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, December 4, 2016

Second Sunday in Advent, 2016.



The Second Sunday in Advent, 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      Romans 15:4-13
The Gospel                           Luke 21:25-36 
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #71                            Watchman Tell Us    

The Second Coming

The Hymn # 304                                      An Awe-Full of 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 # 647                                          O Little Town of Bethlehem    



Second Sunday In Advent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son hast revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away, that our bodies shall rise again, and that we all shall appear before the judgment seat: We beseech Thee, keep us by Thy Holy Spirit in Thy word; establish us in the true faith, graciously defend us from sin and preserve us in all temptations, that our hearts may not be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, but that we may ever watch and pray and, trusting fully in Thy grace, await with joy the glorious coming of Thy Son, and at last obtain eternal salvation, 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.

KJV Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

KJV Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. 29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.



The Second Coming

KJV Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

The people around Jesus always asked for signs, and here Jesus promises there will be signs, but most people will ignore them. He always told people in advance what would happen, as He did with His crucifixion and resurrection. However, even His closest disciples did not comprehend His teaching until later when all was fulfilled.

Clearly the Return of Christ will be such a global event that no one will doubt it, but Jesus also warns that it will be a shocking surprise for almost everyone. This point is what confuses so many people. Scoffers always make fun of what people observe about Creation, that God can and does manage the climate and all things involved in Nature (as people call  Creation). 

For instance, the freeze coming down from Alaska is an example of an unusual event. Various statements are being published about how unusual it is and how seldom a freezing event covers the entire US at once, coming all the way down to the South, not just a dip in jet stream involving on portion.

This kind of thing has happened when Gore was traveling around the world for Global Warming events. Some had to be canceled because of extremely heavy snow. This happened so often that this became known as the Gore Effect. So Global Warming became Climate Change, since it was less susceptible to mockery.

People are willing to imply "man-made Climate Change" but not divinely-managed climate change. So scoffers say, "Can God change the direction of the hurricanes? the typhoons?"

But that is just the point. The forces of Creation are far beyond man's ability to change or direct them. That is why the Second Coming will be such a shock to most people.

All the earthquakes, hurricanes, and violent weather systems are signs that God can do far more and can also limit the damage. All this is in God's hands.

2. Some, indeed, must see it, and it will be those who least expect it. That there will be such security and indifference among men, let us prove by the words of Christ and the apostles. Christ says in the 34th and 35th verses: “Take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting [carousing], and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare: for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth.” From these words it is clear, that men in great measure will give themselves over to surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life, and that, drowned as it were in these things, they will rest secure and continue to dwell on the earth as if the dreadful day were far away. For, were there no such security and heedlessness, that day would not break in unawares. But he says, it will come as a snare by which birds and beasts are caught at a time when most concerned about their food and least expecting to be entrapped. In this figure he gives us clearly to understand that the world will continue its carousing, eating and drinking, building and planting, and diligently seeking after earthly things, and will look upon the day of judgment as yet a thousand and more years off, when, in the twinkling of an eye, they may stand before the terrible judgment bar of God.

3. The words of Christ in Luke 17:24 say the same: “For as the lightning, when it lighteneth out of the one part under the heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall the Son of man be in his day.”

So man's own attitude toward material things will fulfill what is warned here. They will be planning multi-generational estates and 20 year plans for their businesses when everything comes to an end. They will have taken care of everything except what matters most - faith in Christ and eternal life.

And we should not neglect the emphasis upon carousing and intoxication. The growth of the drug culture is alarming, because those who carouse "on their own time" either fail to meet obligations or carry them out - impaired, delusional, and often dangerous to others. Once society is established in habits of partying as the main event, much like the Roman Empire, most individuals live for the moment - or in many cases - for the weekend.

26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 

The same events will have a different effect on people. Those who are expecting fun and games forever are ill-equipped for the End. Believers will be rattled, of course, because nothing will compare in all human experience, but the Word of God and His Promises will be a comfort for Christians. 

When people have blinded themselves and hardened themselves against the Word, then even the worst events can make them worse. Not knowing the way back and scorning it for so long, they do not know where to turn.

27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. 

When Jesus returns - and it will be without debate when it happens - then the sight of Him returning will be a great comfort for believers but an even greater terror for unbelievers, especially those apostates who took up positions in the visible church to undermine Christian doctrine and feather their nests. Many have already met their fate, good and bad, with similar results, but this will be a great terror, world-wide, and a great comfort, world-wide.

 29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 

The signs have already begun to appear, and false messiahs have announced their arrival. Even in 1000 AD, when people feared the Return, some went around saying they were the Antichrist, so they would be bribed to stay away.

When the Reformation was taking place and war swept across Europe, Melanchthon thought the world was coming to an end. Luther said, "If I thought so, I would plant a fruit tree." In other words, our sense warn us but the Word says, "No one knows, not even the Son."

It is foolish to ignore the signs, but just as foolish to get out a calendar and pick a date. All those people know more than the Son, or think they so, and should be ignored about precise dates.

32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

It is clear that "this generation" is knowable to God the Father, not us. The workings of the Antichrist began in the Apostolic Age, 2 Thessalonians, but it is revealed to us that God is delaying the Return. More souls are entered into the Book of Life. Conversions take place with each child baptism and are marked with many adult baptisms. And others fall away, as predicted. They are the church leaders especially who pretend to be Christian but are  enemies of the Gospel.

5. I do not wish to force any one to believe as I do; neither will I permit anyone to deny me the right to believe that the last day is near at hand.

These words and signs of Christ compel me to believe that such is the case.

For the history of the centuries that have passed since the birth of Christ nowhere reveals conditions like those of the present. There has never been such building and planting in the world.

There has never been such gluttonous and varied eating and drinking as now. Wearing apparel has reached its limit in costliness. Who has ever heard of such commerce as now encircles the earth? There have arisen all kinds of art and sculpture, embroidery and engraving, the like of which has not been seen during the whole Christian era.

6. In addition men are so delving into the mysteries of things that today a boy of twenty knows more than twenty doctors formerly knew. There is such a knowledge of languages and all manner of wisdom that it must be confessed, the world has reached such great heights in the things that pertain to the body, or as Christ calls them, “cares of life”, eating, drinking, building, planting, buying, selling, marrying and giving in marriage, that every one must see and say either ruin or a :change must come. It is hard to see how a change can come. Day after day dawns and the same conditions remain. There was never such keenness, understanding and judgment among Christians in bodily and temporal things as now — I forbear to speak of the new inventions, printing, firearms, and other implements of war.

7. But not only have such great strides been made in the world of commerce, but also in the spiritual field have there been great changes.

Error, sin, and falsehood have never held sway in the world as in these last centuries. The Gospel has been openly condemned at Constance, and the false teachings of the Pope have been adopted as law though he practiced the greatest extortion. Daily mass is celebrated many hundred thousand times in the world, and thereby the greatest sin committed. By confession, sacrament, indulgence, rules and laws, so many souls are driven to condemnation that it seems God has given the whole world over to the devil. In short it is not possible that there should be greater falsehood, more heinous error, more dreadful blindness, and more obdurate blasphemy than have ruled in the church through the bishops, cloisters, and universities. As a result Aristotle, a blind heathen, teaches and rules Christians more than does Christ.

8. Moreover the pope has attempted to abolish Christ and to become his vicar. He occupies the throne of Christ on earth, would to God he occupied the devil’s throne instead.

I forbear to speak of the grosser forms of sin, unchastity, murder, infidelity, covetousness, and the like, which are all practiced without shame or fear.

Unchastity has taken forms against nature, and has affected no station or condition more than the spiritual character of the clergy — shall I call it spiritual, since it is so fleshly and void of all simplicity?

33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 

This the direst warning and greatest comfort of all. Apart from all things in life, all material things in the universe, one thing is permanent - The Word of God. No one can refute it or go against it. The weapons of man have never succeeded against the Word.

For that reason, the Word comforts and shelters us. No matter what happens, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

As a reader and I were saying this week in various messages - everything is rented. Or in his words, everything will burn in the end. 

34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting [carousing], and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

This is Jesus' own application for His message of warning and comfort. We should always be prepared. Those who think there is all the time in the world will be surprised at how quickly life ends. As we all say, "Where did the time go?" And for some it is cut short for no obvious reason. A truck driver to avoid an accident lost control and caused an accident involving a busload of cheerleaders. Like grass or the flowers of the field, we are and then are not.

Anyone who has had a close call can identify with that, too. The worst is to die unprepared and without faith.


67. The parable of the fig tree seems to me to signify that the fig tree is the Holy Scriptures which have so long been hidden in obscurity. They are now budding forth and taking leaves, their word is breaking forth into fruitage. For twelve centuries it has not been so well known, nor have its languages been so well known. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that the Scriptures are a fig tree which is easily preserved. It was fig leaves with which Adam and Eve covered their nakedness; for the old Adam always uses the Scriptures to adorn himself. Therefore the book must come forth, its leaves must become green, in spite of all the movements of the planets. The summer is not far distant — would to God that the fruit would also follow the leaves. I fear that there will be nothing but leaves, for we talk much about true faith but bring forth no fruit.