The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, 2016. 2 Corinthians 3:4-11.
The Ministration of Righteousness



The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. 2016


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #649
                             Jesus Savior Pilot Me
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 #123                       Our God Our Help             

The Greater Ministry of the Gospel


The Communion Hymn #304               An Awful 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 #657             Beautiful Savior                                

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

KJV Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast created all things: We thank Thee that Thou hast given us sound bodies, and hast graciously preserved our tongues and other members from the power of the adversary: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy grace, that we may rightly use our ears and tongues; help us to hear Thy word diligently and devoutly, and with our tongues so to praise and magnify Thy grace, that no one shall be offended by our words, but that all may be edified thereby, 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.



The Greater Ministry of the Spirit 
KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 

As Luther says, Paul's writing is quite strange to the uninitiated, such as beginning Christians, but especially to unbelievers. That is why scoffers mock Paul and make fun of him for all his apparent faults, that is, faults apparent to the scoffers. In an age where most cultures considered women as property, Paul taught quite the opposite. He also elevated the position of the slave and gently encouraged Philemon to free his slave. But what are the facts to scoffers? 

The first to criticize Luther are the Lutherans, such as Jar Jar Webber's famous rant, which made me ask, "Have you read Luther?" He answered, "No, I should." But that is not good for advancement in Lutherdom. Wait for all the American synods to mark the 500th Anniversary by posting their latest efforts against Luther and holding special fund-raisers to "honor Luther and the Reformation." They may find themselves hung up on the barbed wire of those who know better and address those errors of the leaders.

Paul is address the conflict with the false apostles who brag about their works and try to enslave the Corinthians in their newly discovered dogmas. Any teaching against Justification by Faith is necessarily Justification by Works, Justification by the Law, as anyone can see among the Leftists in ELCA and the Pietists in the LCMS-ELS-WELS.

Paul has a special office, one which only a few had - apostle. He saw and heard and was taught by the Risen Lord. Like the original and larger group (500) that saw and heard Jesus, nothing could take away Paul's certainty in the Gospel message. The Apostolic Age had a clearly defined group of teachers versus those who pretended to improve upon and clarify what Jesus taught, sending themselves as all false teachers do, living off of what others had done before. Not one drop of martyr's veins is ever found in the false teachers. They run at the sound of dry leaves blowing and hide away from their imagined dangers.

The false teachers glories in themselves, but Paul gloried in the Gospel converting the Corinthians and bearing spiritual fruit in them. He did not need hand-written letters from or to the congregation. Their believing souls were his living epistles, engraved with the Gospel in their hearts.

Therefore, Paul's confidence was in God, but he is not bragging about a virtue he has developed in himself. His sufficiency is from God. Everything he does is from the power of the Spirit in the Word - that is entirely how God accomplishes His work.

6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

This letter is a play on words, about writing. The Law was engraved on stone tablets, which is contrasted with the Gospel taught by the Spirit. The Law by itself kills, because no one stands forgiven and saved by the Law. No one can properly observe even one Commandment, let alone all Ten Commandments.

False teachers always engage in some form of the Law, even when they say the Law is obsolete, like the Antinomians. Those people, who hold onto UOJ like drowning men, say that with universal forgiveness, everything in the past, present, and future is already forgiven - ergo, no Law. Some offer superficial confession of sin only to boast they are already forgiven and saved.

Are they all grace? Hardly. These Anti-Law people are nothing but man-made requirements (theirs) and commands to infinity and beyond. If anyone transgresses their unwritten canon law, they are condemned and sentenced to shunning and exile, utter silence as befits those who have violated one tiny bit of their code.

The Spirit gives life. This is an unusual comparison because the stone tablets are such a well known figure that they are used all the time. And we have many of them today in various forms - monuments and places of honor - built to last forever.

But the Gospel is written on our hearts as promised in the Old Testament. This Gospel gives life because the Promises are forgiveness, blessings, and comfort. These first Epistles of Paul, written on leather or copied onto papyrus, were quite fragile in themselves, but the Gospel itself was written on the hearts of those first believers, and that could not be removed by false teachers and their boasting.

As Paul reminded the Thessalonians, they knew and experienced the power of the Gospel Word. Anything else weighs down people with demands and works to be done to satisfy justice. But the Gospel teaches us that Jesus has satisfied the righteousness of God. We are justified by the faith of Jesus (three times stated in the New Testament), who placed Himself in the hands of God and paid for our sins, rising from the dead.

Paul always backs away from anything hinting at making a decision, as he does in this lesson, because that would place part of salvation on man as responsible for making a correct decision. The Law salesmen demand a decision in favor of their return to slavery. To enforce it, they exile anyone who questions this.

The Gospel itself converts, whether in tiny babies or adults, because of the power of the Word. It is not  - Jesus has done it all and now you must do this - but the Gospel revealing this truth to us and opening our hearts to receive it with joy, as the Election article teaches in the Formula of Concord.



29] And this call of God, which is made through the preaching of the Word, we should not regard as jugglery, but know that thereby God reveals His will, that in those whom He thus calls He will work through the Word, that they may be enlightened, converted, and saved. For the Word, whereby we are called, is a ministration of the Spirit, that gives the Spirit, or whereby the Spirit is given, 2 Cor. 3:8, and a power of God unto salvation, Rom. 1:16. And since the Holy Ghost wishes to be efficacious through the Word, and to strengthen and give power and ability, it is God's will that we should receive the Word, believe and obey it.

7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 

From the lesser to the greater - that is a common comparison used then and still in our times. Swedes thought Lindsborg Kansas was the great destination, the City on a Hill. When they landed in New York City, they said, "If this is NYC, what must Lindsborg be like?"

Paul never denigrates the Law by itself. Nor does Luther, who pointed out that God gave us the Law with Promises. And the Law is an essential revelation of God's will, what He commands for our good. Our country's Founders realized this and all criminal and civil law was based on the Ten Commandments.  But as great and glorious as the Law is, the Gospel is far greater.

9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

The Law is so embeded in us that students ask, in a sense, "What is the minimum that I must do in order to fulfill the assignment's requirement?" And they often say something like this, "You did not mark my assignment that much and I did what was required, so I deserve an A." One even said, ignoring what I said previously in the clearest way, "Why only a 95%? I should get 100%." He earned an A but he was not happy with only an A. He wanted a gold leaf cluster under it, though he ignored my suggestion for improvements.

On the other hand, some start with the attitude of doing their best because want to, and that is the ideal. How much more can I do so I learn even more? Thanks for the corrections - I will apply them to the next effort. Even - thank you for teaching me about plagiarism and cheating. You are the best teacher I ever had.

The entire difference between Law and Gospel is - have to, or want to. Those who live under the Law "have to." The thoughts direct their words and actions. Those who live under the Gospel "want to." There is no getting even in the Gospel. Out of God's abundant mercy and generosity flows the fruits of that Spirit in our lives. 

This is our guide to sound doctrine and the true glory of the Gospel. If someone wants to enslave people with their new and better version of the Bible, then they are Law salesmen. If they specialize in "must" and "have to" and "now do your part," they are simply appealing to man's logic rather than God's will. It is not a contract where God does His part and we do our part - it is the Gospel of Grace that plants faith in our hearts by the Spirit in the Word.

So I tested the Mormon missionaries by saying, "We are justified by faith, not by works." They said, "Not by works?" That was the hook that trapped them, more than their odd dogma about Jesus being the brother of Satan. The Chief Article cannot be amended or improved. If someone is against the Chief Article, he is against the Gospel. All the other errors flow from it. If he changes the Chief Article, which he cannot do, because it belongs to God alone, he condemns himself as a messenger of Satan, a liar, a peculator, and a murderer of souls.

He may call himself a Mormon, a Catholic, or a Lutheran. If he opposes or amends the Chief Article, he is against God's Word.