The Glory Has Departed


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Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 2015. Luke 18:9-14.
The Pharisee and the Publican

Dore - The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



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 # 384            How Great Is Thy Compassion             

Only Two Religions Exist - Faith or Works


The Communion Hymn #236            Creator Spirit                          
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 # 514                        God Moves in a Mysterious Way     



KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Eleventh Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not forget our sins and be filled with pride, but continue in daily repentance and renewal, seeking our comfort only in the blessed knowledge that Thou wilt be merciful unto us, forgive us our sins, and grant us eternal life; through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Only Two Religions Exist - Faith or Works

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 

Luke's Gospel gives the theme of this parable, which is a clear distinction between the revealed truth of God and all perversions of this truth. This is the theme of the entire Bible - faith in Christ, His forgiveness, His salvation.

People learn all kinds of distinctions to categorize various religions and denominations. One can earn a doctorate in world religions, which seems to render the doctor a complete atheist, or he may be a true ecumenist - "He loves every denomination except his own." Denominations are a genuine challenge, since we have thousands of them, forming, merging, splitting, and writing their own little histories.

The true distinction is faith in Christ or trust in works. This parable is the ultimate expression of this difference. Jesus spoke it to those who trust in their own righteousness and despise others.

The harmony of the entire Bible is shown in this parable being an expression of Jesus speaking in Matthew 7, where we often go to read about good teachers versus false teachers. The good tree can only produce good fruit, and the bad true can only produce bad fruit. The tree is made good by faith and necessarily  bears good fruit, because of the energy of the Gospel.

The bad tree cannot bear anything good because unbelief in Christ always searches for and latched onto a substitute for the revealed truths of Christianity. They vary but rest upon a righteousness of works - appeasing God through these works.

I have many interesting weeds in my yard, so I try to learn what they are. One is an herb brought to America - the dandelion - almost always regarded as a weed. However, the dandelion bears flowers that rabbits love, so sweet that they can be made into wine. The leaves make the best and most nutritious salads, and the roots can be used to make a coffee substitute.

Pokeweed's seeds are red when mature, or even black.
They are prolific and poisonous. 

Pokeweed is loved by birds and easily spread by them, but pokeweed has no other benefit. It grows seven feet tall, branches out, and bears fruit that no one should eat. One reason to learn about weeds is to avoid them, remove them, or at least mark and avoid them.

A good berry cannot help but bear good fruit. Blueberries and blackberries grow wild in various places and always have delicious fruit to enjoy when they fruit. A handful of blueberries is worth $2 at the market because the fruit is so fragile and hard to store. Besides, everyone loves blueberries, raw or cooked.

Lutherans had to grapple with this after Luther's death when George Major said works were necessary for salvation. Amsdorf reacted badly to this wrong teaching by saying good works were injurious to salvation.  Both failed to teach the unity of the Scriptures and to grasp Jesus' Creation parables.

Instead, good works follow faith in Christ because the Gospel grows in its influence among believers. The Means of Grace remove sin and thus works grow from that forgiveness. 

12. Thus we err on both sides in saying, a person must only believe, then he will neglect to do good works and bring forth good fruits. Again, if you preach works, the people immediately comfort themselves and trust in works. Therefore we must walk upon the common path. Faith alone must make us good and save us. But to know whether faith is right and true, you must show it by your works. God cannot endure your dissembling, for this reason he has appointed you a sermon which praises works, which are only witnesses that you believe, and must be performed not thereby to merit anything, but they should be done freely and gratuitously toward our neighbor.

13. This must be practiced until it becomes a second nature with us. For thus God has also introduced works, as though he would say: if you believe, then you have the kingdom of heaven; and yet, in order that you may not deceive yourselves, do the works. To this the Lord refers in John 15:17, when he says to his disciples: “These things I command you, that ye may love one another.” And previous to this at the supper he said, John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another: even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” And shortly before this he said, 5:5: “For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you.”

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

This comparison means - either/or. People follow the example of the Pharisee or the tax collector.

The Pharisee is not understood unless we realize he is the example of outward piety, a truly holy man who is known for his good works and his avoidance of evil.  But in a few words, Jesus captures the spirit of the Pharisee - he is thankful to God for himself, not for God's righteousness and forgiveness. He is not only thankful for himself, but looks down on all open sinners, especially the tax collector (publican).

The tax collectors were hated for making their living by taxing Jews to pay for Roman Empire dominance of the land. They had the power of the Roman soldier behind them, and the taxes extorted were used to pay for the Roman soldiers' pay, camp expenses, etc. When a Jewish army defeated Rome in a skirmish, Rome brought a major army and a multitude of slaves to surround Jerusalem, level it, kill and enslave the population.

In contrast to the lowly tax collector, the Pharisee prayed - "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." 

He is not only thankful to God for himself, but also lists the wonderful things he is doing to prove and display his works.

At one convention everyone was praising everyone else for being such good and loyal servants of the synod so that the audience had to wonder how God could do without them. One old pastor said, "We should be praising God, not each other." That drew the oxygen out of the room. They were having such a good time listing each other's good works on the camping committee, the convention committee, the reports committee, the elections committee, the housing committee, etc.

The attitude of the Pharisee is basic among us. Left by itself, it grows worse as we seek to justify ourselves, which is a heavy burden to bear. We are inclined to say, I am good because of these good works. Therefore, we need the Means of Grace to grant what God freely promises and rewards with so many benefits. The grace of the Gospel moves us to faith and strengthens that faith in Christ. As Luther said, "The believer has heaven and earth in his possession." He knows he has a loving Father who will provide for him lead him to everlasting life through the Son.

Thus the Gospel constantly displaces the inner Pharisee within each one of us, just as the inner Pharisee can displace the Gospel over time. Left alone, the garden is overtaken by weeds. Our helper says, "The weeds keep coming back." I respond with a maxim of gardening, "If there were no weeds, everyone would be a gardener." We have bigger and more vigorous weeds at the Jackson Rose Farm because we have the best soil. 

Weeds love good soil, just as false teachers love a pious assembly. As soon as a small cluster of believers gather, someone puts on a fleece and pretends to be a sheep, causing harm and destruction while saying "Lord, Lord." Notice that in Matthew 7 also, the bad ones praise their own good works, which amount to nothing in God's eyes when they do not believe.

Synod politicians divide and congregation and say, "Lo, you have trouble in your parish. You must be a bad person." Luther noted, as Paul and Jesus did, that trouble was the nature of any congregation, dividing the sheep from the goats, the Gospel inviting hatred among those who trusted in their own works.

That continues to this day, where a post on faith in Christ invokes hateful comments from the clergy. 

So Jesus gives us an example of faith in the righteousness of God.



13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

The publican did not thank God for his own great virtue or works. He did not list his good points and the bad points of others. He is an example of the open sinner, that is, everyone knew him to be bad because of what they saw. But God views things differently. The Pharisee is an obvious saint but a secret sinner, with faith only in himself.

No wonder Pharisee preaching is so popular today. Most of them sound the same, each one coveting the outward glamour of the other.

This represents trust in the righteousness of God, and it is a wonderful message. Believing in Christ means forgiveness. That does not mean suffering enough or being sorry enough or making amends enough. Funny how so many expressions of the Gospel veer off into doing works to make that happen.

The publican believes in the mercy, love, and grace of God and asks that for him, a sinner. The works-saint, the Pharisee does not ask for forgiveness but solicits praise from God. That is blasphemy. 

A parable like this provokes thought and increases our understanding. How do I know I am forgiven? Because faith receives all forgiveness, for every sin great and small.