The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity, 2016



The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity, 2016


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The Hymn # 260             O Lord Our Father    
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 Word Changed the World
The Communion Hymn # 262          A Mighty Fortress                   

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. 31The Hymn #657                     Beautiful Savior



The Lutheran Reformation – The Word Changed the World
Many speak about the Reformation by discussing the facts about Luther’s life, an approach that misses the meaning of the Reformation entirely. Others reflect the power of the Reformation (in reverse) by being defensive and cowardly, calling it “Reconciliation Sunday.” That may be going too far for some, so they would rather crab-walk backwards into the Middle Ages by editing out the doctrinal war verses from hymns. After all, the Methodists removed the Virgin Birth from Wesley’s “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” – offspring of the Chosen One, rather than offspring of the Virgin’s womb. Why not pretend there is no war between sound and false doctrine?
Whether one is a Lutheran or not, a  believer or not, these characteristics are true of the Word of God. These characteristics all go well together, because there is only One Unified Truth, which goes by many names. We call this Truth – the Gospel, the Word of God, the Scriptures, and so forth. The characteristics are a convenient way of discussing what is true and false in teaching the Bible.
1.    Authority
2.    Power and efficacy
3.    Inerrancy
4.    Clarity or perspicuity
5.    Justification and absolution
6.    Word/Spirit
The authority of the Word places it about all other authorities, not just in making a declaration, which is so easy to do, but in consistent and unyielding practice. Many side-roads take people away from the authority of the Scriptures, because they say,
In our circles, it means this…
According to our tradition, where we give reason and tradition equal weight with the Scriptures…
Our denomination has voted in its highest legislative gathering (the convention!)…
Our doctrinal board has stated…
Strangely, like the Church of the Middle Ages, many denominations consider themselves the final authority, even when changing dogma as often as the professional  baseball teams change World Series winners.
The authority of the Scripture was a vital matter during the Reformation because the Scriptures were buried so deep between layers of tradition and claims of authority. The papacy was beginning a long series of battles between papal authority and the councils, which the papacy largely won. When Vatican II made a certain pronouncement, the pope insisted on making it alone, to show his supremacy over all others.
The Middle Ages also looked to such authorities as Aquinas and Augustine, Jerome and Ambrose.
The authority of the Scriptures can only mean that all other authorities are set aside and subordinate to the revealed Word of God – whether they are
·       Reason
·       Tradition or
·       Ecclesiastical powers and authors
Therefore, the Scriptures judge all books and the Bible is not judged by any other book. That is quite different from “the pope is infallible and is judged by no one and is supreme above all councils.”
The Word created the universe, so how can the Word be subordinate to man, man’s authority, or man’s books?
Power and Efficacy
The authority of the Scriptures is given lip-service, but the efficacy of the Word is ignored altogether. Everything is effective except the Word in our modern age of apostasy, so people must learn the efficacy of the Word in order to make any sense of the Christian Faith.
Like a scandal in the past, efficacy is not mentioned, not taught, not applied in any discussion because the concept - clearly used both Testaments - brings down the entire rotten edifice of false doctrine, triumphalism, clericalism, and legalism.
Unlike theologians who followed Luther, the German Reformer did not change doctrine but taught consistently throughout his career, which is quite an accomplishment. He shook off the remnants of Medieval piety, but taught the efficacy of the Word at the beginning and throughout. When people understand how all this goes together, they understand how comforting but also how dangerous this is.
Giving God the glory for what He does through the Word takes away from the glory of man, which is a terrible threat. Jesus did not rejoice in vast crowds (as so many clergy clowns do today) but rejoiced in the faith of a single person and exalted that faith. Likewise, Paul treated a tiny knot of faithful believers as the greatest treasure and proof of the efficacy of the Gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:13-17King James Version (KJV)
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.


Inerrancy
The inerrancy of the Scriptures was always taught in the Christian Church but compromised in the counter-Reformation after the papalists lost their debates using the Word of God. From that time on the papalists argued for the incompleteness and ambiguity of the Word. As they say in WELS today, “That is a graaaaaaay area of Scriptures.” Gray is stretched out to show how vague and incomplete the Word is (to them). Notice how this overlaps the issue of the clarity of the Scriptures. All of Christian doctrine is taught in the Word of God – it does not rely on any books to clarify the issues. The Word is best interpreted by the Word itself.
The rationalists of all ages have said or implied contradictions in the Word. Some of them are obvious. Some are subtle (at first). When they argue for the world being declared righteous – without faith – they are contradicting the Bible or saying that the Bible contradicts itself hundreds of times. But – no matter – they can cite authorities who agree with them. If they need to change the text of the Bible, as the new NIV does, that makes it official.
Inerrancy means – without error or contradiction – no exceptions. No inerrant except in history, except in geography, except in Creation, except in the divinity, atonement, and resurrection of Christ.
Clarity or Perspicuity
The priestly guild does not want anyone to dwell on this issue, because their very strict union of lazy fat-bellies would go under if too many people realized the Scriptures are so clearly taught through the power of the Spirit that anyone can learn all of Christian doctrine through the Bible alone. The individual does not need formal training, ordination, or certification from a given denomination, sect, or cult. The Word belongs to God alone and does His work.
If a passage seems dark or difficult, it is clarified by the simple, easy, or bright passages. Some ask me in Old Testament, the MA program, “Where is the Trinity in Genesis 1?” I tell them. Read John 1 and you see the Creating Word is Jesus. The Holy Spirit hovers over Creation and witnesses to Creation. The Father commands through the Word (Logos – the Son) and what God commands (efficacy) immediately comes about.
Clarity is absolutely necessary to maintain against its priestly, often high-church nitwits, because no one is enslaved by their solemn declarations of superiority. We all subordinate our will and reason to the Word and shape our words, actions, reason by the Word.

Justification and Absolution
We know God declares believers forgiven through faith because the Word is clear, powerful, and effective. The Word that fashioned the universe and raised the dead also declares us forgiven through faith.
The Gospel of the atoning sacrifice, fully explained in Isaiah 53, is the power that creates and sustains our faith in God’s grace. And it is more than maintenance. This power of justification by faith continues to enrich our lives, bear fruit, and grow with the challenges we face, the crosses and afflictions we bear.
Absolution means that when the Word says, often through the pastor, “Your sins are forgiven,” they are indeed forgiven and removed. We do not measure forgiveness by feelings, by regret, by payment made by us, but by the objective truth of the Gospel, that God’s own Son has paid for our sins and become our righteousness. We receive this righteousness through faith alone.
When people apologize a second time to me for the same thing, which can happen among friends, I say, “Don’t you believe in absolution?” That is good for a chuckle, because repeating an apology is like saying that the absolution was incomplete. To tell the truth, I cannot remember the incidents  where that has happened because the Gospel should wipe that from our minds (great or small). We should let it go as God does.
But that also means the unrepentant are not forgiven. That is the point of discipline, which is almost entirely erased in this age of universal absolution and cheap grace.

Word/Spirit
The constant connection of the Word and Holy Spirit is the foundation for all the characteristics of the Word. This is spelled out in Isaiah 55:8-11, with a comparison between the rain and snow, which always have an effect. The Word, which:
1.    Is never void, always effective.
2.    Accomplishes God’s purpose.
3.    Prospers God’s purpose.

If the Word always has an effect, it is always divine, driven by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit and Word are expressed by the word sword.
This concept, almost forgotten, completely releases the bondage of the visible church from fads, marketing, and anxiety about success.

The reason why the denomination presidents, seminary presidents, and agency heads are always at Fuller Seminary is this – they do not believe. They are apostates. They have some attachment to the religious words, but they do not believe.