried to bring in his family members to sell both properties to another medical group. The buyers of the property were dissuaded from buying the properties after the fact that they would lose their complete investment was pointed out to them. Today, the property lies fallow. The bank that advanced the loan is pressuring for an auction so they can recover their money.

The bishop was never brought up on any charges by CSI. He has been given his pension.

BISHOP MEDAK SUSPENDED FOR CORRUPTION

The Church of South India's Bishop in Medak, the Rt. Rev. T. Samuel Kanaka Prasad, was suspended for corruption by the Synod Executive Committee nine months ago in June of 2012.

In a letter to the bishop dated 9 June 2012, the Moderator of the CSI, Bishop G. Devakadasham, stated the Synod Executive Committee had voted on 24 April for suspension in the face of prima facie evidence of corruption, but had been unable to enforce the decision due to a court order blocking the decision secured by Bishop Prasad. However, when the order lapsed on 5 June, the Executive Committee was free to enforce its decision, and ordered Bishop Prasad to step aside, the moderator said.

Bishop Prasad is the second bishop this year to be disciplined by the CSI. On 9 January 2012, the moderator announced that the trial court for bishops had deposed the Bishop in Coimbatore, the Rt. Rev. Manickam Dorai, for corruption. His properties have since been frozen and seized by the government.

One of India's wealthiest dioceses, the Hyderabad-based Medak diocese, has witnessed legal and physical fights between the bishop and his opponents. On 10 June 2012, the Deccan Chronicle reported that police were called out to separate the bishop's men from anti-corruption activists who rallied for Bishop Prasad to go.

In his letter to Bishop Prasad, the Moderator accused him of "not functioning and discharging the responsibilities of Bishop of CSI Medak Diocese in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of the CSI, the directions of the Synod or its Executive Committee and the Council of Bishops.

"In particular it was brought to the notice of the Executive Committee that you are misusing your position as Bishop, acting as attorney of the CSITA even after the lapse of the power of attorney and committing various illegalities in the administration, supervision and preservation of the properties of the Church. The members expressed shock and anxiety over the same and demanded immediate action against you by the Synod."

Following Bishop Prasad's suspension, the Executive Committee appointed CSI Deputy Moderator Bishop G. Dyvasirvadam of Krishna Godavari as Moderator's Commissary for Medak. A nine-member administrative committee, led by a retired Director General of Police, has been charged with auditing the diocese's books.

In addition to accusations of financial malfeasance, Bishop Prasad has been charged with violating canon and civil corporate law. In 2011 Bishop Prasad banned his opponents from standing for election to the diocesan council and waived rules that forbade sitting council members from serving more than two consecutive terms - subsequently producing a council composed of the bishop's cronies.

The CSI General Synod refused to recognize the election and attempted to block the seating of the diocese's delegates at its January meeting to elect a new primate. However, Bishop Prasad was able to secure a court order allowing his men to be seated at the 33rd meeting of Synod.

The anti-corruption pressure group, the CCC [Christ-Centered Coalition] based in Bangalore, applauded the Synod's decision to suspend Bishop Prasad, but asked whether its decision was influenced by Bishop Prasad's support for the losing candidate in the election for moderator this year.

"What is disconcerting is the double standards being applied by the current synod administration in handling cases of Episcopal corruption," the CCC said. The CSI Moderator allowed the Bishops in Rayalaseema and Dornakal to retire rather than face corruption investigations. "Is it only a coincidence that both the Rayalseema and Dornakal bishops who supported Moderator Devakadasham and his deputy Dyvasirvadam at the Synod polls in January have got away with their crimes while Bishop Kanaka Prasad who supported their opponents (the Bishops in Madras and Karimnagar) has had punitive action taken against him," the CCC asked. [This section provided by CEN]

CONCLUSION

Major Victor has been leading the charge against corruption in the CSI for over a decade. "Our job is to purify the church and to redeem the respectability of Christians in the eyes of the public. Towards this end we have to do whatever is within our powers instead of being silent spectators listening only to interesting stories.

"The integrity of the gospel is at stake here. 98% of India is non-Christian and these stories only highlight the hypocrisy of a church that claims to speak for God and His Gospel. It brings terrible retribution by the secular courts which in turn brings discredit on the nation's few Christians who struggle to maintain a Christian testimony in the face of so much paganism.

"We as the Laity Association of CSI feel deeply ashamed at what is going on among our bishops and leaders. We believe we can change this if we stand united against them and expose their follies. We cry out to God for repentance by our bishops and a return to seeking the truth wherever it might be found and to once again restore the integrity of the gospel in a land that still only has 2% of its people calling themselves Christian. We desperately need a visit of the Holy Spirit and a revival among Indian Christians if we are to have a valid witness to the new and emerging post-modern India."

END

'via Blog this'

Easter Sunday - The Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord, 2013.
Mark 16:1-8




Easter Sunday: The Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord - 2013


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson





The Hymn #191               Christ the Lord                                  2:97
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 #188                Hallelujah                               2:20 

The Gospel Is Life Eternal

The Communion Hymn # 206:1-5            Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense  2:81
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 #189   He Is Arisen Glorious Word               4:77

KJV 1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

KJV Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst deliver Thy Son for our offenses, and didst raise Him again for our justification: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that He may rule and govern us according to Thy will; graciously keep us in the true faith; defend us from all sins, and after this life raise us unto eternal life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



The Gospel Is Life Eternal


KJV Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

The lessons for Easter seem to be short, but they are intended as the beginning of a series of worship services for several days, since Easter is the central event of Gospel, revealing to the world that Jesus died on the cross but also rose from the dead as the Savior.

Time and dates are part of each culture. We even count differently in America than do the British. The same is true of the Jewish people of New Testament times. They counted each part of a day as a day, so the three days predicted by Jesus were Friday, when He died, Saturday, and the very first part of Sunday, when He rose from the dead.

Jesus was not long in the tomb, because God would not let the Holy One see corruption, as the Scriptures said.

KJV Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

This resurrection also changed the calendar. The Church began among Jewish believers, who worshiped on Sunday to recognize the resurrection. There are early references to this. They even began worship with the rising of the sun to commemorate the moment of discovery.

To this day, Sunday is the main day of worship. When people insist on returning to Saturday, as the Seventh Day Adventists insist, they are showing their reliance on the Law and their preference for Old Testament thinking. The Adventists (my kin long ago) deny salvation by grace and punish those who teach justification by faith, just as WELS does not. Heretics do not tolerate the Gospel, because it displaces their law.

This resurrection was similar to Lazarus, the young girl, and the widow’s son, but distinctly different. Jesus showed His power over death to demonstrate His power as the Son of God. But those people were going to die again.

Lazarus was especially important and quite deliberate, because Jesus delayed His trip to let Lazarus die and to allow him to be buried for days. There could be no doubt that His good friend was dead, in front of a large crowd that watched Him, doubted His compassion, and saw Him weep in grief for his friend. This made the raising of Lazarus a shocking and revealing event in the midst of a crowd of people from the entire region. Lazarus was so important as proof of the sonship of Jesus that the authorities plotted against him as well. And crowds wanted to see Lazarus alive when they knew very well he had been dead for days.

We can see how God trains us, step by step, so that the early lessons lead to the great lesson. If Jesus could raise the dead by His Word, so God could raise Him from the dead. In fact, the Scriptures emphasize both – Jesus rising on His own, and the Father raising Him. That is because the Father-Son relationship is constant. One does not act without the Other, so both are emphasized at different times. This is similar to the Two Natures being emphasized, one and then the other in the same section. Jesus was thirsty (John 4, human nature) but He knew all about the woman (divine nature).

Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

The Scriptures show us that the women were so anxious to finish their honoring of His body that they rushed out to complete their work, without a thought about their danger.

This shows how their faith eliminated their fears, even a realistic fretting about how they would go about their task. Three women were not going to roll that giant stone lid from the tomb. Although the stones were shaped to roll in the groove in front of the opening, smaller stones are an enormous chore for men to move, heaving with their backs, legs, and arms.

When the Holy Spirit creates and energizes faith, we do not stop to wonder how it can be done but rush to get it done, not knowing the exact path (as they say currently) but knowing God will bless what is faithful to His Word.

One person suggested starting Bethany Lutheran Church and gave a token gift; he bailed out soon after and never showed up to see what he started. Nevertheless, thousands of views of our services suggest that the Word got out anyway.

2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

People do not get up early in the morning and jump into their task unless they feel a great urgency to get it done. These woman gathered before the sun was up, not an easy task, grabbed their supplies and set off on their own.


What urged these good women to hazard life and body? It was nothing but the great love they bore to the Lord, which had sunk so deeply into their hearts that for his sake they would have risked a thousand lives. Such courage they had not of themselves, but here the power of the resurrection of Christ was revealed, whose Spirit makes these women, who by nature are timid, so bold and courageous that they venture to do things which might have daunted a man.

5. These women also show us a beautiful example of a spiritual heart that undertakes an impossible task, of which the whole world would despair.

Yet a heart like this stands firm and accomplishes it, not thinking the task impossible. So much we say for the present on this narrative, and now let us see what are the fruits and benefits of the resurrection of Christ.

3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

They were almost there before they thought of the big question – who will be around to help them at that early hour? God paints a picture of faith here – where love and faith completely cancel out fear, worry, anxiety, and pessimism.

Resistance is so common that we can never say, “Oh I never doubted it could be done. I was always upbeat. I was never anxious or fearful about bearing witness to the truth.” The Old Adam is always ready to step to the front and list all the reasons why not. I do not mean The Power of Positive Thinking the book that Norman Vincent Peale plagiarized from an occult lady author (often word for word).

Faith in God’s Word drives out fear of the consequences. Faith means continuing when nothing seems to have any effect on the lethargy and obstinacy the masses when dealing with obvious false doctrine.

These women did not stop to count the cost of doing what they knew to be right, and God honored them in making them the first visitors to the Empty Tomb.



4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

Lenski:
This stone λίθος (not πέτρος) has been described fully in 15:46. What the women meant was that the stone should be rolled, like the flat wheel that it was, far enough up in the groove to expose the door of the tomb. In speaking to each other of this stone as they do they imply that they themselves may not be able to move it far enough. Whom will they get to help them? They fear further delay. They perhaps blame themselves for not having thought of the stone before and thus having insisted that some of the men come with them.
The observation is correct that the women seem to know nothing about the Roman guard that had been stationed at the tomb. They do not ask each other whether the captain of this guard will permit them to come near, yea, to enter the tomb. But this is at it should be in the narrative: the women did not know that such a guard had been stationed there. This was an arrangement between the Sanhedrists and Pilate, which became known to the friends of Jesus afterward and not at this time.
4) Matthew tells us that an angel rolled the stone away and sat on it. It was not rolled aside in its groove in the regular way so as to be rolled back again to shut the entrance. No, it was hurled out of its groove by some tremendous power, thrown flat upon the ground in front of the tomb, thus making a seat for the angel who waited until the women drew near and then went inside the tomb. This stone was not again to be rolled in front of the entrance. It had been laid flat so that the tomb should stand wide open for all men to see that it was emptied of the body of Jesus, the bodiless wrappings lying undisturbed and flat just as they had been wrapped, mute but mighty evidence of the resurrection, John 20:5–10.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 739.
The stone being removed completely was a shock, because it was meant to stay in place. For instance, grave robbers would find it very difficult to get past the large size and tremendous weight. Trying to move it would cause a commotion that would alert others. The guard is not mentioned because he was frightened away by the revealing of the empty tomb.

I noticed on the websty of Steve Witte (WELS Asian seminary president, Church and Change founder)  a painting of Jesus being released from the tomb by the angel opening the stone door. But that is a fallacy based upon this error - the divine nature of Jesus is limited by His human nature. Several instances of Jesus passing through a crowd show that He was not limited as we are by physical barriers. If Jesus was able to walk on water, why would the very stone He created limit Him in any way?

When the stone lid was opened, it was not to release Jesus but to show that the tomb was empty. This alone was enough to terrify the Roman soldier, who knew that a corpse was inside.

5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

The change was so abrupt that the women were afraid. They expected death and saw the evidence of the resurrection instead, an angel instead of death.

7. You have heard in the story of the Passion how Christ is portrayed as our exemplar and helper, and that he who follows him and clings to him receives the Spirit, who will enable him also to suffer. But the words of Paul are more Christian and should come closer home to our hearts and comfort us more, when he says: “Christ was raised for our justification.”

Here the Lamb is truly revealed, of whom John the Baptist testifies, when he says in John 1:29: “Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Here is fulfilled that which was spoken to the serpent: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head,” which means that for all those who believe in him, hell, death, and the devil and sin have been destroyed. In the same manner the promise is fulfilled today which God gave to Abraham, when he said in Genesis 22:18: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Here Christ is meant, who takes away our curse and the power of sin, death and the devil.

8.
All this is done, I say, by faith. For if you believe that by this seed the serpent has been slain, then it is slain for you; and if you believe that in this seed all nations are to be blessed, then you are also blessed. For each one individually should have crushed the serpent under foot and redeemed himself from the curse, which would have been too difficult, nay impossible for us. But now it has been done easily, namely, by Christ, who has crushed the serpent once, who alone is given as a blessing and benediction, and who has caused this Gospel to be published throughout the world, so that he who believes, accepts it and clings to it, is also in possession of it, and is assured that it is as he believes. For in the heart of such a man the Word becomes so powerful that he will conquer death, the devil, sin and all adversity, like Christ himself did. So mighty is the Word that God himself would sooner be vanquished than that his Word should be conquered.

9. This is the meaning of the words by St. Paul: “Christ was raised for our justification.” Here Paul turns my eyes away from my sins and directs them to Christ, for if I look at my sins, they will destroy me. Therefore I must look unto Christ who has taken my sins upon himself, crushed the head of the serpent and become the blessing. Now they no longer burden my conscience, but rest upon Christ, whom they desire to destroy. Let us see how they treat him. They hurl him to the ground and kill him. O God; where is now my Christ and my Savior? But then God appears, delivers Christ and makes him alive; and not only does he make him alive, but he translates him into heaven and lets him rule over all. What has now become of sin. There it lies under his feet. If I then cling to this, I have a cheerful conscience like Christ, because I am without sin. Now I can defy death, the devil, sin and hell to do me any harm.

The crucifixion of Christ caused fear and mourning, because no one fully understood what was happening. They only saw the dark side of the Passion narrative. The empty tomb began their catechism, to learn the meaning of “died for your sins, raised for your justification, if you believe (Romans 4:24) that God raised Him from the dead.”

The question is always, “But how do I know that my sins are forgiven? I still regret my sins.”

The answer is – you believe in the resurrection of Christ and you confess it.



6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

The passages in the Bible that address fear always have a similar thought conveyed by the Holy Spirit: “Do not be afraid, because…” In the Old Testament there are many assurances of God’s love and protection.

In this passage, the ultimate fear is addressed – Do not be afraid, because Jesus has conquered death. You will see Him soon, and so will the disciples and Peter – the one who denied Him three times.”

Peter was not shut out from the future ministry for his denials. He was included and became an early leader. His life was short. He was executed for his testimony and work. According to one tradition, he was crucified upside-down by his own request. He did not want to die exactly like Christ – he was not worthy.

8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

The modernists want us to believe that this Gospel broke off at verse 8. But the early Church had the complete ending. It took a questionable character, plus Wescott and Hort, to eliminate verses 9-16. A good way to tell how reliable a Bible is – look at what they did to Mark. There are other indications as well, such as editing “the Son of God” from the opening.

This verse is not the ending of Mark but the beginning of the wider narrative of the world-wide Gospel ministry started by the empty tomb, the appearances of the risen Lord, His ascension, and Pentecost.



Eternal Life

"For the papalists understand the word 'justify' according to the manner of the Latin composition as meaning 'to make righteous' through a donated or infused quality of inherent righteousness, from which works of righteousness proceed. The Lutherans, however, accept the word 'justify' in the Hebrew manner of speaking; therefore they define justification as the absolution from sins, or the remission of sins, through imputation of the righteousness of Christ, through adoption and inheritance of eternal life, and that only for the sake of Christ, who is apprehended by faith."
            Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent,   St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 467.    

"And, in short, the meritum condigni is the Helen for which the Tridentine chapter concerning the growth of justification contends. For they imagine that the quality, or habit, of love is infused not that we may possess salvation to life eternal through this first grace but that, assisted by that grace, we may be able to merit eternal life for ourselves by our own good works. For concerning the meritum condigni Gabriel speaks thus: 'The soul shaped by grace worthily (de condigno) merits eternal life.'" [Kramer note - Scholastics taught that the good works of the unregenerate had only meritum congrui; the good works of the regenerate rewarded as meritum condigni, merit worthy with being rewarded with eternal life.]
            Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent,   1971, I, p. 541.  

"How is a person justified before God? This occurs solely by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ; that is, freely, not because of any works or merits of one's own but only because of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, who became the sacrificial victim and propitiation on our behalf. By this sacrifice, man obtained forgiveness of sins and became righteous; that is, God-pleasing and acceptable. His righteousness was imputed to man for Christ's sake, and man becomes an heir of eternal life when he believes with certainty that God gives him these blessings for the sake of His Son."
            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 105.     

"Christian righteousness is the forgiveness of sin, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and acceptance to eternal life. It is free, not the result of any virtues or works but is given solely because of Christ, the Mediator, and apprehended by faith alone."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568),  1994. p. 106.         

"Scripture therefore uses these words, 'We are justified by faith,' to teach both: 1) What the reason (or merit) for justification is, or what the blessings of Christ are; to wit, that through and for the sake of Christ alone we are granted forgiveness of sins, righteousness and eternal life; and 2. How these should be applied or transferred to us; namely, by embracing the promise and relying on Christ by faith alone."
            David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568),  1994. p. 107.               

"The second argument is that 'God desires all men to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4), and He gave His Son for us men and created man for eternal life. Likewise: All things exist for man, and he himself exists for God that he may enjoy Him, etc. These points and others like them can be refuted as easily as the first one. For these verses must always be understood as pertaining to the elect only, as the apostle says in 2 Timothy 2:10 'everything for the sake of the elect.' For in an absolute sense Christ did not die for all, because He says: 'This is My blood which is poured out for you' and 'for many'--He does not say: for all--'for the forgiveness of sins.' (Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28) Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 25 p. 375. 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 2:4; Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28       "His gifts and works in His Church must effect inexpressible results, taking souls from the jaws of the devil and translating them into eternal life and glory."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 220. 

"In this epistle lesson Paul gives Christians instruction concerning the Christian life on earth, and connects with it the hope of the future and eternal life, in view of which they have been baptized and become Christians. He makes of our earthly life a death--a grave--with the understanding, however, that henceforth the risen man and the newness of life should be found in us."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 141. 

"Therefore, whoever would have a joyful conscience that does not fear sin, death, hell, nor the wrath of God, dare not reject this Mediator, Christ. For He is the fountain that overflows with grace, that gives temporal and eternal life."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols  V, p. 331. 

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f.          

"In all simplicity and without any disputing, children believe that God is gracious and that there is an eternal life. Oh, what a blessing comes to the children who die at this time! Such a death would, of course, cause me extreme sorrow, because a part of my body and the mother's body would die. These natural affections do not cease in the pious, as those who are without feeling and are hardened imagine, for such affections are the work of divine creation. Children live with all sincerity in faith, without the interference of reason, as Ambrose says: There is lack of reason but not of faith."
             What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 142.    

"To be converted to God means to believe in Christ, to believe that He is our Mediator and that we have eternal life through Him."
              What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 343. Acts 26:20.         

"The Church has no word of its own. Whatever is not taken from Scripture is not the 'Word of the Church,' but what Luther bluntly calls 'prattle.' Also other books can exert a divine power and efficacy, but always only inasmuch as they have absorbed God's Word. Of Scripture Luther says: 'No book teaches anything concerning eternal life except this one alone' (St. Louis edition XIV:434)."
            Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans. Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950, I, p. 315.      

"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: 'He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you.' Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is given."       Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159. Romans 3:31; John 16:15.      

"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you. Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is received through faith...Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost, so that now we are able to think aright."
Augsburg Confession, Article III, #11, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159.  

"This power {the Keys} is exercised only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, according to their calling, either to many or to individuals. For thereby are granted, not bodily, but eternal things, as eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, eternal life. These things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, as Paul says, Romans 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Therefore, since the power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, it does not interfere with civil government; no more than the art of singing interferes with civil government."
Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, #8, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 85. Romans 1:16    

"This righteousness is offered us by the Holy Ghost through the Gospel and in the Sacraments, and is applied, appropriated, and received through faith, whence believers have reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, the grace of God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 16 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 921. "Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment, and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end."
Augsburg Confession, Article XVII, Of Christ's Return to Judgment, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 51.



Randy Hunter Defines Leadership in WELS - But Do Not Read Ichabod, Kiddies, Where Luther and Chemnitz Are Quoted Routinely

This was posted on Randy's websty,
minus the clever parody, written by moi.

Martin Luther College is so ashamed of their Evangelism Day speakers that they hid the list from the public. I did learn that Randy Hunter was among the Church and Changers invites to mislead another batch of kids.

Someone just mailed me a copy of the Wisconsin Lutheran College leadership event. Hunter is on the top of the bill as a speak, along with "a key lay leader."

This is cause for discipline at MLC, even though the leaders read it.
Discipline is not being billed as subtle encouragement.
"Flogging will continue until everyone is sufficiently encouraged."

Hunter is justly famous for opening and closing the Latte Church, where his image was broadcast to a screen surrounded by couches, enhanced with espresso served to keep the audience awake. A praise band was stationed nearby to keep the service relevant.

Randy even had a young lady hired to "administer the Means of Grace," her own statement. And yet, that emergent church fell heavily to the ground, closed by the Hunter Himself, due to staff exhaustion and perhaps a lack of additional grant money. Nothing exhausts the staff faster than exhausting the money.

WELS staff remind me of Taco Bell employees - the more they have on duty, the less they work.

Peter Pan is also a speaker at this event, which starts in May. His full name is Peter Panitzke. He was a reliable Enthusiast on the Church and Change websty. He will teach everyone about Pietistic cell groups. I wonder why SP Mark Schroeder and the usual suspects never discipline the cell group fanatics. They are Lutheran in faith or practice.

Some other speakers are David Scharf, Jason Ewart, and Jonathan Schroeder of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Nothing is mentioned about relying on the Word of God or trusting in the Means of Grace. Do you want a grant from Thrivent-WELS or not, you impertinent pastor?

The Thrivent salesman-giving counselor will tap your resources...hard.

Peter Pan-denominational