The Glory Has Departed


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Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2016


The Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2016
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson





The Hymn #514      God Moves in a Mysterious Way                   
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

Comfort from the Apostle

The Communion Hymn #246              Holy, Holy, Holy 
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 #649           Jesus Savior Pilot Me  

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.



KJV Matthew 24:15 

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.


 
Comfort from the Apostle

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 


This letter from Paul is considered his first one that we have. The problem addressed here is that people had questions and anxieties about the end of time. One issue was about people dying before the return of Christ. In that mood of uncertainty and expectation, the loss of loved ones grieved them. Now we have the reverse, as if the world will continue forever. One religious writer said the world was ending and wrote a best-seller - The Late, Great Planet Earth. He bought a Mercedes-Benz dealership, which  is more of a way to prepare forever, since the cars last so long.

However, we have the same issues of grief, since we have more loved ones gone, friends and family, the longer we live. Like all the great passages in the New Testament, these memorable verses come from a problem which was painful then and remain so now. Grief is no less an issue for us now than it was then, and it may be compounded because our culture lives in a state of denial. In fact, that has caused a number of famous studies and works, scholarly and popular, from Freud, who had unresolved grief to the best seller called The Denial of Death.

When an Augustana professor wrote a book called Good Grief, people thought the title was strangely contradictory, but it became a perpetual best-seller in the Lutheran market.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 

This clause - if we believe - should not be overlooked. All the apostates warn us that nothing should be tied to faith, because that denies the glory of God. That strange claim really comes from Calvin (founder, Presbyterian Church and other Reformed denominations) - the idea being God is Sovereign. That is a clever ruse, because God pledges His work tied directly to His Word (Isaiah 55), so one cannot bypass the direct statements of the Bible for a pious, fatuous claim.

If we believe - that is an important warning and source of comfort. Abraham is the Father of Faith, because he believed God's Promises. Like others, I thought, "Believed in having children and then enormous numbers after? How is that faith in Christ?" The reason that Abraham was justified is this - he believed in everything included in that Promise, because that Promise included Jesus Christ and all the multitudes of followers who would be part of that great Kingdom through faith.

The Calvinists may have good intentions but they rationalistic foundation leads to pure rationalism and Unitarianism. In fact, many quasi-Christian cults are based on Calvinism and so is modern mainline apostasy. I noticed and learned that all modern theologians (with few exceptions) warn against "making faith a contingency" because that detracts from God's grace. Of course, most people will scoff at that claim, which is absurd and contradictory. Why bother to write thousands of pages of theology? Why write as if faith matters some times, but not in the most basic way?

Paul warns - if we believe. Many do lose faith in the Word, and they lose faith in the grace of God. We worship and study the Word because our fragile nature leads us away from faith. As one mother said about taking herself and her children to church, "I'll pray about it." The longer we are away from the Means of Grace (John 15), the less we trust in Him and the more we trust in ourselves or others, as if we are our own saviors.

If we believe in this greatest miracle of all, that God became man, died for our sins, and rose from death, then we will share in the glory of His return and see that those who died before us are with Him also.

15 For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. 


By the Word of the Lord is Jesus' direct teaching to Paul, so that people realize it is not his speculation. So many crazy ideas would be ended if people relied on the Word instead of the imaginations of false teachers. God does not give us many details about the end, except to tell us we do not know the time. Because of that and relatively few details about eternal life, the false teachers jump in and create more stories that a complete set of Mark Twain, but not as amusing. They lead people astray and say, "Listen to me!" instead of the Word.

Those who are alive at the Return of Christ will see these Promises fulfilled, and they will see sights that no one has ever seen or even imagined. 

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 

Here is the summary, very brief and concise for something so glorious. As suggested in the verse before, the dead in Christ (believers only) will rise first. In the New Testament, "in Christ" only refers to believers, never to unbelievers. The world is not "in Christ," as claimed by last's year's Emmaus Conference. It is blasphemy to teach such nonsense, and yet the LCMS-ELS-WELS all agree with ELCA on this foundational claim of Unitarianism.

Some phrases are synonymous - the dead in Christ are believers who died earlier. They are also saints (holy), as are all those who believe in Christ. They are the righteous, because in faith they received the righteousness of Christ. 

Pietism and many variations make it seem like this - the really bad people are in Hell and the really good are in Heaven. That leads people to think about salvation as works, earned by works, avoiding sin. That also makes them categorize sins as definitely sending people to Hell, so one must avoid those people, as the Pharisees did. 

However the Scriptures teach that believers are in Heaven and non-believers in Hell. To say otherwise is a denying the importance of faith in Christ.

and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 

This is the great message of comfort in this passage, that whether living or in eternal life, we are with Christ and not truly separated from loved ones. That means we grieve, but in a healthy way, with faith in Christ and the benefits of belonging to Him.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Believers have a role in comforting others with this comfort, as Paul urged in Corinthians. This is one of our most important duties as believers in a world denying faith and denying grief. People do strange things in their avoidance. Don't talk about it - it's upsetting. Get over it. Don't make me upset about my own grief. And this comes from people with a Christian background. Nothing is better than acknowledging the grief and the Faith that brings us comfort.