The Glory Has Departed

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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday, 2015.

Palm Sunday, The Sixth Sunday in Lent, 2014

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn #160         All Glory, Laud             
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 # 162                 Ride On                 

Christ Is the Love of God

The Communion Hymn # 42            O Thou Love  
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 # 229                    Holy Spirit                             

KJV Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

KJV Matthew 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Palm Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast caused Thy beloved Son to take our nature upon Himself, that He might give all mankind the example of humility and suffer death upon the cross for our sins: Mercifully grant us a believing knowledge of this, and that, following the example of His patience, we may be made partakers of the benefits of His sacred passion and death, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Christ Is the Love of God

Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are really a unit, the beginning and end of Holy Week. One emphasis is eternal life, because, as Luther says, life springs up wherever the Gospel is taught. Another example is the love of God, which this epistle lesson teaches in a poetic hymn or confession of faith.

Here Paul again presents to us as a powerful example of the celestial and eternal fire, the love of Christ, for the purpose of persuading us to exercise a loving concern for one another. The apostle employs fine words and precious admonitions, having perceived the indolence and negligence displayed by Christians in this matter of loving. For this the flesh is responsible. The flesh continually resists the willing spirit, seeking its own interest and causing sects and factions. 

KJV Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
This is an interesting verse, because it has been used to reverse the meaning of the Gospel. I found this out from reading far too many volumes of liberal theology. The logic goes like this. The liberal apostates claimed that Jesus did not consider Himself the Christ or the Son of God. Therefore, having the "mind of Christ" means having the same notion.  So the pious statements about having "the mind of Christ" was really an exhortation to have other join the speaker in unbelief. Those in the know realized what that meant. The rest thought the speaker or writer was simply reflecting on this passage.

Where did this Unitarian view of Christ come from? I studied it for a long time. My wife and I went through all the key Biblical scholar volumes to find interesting articles and write them down - all by hand - no computers. There was an obsession for a long time, called "The Self-Understanding of Jesus." What did He think about His role, title, divinity. The scepticism about His divinity came from Halle University and Schleiermacher, which was also a primary source of Universal Objective Justification, which Schleiermacher endorsed, without any mention of faith. He had none.

The problem is not with the wording but with the philosophical filter that the words must pass through, to make them come out as intended. The same effort is being attempted today by unbelievers who wear long, flowing robes. They use key words or phrases to let others know they really mean the opposite of the text's plain words. They will say emphatically "by grace" as a way to deny justification by faith. They solemnly declare the entire world is justified "in Christ" to mean (in their little universe) - the entire world is forgiven and saved without faith in Christ. So their "in Christ" really means "without Christ," but they are too weak and timid to admit that. There are other evasions, too.

All false teachers feed from our natural attraction to Christ as our Savior. They take the faith once delivered to the saints and turn it slowly into an alien thought system, until others join them in wanting to shun justification by faith as false doctrine. Many liberals likewise will distinguish between Jesus and Christ, as if there is a factual Jesus of history and a mythical Christ of faith, simply the ultimate outcome of Halle University's rationalistic Pietism.

Note that American Pietism in all denominations had no trouble moving from an emphasis upon cooperation in works of love to wholesale denial of the divinity of Christ, with radical Leftwing thought becoming their new gospel, their new god.

As the Epistle of James says about demons - they believe but their hides bristle.

Let this mind be in you
This verse means - think the same way as Christ does. Many have noticed the poetic or confessional structure of this passage. Paul introduces material which is probably common among the Christians there. These phrases are short, dense with meaning, yet easy to memorize. They can be used as a catechism, as a hymn, as a confession of faith.

which was also in Christ Jesus:
As many have noted, Christ Jesus is a way of giving the title of Messiah to Jesus. The wording itself is a confession of faith. That is Paul's way of saying that Jesus fulfilled the Promises of the Old Testament and is therefore the Messiah, the Christ.

The mind of Christ should also be our mind. That is, He thought of us first, gracious and loving toward us, guiding us and yet quick to forgive. Our age emphasizes feelings, but the Bible teaches us to use our minds, to think. Relying on our feelings is not good, because our emotions are volatile and unreliable. Has anyone been struck by panic when something is lost, only to find it a few seconds later in an obvious place? I haven't but I have heard of that - often.

I shared an early morning response to writing with another blogger. I said, "I wake up and say - what's the use of writing. Everything is the same. Nobody cares about this." Then I drink some coffee and start writing. The other blogger said, "Same here." 

In an era based on feelings, people follow their base instincts and carnal desires, defended such as natural. 

Paul's appeal is to go beyond what is natural and base and to think about the response of Jesus to our fallen world.

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 
6. “Form of God,” then, means the assumption of a divine attitude and bearing, or the manifestation of divinity in port and presence; and this not privately, but before others, who witness such form and bearing. To speak in the clearest possible manner: Divine bearing and attitude are in evidence when one manifests in word and deed that which pertains peculiarly to God and suggests divinity. Accordingly, “the form of a servant” implies the assumption of the attitude and bearing of a servant in relation to others. It might be better to render “Morphe tu dulu,” by “the bearing of a servant,” that means, manners of such character that whoever sees the person must take him for a servant. This should make it clear that the passage in question does not refer to the manifestation of divinity or servility as such, but to the characteristics and the expression of the same. For, as previously stated, the essence is concealed, but its manifestation is public. The essence implies a condition, while its expression implies action.

The Two Natures in Christ are clearly taught in this passage, and this is a mystery revealed by the Holy Spirit, not a product of man's thinking or logic. Evidence of that is the heretics either neglecting the divinity in favor of the humanity (as modern man does, neglecting the humanity for the divinity (as the early Church experienced), or separating the Two Natures, as Calvin did and Calvinists still do. 
The Calvinist problem shows up in such inventions as Jesus locked up in heaven (NIV, Acts), Jesus being released from the sealed tomb by angels, Jesus coming in a secret passageway into the locked room, and deny the Real Presence (both natures) in Holy Communion.

This passage has a dual emphasis, first the divinity of Christ. His humility did not prevent Him from having the bearing of God. Jesus clearly revealed His divinity in many ways, which only inflamed His opponents - public miracles, raising three people from the dead, passing through a crowd aiming at killing Him, teaching with authority - "not like the Scribes and Pharisees."

Those who would deny the divinity of Christ must shred the New Testament until nothing makes sense.

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 
Rather than display His divinity, Jesus took on the form of a servant. They saw Him as an ordinary man, but His miracles and teaching suggested otherwise.  As Luther says with his usual humor, men take on the form of divinity, but they are not divine. We see that in the pretension of being infallible, placing the emphasis on the person or the institution rather than the Word of God and the Savior. 

Clergy do that too when they imagine they are in too lowly a position. If only they had more majesty with all the trappings. The believer has heaven and earth, and he wields the most powerful weapon, the double-edged sword of the Word. The lowliest pastor and the humblest layman has far more than a pretender who is clinging to the outwards signs of majesty while lacking faith. Some think, "If only I had that position in the church." There we have it. The position has power but the Word of God does not. Or, they fear, "What if they try to get even with me for challenging them." Definitely a good fear - a tiny sect in the Midwest has far more power than God. The synod will protect, comfort, and offer peace - but not God. That is faith, but faith in the wrong power.

Jesus was nothing outwardly but still the Son of God. In the form of a servant He taught the Word of God everywhere and tutored His disciples. He might have done otherwise, but He did what was best for mankind.

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 
Not giving up His power, but hiding it, Christ was obedient to His Father's will and accepted the punishment for all sins. He became the spotless Lamb of God. On the cross He bore the sins of the world. 

Am I forgiven this sin? The answer is - Look at the cross. My sins are there. He suffered for the sins of the world. As Luther wrote more than once, that statement alone is meaningless unless we add, "And for my sins." That requires faith.

And yet nothing in the Scriptures and the Confessions teaches that any sin is forgiven without faith. Redemption means - paid for (one verb) or set free (the other verb). The Gospel is the Atonement, showing what Christ did, and that is the energy creating and sustaining faith. 

The treasure (the Atonement) remains in one pile until it is distributed by the Holy Spirit in the Means of Grace, as we confess in the Book of Concord.

17. Second: Christ assumed the form of a servant, even while remaining God and having the form of God; he was God, and his divine words and works were spoken and wrought for our benefit. As a servant, he served us with these. He did not require us to serve him in compensation for them, as in the capacity of a Lord he had a just right to do. He sought not honor or profit thereby, but our benefit and salvation. It was a willing service and gratuitously performed, for the good of men. It was a service unspeakably great, because of the ineffable greatness of the minister and servant — God eternal, whom all angels and creatures serve. He who is not by this example heartily constrained to serve his fellows, is justly condemned. He is harder than stone, darker than hell and utterly without excuse.

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
I was thinking of this today, how many titles of majesty are found in the Bible:
  • Messiah
  • Lord
  • King
  • King of Kings
  • Lord of Lords
  • Son of God
  • Lamb of God
  • Savior
  • Redeemer
  • Alpha and Omega
  • The Word
  • The Suffering Servant
  • Advocate
  • Author and Finisher of our Faith
  • I AM - seven sermons,
  • Plus many more.

These titles are descriptions and many descriptions are also titles. No one can possibly be confused about this, which is part of the abundance of God. He teaches us in so many ways through the Word that the sincere reader or hearer cannot be confused or perplexed.

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The scoffers hate this. God's grace and love are so great that we must bow before it, and at the end, every human will acknowledge this.

Freely the events order themselves, and the Lord sits enthroned free from all restrictions. But our eyes are as yet blinded. We do not perceive him there nor recognize that all things obey his will. The last day, however, will reveal it. Then we shall comprehend present mysteries; how Christ laid aside his divine form, was made man, and so on; how he also laid aside the form of a servant and resumed the divine likeness; how as God he appeared in glory; and how he is now Lord of life and death, and the King of Glory.

Our eyes cannot see this, but faith does. This disordered world rumbles toward the end, like my old Dodge Aspen, one of the worst lemons ever made. We repaired it often and even had our towing insurance canceled. And yet we loved the car for all its problems, as God loves this world and continues His saving work through the Gospel.