The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream

May 25, 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, May 15, 2016

The Feast of Pentecost, 2016. John 14:23-31.
To Teach and Bring to Remembrance



The Feast of Pentecost, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The melodies are linked in the hymn name. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.

The Hymn # 236                              Creator Spirit 
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 #237                               All Glory Be  

Teach and Bring to Remembrance

The Communion Hymn # 234                        Holy Ghost with Light Divine 
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 #246                              Holy, Holy, Holy

KJV Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.



KJV John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.



Pentecost
O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou almighty Son of God: We beseech Thee, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, through Thy word, that He may rule and govern us according to Thy will, comfort us in every temptation and misfortune, and defend us by Thy truth against every error, so that we may continue steadfast in the faith, increase in love and all good works, and firmly trusting in Thy grace, which through death Thou hast purchased for us, obtain eternal salvation, Thou who reignest, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen. 


To Teach and Bring to Remembrance

Luther's history of Pentecost:
8. This is the history of the day. The festival we call Pentecost originated thus: When God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, he had them to celebrate the Easter festival the same night, and commanded them to celebrate it annually, as a memorial of their exodus out of Egypt. Counting from that day, they journeyed in the desert for fifty days, to Mount Sinai, where the Law was given to them by God, through Moses. Hence they celebrated the festival we call Pentecost. For the little word “Pentecost” is derived from the Greek Pentecostes, signifying the fiftieth day; the Saxons say Pingsten. It is to this festival that Luke has reference. When the fifty days after Easter were past and the disciples had celebrated the event of God’s having given the people the Law on Mount Sinai, then the Holy Spirit came and gave them a different law. We celebrate the festival, not because of the old, but because of the new, event, because of the sending of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we must offer a little explanation and show the difference between our Pentecost and the Jews’ Pentecost.

Therefore, it is no accident that the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles on the day they were celebrating Pentecost. The era of the First Testament was one where the Law was given to the people God chose. He elected them - they did not make a decision for Him.

The era of the New Testament meant that the Holy Spirit would always guide the Christian Church through the Scriptures. Not surprisingly, when the rationalists became obsessed with what they called the "historical Jesus," they abandoned the Spirit, the plain meaning of the Scriptures, and the faith. Once this rupture was effected, anything was truth if it moved people, so visible church marched out versions of social activism and ecstatic emotionalism. Both become tiresome in time, and abandoned. 

KJV John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

The verb for "keep" is also used for guarding. If we have something valuable, we guard it.  If we guard it, we will treat that object with love and respect, not casting it aside, or ignoring it, or letting it get lost in the middle of every other item. We like to put our favorite things on a display shelf so we can keep track of them, admire them, and let other people see them. I have a glass vase that was bought by my grandfather when he was at the state fair, over 100 years ago.  The vase conjures up memories - a constant connection with my mother's own displays at our home.

Love and keep go together. Abandoning the Word means not having a love for that Word. No matter how some people posture, their dereliction of duty in keeping the Word means they have no faith and no love. They may say "Jesus" but Jesus comes to us only through the Word, never apart from the Word, since the Spirit and the Word are never apart. 

This important connection of steps reminds me of how plants and animals thrive in God's Creation. One step leads to another. Rain will bring fertilizer, water, and minerals to the soil. The nitrogen compounds green up the plant and give it growth. If the plant grows, it sends out more roots. If it sends out more roots, the root hairs communicate with more fungi. If it makes a deal with the fungi, to give carbon in return for rainwater and minerals, it will enable to fungi to work even better and growth. In growing it uses the water for all the tissues and evaporates them into the air, where they contribute to future rain.

If someone loves Jesus, he will guard the Words of Jesus. If he does that, the Father will love him. When that happens, the Father and the Son make their abode with the believer. This does not leave out the Spirit, since the Spirit provides the divine power of the Word to create faith and to bear the fruit of the Spirit - love. From that love will come ways in which to broadcast this Gospel of God's love and forgiveness, and so the Kingdom grows.

The big word used for this is monergism - God does all this because of His gracious will. The garden is a good comparison. If someone loves roses, he will plant them and care for them. He cannot make them alive or make them grow, but God provides all the ways for the roses to grow, be protected from pests, and thrive with blossoms to enjoy, the fruit of the rose, trying to make rose hips (the fruit) and fulfill its role as an ornamental thorn bush. The more one sees this in action (and in reverse, spoiled by lack of love and attention), the more obvious God's role is in all this enjoyment. 

As I said in a separate post, last year's cultivation of pest eaters - beneficial insects - has already provided extra, early protection against aphids. Did I create, engineer, or manage these beneficial insects? No - I do not even call them into action. Where one person may have a hair-on-fire experience with a large wasp around he roses, I watch and wonder how this little fighter jet lives from the pests.

To carry out the comparison further, a little bit of gardening care means all kinds of benefits arrive through this method of divine management - birds to eat insect pests and fertilize the ground, soil creatures to work the foundation of all plant and animal life, bees and wasps and hornets to do their work. As the other professor in doctor's office said, "The pile of leaves is a pile of fertilizer, not trash." It takes little time to see them reduced to productive soil. This is God's management system, that works without our help, works in spite of our mistakes, and really goes into high gear with a little bit of observation and trust in Creation.

So I tell the people in the urban ministry courses and Old Testament survey courses, "If you want an abundance of blessings, apply an abundance of Gospel in every way possible. God will accomplish His will through the Gospel, how and when we are not to judge." One student had 3 life sentences, repented, and now wants to return to the city to teach the Word of God and serve those dragged down by crime and drug addiction. They love to hear Luther's Biblical doctrine and the concept (strange in this age) that unbelief is the foundational sin.

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 

Jesus was the first confessional Lutheran in the New Testament. I agree with the reader who says, "confessional is  a word that needs to be retired." He meant - the word has become meaningless in being used so often - like amazing. But the original meaning is good. One not only teaches the truth but rejects errors that work against this truth. Want to make established church leaders howl with rage? - just repudiate their errors. The errors show they do not believe what they claim - they are only posing.

Not loving Jesus is proven by not keeping His sayings. The unbelievers delight in saying, as they do in print news, blogs, and Youtube - "He was a conservative Christian minister and yet was arrested on the following charges..." Posturing is easy. The words just flow to please a traditional audience, but there is a direct connection between sincere love of the Gospel and respecting that Gospel as God's divine will. As Jesus often taught in John's Gospel, it is not His alone but the Father's too - in complete harmony - and witnessed by the Spirit. Sincere faith leads to actions in harmony with the Word. Faking faith means damaging believers and energizing the scoffers and atheists.

25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

This is from His farewell sermons, so the words are extremely important. If you want to know what the disciples were supposed to know best of all, read the Fourth Gospel. Building on the base of Matthew-Mark-Luke, the Gospel of John is the red underlining and final thoughts of the ministry of Jesus. If you have a red letter edition of the Bible, John's Gospel is the red letter Gospel. The most profound messages are spoken in the simplest language, the most basic grammar, so we do not miss anything. 

Jesus is making a transition from reminding the disciple of His Words to promising what the Holy Spirit will do for them, with them. My fears would be, "How do I remember everything and get it right?" This is answered.

  1. He shall teach all things.
  2. He will bring to remembrance everything I have taught.
This is a major emphasis and really the turning point in the concept of Biblical inerrancy. We do not teach inerrancy because the Bible is old and special, but because ithe Word is divinely given. Errors sprout from those who do not make the Word/Spirit connection or from those who neglect it through silence and apathy.

Every denomination will make the claim that the Bible is the sole authority for doctrine and practice, and throw in a few words to satisfy the base ("raw meat for the base," as the scheming secular politicians say). Only the United Church of Christ throws it all away. But the claims mean nothing when the Bible is treated as a nice antique with some value here and there - like using special furniture to hold paint and varnish supplies.

Jesus is first saying - You are being given the Spirit/Word, always divine, always effective, always accomplishing God's will, and always prospering His will. Sometimes that means mass conversions (the Day of Pentecost). Sometimes that means a massive riot, such as when Stephan was stoned to death. If a minister cannot teach this Spirit/Word and mean it, bad results will follow. 

Secondly, Jesus is teaching - The Spirit will work through the Word to keep the true Gospel in mind and to separate truth from falsehood. In Mark -


Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
When we look at the entire New Testament and the New in relationship to the Old, we can see the Spirit's work in keeping the message clear and without contradictions. The unity of the Bible is impossible through the best efforts of men, but is accomplished through the Spirit.
That continues with the ministers and laity. The foundation is basic Bible study and builds through additional study. The building blocks are divinely energized by the believer and sorted through additional study. Adult experiences, both joyful and tragic, bring to mind - through the Spirit - what the Word teaches. 
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
This is an important verse, because the peace that Jesus gives is through forgiveness of sin and membership in His family. The world sees honors, money, and power as peace, but that peace can disappear overnight. The cross born by Jesus and His disciples is a comfort to Christians, because they realize the Word brings worldly difficulties but spiritual peace.
That is the paradox that we find so often in God's Word - the seeming contradictions that lead us deeper into the Scriptures. The failings and troubles of the disciples tell us that they were not much different from us, with the same impulses and weaknesses. They do not appear in the Scriptures the way denominational heroes appear in official biographies. One can seldom find an analytical biography of any denominational leader. They are all perfect, courageous, generous, loving, and self-sacrificing - very much like Hollywood biographies. But the Scriptures teach us about Christ instead of glorifying His followers. And that is why the Word comforts us. 
Note this brilliant contrast between the Law written on stone and the New Testament spread by the Spirit -
11. Man’s nature is to follow his desire, but he is compelled to do otherwise. He thinks: God will punish me and cast me into hell if I do not keep his commandment. Since it is his nature to obey reluctantly and with displeasure when his will is opposed, man becomes hostile to God because of the penalty; he knows that he is a sinner and not in harmony with God, that he does not love God, yea, rather he would there were no God. Such hatred of God is hidden in the heart, no matter how finely nature adorns herself outwardly. Hence we see that the Law, as long as it is merely written, a Law in letters, makes no one righteous, for it enters not the heart. On this theme we have preached and written a great deal.

12. The other Law is spiritual. It is not written with pen and ink, nor spoken by word of mouth like the Law on the stone tablets handled by Moses, but, as we see in Luke’s narrative, the Holy Spirit falls from heaven and fills all the company assembled together, manifesting itself upon them in cloven and fiery tongues, causing them to preach boldly and with a power they had not before, so that all the people were pricked in their hearts and marveled. The Holy Spirit streams into the heart and makes a new man, one who now loves God and gladly does his will. Such is the Holy Spirit himself, or rather the work he does in the heart. He writes in fiery flame on the heart and makes it alive, causing it to find expression in fiery tongue and active hand; a new man is made, who is conscious of a reason, heart and mind unlike he formerly had. Everything is now alive: He has a live reason; he has light and courage and a heart which burns with love and delights in whatever pleases God. This is the real difference between the written and the spiritual laws of God; and such is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Spirit/Word
Holy Baptism
The Spirit/Word unified effort means we can always trust the Word. When a baby is baptized through water and the Word, is he a believer? The answer is clearly - "Yes," because the Spirit has planted faith in that infant heart through the Gospel readings and promises for Holy Baptism. This is a great comfort for those who lose a baby early or who have a child with developmental issues, such as our daughters never being able to talk.
I have written it before - Men came to Luther and said, "But a child does not have adult understanding." Luther retorted, "You have adult reasoning and you still don't believe!"
For an adult, Holy Baptism is God's seal and promise. The Holy Spirit dwells within that person and guides the individual according to His divine will.
Holy Communion
No one should be surprised that those who denigrate the Means of Grace, including Holy Communion, also neglect the Means of Grace and doubt its efficacy. Guitars are effective. Praise bands are effective. Gutting the pipe organ is effective. Dropping the Creeds, the liturgy, and real Christian hymns - those are all effective. But they deny the divine connection of the Word in Holy Communion.
God has given us this regular individual celebration of the Last Supper so that "given and shed for you" has individual, personal meaning - far beyond an abstract concept. The Holy Spirit is welded to the Word of Consecration and the Word of forgiveness in Holy Communion. Am I forgiven of all my sins? Answer - I received Holy Communion in faith, not doubting God's Promises.
Absolution
Absolution is part of the service, but also part of daily life. That means - forgiveness between people is just as complete as described when we talk about God's forgiveness. Forgiveness is forgetting, not a token forgiveness followed by many reminders. And this is the greatest atmosphere to enjoy - mutual forgiveness among friends and family.
Daily Life
The work of the congregation and the daily life of individuals is one of the Spirit. Anything done by God or through God or in the Name of God is through the Spirit. That also means through the Word, guided by the Word, inspired by the Word, blessed by the Word.
People talk about a "personal relationship with Jesus," which is exactly what happens when we hear, read, and remember the Gospel. The Word through the Spirit brings Christ to us and the meeting is not without consequences. If we feel sorrowful, abandoned, loaded up with troubles, the Spirit through the Gospel Promises moves us to pray and to pray according to God's will.