The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity, 2015. Matthew 7:15-23.
The Tree of Faith Necessarily Bears Good Fruit


The Eighth Sunday after Trinity  2014

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The melodies are linked in the hymn title. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.


The Hymn #260                       O Lord Look Down                                 
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 Tree of Faith Necessarily Bears Good Fruit


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 # 309                          O Jesus Blessed Lord                

KJV Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.


KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Eighth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank Thee that Thou hast caused us to come to the knowledge of Thy word. We pray Thee: graciously keep us steadfast in this knowledge unto death, that we may obtain eternal life; send us now and ever pious pastors, who faithfully preach Thy word, without offense or false doctrine, and grant them long life. Defend us from all false teachings, and frustrate Thou the counsels of all such as pervert Thy word, who come to us in sheep's clothing, but are inwardly ravening wolves, that Thy true Church may evermore be established among us, and be defended and preserved from such false teachers, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Tree of Faith Necessarily Bears Good Fruit


KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

There are many reasons to pay close attention to the details in the sermons of Jesus. One is that He is the Word, the Savior, the Son of God. Another is the precise way in which He describes the actions and motivations of others. When Jesus speaks of salvation, the sending of the Spirit, or false teachers, He is not mostly true but completely true in every aspect of His wisdom. If we track where problems and errors come from, they are clearly from ignoring what He has taught or not trusting in what He has taught.

This first verse is a clear example. When someone is a false teacher, the defense is always, "But he is a nice guy, a friend of mine. We went to school together." And I have heard this from a warrior who surrendered without much of a fight - "He is harmless. Everyone knows he is a heretic."

The damage comes from pretending that the sheep - or shepherds - are harmless because of appearances. That is exactly what Jesus warns against, judging from appearances. False prophets are not harmless heretics but ravening wolves. Like any con artist, they put on a good show and watch the reaction of their intended victims, to keep them off-guard.

One gas station fraud artist told me what I was thinking before I said it. I already checked out his facts, and every single thing was totally wrong. But anticipating my thoughts showed he was an adept thief and liar, which was disarming - not enough to trust him, only enough to admire his guile.

False teachers are ravening wolves because they scatter and kill when they undermine God's Word and replace it with theirs. I am sure most people can see this by now. Here are some historic stages:
  • The New Testament text was attacked as unreliable and made to fit with two manuscripts Tischendorf discovered on his own. Wescott and Hort followed up by making their New Testament obey Tischendorf while inventing new rules of their own.
  • The canon of the Bible was also undermined so that liberal ministers would call it a book about God, not God's Word. Or it "contained God's Word" which was entirely subjective. Or it had to conform to current science, which is pretty funny on the face of it. Science was ignorant of fungal benefits in soil until a few decades ago.
  • Conforming the Bible to the culture allowed the false teachers to make society the judge of God's Word, not vice verse. That proved useful with all kinds of movements and fads.
  • Making church a business was a clever move because it appealed to many of the laity, especially prosperous businessmen. Once the Lutherans agreed to measure material gains instead of faithfulness to the Word, the decline accelerated. 
  • The clergy accept silence being rewarded with promotions, and dissent being met with expulsion, slander, and shunning.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

The Lord of Creation is best when making comparisons that anyone close to nature can grasp. Therefore, our urban culture tends to overlook how pointed the comparisons are.

As a gardener I grow many plants I do not understand at first. When the soil is fertile, the rain falls, and the sun germinates new life, the outcome is often mixed.
I had an entire corn patch that germinated two weeks late, and some new and exotic weeds.

Many plants look alike because one variety is the weed version of its cousin. The leaves and flowers are very much alike, but the fruit is not. Tomato relatives are a good example of this, with woody nightshade looking like a delicate version of the tomato vine, and deadly nightshade yields atropine and belladonna, but is used as a poison.

When I see something odd growing, I wait for it to flower and fruit. Nothing is quite as definitive as the fruit. "You shall know them by their fruits." They are similar but not identical to useful plants.

Missouri, WELS, and the ELS have followed a rule - judge them by their relatives. If someone was influential, the child or nephew is considered automatically good. That would be like allowing deadline nightshade in the garden because tomatoes are so appealing and popular. 

 Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

This is very clear in gardening, not so clear in the visible church. The warning is all the more precise in its wording. Someone who is a thorn or thistle will not produce good fruit. To claim otherwise is laughable. No one would argue that in the garden or on the farm, but it is promoted in the visible church, especially since apostates are in control. 

This is an action of labor. Why would we work at picking the fruit of thorns and thistles? And yet the world runs to false teachers today to hear what their itching ears want to hear.

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

These two verses are central to this Gospel lesson. If the visible church could grasp these two verses and apply them, all troubles would be vanquished and easily met when they rose up again.

What does man do? He judges by appearances instead. The good tree is the believer, the one whose trust rests in Christ alone. And Jesus is brought to us by the Word. A believer can only produce good fruit, but an unbeliever produces only evil fruit.

Many trees are like weeds. They grow and spread easily but they produce nothing worthwhile. In fact, their fruit is an obnoxious seed pod that is ugly or spiked or messy - and always productive - but producing only more bad fruit.

A good tree is valuable, so it is nurtured to make it more fruitful. 

An unbeliever cannot produce fruit because he is not "in Christ" and Christ is not in him. He lacks the Spirit because of this unbelief, so he is in a constant rebellion against the Word of God. The Scriptures and believers make him upset, all the more when this unbeliever is a ruler and a teacher in the visible church. When an unbeliever has power and authority in the visible church, he is an opponent of the Gospel, as we have seen for decades, always supporting error and vice, always attacking sound doctrine and any effort to address the situation.

How strange that congregations trust a Circuit Pastor or District President who does not commune them, does not baptize their babies, does not bury their dead, does not visit the sick and shut-in, does not preach or teach, does not teach confirmation classes. 

And we have so many "pastors" without a parish who are experts in preaching, blogging, evangelism, and everything else.

What do these weasels say? They condemn congregations for being small instead of commending the faithful for being faithful - as Luther does. Orthodox Lutheran teaching will always produce fruit, as Luther wrote and was quoted in the final pages of Walther's Law and Gospel.

These weasels pimp for their friends who slither in and tell a congregation it has to spend a zillion dollars to grow, and they collect very fat fees for this divine service of being a consultant. And their leech associates arrive next to extort the congregation and leave it debt-ridden in the name of evangelism. And lo, how much they collect for impoverishing the parish. Hearts in focus indeed.

But this is all a ministry of coveting. If only we had a big church with big screens and big parking lots. Look around. The landscape is littered with former glory congregations that peaked 20 years ago, as if it would always be on a gravy train. The famous ones of the 1980s are going or already gone.

Bricks do not produce fruit. Neither do parking lots. Big money may indeed leverage results. A false teacher on many campuses at once is like a bunch of thistle seeds in the wind. 

 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

These two cannots would create a revolution if allowed to be taught. False teachers cannot bear any good fruit at all. They are only reproducing their own errors, as junk trees and junk bushes always do - without being cultivated.

But the tree of faith cannot grow evil fruit. Faith produces spiritual fruit alone, just as an apple tree grows apples and not apples and thorns.

But we must listen to Luther and say, Yes we are weak and sinful, but God creates this fruit from the Gospel of forgiveness and the glory belongs to Him alone.

We do not have to worry about how important or significant we are, only patiently go about our appointed tasks in faith - and that glorifies God. The ordinary parish pastor does more of this than all the seminary professors put together. 

Those divine blessings just sprout from the Spirit energized work of the Word among the faithful. It make take decades or months or days. No one can judge that, but in time those spiritual results are clear.

I see that through my daily walks in our neighborhood. I know many families, and we are all closer, thanks to everyone loving Sassy so much. Various matters come up and I distribute Bibles and children's books that people appreciate. And we talk about God and various daily issues or past problems.

Of course, some are scornful. It is so much better for them to spend $1 million on a mission, loan the money at interest, and keep all the equity when it closes. Such wisdom has bankrupted the Lutheran denominations, even with all the looting. Once the sheep have been shorn, scattered, and slaughtered, the in-gathering is far smaller.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Clearly, posturing is not going gain entrance into the Kingdom of God. So many want to protect the image of the visible church by covering up for known felons. They excuse this as good, pious work. One LCMS leader said, "If this goes to trial, it will cost us $10 million. And there goes the mission to Russia." So - toss the victim under the bus to have another fancy mission, as if Russia did not already have the Gospel. After all, the LCMS seminaries promote Eastern Orthodoxy and scorn Lutheran doctrine. What an odd excuse to go against God's Word.

These are the scary words from Jesus that CS Lewis mentioned, and there are many more. They center around this warning - faith in Christ brings forgiveness and blessings. Unfaith continues the state of condemnation and brings eternal damnation. Apostasy is the worst form of unfaith, and it marks the end.
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