The Glory Has Departed


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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity, 2015. Luke 16:1-9.
The Parable of the Unrighteous Steward



The Ninth Sunday after Trinity, 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The melodies are linked in the hymn title. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.
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 #283                 God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage         

Do Not Be As Wise as Doves, As Innocent as Serpents

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 # 54                                  Guide Me Thou, O Great Jehovah                    

KJV 1 Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

KJV Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.



Ninth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, who hast bountifully given us Thy blessing and our daily bread: We beseech Thee, preserve us from covetousness, and so quicken our hearts that we willingly share Thy blessed gifts with our needy brethren; that we may be found faithful stewards of Thy gifts, and abide in Thy grace when we shall be removed from our stewardship, and shall come before Thy judgment, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Do Not Be As Wise as Doves, As Innocent as Serpents

KJV Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

This is clearly a parable, because it begins as a short story - a certain rich man. His steward is the estate manager who handles all his affairs, but the man stands accused of wasting his master's goods.

2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 

The estate owner calls the manager before him and demands an accounting of his work, but the stewards is already fired.

3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 

Unemployment is a certainly, so the steward assesses his prospects with a mental version of What Color Is Your Parachute? He is too weak to dig ditches and to proud to beg for money. But he figures he can win a position in one of the estates where he has done business for his master.

5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 

This steward has lost money for his master, but his plan is to write down debts so the debtors feel grateful and want to hire him. He is not showcasing his honesty but his cleverness.

One priest kept a bishop from ever contacting the cardinal, which was very frustrating. When this bishop became the cardinal, he said to the priest who worked for the cardinal, "Would you fend off people for me the way you did for the cardinal before?" The priest bowed his head and said, "I am your obedient servant."

So this part is being highlighted - the cleverness - and it is admired by those who get ahead by being clever.

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Since this is not a lesson on honesty, let's see what the parable teaches. The master commended his servant for being so clever. And here is the lesson - we should be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, to quote Jesus. The unbelievers are more clever in doing their work than the believers are in doing theirs.

There are many ways to describe this. One is the the chasing of false doctrine that began at once, as the Son of God foresaw. It would happen. There would be false doctrine. Paul said - attacks from within and without.

Believers often excuse the workings of false teachers, even while those people seek to divide the congregation or the church. What do unbelievers do? The Coca Cola company recently fired a truck driver for drinking a Pepsi during his break. That is their policy. There is One Company, One Cola, One Brand.

And people accept the authority of a man - or woman - while neglecting the supreme authority and clarity of the Scriptures. The unbelievers say - "Here is the contract - and here is the door. The security guard will meet you in the parking lot with your belongings."

How else can anyone explain that Coke is obdurate about its brand while Lutherans abandon Luther in recognition of the Reformation?

Or explain this - the Church celebrated the Sacraments for 16 centuries and suddenly one group paraded their unbelief in the Sacraments. They kept the name but changed the teaching. That is like having a printing press for centuries and calling it an ironing board, then insisting it was always an ironing board, no matter what is said.

Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

The second part of this lesson is equally troubling at first glance. That is why the parables are a mystery to dabblers and a stumbling stone for skeptics. 

As Luther wrote in his sermon on this text, there is a natural connection between faith and good works. The good works come from faith, and really must come from faith. If not from faith, works are sinful. We see many examples of that as wealthy people use money to buy favors, to raise their esteem among others, and to appear noble and pious. If they give for gain in this way, they have no faith and are only compounding sin.

The most generous acts come from the heart, which does not have limits, so people visit others, help them in their need, and support them in having a better life. Because of faith, there is true joy  in doing this, feeling the blessing of giving.

22. Again, we must not understand this reception into the eternal tabernacles as being done by man; however, men will be an instrument and witness to our faith, exercised and shown in their behalf, on account of which God receives us into the eternal tabernacles. For thus the Scriptures are accustomed to speak when they say: sin condemns, faith saves, that means, sin is the cause why God condemns, and faith is the cause why he saves. As man also is at all times accustomed to say: your wickedness will bring you misfortune, which means, your wickedness is the cause and source of your misfortune. Thus our friends receive us into heaven, when they are the cause, through our faith shown to them, of entering heaven.

This is the great reward, to realize that someone has become a believer or returned to the fold because of what we have done through faith. Someone recently wrote to me that he became a Christian because we brought him to church with us. He had attended a liberal church but did not hear much Gospel. He went with us and the Word converted him. That has continued to guide him.

The message of the Bible is not, "Convert millions," but stay faithful and maintain a faithful household. If the minister can do this alone - it is good. If he teaches the Word as directed in the Pastor Epistles, the Word will accomplish God's will.

The numbers racket makes everyone anxious about results, but immune to fidelity to the Word. What does a spouse respect - high pay or marital fidelity? If the spouse puts high pay first, then that is not an attitude of marriage. Christ taught that the Church is His bride, justified by faith in Him. He does not expect His bride to be a big money maker with marble cathedrals, but a faithful spouse that trusts in Him.

So many are miserable from what the twisted and corrupted visible church tells them. If they look at unbelievers they see - stick to the original agreement, as Coke does. There is no other. Do not jump the fence for a Pepsi - the fads of the moment. Remain faithful to the end.

So now we see the the church participating in the Great Apostasy, predicted by Paul. They are as innocent as serpents, as wise as doves. All the great fads and gimmicks have failed. Every mainline denomination is in freefall, as I have detailed before. 

If only we had a few million dollars... The richly endowed General Seminary of the Episcopal Church has $60 million in the sock drawer. They are ready to collapse as a school, tiny, embittered, divided, confused.

God does more with nothing that man does with millions. That is the great encouragement of this parable. We can be as clever as the unbelievers and admire their tenacity in their goals. Likewise, we can be tenacious with the Word, never failing, never giving up.