The Glory Has Departed

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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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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, July 17, 2016

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity. Matthew 7:15-21.
Every Good Tree Brings Forth Good Fruit

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity  2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

The Hymn #12         This Day at Thy Creating Word           
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 Hymn #260                       O Lord Look Down   

The Tree of Faith Bears Good Fruit

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 Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Eighth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank Thee that Thou hast caused us to come to the knowledge of Thy word. We pray Thee: graciously keep us steadfast in this knowledge unto death, that we may obtain eternal life; send us now and ever pious pastors, who faithfully preach Thy word, without offense or false doctrine, and grant them long life. Defend us from all false teachings, and frustrate Thou the counsels of all such as pervert Thy word, who come to us in sheep's clothing, but are inwardly ravening wolves, that Thy true Church may evermore be established among us, and be defended and preserved from such false teachers, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Tree of Faith Bears Good Fruit
KJV Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Every denomination, even the most liberal, has its disciplinary process about getting rid of false teachers. The Unitarian-Universalists will not let someone join unless a specific confession of unfaith is signed.

Likewise, there are standards of apostasy kept pure in each denomination. Fire and brimstone are hurled at those who depart from the apostasy. They are not protecting the faith once delivered to the saints, but the rationalism and even occult philosophy treasured by that group.

We have definitely entered into the Age of Apostasy predicted in the Pastoral Epistles of Paul and 2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy 4King James Version (KJV)

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

2 Thessalonians 2King James Version (KJV)

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; [GJ - Falling away = apostasy in Greek. Those who had faith no longer do, and they are the leaders.]
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
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.

The question is whether these passages fit our era. If they do, then we have entered the final times, which may last for centuries - or not. The dominance of error is the most significant sign, as well as the way false teachers prosper with thousands of followers, even though Satan reduces them to blubbering fools before they die, taking the scales from their eyes as their punishment before joining their Father Below.
It is significant that the Antichrist in Rome has abandoned the traditional poses of the last century and become an open radical, as his Jesuit status always promised. The Jesuits were so evil that they were banned and dissolved by Rome for a period of time, but they came back.

7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
The protests I have heard all my life are the very ones warned against in this verse. 
"He's not a false teacher - he's a friend of mine."
"He is a nice guy."
"He is very popular in his area."
"He was appointed to this office by the Synod!"
"His congregation loves him."
"I drank a lot of beer with him in seminary. He is my classmate!"
"Do you know who his father and uncle are?"
"His entire family has led this synod."
False teachers are invariably charming, or well connected, or just there to "help" the church and "improve matters" for everyone. Not one defense listed above sounds like - "He is faithful to the Scriptures and the Confessions."
In contrast, the teaching of the Word always brings the cross. And yet this is used against faithful pastors and laity. The faithful are called trouble-makers, and yet the biggest trouble-makers are those who enable the false teachers by paying them, protecting them, hiding their crimes, and promoting them to even better or higher office. 
That is why we should be suspicious about those who brag about paving more parking lots and installing more seating. The real work of the Church is preaching, teaching, and visiting. Many senior clergy and District Presidents get someone else to do the real work so they can go on off the rubber chicken circuit and be bigshots as the expert from out of town. The last good St. Louis seminary president, Ludwig Fuerbringer, (not Fibby, his libby son) refused to attend certain out of town functions so he could stay home and study Luther and the Scriptures.
The success and prosperity of the false teachers should not make us want to sign up for their courses and seminars but to avoid them and warn people against them.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
No one offers teaching parables about Creation better than the Lord of Creation, Jesus. And because we depend on Creation to warm us, feed us, and provide us fresh water, we should be aware of these truths that cannot be changed by our emotions or the political trends.
This is obvious to anyone. No one raises thistles -  because they are big, study, and resistant to the worst weather and only produce more thistles. The so-called thistle seed, Nyger, is loved by finches but radiated so it will not germinate. So maybe it is a money crop in Ethiopia, but no one is going to harvest anything like it in America.
I think my neighbor is growing figs, but he is growing them on fig trees, not on thorn-bushes.
It takes some discernment to see the kinds of spiritual fruits Jesus is talking about. So many people are impressed by material things, so the ministers and laity boast about 6,000 seats and acres of parking lots, parking valets, and coffee shops.
Note what we saw at one non-Lutheran church - characteristics that "Lutherans" want to copy:
  • Parking valets.
  • Electronic offering ATM.
  • Overpiced coffee bar in the narthex.
  • Huge screens all over the worship area - about 20 in all.
  • Not a chancel, but a stage with secular music played and sung.

This enormous church was tiny compared to the much larger one a few miles away.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
There is nothing in the Bible that suggests a business model, bigger is better, go big or go home, or success based on man's standards.
Instead, miraculous growth is promised through the broadcasting of the Word, just like the miraculous feedings and the water turned into wine.
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 
Luther - First Sermon:
24. As I said before, no one knows others by their fruits, except he who is spiritually born again. Therefore, he who has not the Spirit, cannot have this knowledge. Let no one think that he can know this from the fruits unless he be spiritual. The fruit by which we are to know them is unbelief.
The distinction being made here is between faith and unbelief. Therefore, faith sees and understands what is produced by the power of God's Spirit in the Gospel. At the same time, unbelief is irritated and angered by faith. Unbelief is always at war with faith, but unbelief hides its true nature by shifting the subject, by displacing sound doctrine with many different tactics and methods.
Envy, greed, and pride are not fruits of the Spirit, but works of the flesh - so people cast their eyes at the big church "that is busy every day of the week." So they want to follow the same rules and get the same results. Some books even promised that would happen. Failing there, they had expensive seminars to teach the magic and awe the newcomers.
The church leaders who talk about raising more money and having more money couch their pleas in terms of the Gospel, but the results are comical. Mequon, Mankato, Ft. Wayne, and St. Louis spent millions of dollars on seminaries to make them deluxe, rather than helping students finish without debt. The result? They do not want to admit it yet, but those fancy seminaries are emptied out. That is the result of unbelief running the synods. Apostates reward and promote apostates who only think in terms familiar with unbelievers but disguised as "mission" and other such nonsense.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 
We have already seen examples of corrupt trees cut down and cast into the fire. The largest churches have emptied out. The foundational Church Growth parish, Garden Grove's Crystal Cathedral, is now a Catholic Cathedral. The Schuller family was almost completely alienated from the parish when it closed. He taught churches not to use the denominational name, which led to weird names like The Gathering and The Core - ashamed of the Gospel.
In WELS, Tim Glende's coffee bar church, built to his specifications, is booming as a Babtist church. His two church buildings in one Illinois location have become:
  1. An Eastern Orthodox Church.
  2. A Babtist Church.
And Glende is a disciple of Mark Jeske, the pan-Lutheran WELS pastor on the Thrivent Board of Directors. The evil fruit has continued to show itself, year after year. Pastor Vainglory wants to be a District President now! Not Jeske, Glende.

The Good Tree - A Message of Comfort and Encouragement
  • 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit
  • 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,
This should be at the forefront of every Christian's thought. That is also why so many people of various denominations, even some Catholics, are united in the basic Gospel and appalled at what is being sold like frozen yogurt at their churches.

Faith takes comfort in the Gospel and seeks spiritual wisdom from the Word of God rather than Wall Street or Eastern gurus of the occult religions. Faith is an active quality in the Christian, which God begins with the power of the Gospel Word. For babies, that begins with Holy Baptism. For adults, that can come with conversion through hearing the Word. It is most often from hearing the Gospel spoken.

Mormons came to our house on Friday, just as I was returning from the SuperCenter. We talked casually, in a friendly way about gardening. The two Mormon missions showed no knowledge of the Bible and even tried the story of the currant bush on me - as a Biblical example. Then the little whiteboard came out. I asked - "Is Jesus the brother of Satan?" They answered "Yes."

Then I asked, "Is the Trinity comprised of three separate gods?" They said, "Yes."

"You don't believe the Bible." 

"Yes we do. We believe the Bible and..."

"There is no Bible and. You reject what the Bible teaches."

They tried to say prayer confirmed the truth of the Mormon religion, but I pointed out the ISIS member prayed to Allah before he slaughtered everyone. We parted in a friendly way. I could tell from their responses they knew too little about the Bible to grasp much at all. 

Sometimes faith must convict people of their unbelief, disturb them, and shake up their completely wrong thoughts.

But on the positive side. simple worshiping with the Biblical liturgy, Biblical hymns, the Scripture readings and Psalms, and study of the Bible with the sermon - that all comes from the good tree of Faith. Faith will always bear good fruit, but we do not know what that will be.

Because so many things go against the Gospel, people feel the cross more often than the thrill of victory, but that is why we have these encouraging passages. Luther commented on the topic when he said we are not to measure anything but be content to end life with a good conscience about serving God faithfully.

Schuller defined sin as "not believing hard enough," which proved that he had no idea about Christian faith. When I looked into his life, he was inspired by the pagan Napoleon Hill and won an award from the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Likewise, he followed and was "ministered to" by Paul Y. Cho, the South Korean who combined Asian polytheism with the Assemblies of God and found himself kicked out of that denomination. Christianity Today phoned me about that claim and asked where I read it. I said, "Christianity Today. Your magazine." 

God begins Faith in us with the Gospel and continues to build and expand that faith, through the Means of Grace.

28. Thus we must begin with faith. But the Pope begins with works, and commands persons to do good works that they may become good. Just as if I should say to the tree: If you want to be a good tree, then begin and bear apples. Just as though I could bear apples before I was an apple tree.

But I must say: If you want to bear apples, then begin and be an apple tree.

Hence the tree must be there before it can produce fruit.

29. From all this it follows now that there is no sin on earth except unbelief, as Christ says in John 16:8-9: “And the Holy Ghost, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin; because they believe not on me.”

We can feed Faith with various forms of the Gospel, and the energy of the Spirit will make Faith grow. Nothing else does. It is not a production of the mind alone, but the believer applying himself to the visible and invisible Word, the Sacraments, teaching, and preaching. 

When I copied the Lenker sermons of Luther into the blog, I thought that was great, but I realized there was not a run on the sermons. For that reason I began publishing them anew each Sunday, and I began to get responses from that effort, not just from people I know but from people who fell into the friend net on Facebook. I may be wrong, but I don't see anyone else posting a Luther sermon every week and also posting their own sermons in writing.

I have learned this - the results take time and build beyond all possible imagination or thought, as Ephesians teaches.

At the same time, there are conferences where nothing good is said about broadcasting free over the Net, blogging classic Lutheran books and sermons, keeping people up to date about Lutheran news. Somehow, these Lutherans think everything done here is wrong, even though they ask how to do it themselves. I imagine they would have opposed the printing press, too, after getting one of their own.

More and more I realize what Paul wrote about not judging anything and only being faithful.

This lesson also teaches to let the Gospel be abundant in our lives. Every word and action of patience and forgiveness is healing and encouraging to others. There are times when admonition is needed but we are far too eloquent in criticism and far too shy in thanking and praising others.  Love, joy, and peace are the first three fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5. The first form of love is love toward God, and God gives us a special love toward our family and friends. That blossoms just as the flowers and trees do.

I pulled up to our house with our son in the car, for a Team Jackson gathering. I asked, "How do you like our Crepe Myrtle?" He said, "That. Looks. Impressive."

I said, "Nobody else in this area has one like it. I baby it year around, with pruning, watering, and mulching underneath."

The bush gives back 100 times the little effort I put into it.

Our families give back 1000 times the effort, which is a pleasant task. I saw a mother from India speaking nonsense to her baby to make the child smile. She tried to stay serious and professional looking in the doctor's office. I smiled, and she broke into a grin. Babies and grandchildren make us goofy - and enjoy life so much more. They are blessings from God. The sickest child, the one with the greatest problems, even the one who has gone before us to heaven - every single one is a blessing from God to receive and give love, the firstfruit of the Spirit.