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, October 4, 2015

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2015.
The Two Great Commandments. Matthew 22:34-46

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn # 239                 Come Thou Almighty King                         
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 #269            O Lord Our Father                      

The Two Great Commandments

The Communion Hymn # 396            Oh for a Faith            
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 #651               Be Still My Soul            


KJV 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We are poor, miserable sinners; we know Thy will, but cannot fulfill it because of the weakness of our flesh and blood, and because our enemy, the devil, will not leave us in peace. Therefore we beseech Thee, shed Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that, in steadfast faith, we may cling to Thy Son Jesus Christ, find comfort in His passion and death, believe the forgiveness of sin through Him, and in willing obedience to Thy will lead holy lives on earth, until by Thy grace, through a blessed death, we depart from this world of sorrow, and obtain eternal life, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Two Great Commandments
KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 

This is part of Jewish tradition, which could be called The Four Questions, or Stump the Rabbi. The idea was to ask difficult questions so the rabbi could teach them about the Torah. Matthew is very much in the Jewish tradition, with a repeated emphasis on fulfilling Old Testament prophesies. The Gospel also falls into five sections, like the Five Books of Moses.

The last question is aimed at the audience, which is what we see here. The pattern is the same.

The third question is one which was also asked of the traditional rabbis, with the same answer. Of course, the meaning of the answer is going to be different, according to the speaker. This shows the continuity of true Judaism as Christianity, as opposed to Pharisaic Judaism, which broke with the obvious transition to Jesus being the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Paul remained with the Pharisees at first but was converted by the risen Lord and taught by Him.

As I wrote before, the foundation of every mission church was not a corner lot and a building but the Old Testament in Greek. That reminded the Jewish Christians of the Scriptures being fulfilled and taught the Gentiles the importance of this foundation in the Prophets, Psalms, even in Genesis 3.

The more we see the Gospel in the Old Testament, the more we understand the continuity of the Old and New Testaments. I remind my Old Testament students that I will teach the Gospel in the Old Testament, and I never stop pointing that out where they see only Law. 

The modernists deny this, but they believe nothing except maintaining a living from the naive piety of the laity, who never suspect what the code words mean. But in the long run, the modernists have the last sob, because there can be enough of the Word left that their flocks remain believers while they die as unbelievers. That is no reason to tolerate them or excuse them, but the Word remains efficacious. That is why the Word and the liturgy and Creeds are so important in worship, even if the sermonizer is a rationalist who wants to talk about time management and stress reduction. Hymns too are crucial in teaching our souls to sing what the Word teaches. 

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 

So here is a Pharisee asking which is the greatest commandment. As you can see, the answer is what Luther uses in summarizing the Ten Commandments. The correct answer is always going to be the same if we reflect on the true meaning.

The greatest commandment is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind." I added strength, which is in one version. A three-way description is a reminder of the Trinity. A description in fours suggests completeness, like the four directions N-E-W-S. Revelation uses groups of four to show completely, every nation, tribe, people, and tongue. (Rev 7) John could have said - people - to be concise. But a list gives the impression of completeness and size - every single person. And it is poetic.

It is like using a series to show a great number - The football player ate potatoes, beans, bread, peas, corn, steak, eggs, sausage, and then began a dessert of ice cream, cake, whipped cream, and cookies.

This is foundational because our relationship to God is the beginning of fruitfulness - or trouble. The entire Bible teaches faith, and Jesus says here that the Great Commandment is utter trust in God. That is exactly what He taught in John 16, that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin - "that they do not utterly believe in Me."

Whatever is done apart from faith is sin, as Paul teaches. Whatever is done in faith glorifies God. To say that a job itself is more spiritual or blessed by God is Roman Catholic. They believe all priests, all religious are inherently better than the laity. All bishops are better - in God's eyes - than priests - and so on up the ladder.

But a minister who does not believe is sinning, not matter what his title or station might be. And teaching against the Gospel with the title of shepherd (Pastor) is a great evil. The greater the power of the unbelieving minister, the greater the evil. That will harden his heart even more - as we see with all the crimes covered up by his unbelieving subordinates - and produce even worse results. Of course the Spirit can also use this evil to wake people up, as it did with ELCA losing 25% of its members, who suddenly realized in 2009 what was up. (I predicted the goal of ELCA in 1987, but some people are a bit slow.)

So the great commandment is not to do but to believe. That does not mean deciding but trusting. Deciding is a mental function, an act of will. The Gospel makes us believers. When we continue to listen and study with sincere hearts, that faith is not threatened but nurtured. God gives us trials along the way to strengthen and exercise that faith, so it grows.

Gym managers tell people not to exercise like crazy for two weeks and never show up again. That is always the result. But to take it slowly. God does this Himself, giving us little trials, then greater trials. Some have almost no trials or they carefully sidestep challenges. They often grow apathetic and proud and begin to scorn those who do not have the easy and luxury they enjoy. 

But those who deal with their trials, one by one, trusting in God, see that the difficulties bring about good results. They even see the blessings of the cross which are directly related to the Word. Naturally the cross seems to be nothing but punishment for the innocent at first, but it is a necessary part of trusting in God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

This is how we have access to grace in God - through faith. That is how we receive forgiveness - through faith. All sins are forever erased and forgotten by God, paid by Christ on the cross.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The second is exactly what Luther taught - love for our neighbor. That is beautifully explained in the Second Table, Small Catechism. Each explanation is broken into obeying the Law as it is, then responding to the Law through love.

WELS and the CLC (sic) taught this commandment as a "Thou Shalt Love Thyself." That would be the only commandment we could obey perfectly on our own. They got that from Robert Schuller, who was teaching this nonsense over 30 years ago. It is rationalistic psycho-babble, endlessly repeated by various professionals. I imagine they thought they could build cathedrals by teaching this, just as Schuller did. He definitely did that - it is now a Roman Catholic Cathedral, and his family and flock are both scattered.  That is the result of unbelief. It is not really fruit. That is like calling sandburs "fruit" or deadly nightshade berries "fruit." The result of unfaith is highly fertile and easily reproduced, but sterile and useless as far as man is concerned.

In contrast, the believer looks for every opportunity to serve his neighbor, especially those within the household of faith (instead of shunning them). Once again, bad teaching makes people think they are doing God a service by shunning those and snubbing those who have fallen afoul of their man-made rules.

Luther has a great statement about being kindly to false teachers so they listen to the Word. He did that in a hilarious way when he offered a pamphlet to the pope since that was the only thing on earth the pope did not own or control. Sound doctrine was the only thing the pope lacked, so Luther supplied it - and it became a classic printed all over the world.

I had a special set of Luther that is no longer in print. It had all his greatest works in it. A Roman Catholic PhD said 40 years later, after I gave it to him at Notre Dame, "I still have that Luther set and read it all the time." 

Luther was bad in business. He gave away all his writings, which made his publisher a fortune. In the short run, that was not wise. But he made the world rich with the Gospel and the publisher? Does that matter in the long run? I would have to go back into the histories and see how that publisher did and whether that business endured all this time. There is no question about Luther's works, and that is solely because he remained faithful and consistent throughout his career. It bore fruit. The Gospel always does.

This helpfulness is very important for the application of the Gospel. It means to go against our self-centered nature and think first about other people. That is a blessing, because it is a much better way to live. I know children think it is their duty to be difficult with their parents, and partly this is good. In the long run children have to break away and make their own mistakes their own way. However, when children look to their opportunities to learn from their parents, listen to them, and bear some of the burdens of the household, it creates peace and happiness.

I know one family where a young child has to battle each day to remain healthy, due to a childhood disorder. It consumes his time and energy, and his family's. They would love for it to go away, but it will not. Imagine the time and energy they would have without that one disorder. So we take for granted the normal functioning of our bodies when young and even when older. 

The person with two eyes never thinks of his vision. But if he loses one eye from an accident or disease he is suddenly obsessed with protecting that remaining eye. He suddenly realizes how important it is and values it. So we should be thankful for everything that works reasonably well and see to it that others have help, comfort, and peace of mind, even if that only means some sharing of time and goods.

We found we could give one household what they were lacking simply by sharing our excess of household goods. We don't miss the excess at all, but they were short  of linens, dishes, etc. I gave away a coat and a man cried and hugged me. I was short a winter coat but only for a day or two.

Sharing with our neighbor is enjoyable and fun. Last winter we made 3 homes our snow and ice jurisdiction. With some help, three driveways were cleared and salted immediately each time, making it safer for all of us. Early shoveling means dry pavement. That was fun and funny at times. Sassy supervised.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus summarized the Old Testament for us and taught the same in His sermons. We have two tables in the Ten Commandments, and most Gospel readings exhibit the same pattern - faith toward God, love toward our neighbor.