The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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May 31, Ascension Day Holy Communion,
7 PM Centray Daylight Time
NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Invocavit Sunday, The First Sunday in Lent, 2016.
The Temptation of Christ


Invocavit Sunday, The First Sunday in Lent, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #148                      Lord Jesus Christ                
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 #146               Lamb of God                         


Everyone Is Tempted, As Jesus Was

The Hymn #153                 Stricken Smitten  
                
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 #154     Alas and Did My Savior              

KJV 2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

First Sunday In Lent

Lord God, heavenly Father, inasmuch as the adversary doth continually afflict us, and as a roaring lion doth walk about, seeking to devour us: We beseech Thee for the sake of the suffering and death of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to help us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and to strengthen our hearts by Thy word, that our enemy may not prevail over us, but that we may evermore abide in Thy grace, and be preserved unto everlasting life; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


Everyone Is Tempted, As Jesus Was

KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 

The Lenten readings emphasize the human nature of Christ, and therefore we see Him not only as the face of God, but also as our example, that we follow in His steps. Everything commanded by Jesus for our benefit is also what He did. We are to resist temptation, as He did. We are to pray, as He did. We are to take up the cross given to us, as He did.

Sometimes people fail to recognize the human nature of Christ. Because of the two natures in Christ, He was capable of sin. I remember a Missouri pastor denying this and looking around the room with blazing eyes, as if daring anyone to question him and become branded a heretic. If Jesus could not be tempted, then He was not capable of sinning. He was definitely tempted but He did not sin. His divine nature is shown in His perfect, sinless life.

Errors often come from people trying to boost an article of faith to make the case even stronger for it. For example, in the earliest centuries, women were considered so evil by nature that it seemed impossible to some that Jesus was born of a woman. What grew out of that notion was the Immaculate Conception of Mary, that she never committed a single sin in her life. Else, how could a sinful vessel bear the Christ? Luther and the Reformers were raised and trained on such teaching, and it took some time for that to be removed by study of the Word.

Likewise, God could not suffer, so Jesus only seemed to be human, as one heresy claimed. These errors come from failing to see the Two Natures in Christ, both divine and human, always present, but not always prominent. Our age often wants Jesus to be only human - ever since the rationalism that took over Pietism. The early centuries favored the divine nature, excluding the human.

Martin Chemnitz, the senior editor of the Book of Concord and the Formula of Concord, 1580, wrote The Two Natures in Christ, a volume translated by Jack Preus. I bought one and had it signed at the Indianapolis convention. That was not a book just for owning but for studying, and re-reading. One has to study his career to realize that everything in his life prepared him to lead in the documents that united the true witness of the Lutheran Reformation.

After His baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert wilderness, to be tempted, which was His Father's will. This is historically true and also an important allegory for us. First we see the first public event for Jesus as His baptism, the descent of the Spirit, and His Father's voice. Next - He is tempted.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:14. 

The desert was seen at the time as the place where all the devils and evil spirits were present. 

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

The Spirit leads all believers. As I said to one person, "Even during your times of slipping away from God, the Spirit made you hunger for the Gospel and find peace and comfort in that Gospel."

Sometimes we look back and wonder why we did such a crazy, illogical thing, one that was reckless and unprofitable by the measure of most people. In time that proves to be the driving of Holy Spirit, which moves people to start missions from nothing, satisfied workers to leave their fishing gear and go to seminary, laity to search for the truth in the midst of chaos.

And the wilderness effect soon sets in, "Why did I do this? Turmoil is all around me as a result, and friends make fun of me." The unsafe thing is always going to be costly. As Luther observed, when we fast on purpose, we can end it at any time. But when the fast is imposed on us, we have to accept that in faith without murmuring. That is like Jesus' command not to hang our faces and be pious sourpusses but to wash our faces and hide all suffering, which will be rewarded by God in time. But the involuntary fast is such that only through faith do we see the end of it.

First we see from the fasting of Jesus that He was not hungry until 40 days were up. Thus God made it possible for Him to endure this time until the full effect set in. This is not natural but divine. As we all know, when a big storm threatens any area, the population empties the stories of bread, milk, eggs, and Pop Tarts. One reader thought some weather reports were financed by grocery stores to create this panic buying. I responded harshly, "Shhhh."

Is it not human nature to imagine great suffering in the future when none is present. And people stoke up each other's fears. When gas was going to be short in Phoenix, because a pipeline broke, nothing really developed. But people were lining up for that last fill, before "it was too late." It was comical and sad at the same time.

The unbelievers serve their Father Below by taunting Christians who are suffering. "If you really believe in a kind and compassionate God, why does He let you suffer so much - illness, job-relocations, pain, and shunning?" Relatives are especially good at that, careful to poke at the wounds and pour on the salt.

SpenerQuest made fun of me and dismissed me for belonging to four synods. I listed the four synods of their beloved Synod President Al Barry, and they were silent (WELS, ELS, Orthodox Something, LCMS). They dismissed me for going to Notre Dame, so I listed all the faculty of their beloved seminary, Concordia Ft. Wayne, and they were silent again. 

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Jesus answered that we do not live by food alone, but by the Word of God, every Word that proceeds from His Mouth. What sustains this world? Food does not. Behind this global supply of food is God's management and design, so that we always have enough if we trust in Him. Famines are often caused by evil leaders, such as Stalin, who starved millions to death to make them subservient to him. Or wars are generated for evil motives, and people suffer and starve as a result.

The soil shows that God's Creation constantly reclaims all elements for the renewal of this ocean life - the soil - that we take for granted. My wife said, "So soil is best left alone?" I said, "It comes down to fungus, which grows miles and miles of filaments to feed and water the root hairs of plants. And they offer carbon to the fungus in exchange for what they demand from the fungus." The actual work of microbes only became known a few years ago, but they have been at work since Creation. And one plant cell has a number of well engineered chemical factories within in - microscopic and running with great efficiency. 

This all happens and continues through God's Word. When the time comes to end human history, it will be the Word, not man, deciding.

Lack of faith leads to all kinds of misfortune and sorrow, and then greed takes over, such as when Jerusalem was falling. Those with food stole from those too weak to protect themselves. This greed deprives many people while sharing helps and feeds many. My classmate described his zero cost garage sales, which we imitated. Everything is set out, and it is free, no questions asked. Suddenly the stored up things that are no longer useful become very handy for others. Many food items can be used the same way, or garden produce (if one is not feeding a herd of rabbits, as I did last summer.)

11. These words Christ quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3, where Moses says: “Thy God humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live.”

That is as much as to say: Since God permits you to hunger and you still continue to live, you ought indeed to grasp the thought that God nourishes you without bread through his Word; for if you should live and sustain yourself by bread alone then you must continually be full of bread. But the Word, that nourishes us is, that he promises us and causes it to be published that he is our God and desires to be our God.



5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

I have heard this from and individual and have seen it in writing. Now we have a movement based on it, demanding such and such from God. Have they never read this example of tempting God? Naturally, many desires or requests come from real need. But the temptation is this, "Prove to me that you are God by giving me what I want." Thus a famous writer was bitter that God did not take away his stuttering. That was turned into a club foot in Of Human Bondage. Congregations tell God how much they want their attendance to grow in the next three years. Why not pray to be faithful to the Word? 


The Word urges us to pray for all our needs, but this also shows us the attitude of trust that accompanies it. Telling God exactly what we want, when we want it, and how we want it - that is pure unbelief. Paul Y. Cho taught thousands to name their desire, describe it, and order it up, like large fries as a fast food restaurant. Years later he was convicted of stealing millions of dollars from his very large church. Some say his son was largely at fault, but where did his son learn this avarice?

Likewise his disciple Robert Schuller was blamed by his son for wrecking that money machine called the Crystal Cathedral. And junior blamed his sister, too. And on it went until it became a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Family cooperation is mutually beneficial, but most fail to see this and scatter the benefits instead of sharing the burdens.

I enjoyed writing and publishing, but the way was always being blocked by synod drones and UOJ fanatics. That set me free for self-publishing and blogging. God provided two technologies that did not exist when wrote my first book.

A small group of believers can accomplish a lot for the Gospel simply by being faithful. Things happen that no one could predict or even imagine. God delights in using modest means and weakness to show His power. The great and powerful covet their perks and honors, but find they amount to nothing in time, often too late.

I learned a lot by trying to look up photos and material on past professors at Yale. They were all greatly honored in their time or they would not have had endowed professorships. Soon the official channels were almost empty of information. A new crew was teaching and the old crew, was forgotten. Fame is fleeting. One many wrote a book and died. His widow could not get it published. The publishers said, "No one cares about this topic anymore."

I tell my graduate students in theology, "Stay a believer in the Word. That itself is a great accomplishment, because many do not. They fall prey to ambition, various carnal temptations, and lust for the honors of the world. I can name friends who moved from being conservative Christians to atheism as pastors." Another temptation - there is good money in being an atheist pastor. Second in being honored by God is having a family of believers. Many clergy take the family for granted and lose them, a sad testimony for others to see and mock.

To wear the livery of a Christian and ape the ways of the world is a contradiction. One must fail. No one can serve two masters. When the ministers in the LCMS had their own little hotel room and were going to sue the synod to get the finances audited and so forth, I said to a fellow member, "If they need to take the synod to a secular court, they have already lost." The modern equivalent is discussing family troubles on TV or on Facebook, a shortcut to disaster.


22. Who these are, we have identified often enough and very fully, namely, workrighteous persons and unbelieving hypocrites under the name of being Christians and among the congregation of Christian people. For the temptation must take place in the holy city and one temptation is seldom against another. In the first temptation want and hunger are the reasons that we should not believe; and by which we become anxious to have a full sufficiency, so that there is no chance for us to believe. In the second temptation, however, the abundance and the full sufficiency are the reasons that we do not believe, by which we become tired of the common treasure, and every one tries to do something through his own powers to provide for his soul. So we do; if we have nothing, then we doubt God and believe not; if we have abundance, then we become tired of it and wish to have something different, and again we fail to believe. There we flee and turn against want and seek abundance: here we seek want and flee from the abundance we have. No, whatever God does for us, is never right. Such is the bottomless wickedness of our unbelief.

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 


24. For whom the devil cannot overcome with poverty, want, need and misery, he attacks with riches, favor, honor, pleasure, power and the like, and contends on both sides against us; yea, “he walketh about,” says St. Peter in 1 Peter 5:8, so that if he cannot overthrow us either with suffering or love, that is, with the first temptation on the left or the third on the right, he retires to a higher and different method and attacks us with error, blindness and a false understanding of the Scripture. If he wins there, we fare ill on all sides and in all things; and whether one suffers poverty or has abundance, whether he fights or surrenders, all is lost. For when one is in error, neither patience in misfortune nor firmness in prosperity helps him; seeing that in both heretics are often powerful and the devil deliberately acts as if he were overcome in the first and last temptations, although he is not, if he has only won in the middle or second temptation. For he lets his own children suffer much and be patient, even at times to spurn the world; but never with a true and honest heart.

This could be listed as "looking for danger when none exists," as people do when they become restless and bored. I see that when eyes glow about the latest religious fad and false doctrine. The response is the same as when I pointed out that a pyramid scheme was a felony. "That just makes it more exciting." People who could not make phone calls legitimately were jamming the lines for a fraudulent scheme. "It's OK, but don't write anything down and don't use the Post Office."

So with false doctrine, it's new and exciting. Why be a spoilsport and deny the fun? Spiritual dangers are far more dangerous. One can recover from a bad fall from a tree, skateboard, hoverboard, or rope swing. Then a lesson is learned, if only a bit late. But as Luther observed, the pain from false doctrine is not  beneficial in any way. Often someone gets increasingly confused and lost.

When spirit guides in churches were the rage, and incarnation being taught in the same places, I said, "Nothing in Scripture supports either one. No one likes a wet blanket.

Luther and the German Reformers pointed out the Means of Grace in the Scriptures, The Church of Rome liked the term but used it their own way, de-emphasizing faith and adding works.

The non-Lutheran Protestants were opposed to the concept and taught against the Means of Grace. They went to great lengths to continue baptism and communion but denying that these sacraments (now called ordinances) actually gave the forgiveness of sin promised.

The errors of Protestantism today - including among the Lutherans - come from denying and dismissing the Means of Grace from God and making up exciting new gimmicks from the mind of man.

During the Exodus, how were the Israelites fed and hydrated? They had the Bread of Life from heaven, manna, and water springing from the rock. When they tired of manna, they had birds flying into them. And yet they murmured and set up a golden calf to worship. Why worship the true God when one can make an idol from gold and jewels?

So people deny Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, seeing only water, bread and wine.

But Baptism is called a rebirth, a washing, a renewal - which seems a lot more active on God's part than man "obeying a law" or "witnessing to the Faith."

Jesus Himself said, "This is My Body, given for the forgiveness of sin." And yet, His own Words cannot be believed. On tithing Sunday, they are all "it is better to give than to receive" but with Communion, it is all "He did not really mean that."

The power is in the Word, the efficacy is the Word. The earthly elements are for man to attach to the Word. And yet, the same people will point to a rainbow (an earthly element) and remind everyone of God's Promise never to send a global flood again.