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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Second Sunday in Advent, 2015.
Plain, Clear Words of the Bible

The Second Sunday in Advent, 2015

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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      Romans 15:4-13
The Gospel                           Luke 21:25-36 
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #71                            Watchman Tell Us    

The Plain, Clear Words of the Bible

The Hymn # 304                                      An Awe-Full of 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 # 647                                          O Little Town of Bethlehem    

Second Sunday In Advent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son hast revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away, that our bodies shall rise again, and that we all shall appear before the judgment seat: We beseech Thee, keep us by Thy Holy Spirit in Thy word; establish us in the true faith, graciously defend us from sin and preserve us in all temptations, that our hearts may not be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, but that we may ever watch and pray and, trusting fully in Thy grace, await with joy the glorious coming of Thy Son, and at last obtain eternal salvation, 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.

KJV Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

KJV Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. 29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

The Plain, Clear Words of the Bible

KJV Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 

We have established standards in the US and in the world. The idea of the inch or millimeter is confusing unless a standard exists for that measurement. That is an issue with Noah's ark. Exactly how long was that measurement - a cubit? It makes a difference when calculating the length and width of that ship.

Thus we have many standards - distance, temperature, and weight. That also applies in other areas, such as computer science, where standards are set for such things as wiring and network connections. They are called protocols, and we use one term - IP address - all the time. Internet Protocol.

Given this great book we have - this Bible - how can we be clear about its meaning? Various groups have solemnly intoned that the Bible is infallible - the word was changed in meaning - so now it is inerrant. And they come to a rest at that point. The opportunities for mischief are vast and many have not resisted the temptations.

But there is a protocol within that standard called The Word of God. The Scriptures are the canon, the ruling norm of Christian faith and practice. But how do we keep form wandering away from the meaning of that ruling norm?

The answer is clear. The protocol is simple - stick to the clear, plain meaning of the words.

I discussed this with a person last week and decided to borrow his complaint. He asked why do we need a new set of words for forgiveness. Suddenly, in history, after the Reformation, long after the meaning of the Bible was established with many great volumes of Bible study (aka the orthodox theologians - Chemnitz, Gerhard, Chytraeus, and lesser lights) - new terms crop up and people insist on those terms being used.

As we can see from this one verse alone, the Scriptures are written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 

So we have directions, much more than directions, because they are the voice of God Himself, spoken by the Holy Spirit through various scribes. The directions do not mean much if the words keep changing in meaning.

Roman Catholic Leaders in the Reformation
Roman Catholic leaders tried to argue from the Scriptures in the early part of the Reformation, as Chemnitz observed. They were quite naive about the meaning of the Scriptures and thought their commentaries or glosses handled everything. They were wrong and got trounced in the early debates.

They switched tactics. The Scriptures were no longer clear and plain. They were not even sufficient. They were so incomplete, so confusing, that they were insufficient to teach people the meaning of Christianity. No, the people, even the priests and bishops, needed a final authority - the pope - to tell them the meaning of the Word of God. There was a struggle at first, with the pope maintaining primacy over all the other leaders, and he won that battle, so in time the infallibility of the Word was attached to the pope, and the Word of God became unclear, insufficient, and confusing for the ordinary person. Indeed, without the guidance of the Roman Catholic Church, nothing could be understood properly.

That is really the beginning of modern Biblical criticism, the art of saying that a given passage means exactly the opposite of what we think by reading it.

Example - miracle. Most people think of a miracle as an event where God intervenes and changes everything to create something out of the ordinary, against our reason and science - changing water into wine, raising the dead, curing leprosy with a Word.

But no, the critics say, we all know there are no miracles, so the word "sign" or "wonder" or "miracle" must meant that the observer is so impressed with Jesus that he takes an entirely different view of the world. Nothing has happened. He only thinks something has happened.

Those miracles witnessed by many people are dismissed as the attempts of the disciples to show how swell Jesus was. That shows their faith in Him. Aww. And so the empty tomb is not empty at all, but it is a fine example of the "Easter faith of the disciples."

5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 

A group cannot be likeminded when they are confused about the message. When confronted about their new words, they say, "The Trinity is not found in the Bible. That is a new term." And of course the word itself is not found in the Bible, but there are hundreds of references to the Trinity in the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament.

So the Mormons say, "And we believe in the Trinity." So I asked, "Do you believe in three separate gods?" They said, "Yes we do." So I countered, "That is not the Trinity. You say the Book of Mormon is in harmony with the Bible, but the Bible says, Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One God."

That made them confused and very angry. When people invent new words and stick to those new terms, they react strongly against the truth. "They believe, but their hides bristle. (James)" They know enough about God to deal with the language, but they only feel the power without the mercy and react against the truth. They have already fallen into 2 Thessalonians 2, one of the most powerful passages in the Bible.

2 Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
People cannot be likeminded when they see two different meanings to the same passage of the Bible. The Mormons said, "One verse of the Bible can have 100 different meanings." I said, "True. 99 wrong ones and one right one." That upset them. I went on to say, "God created the world and sent His Son to die for our sins, and yet He cannot speak to us clearly enough to let us know the truth! Is that what you mean?" More anger and confusion followed.

As one reader commented, we are being flooded with paganism and false doctrine because we have neglected our study - which is commended in this passage. Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 

6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Strength comes from unity, so the Christians are scattered like the builders of the Tower of Babel, because they are speaking different things at the same time.

If we listen to what others are saying, we can tell who their authorities are. They will always fall back on their favorites. Thus they say, "This is your opinion." Some pretend to be gracious by saying, "You are entitled to your opinion." But they retreat back to a source that is their comfort and source of confusion. Yesterday, that meant "I agree with Jack Kilcrease," who was educated by ELCA and is a part-time teacher of Roman Catholics and future ELCA pastors, many of them women candidates.

I responded, "I agree with St. Paul and the Holy Spirit." We should be so firm in our understanding of the Word that we listen to no other authority than the Scriptures and are firm in being students of the Holy Spirit. 

This is the great advantage of doctrinal conflict, which will always exist as long as Satan enters into every discussion and works on dividing people. That conflict should drive us to know the Word better all the time. 

There are two impacts that motivate us to hunger and thirst for the real meaning of the Word. One is the need to teach children or adults. The other is conflict, when people try to deny the meaning of the Scriptures.

As long as there is no need to teach and no turmoil to confront, we take for granted the great lessons of the Bible. But when teaching requires us to answer difficult questions and turmoil attacks the truth, the Word is especially appealing and we remember the Psalmist's words.

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God." Psalm 42:1

The hymn -

As pants the hart for cooling streams
when heated in the chase,
so longs my soul, O God, for thee
and thy refreshing grace.

7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 

This use of receive could be translated as "welcome," which is the opposite of shun. Just as Christ received or welcomed us through grace, mercy, and forgiveness, with all our sins and weakness, so we should see the Christian Church as a gathering of fallible people. Therefore, we welcome those especially who believe in Christ and receive their forgiveness and salvation through Him alone and not through their own merits.

We can be completely confident of our understanding of the Christian Faith when we rely on the clear, plain words of the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word. No fad, trend, or philosophy can set aside that meaning.