The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. 2 Corinthians 3:4-11.
False Assumptions from False Teachers

Dahlia from Norma Boeckler's garden

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #
 376                                Rock of Ages              
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 #123                             Our God Our Help             

False Assumptions from False Teachers and Our Old Adam


The Communion Hymn #304                    An Awful Mystery             
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 #315                                I Come O Savior To Thy Table                                 

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

KJV Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast created all things: We thank Thee that Thou hast given us sound bodies, and hast graciously preserved our tongues and other members from the power of the adversary: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy grace, that we may rightly use our ears and tongues; help us to hear Thy word diligently and devoutly, and with our tongues so to praise and magnify Thy grace, that no one shall be offended by our words, but that all may be edified thereby, 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.



Norma Boeckler's front garden is a mass of color and happy insects at work.

False Assumptions from False Teachers and Our Old Adam

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 

People like to knock the KJV, because they have never read it with appreciation - or never read it at all. This opening statement is so concise and beautiful in its expression. Our trust rests in God through Christ, but this phrasing is even better. When compound words are looked at separately, they make more sense - trust toward God, God-ward. The mediating influence is Christ, because the Gospel is Jesus the Son of God dying for our sins. The cross creates and encourages trust in the loving mercy of God the Father.

Whenever we read 2 Corinthians, we should keep in mind Paul's reaction to the false teachers who invaded after Paul established the Christian Faith there. This always happens, as soon as the Gospel takes root. The false teachers see this and look for opportunities to scandalize the new believers and take them away. Scandalize is a good word to use, because it comes from the trigger in the trap in the Greek language. When the animal - or man - touches the skandalon, the trap closes.

So everything in 2 Corinthians is either addressing false teachers or providing God's doctrine against them. We can see this in the lesson for today.

False teachers preach themselves and not God, but genuine teachers preach God and Christ crucified. False teachers are alike in many ways, throughout the ages. The librarians of doctrine like to have 187 categories to use, so they can argue about which category fits best, but the same errors keep repeating themselves and they come from the same type of people.

They attack:
  1. The humanity of Christ.
  2. The divinity of Christ.
  3. Justification by faith.
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 

This is Paul's clear statement about the efficacy of the Word. Lacking that doctrine, a teacher is always going to argue for his own personality or perhaps the visible institution. On the Protestant side, there is that game played with flirting with the audience, playing up to their base instincts, and making them dependent on the thrill fixes they get from watching the motivational speaker. On the Roman Catholic side - "The Church of Rome is the oldest, the biggest, the best..."

The false teachers plaguing the Corinthians were praising themselves and attacking Paul, but Paul did not defend himself. He defended God's work in the Word - our sufficiency is of God. Literally - our sufficiency of God - the verb is dropped for emphasis. That is like saying - The trouble with Notre Dame football? - defense.

For those used to the concept of Creation, sufficiency from God is giving honor where it is due, but that is alien to our culture. The efficacy of the Word has hardly been taught since the growth of the evolution concept. Man determines his destiny and all things are designed and managed by man.

I went outside to photograph Norma Boeckler's flowers in her front yard. I bent over to look at the insects flitting about. The bees were obvious from a distance, but close up with ichneumon wasps and hover flies, both designed by God to get rid of pests by answering the the call of alarm from damaged flowers and laying their eggs in or near the pest.  Where these plants in distress? Perhaps not, but they provide  nectar and pollen between those times of egg laying. Some - like ladybugs - eat pests in the adult and larva stages. Others only attack pests when growing up.
A constant display of flowers, wildflowers, herbs, and weeds will keep all the beneficial insects happy between rescue missions. 

If I could grasp how many beneficial insects work at once, I would have an inkling of God's design. This is like saying "there are fish in the ocean" but it is an improvement over not knowing what the tiny ones are are doing - and why. That is only one tiny slice of Creation on display in every garden. If not, we would all starve.

6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 

God makes us able - not the institution, not the personality. One might say - God has made us able servants of the Testament He gave us - that He would make us His own by providing His Son as our Savior. He gave us the Gospel we did not look for, which Paul knew so well. In the Old Testament, God made Israel His people and revealed Himself to them, laying the groundwork for the open era of Christianity. All the Gospel Promises of the Old Testament are also Gospel and many believed in the Savior through them.

Luther distinguished between believing in the Savior to come, and being justified, and believing in the Savior revealed to us - the New Testament.

False teachers always offer the Law, and salvation through works. Inevitably they must praise themselves or the source of their new law. Sometimes it is self-esteem law. At other times it is loyalty to an institution. Man never tires of law and likes it even more when it is called "new." Itching ears like something new, even if it is a retread of something very old and tiresome.

The Gospel gives life while the Law only offers condemnation and death.

7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 

This is an argument from the lesser to the greater, which was common in Judaism and is still used today. Swedes coming to America thought Lindsborg (nicknamed Little Sweden) was a great city, since many were aiming for that little town. When they landed in New York City, they said, "If this is NYC, what must Lindsborg be like?"

So if the ministration of death was so glorious that the Israelites could not look at the face of Moses, how much greater is the ministration of eternal life?

The false teachers like to mock modest churches and rented rooms for chapel services. Jesus was born in a make-shift motel room, rented by Joseph, and the Last Supper took place in another rented room, arranged by Jesus. It is as if God was saying, the Gospel is first, not the furnishings.

Those ministers who say, "I only have a tiny congregation" or "I only work in a tiny town, far from the center of action" - they are demeaning the work of the Spirit in the Word. That may not appeal to the ego, but those receiving the Gospel of forgiveness and the comfort of God's love are not so sure that matters.

Glamour boys like to flaunt their celebrity, who gets to see them - except their staff - and who visits people in their homes - the staff, at best, most likely no one.

But people look around and say, "I want that big fancy church and all the pleasant associations with it." That appeals to the Old Adam in the minister and the congregation, and yet they always want more and seek more, often falling into death traps because of that.

Wherever the Gospel is preached, eternal life springs up. That is God's doing, only the teacher needs to be faithful to God's Word and not consumed with man's opinion.

8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

Notice the ministration of righteousness. One of the desert fathers said, "We lay down the light yoke of justification by faith and  pick up a heavy yoke when we justify ourselves." How much of our conversation is self-justification?  That is teaching man-made law, and the letter kills. If someone is guilty of one infraction, all the claims mean nothing.

The ministration of righteousness is what God has done for us through Christ, so our trust through Christ is God-ward. The wrath of the Law is taken away and we know we are beloved children, brothers of Christ, in Him as believers, and knowing He is in us.

Holy Baptism is a great sacrament to witness, because it is God's seal and promise. Adults are baptized because they believe in the Gospel and desire the sacrament God has offered, just as they desire Holy Communion.

The skeptics demean the Sacraments as the visible Word, but believers appreciate the power of the Word to fulfill God's Promises.

If someone wants to know how to remain in God's little flock, the most direct instruments are - 
  • The Word of God - worship and study.
  • Holy Communion.
  • Being mindful of one's baptism and what that means.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

51. There is also especial comfort to be derived from Paul’s assertion that the “ministration,” or doctrine, of the Law “passeth away”; for otherwise there would be naught but eternal condemnation. The doctrine of the Law “passes away” when the preaching of the Gospel of Christ finds place. To Christ, Moses shall yield, that he alone may hold sway. Moses shall not terrify the conscience of the believer. When, perceiving the glory of Moses, the conscience trembles and despairs before God’s wrath, then it is time for Christ’s glory to shine with its gracious, comforting light into the heart.

Then can the heart endure Moses and Elijah. For the glory of the Law, or the unveiled face of Moses, shall shine only until man is humbled and driven to desire the blessed countenance of Christ. If you come to Christ, you shall no longer hear Moses to your fright and terror; you shall hear him as one who remains servant to the Lord Christ, leaving the solace and the joy of his countenance unobscured. In conclusion: “For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth.”

52. The meaning here is; When the glory and holiness of Christ, revealed through the preaching of the Gospel, is rightly perceived then the glory of the Law — which is but a feeble and transitory glory — is seen to be not really glorious. It is mere dark clouds in contrast to the light of Christ shining to lead us out of sin, death and hell unto God and eternal life.