The Glory Has Departed

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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, October 30, 2016

The Festival of the Reformation, 2016.

The Festival of the Reformation, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Daylight Savings Is Over Next Sunday

The Hymn # 13                 Before Jehovah's Awful Throne               
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 # 262                   A Mighty Fortress             

Rebellion Against the Gospel

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 # 261                            Lord Keep Us Steadfast  


KJV Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

KJV Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

O almighty, eternal God: We confess that we are poor sinners and cannot answer one of a thousand, when Thou contendest with us; but with all our hearts we thank Thee, that Thou hast taken all our guilt from us and laid it upon Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and made Him to atone for it: We pray Thee graciously to sustain us in faith, and so to govern us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may live according to Thy will, in neighborly love, service, and helpfulness, and not give way to wrath or revenge, that we may not incur Thy wrath, but always find in Thee a gracious Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Martin Luther - sepia tone by Norma Boeckler.

KJV Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

In substance it is quite the same whether we say, the kingdom itself “comes forward powerfully” or “is brought forward powerfully” by John and by Jesus. This statement obviously characterizes the years “from the days of John the Baptist until now,” from the day when John began to baptize until now when Jesus was in the full swing of his work. Of course, “until now” does not imply that this urging of the kingdom on men ceases at this moment; the matter goes on. We have no reason to make the enemies of the kingdom the agents of βιάζεται biazetai (when it is regarded as a passive) and to refer the verb to their violence against it, letting the second clause express the same thought. The trend of the entire discourse deals, not with violence against the kingdom, but with the indifference and the dissatisfaction that hinder men from entering it with zest.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 437.

Rebellion Against the Gospel

The traditional readings for Reformation Sunday trouble people for several reasons. One Lutheran pastor said Luther himself would object to being the angel from Revelation holding the Gospel.

Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

Walther wanted to dictate how history treated him, especially by censoring the early history of the Stephanites, where he played a leading part in organizing the mob that threatened, robbed, and kidnapped Bishop Stephan.

But we do not get to write our own histories. Those who have the power are vulnerable to those who think for themselves. In Luther's case, what historical figure in 20 centuries fit this passage more than Luther?

Luther only did one thing - he taught the Word of God exactly as it is written, taking into account a vast knowledge of the early church fathers and history. Everything that happened in the Reformation was a result of that teaching, although they are presented as separate accomplishments - the hymns written, the liturgy revised, education for clergy changed, and entire countries following Luther's teaching instead of Rome's. America was created because of this Protestant-Rome conflict, because the only way for the Puritans to escape persecution was to head for America and create a government  where the ruler did not dictate the denomination.

Don't the words of the angel in Revelation sound exactly like a summary of Luther's teaching? Most people are kept away from Luther, but this little blog posts the Lenker Luther sermons as a group - and weekly a different sermon, plus quotations from his works and sermons, mostly his sermons.

Those who know Luther well can easily say, "Yes, the angel sounds exactly like Luther, down to giving God the glory - and the emphasis on worship."

A giant volume from the History of the World, by Will Durant and his wife Ariel, is called Renaissance and Reformation. And Reformation means Luther. No one can deal with the Reformation apart from the German Reformer. All Reformation history is subordinated to that one figure. That is not Lutheran rah-rah, but a simple fact.

The Gospel lesson is a little more difficult, but I believe the solution is also historical and impossible to deny. 

There are two Gospels - a true Gospel and a false gospel. Everyone has a philosophy of life and a perspective of the afterlife. Unless the Word of God is taught with diligence and heard with sincerity, people drift off into their own opinions, thoughts, and dreams. Yes, they find truth in their dreams, like my dream of buying a car for 99 cents (last night). I know of many Roman Catholic books of dreams and visions that add considerable (false) information to the Bible and actually supersede it.

God revealed the absolute truth to Israel and promised them the Gospel. He established their worship to foreshadow the meaning of the Atoning sacrifice of the Son. And yet they found solace in all the pagan revelries around them and abandoned the Word of God many times over.

Once people have settled into the false Gospel, which is always law-based, they violently oppose the truth Gospel. The Old Testament prophets were killed, and so were most of the Apostles. Rome and the Jewish leaders responded to Jesus by killing him as well.

The Gospel is not violent but generates violence by the demonic opposition to God's grace. People instinctively react to this threat of violence. When they are told to stop disturbing others, they are inclined to be quiet. That is our first impulse, self-preservation. And we want to please others rather than make them angry.  This is a slow process but eventually a nation is lulled into the false Gospel and hates the true Gospel. We can see that in shutting down any reference to the Christian faith in our schools today, but Eastern religions and Islam are taught as if they are beneficial. That sounds strange to me - I saw Christmas carols led by our public school teachers at our public elementary school. The Ten Commandments were on the wall of the 4th grade classroom and nobody objected.

Chemnitz has a great insight in his Justification book, which Lutheran leaders have ignored in favor of C. Peter Wagner and Robert Schuller. As Chemnitz observed, when society becomes far enough removed from the truth, the truth is so appealing that people seize that, teach it, and will listen to nothing else. 

Medieval Europe scared people into obedience by showing how they would suffer in Hell. They would suffer in Purgatory took, but various measures would lessen the time spent for each offering or good work done. Thus the entire idea of masses said all week long  came from offering a mass for those suffering in Purgatory. The services known as the Suffrages are named for that practice (a name we use while dropping the practice, obviously). 

Purgatory was the great motivator for works and offerings. They were compared by the Book of Concord to mines of gold, silver, and precious jewels, so the priests could dig the treasures of the earth from people to reduce (but not eliminate) their time in Purgatory.

When any conflict comes up, as layman 29A says from his workplace, "It's all about the benjamins." His co-workers realize that the journalists present noble ideas, but it is all about the money. As Luther described it, the world is based on deceit and greed. Greed is the main motivator, but deceit is used to mask it. "Would you like to relieve your loved one's suffering in Purgatory? It would be a blessing for him and your family. A mass is a blessing to the priest, the soul in Purgatory, and the person who gave money for it."

But that is the working of paganism, to give to God, to appease God's wrath, to do good works, which are never enough. No one is going to give this concept easily without great violence.

We tend to forget that many were burned at the stake and slaughtered for the Truth .Of course, that only fueled the Reformation and led to the famous Book of the Martyrs (witnesses to the Gospel). 

Likewise, later the Lutherans fell into error and persecuted their own because of their blindness, greed for power, and love of falsehood.

Nothing So Dangerous as an Idea
The Gospel taught by Jesus and Paul is either completely true or utterly false. For those wo cling to their own false gospel, the true Gospel is a terrible danger that must be silenced at all costs.

I have watched many leaders in big gatherings. They act like they are the wrath of God. Some make a point of glowering and hugging the mike to make sure nothing impure desecrates Holy Mother Synod. There is no Gospel, no patience, no love of the brothers.Instead, a few gather to play Top Dog and have their underlings growl and snap their jaws at others.

The Gospel concept is quite simple but always being scattered and driven away, where it takes root in new places, new hearts.

The Scriptures are revealed to us to create faith in our hearts. This faith grasps the truth of God's Son dying for our sins, but also the subordinate truths of Creation, natural law, the history and future of God's people. Along the way we learn about the miraculous power of the Word, in conveying Jesus to us in the Word, in faithful sermons, in hymns, liturgies, and creeds.

The Spirit teaches us directly and alters our false and timid thoughts so we trust in God's mercy, wisdom, and kindness. That begins with complete and free forgiveness of all our sins. This is not a minor item but central to the entire book we call the Holy Scriptures.

Unlike any other religion, Christianity does not teach what God takes but what God gives. Those who side-step into a law religion change that, but they are presenting the false gospel, like Cho's where he teaches that God only gives when people demand exactly what they need. Of course, it is all materialistic and really quite demonic, so Cho (admired by Church Growthers and other criminals) continues to inspire in the worst way.

The true Gospel is not fragile but we are, so we drift away without the constant wisdom and motivation of the Spirit through the Word. That way, the Gospel shapes our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. 

Our daughter-in-law told her son before the hayride. "Be good or Grampy will yell at you and make you behave." I said, "No, as a grandfather I will pay him money to be good." She laughed. Every day we think of our grandchildren as blessings to be enjoyed. 

When people know and enjoy Justification by Faith, apart from the works of the Law, they realize the true meaning of God's grace. That influences us to be more thankful for God's blessings, more willing to share the Word in various ways. I think I shocked our friends at our son's congregation with how many listen to our service online and how many have viewed the files. They cannot imagine such numbers now, but just by putting the service online and linked at their website, they will broadcast their service over the world.

Being thankful for the Gospel Word fills us with awe about God's power. When one fragile thought is wobbly in our minds, the Word says, "But you know and believe this to be true. Can you hear the Feeding of the 5,000 and deny the Lord's Supper given to millions, a ye of little faith? Can you  say the universe was created by the Word while doubting the absolution by the Word?"