The Glory Has Departed

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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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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 18, 2015

The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, 2015. Ephesians 5:15-21.
The Christian Walk

Norwich Cathedral - West Window

The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The Hymn #  39                   Praise to the Lord                              
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 # 370                    My Hope Is Built           

The Christian Walk

The Communion Hymn # 246             Holy, Holy, Holy              
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 Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

KJV Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and myfatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Twentieth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We thank Thee, that of Thy great mercy Thou hast called us by Thy holy word to the blessed marriage-feast of Thy Son, and through Him dost forgive us all our sins; but, being daily beset by temptation, offense, and danger, and being weak in ourselves and given to sin, we beseech Thee graciously to protect us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we fall not; and if we fall and defile our wedding-garment, with which Thy Son hath clothed us, graciously help us again and lead us to repentance, that we fall not forever; preserve in us a constant faith in Thy grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Christian Walk

KJV Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 

We should always hold these letters in high regard for our study, because the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to build a good foundation for the Apostolic Church. The letters are not a pond for fishing, so people can pull up good quotations all by themselves, as they often do when trying to prove a weak point.

The Epistles (also by Peter, John, and James) are both doctrinal and practical. They teach the Gospel in a condensed, confessional style, sometimes referring to lessons, hymns, or confessions well known to the audience. The Epistles assume the knowledge of the Gospel and build upon that knowledge.

The Epistles are also quite short and easily overlooked. My favorite New Testament professor, Nils Dahl, spent years working on a commentary on Ephesians. He even had one version typed up and in the library, but he was not done yet. But look at how short this letter is. No one can say it is too long to read, but someone can spend years studying it. That is one of the distinguishing characteristics of God's Word - an inexhaustible supply of spiritual wisdom.

One again I have told my Old Testament students not to rely on the commentaries, as if they are the last word on the Bible. When we read the Scriptures, hear them, and remember them, the Spirit is always efficacious in teaching us. An abundance of sincere, attentive reading will yield an abundance of spiritual fruit.

When I talk to people about paper, cardboard, and leaves - because they want to gather these materials to be hauled away, I point out how they build up the soil. Those who realize this never have enough. My plant nursery neighbor gathers his grass clippings and the leaves of the whole area to make his soil better, and it used to be a dairy farm. When anything is planted on such rich soil, it grows luxuriously, seemingly effortlessly, because so many creatures are at work night and day.

When the plumber came by, he showed me a wasp's nest. These are the unusual (for me) red wasps.  He was talking about how to get rid of the nest safely, and I was thinking, "Cool. They have a job to do." They know my thoughts are peaceful. One landed almost next to my hand while I was adjusting the water faucet. He made no attempt to scare me or sting me. I watched him and hoped he would enjoy the water and mud below. He needed that mud.

In the front yard, I was cleaning the gutters. I could see another type of wasp working the leaves in the gutter. I wanted to increase the flow instead of having spongy leaves create a compost pile where I should have drainage. The wasp flew up and landed closer, a warning. I decided to poke at the leaves a little more. He flew up and landed even closer. I thought, "This guy is territorial, so I will leave."

The compost and wasp stories are just to point out how all this works together according to Creation principles. Following them makes the work much easier and much more effective. My tiny effort for spectacular results.

The Word is effective in the same way. Paul says - Walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.

Some call this "situational awareness." Many things happen because people are not looking around and observing the scene. One day we were eating and I saw a tree waving . Just one tree. No wind. I said, "Something happened." Outside a car had an accident and hit a tree. Nothing else could make one tree move - all by itself. I helped a little until the medical people arrived.

Luther pointed out that people fall into foolishness because they are not aware or soon lose sight of the constant battle going on. Only believers are tempted. The rest do whatever they want and society blesses them for it.

Satan always wants to reclaim his own, who are his at our birth, but redeemed by the Word of the Gospel. Those who care about their children baptize them and also - most importantly - teach them the basics of the Christian Faith.  Without that protection, they are completely unarmed against the forces of evil. The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Circumspectly also means never taking this for granted, as if a little knowledge of the Gospel brings immunity, using the Gospel as a pillow to fall asleep on. This is far too common in this age of cheap grace where everyone is forgiven. 

I noticed that long ago when reading the famous, modern theologians like Karl Barth and Paul Tillich. They could write many lengthy volumes and have hundreds debate their meaning - as long as faith was not a topic. Whether anyone believed these events really took place - not an issue. They wanted to talk all day about them they way people discuss the character and nature of Star Wars characters, knowing full well that those people never existed. Thus one can write a 900 page book about concepts using the fishing pole to pull out a few phrases here and there.
My sainted friend called it "a sentimental attachment to the Bible" - and he was loathed by his fellow doctoral students. We were the two oddballs. 

16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

We have one thing in common. Every single person has 168 hours per week. I used to do the math in front of college classes. It was not IQ, or talent that would get them through the degree - it was their wise use of time. Many had the ambition to start but not the wisdom to complete the degree, even when it was fairly inexpensive.

How we use time as believers is very important. We do not have to accomplish great things that are noted by the religion sections of the newspaper and the ever shrinking pages of Time magazine. We only have to follow the basic principles laid out so clearly by Paul. He does not scold us into the monastery, but shows us how the daily application of our time keeps us in the Faith.

Ministers are especially vulnerable because expectations are largely secular and materialistic, so there is pressure from the synod leaders and from the laity to fulfill these obligations - balance the budget and keep everyone happy.

There is a neat game played. Those who despise the Word want to make the congregation as secular as they are. So they guide the minster into the Slough of Despond, where he can wallow in all the minute details of pleasing everyone except God - and never upsetting anyone with the Word. 

Some laity do this as "pulpit brawlers," a term from Luther. They want to fight and compare and deal in superficial details, which leads the congregation into ruin in no time. They want wolf preaching and get a wolf who soon slaughters and scatters the flock. 

5. In my admonitions I have often enough urged those who have influence, to use all diligence in drawing the young to school, where they may receive proper instruction to become pastors and preachers; and I have earnestly advised that in cases of necessity ample financial provision be made for students. But, alas, few communities, few States, are interested in the matter. In all Germany, look at the bishops, princes, noblemen, the inhabitants of town and country — how confidently they go on sleeping and snoring in their indifference to the question. They presume to think there is no need for action; the matter will adjust itself; there will always be pastors and preachers. But assuredly they deceive themselves if they think they are consulting their best interests in this affair; for they will, as the text says, become foolish and fail to recognize the will of God. Therefore they will some day have to experience what they do not now believe: in a few years after our day they will seek preachers and find none; they will have to hear rude, illiterate dolts who, lacking understanding of the Word of God, will, like all stupid Papists, preach the vile, offensive things of the Pope, about consecrated water and salt, about gray gowns, new monasteries and the like.

Notice that the beloved synod leaders have pocketed the offering money, insurance money, and foundation money while letting seminary costs skyrocket with no end in sight. The excuse given is - "we do not get enough money to give anything to the seminaries." That may be good, in a sense, because they are no more apostate than the ELCA ones. Let them fall and rise again in a new form. But for now they are showing utter disdain for the proper training of teachers and pastors.

Count how many Lutheran congregations - any brand - are nearby teaching justification by faith, providing the historic liturgy and Creeds, teaching the Book of Concord.

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 

As I wrote before, there is a lot in the New Testament about using our brain power, not following our emotions. God plants faith in our hearts through the Word. He sustains and builds that faith through the Means of Grace, trials, temptations, afflictions, and the cross. But we have this happy obligation to listen to His Word with sincere and receptive minds, always eager to learn more, to study more, to grow in our understanding.

Then we find true joy in the Gospel rather than in wine. 

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

This is one of the great practical passages of Paul. Whatever is pleasing can be expressed in song, poetry, hymns, art, and written expressions.

14. Observe this is “redeeming the time.” This is employing it well, while the golden days last in which we have remission from pain and sin. Not such remission as the Pope grants in his jubilees, wherein he deceives the world. Right here let us be careful not to cheat ourselves with the false idea that salvation cannot escape us. Let it not be with us as befell the children of Israel, of whom it is said in Psalms 95:11 and Hebrews 4:3 that because of their unbelief they entered not into the rest of God. They would not accept their opportunity in the forty years wherein he gave them his Word and showed them his wonders, daily admonishing them and calling to repentance and faith. They but tempted and provoked Him the more.

Thus we have an era full of fake grace without the Means of Grace, despising the Instruments God gave so we always know - where is grace to be found? The answer is - in the visible Word of the Sacraments and the invisible Word of teaching and preaching.