The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 2016. 1 Corinthians 15:1-10.
Risen from the Grave

The Empty Tomb - By Norma Boeckler


The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 2016


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       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 384            How Great Is Thy Compassion             

Risen from the Grave - The Foundation of the Faith


The Communion Hymn #199            Jesus Christ Is Risen Today (trumpet)                    
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 # 514             God Moves in a Mysterious Way     

By Norma Boeckler


KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Eleventh Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not forget our sins and be filled with pride, but continue in daily repentance and renewal, seeking our comfort only in the blessed knowledge that Thou wilt be merciful unto us, forgive us our sins, and grant us eternal life; 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.

By Norma Boeckler

Risen from the Grave - The Foundation of the Faith

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 

Paul teaches the ultimate confirmation of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. Notice the poetic cadences of this opening, as if it were a poem, a hymn, or a creed.

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel 
which I preached unto you, 
which also ye have received, 
and wherein ye stand; 
By which also ye are saved, 
if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, 
unless ye have believed in vain. 

They remind us of this well known passage in Luke 2

Fear not: for, behold, 
I bring you good tidings of great joy, 
which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day
 in the city of David a Saviour, 
which is Christ the Lord.
Or Philippians 2
Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, 
thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, 
and took upon him the form of a servant, 
and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, 
he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, 
and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that 
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Gospel is the resurrection of Christ, which is not simply a little story of inspiration, but the foundation of all the truths of Jesus as the Son of God and Savior. The end of this opening statement says - unless you believed in vain.
That is a good start, because the rationalists either dismiss the resurrection as a fable or cleverly re-imagine it as representing "the Easter faith of the disciples." The second is the most dangerous because people hear in faith and think the sermon is enforcing faith, but just the opposite is true. Supplanting is the best way to undermine faith in the Scriptures, since people resist a frontal attack on the truths of the Bible. 
The third method of removing the resurrection is the most dangerous and successful. The hucksters merchandise the Gospel as the best way to motivate people to become successful, happy, and prosperous. Fuller Seminary, Willow Creek Community Church, and some clones have mastered the art of rephrasing occult success religions from Asia and making them sound a bit Christian. The Lutherans - from the most apostate ELCA to the most Pietistic CLC (sic), with LCMS, WELS, and ELS inbetween - have adopted this method with gusto and protect their brand ferociously. No one is allowed to poke holes in this obvious charade. The great lights of this method always come up in the talk of these snake-oil salesmen: Napoleon Hill (denied Satan, spoke to spirits hovering in his office), Robert Schuller (honored by the Napoleon Hill Foundation), Paul Y. Cho (Korean kicked out of the Assemblies of God for teaching occult, Asian religion), Norman Vincent Peale, who plagiarized an occult author for the Power of Positive Thinking and inspired Robert Schuller.
In short, the three methods for getting rid of the actual resurrection of Christ are:
  1. Outright denial that it happened or 
  2. Rephrasing it as an event in the minds of the disciples, or
  3. Selling the Gospel as a conduit for success and motivation stories.


When one of these methods is at work, the tell-tale sign is - The preacher hardly mentions God or Jesus at all in the so-called sermon, most likely "the message." The wolf preachers are ashamed of the Gospel and ashamed of Jesus, but do not mind using the words like magic incantations to get what they want. They scatter and devour the sheep.
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you
This is the Apostle calling the troubled congregation back to correct doctrine by repeating the foundation of the Gospel. He says "brothers" because all believers in Christ are brothers among themselves and brothers of Christ.
He established the congregation by preaching the resurrection of Christ. The Gospel had miraculous growth among the Jews, with persecution following, because they were prepared for centuries by liturgical worship, singing hymns, and hearing the Old Testament Gospel, centered in Isaiah 53. They did not always know that but the Apostles showed them how Jesus fulfilled all the Scriptures, which at first were simply the Old Testament books.
Paul also went to the Gentiles and showed the Apostles that they did not need to create Jews first and then build on that to convert them to Christianity. They only needed to preach faith in Christ and later train the new believers in the Old Testament foundations, without the demands of kosher, circumcision, etc.
Sometimes I wonder that a small band of men started the conversion of the Roman Empire - with mixed results, of course - when all the religions and Judaism were against them. How could they make all these claims without Christ, when even the Savior had trouble gaining traction against the obstinance of unbelievers?
The answer lies in this classic chapter of 1 Corinthians - The risen Lord appeared to Peter, the 500, James (the half-brother of Jesus),  all the Apostles, and to Paul. Every single preacher of the first generation saw the risen Christ and heard Him teach the Gospel directly to them. The resurrection appearances, so carefully detailed in the Gospels, were taught by those who experienced them. And those preachers were forever changed by the certainty and faith embedded in them by the living Word of God.
They mutually confirmed this witness, which can be seen in the details. If a group became shaken or became doubtful, they could be reminded of these facts by multiple witnesses of the risen Christ.
the Gospel which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 
They heard the Gospel and believed, since receiving is a synonym for believing. One could also use the verb in the sense of welcoming, because the Gospel itself created faith in their hearts and continued by grafting this Gospel onto their hearts, an active and strengthening energy from the Spirit in the Word. Unbelievers outside of the Church or within the Church have no concept of this at all.
Wherein ye stand - Their spiritual gifts and the fruits of the Spirit come from this Gospel energy in their hearts - not from their inherent virtue (a Roman teaching) since many were converted from sexual perversion, thievery, and other vices. 
One person was talking about the benefits he lost from working, and said, "You don't want to be a slave of the government again, do you?" I was reminding him of what he gained by working instead of loafing. This is a lesson of reminders about what the Corinthians already knew and believed.

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory 
This is a reminder that believers saved by faith in the resurrection of Christ, as Paul taught in Romans 4. Christ was raised for our justification if we believe in Him who raised Him from the dead. Funny how 3 synods of millions of Lutherans could overlook the three verses that together serve as one sentence:
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Keep in memory - 
That does not mean that memory saves, but that the Word is not only effective in hearing and reading it, but also when we remember the Gospel of the Resurrection. Not remembering leads to not believing, and not trusting the Gospel message means losing the fruits of that saving message. That often happens gradually from a variety of forces and our own sinful flesh.
unless ye have believed in vain. 
That is ironic, because the Apostle is calling to mind the power of faith in the Gospel. Was that all in vain? The assumption is No - because the power continues even in the various mix-ups and conflicts in the group.
That can be seen throughout history, because there was always turmoil when false teaching was confront and the true Word measured the errors. People were angered, divided, and shocked. But that divided the good from the bad, and the good continued in various forms. The printing press in Europe allowed a massive assault on the errors of Medieval Rome, which meant even more turmoil and bloodshed, but the Gospel emerged as distinct from the false doctrine of Rome and grew exponentially (as they like to say today). 
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
Christ taught Paul and Paul also united with the Apostles in teaching these united truths. Verses 3-5 are poetic in structure - again - as a basic teaching or confession of faith. Isaiah 53 is condensed into a phrase - Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. His burial and resurrection are also according to the Scriptures. So not only the actual resurrection is the basis for their confidence, but also the Old Testament teaching that these things must happen. The witnesses are mentioned to support the truth - first in the written Word, then in the preached Word.
When people want to tell a fable, they say, "Well, I heard that..." The source is anonymous or from somewhere on the Net or TV. Here the actual witnesses are named and probably known personally - at least in part.
We should not take for granted that degrees of separation were as small then as they are now, if not more so. Some were relatives. Some of the witnesses traveled. One of our friends was visiting a family in California. Suddenly that woman screamed. The hosts said, "What happened?" The guest asked, "How do you know Greg Jackson?" The woman was looking at a photo displayed. 
This happens through the spoken Word, which is what Luther emphasized the most. People gathered at a big three-synod conference. One was from our congregation, Brett Meyer. A pastor teaching against justification was known to me back to the baptism of his daughter and even before. One pastor was just a name at the time.
Our member gave away materials on justification by faith, which contributed to several people seeing the light and leaving those who denied this Chief Article. That had an effect in two different states, but it is not from a book or even giving away books, but from always broadcasting that living Word and letting God work.
This is an old story. What really woke me up was a free book I got from someone leaving the LCMS ministry. John W. Montgomery edited it, but the clincher was one author, someone I knew from my home church, a missionary I heard preach. And he was the brother-in-law of my father's best friend. 
I doubt whether the old Augustana Synod missionary wrote his essay with the thought of influencing that kid who was in church doing the liturgy that day. The book was published, largely forgotten, bought perhaps used, and left behind when a pastor dropped out. But the Word of God still remains in effect. When it is taught, it always lends its divine energy either to converting or hardening, enlightening or blinding.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Paul teaches the order of the Resurrection appearances - very important. He was the last of those who saw the Risen Christ and learned from Him. God elected the perfect man to teach justification by faith apart from works, because Paul fits the profile of the Pharisee in the Gospel parable. He was not just a Pharisee, known for their holiness, but he was the best of all the Pharisees, possessed by a spirit of persecution. 
That by itself is another indication of the efficacy of the Word. He was constantly angered and excited by the mere presence of the Gospel, so he went out to get those people arrested (Acts). The divine Word was working on Paul, who as an unbeliever, felt its power and raged against it.
In the same way today, those who adhere to forgiveness and salvation without faith are just as excited to wipe out and silence Justification by Faith. They will moved heaven and earth to stop one person from teaching the truth, but that never works.
No weapon devised by man can harm the Word of God, so the betrayers are betrayed and blinded by their own obstinant refusal to hear the truth of the Gospel.
Notice too the effect of denying the Chief Article. What do they talk about? Themselves! Their glorious holiness. The sanctity of their little synod, which is really nothing in the eyes of the world or the history of Christianity. And oh the glory of their relatives, and leaders, and past leaders. We are so good, so big, so powerful, so worthy of God's praise. It never ends. They cannot say "faith in Him" but "faith in forgiveness without faith." They cannot say "Means of Grace" but use that phrase as to apply the universal absolution (without faith). Sick. So they hate the liturgy, hymns, creeds, and hymns, but love popcorn in church, soft drinks served for free, clowns and dancing girls to make their empty message "relevant."
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Paul is a bit annoying, sometimes extremely annoying. But God did not elect him to be an Apostle in spite of this but because of this. Even when he falls into boasting, he corrects himself by showing that God used him to teach that God's grace is all sufficient in the Word. Paul had the greatest failing of all. Not only he disbelieved the Gospel but persecuted the Christians who believed. There are many Christian Pharisees like that today. I have seen the damage they have caused in synod offices and in the manipulations of Circuit Pastors.

God elected a man who could be as energetic in teaching the Gospel of Grace as he was in trying to silence it. Paul could never live down his reputation and carried that with him always, and so that humbled him, as his thorn in the flesh did, showing him daily that this was God's mission, not his.

Applying This Today
God offers us just one thing - not success or great health or endless numbers of friends. The Resurrection of Christ is our foundation of faith, because eternal death is the great enemy. All this talk of "legacy" is a reminder of how little people believe in God. They want to think that their influence lives on, so people can say, "He did this" or "She accomplished that."

When dealing with Yale histories, since they get to pick the celebrity intellectual to teach, I have seen how quickly the honored professor and author is forgotten. Sometimes we hear a story and find out one person made a dent in history, so we say, "I did not know that." 

In revealing this Gospel to us, sometimes through people trying to take it away, God gives us purpose, because eternal life and purpose go together perfectly. We cannot always know exactly what that purpose is, but in connection with God's Word, we know we are a part of God's family through Christ. 

Only through faith can people see the fruits of faith.  They reveal themselves over time, and they are God's signs that faith in the Gospel generates those fruits. 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.
Knowledge of the Resurrection of Christ animates our thoughts and conversation, so the Gospel influences our thoughts and words at all times. When we are discouraged and find enormous roadblocks in our lives, the power of life over death shows us how tiny our immediate problems are, even though they loom in front of us.