The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Festival of the Reformation, 2015.
Basic Doctrines of the Word



The Festival of the Reformation, 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time - Daylight Savings Is Over


The Hymn # 13                          Before Jehovah's Awful Throne               
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 # 262                     A Mighty Fortress             

Suffering Violence


The Communion Hymn #267               If God Had Not Been on Our Side                       
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 # 261                                Lord Keep Us Steadfast  

           

KJV Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

KJV Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Collect
O almighty, eternal God: We confess that we are poor sinners and cannot answer one of a thousand, when Thou contendest with us; but with all our hearts we thank Thee, that Thou hast taken all our guilt from us and laid it upon Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and made Him to atone for it: We pray Thee graciously to sustain us in faith, and so to govern us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may live according to Thy will, in neighborly love, service, and helpfulness, and not give way to wrath or revenge, that we may not incur Thy wrath, but always find in Thee a gracious Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
 
Martin Luther - sepia tone by Norma Boeckler.

Suffering Violence 


KJV Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Lenski:
In substance it is quite the same whether we say, the kingdom itself “comes forward powerfully” or “is brought forward powerfully” by John and by Jesus. This statement obviously characterizes the years “from the days of John the Baptist until now,” from the day when John began to baptize until now when Jesus was in the full swing of his work. Of course, “until now” does not imply that this urging of the kingdom on men ceases at this moment; the matter goes on. We have no reason to make the enemies of the kingdom the agents of βιάζεται biazetai (when it is regarded as a passive) and to refer the verb to their violence against it, letting the second clause express the same thought. The trend of the entire discourse deals, not with violence against the kingdom, but with the indifference and the dissatisfaction that hinder men from entering it with zest.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 437.



This is one of the strangest verses in the Bible, and I have tended to skip over it. However, Lenski has a good statement about it. The world goes about as if nothign is happening. Everyone is secure in his own sense of righteousness. One is loyal to his party. One is loyal to his state. One is loyal to his denomination. There are so many new forms of obedience, but they go back to Pharisaical righteousness.

There are only two forms of righteousness. One is the righteousness of works, and the other is the righteousness of faith. One must deny the other. Those who adhere to the righteousness of works become apoplectic about faith when challenged, but normally are condescending and use the word their own way. 

They seldom realize that their denial of that faith leads to and strengthens their righteousness of works.

John Huss is an important figure to consider for this day. He earned a doctorate and began to preach on Biblical themes. During a time of great turmoil he was forbidden to preach. He continued and was burned at the stake by order of the new pope, one of three at the time. Thus Huss became a symbol of Biblical fidelity and also of Czech freedom.

The accusation against Luther was, "You are a Hussite." He was told to denounce Huss or else. He asked for time to consider, looked over the Huss sermons again, and declared himself a Hussite. "Here I stand. I can do no other."

So Huss, Luther, the men around Luther, and the Book of Concord editors belong together in this lesson. I would translate it as - "Everything is just fine until men preach the Word of God as it is and bring the Kingdom of God on by force."

Great violence does follow. Sometimes it is a violence of words. Today I was reading about two farm families insulted in every possible way because they wanted the sermons to be Biblical rather than synodical. I met them and asked them about the Kokomo controversy.  They were modest and even deferential toward the pastor and leaders who kicked them out.

The Reformation was a time of great violence. The Church of Rome burned people at the stake for being faithful to the Scriptures. They put a death sentence on Luther. They exiled some and forced others into prison. Later, Catholic authorities in France attacked the Huguenot Protestants, slaughtered many of them, and made many slaves on galley ships. My ancestors came over to America to escape. Another group of Lutherans moved to the Southeast after being robbed and exiled by the Roman Catholic leaders.

The Word of God unleashes violence because false teachers cannot bear to hear what the Scriptures teach. But that is not the fault of the Word.  This violence comes as a shock to many. Someone can be a friend for decades, but the pure Word will unleash dreadful attacks when their favorite dogma is questioned in the least. The more one supports the Word itself, the more atrocious the behavior becomes.

And yet this clash is necessary, because we quietly fall asleep in the delusion that everything is fine. The realization that we were being fooled wakes us up and makes us hungry for the truth. The more error rears its head, the more healing the truth becomes, and the more precious it is to us.

When the truth is snatched away from those who know what it is, the attachment is that much greater. 

Yes, this irony remains. We know that the entire narrative of the Bible teaches this, for instance, in the stoning of the prophets, the crucifixion of Christ, and the persecution of the apostles. But our nature is to think the Church is at its best when all is peaceful, the bills are paid, and the new addition has just been dedicated. In fact, the lack of peace is considered the gravest accusation against a parish pastor, especially when the church officials are causing the turmoil by working with people who are unfaithful to the Word and unfaithful to their spouses.

The Reformation
The Reformation took place at the point of the sword, but it was caused by another Sword - the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

This is a dominant theme in the New Testament - the Word is sharper than any double-edged sword, a weapon so powerful that it was used to smash, cut, and defend against all attacks. Jesus even told His disciples to wear a sword in their future travels.

If this doctrine of the Word is not followed in all its power, than anything based upon a weak definition of the Word will be deformed. And thus we have a deformation rather than a Reformation.

Creation and Efficacy
Creation is watered down to evolution with a little boost from God. As one rose expert wrote, nature has a divine power to... (Almost like God, but God is not named). Where does faith come from? The preaching of the Gospel message causes faith. But how? From a good and winsome presentation? No - from the power of the Word itself.

Enthusiasm
The Spirit never works without the Word, and the Word never works without the Spirit. When something is claimed apart from the Word, it is called Enthusiasm in Luther and the Book of Concord (Smalcald Articles).

Let's say the Pope legislates that someone is free from Purgatory after a week if only he wears this little piece of cloth all the time and is a good Catholic in his role in life. (I once got a scapular for free but neglected to wear it.)  This is separating the Word from the Spirit, because it has no basis in Word of God and therefore has no standing. 

Buddhism, Islam, and the other world religions are Enthusiasm because they do not have the Word of God as their foundation.

Likewise, when someone makes a claim not found in the Scriptures, that is also Enthusiasm. If we applied this rule about Spirit and Word to theology libraries, they would be very small instead of being quite large.

This relates directly to the Book of Concord, because the roadmap is laid out and the Scriptures are quoted (not just listed). The Book of Concord is our Global Positioning Satellite, which shows us the way. But we have to follow what the Word says. If people go against the Book of Concord, as most Lutherans do today, then they are not orthodox in the traditional meaning of that word. They are loyal to the radical element in their sect, but they are not in harmony (concordia) with the Book of Harmony, a hard-won document developed by faithful leaders after the death of Luther.

Enthusiasm is a key definition in that Book of Concord. Say you have never heard of the Smalcald Articles, written by Luther. Is that my fault? I have quoted them and illustrated them many times. They are on the Net and printed in many forms. If someone wants to be considered orthodox, then Enthusiasm is a key term to know.


Authority
This is especially important, because so many place the writings of men above the Word of God. That is easy to track when they quote all their favorite authors, who happen to be recent writers for their particular sect. In other cases they simply rely on rumors and stories they have heard.

The Church of Rome began to defend itself from the Word in the early Reformation, but they were clobbered in every debate. Therefore they decided to argue against the clarity and sufficiency and efficacy of the Word in favor of the infallible ability of the Pope to sort things out. The infallibility of the Pope was formally declared as Christian doctrine many centuries later, but it was already implied. Then, as now, the Pope is the final authority on all doctrine, because "the Holy Spirit will not let him (Him?) make a mistake in doctrine.

If a human being is infallible, then the Word of God is not. Each one argues against another. That is why no human authority can enslave my mind when the Word of God teaches me what the Spirit has revealed.

Clarity
The Word of God is clear and plain in teaching all that we need to know for salvation. We do not have to know Latin, Greek, and Hebrew to know what the Christian Faith teaches in the Bible. A good, faithful translation helps, but as my smartest Babtist student said once, "Even the New NIV teaches justification by faith in Romans 3." And it does, but the NIV paraphrase is not a translation at all.

Therefore, anyone should be wary when told something is so complicated and hidden from ordinary people that only certain clergy can teach it properly. That is where many laity say, "I am only a layman. I did not go seminary...." Seminary is only an introduction. It does not make one an expert. 

Pastors and laity together should say, "The more I study the Word, the more I need and want to learn more." As Luther wrote, the Word is like a goldmine. We can work it all our lives. The tunnels get larger but we can never exhaust the spiritual treasures in it. How wonderful that many believers working together can point to various passages they know and love or just saw anew.



Efficacy
Isaiah 55 promises that the Word always contains three-fold energy:
  1. The Word always returns to Him, never in vain.
  2. The Word always accomplishes His purpose.
  3. The Word  always prospers His will.
Someone can feel that nothing seems to be working, but the Word is always at work when broadcast. Our feelings have nothing to do with the efficacy of the Word.
In fact, we have to suppress our feelings in favor of trust in God. In time we will see the truth of that passage.

We can be confident that the Word is always at work in the Word and sacraments. To deny this is to reject the Spirit at work in the Word.

When the world is giving us the stink-eye, it is a measure of how dangerous the Word is to normal assumptions. Someone wrote, "My grandfather was not a Universalist." The issue is the Word, not our DNA.



Conveying Jesus
The purpose of the Word is to convey Jesus to others. Jesus converts through the Spirit in the Word. I constantly caution Old Testament students to see the Bible as primarily Gospel, comfort, blessings, and the forgiveness of sin. The problem is being so eloquent about the Law that we forget the Gospel or tack it on in the parody of many sermons - last sentence. "But we are all forgiven."

1. The entire Bible is a sermon about Christ.
2. The Bible is a cradle that contains Christ.

Sin
Therefore, sin is defined by Jesus as - not believing completely in Him. Preaching against gambling or drugs or carnal sins can be too easy, so easy that the foundation of sin is never mentioned. Without faith in Jesus, there is no cure. 

There was an old saying that ministers should give more feed if they wanted more results, as in dairy farming. Milk is the result of feed, not the strength of the milking.

Gospel preaching causes Gospel results. Today, as in the Reformation times, we need to shatter the chains of false doctrine to emphasize faith in Christ, which is so eloquently taught in Romans 3.

God’s Righteousness Through Faith

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.