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, December 11, 2016

Third Sunday in Advent, 2016. 1 Corinthians 4:1ff.
Stewards of the Mysteries of God

The Third Sunday in Advent, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Second Anniversary - Corey and Abby Fagan - December 18th.

Mid-Week Advent Service - 7 PM Central Standard Time.

The Hymn #8                          Father Who the Light            
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 #76                        A Great and Mighty Wonder               

Faithful Stewards

The Hymn # 77:1-8  - Gerhardt              All My Heart               
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 # 77:9-15 - Gerhardt                 All My Heart               

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

KJV Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. 7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Third Sunday In Advent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst suffer Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to become man, and to come into the world, that He might destroy the works of the devil, deliver us poor offenders from sin and death, and give us everlasting life: We beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may seek no other refuge than His word, and thus avoid all offense to which, by nature, we are inclined, in order that we may always be found among the faithful followers of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Faithful Stewards of the Mysteries of God

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Paul has two significant teachings in this one verse. Both are related to how he is graded, counted, reckoned, or considered as an apostle. The verb is the same as the one used for Abraham, the Father of Faith, he believed and was counted as righteous. That is, he believed all the Promises of God, which began with him having a son by his wife, seemingly impossibly on both sides.

There are two parts to this reckoning -
  1. One of the ministers or servants of Christ.
  2. One of the stewards or managers of the mysteries of God.
The Corinthians were setting up factions and were belligerent with each other, whether they belonged to Paul, Apollos, or Christ. That goes on to this day, Gettysburg versus Philadelphia's seminary (ELCA, Pennsylvania), Ft. Wayne versus St. Louis (LCMS), one district versus another in WELS, even conferences or circuits pitted against each other and boasting boasted on that.

All that bragging  suggests that belonging to this or that faction is a reason for being better than the rest, servants of a synod, a school, a circuit. I looked up on minister and found his installation messages. One pastor said, "Now our whole circuit is Ft. Wayne." Blah. Blah. That Midland minister was kicked out for pursuing men and women at the same time. although he was married with children.

Minister means servant. One is a servant of Christ, which makes all the other distinctions irrelevant. The title simply displaces the other claims of honor and glory.

We use the term minister today to mean "clergy," but the word is servant. Therefore, Paul is one of many who serves Christ, so the spirit of factions is removed by definition. One does not serve Christ and a school, serve Christ and a synod, serve Christ and a group of clergy who hail themselves as superior to anyone.

This is the great era of management, as shown by incompetence on a global scale. Yesterday we talked about the Galaxy exploding Note 7, which had a battery compartment too small. Swelling made the layer squeeze together and explode or burn. So they replaced it with another version that also exploded and burned.

The idea of a manager in the New Testament and now is this - he fades into the background because he is only managing something that belongs to someone else. The estate manager of the New Testament had to show that he was being faithful to the owner. If not, he was tossed out, as many middle, junior, and senior managers are today. 

A manager does not own what he manages. If he pretends to own it, he is a fraud and should be removed. As the great history of the LCMS wrote, Stephan and the Walther circle considered themselves the sole Means of Grace in Europe. Someone who denied this was cut off from the money until he repented.

That is a violation of the Augsburg Confession, which clearly teaches, with the Scriptures, that it is enough to agree about the Gospel and the Sacraments. Those who imagine that everyone must belong to them, in a legal sense, are parading their great glory to the detriment of the Gospel. Like the Roman Catholics who teach that the priest is almost God, these factious spirit mess up people's minds. A steward points to what he manages, not to himself.

Therefore a steward has no business teaching his own peculiar dogma and making those strange delusions a new, special, separate, and superior religion. As the old Concordia Cyclopedia taught, the "peculiar glory" of the Lutheran Confessions is the Means of Grace, that is, teaching exactly what the Scriptures teach, as shown by careful analysis and centuries of faithful teaching in the past.

3. First, Paul warns us against receiving apostles or bishops as anything but “ministers of Christ;” nor should they desire to be regarded otherwise. But the term “minister of Christ” must not in this connection be understood as one who serves God, in the present acceptation of the phrase ¾ praying, fasting, attendance upon Church services, and all the things styled “divine service” by ecclesiastical rites, institutions and cloisters, and by the whole clerical order. Theirs are merely humanly devised works and words, whereby Paul’s teaching here and elsewhere is wholly obscured, even to the extent of making it impossible to know what he means by the “ministry of Christ.” He has reference to the ministry that is an office. All Christians serve God but all are not in office. In Romans 11:13, also, he terms his office a ministry: “Inasmuch as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry.” And in the epistle selection preceding this ( Romans 15:8) he says: “I say that Christ hath been made a minister of the circumcision.”

Again ( 2 Corinthians 3:6): “Who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new convenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit.”

The Mysteries of God
This phrase should be remembered and meditated upon, because it belongs to the Bible and comes up in a conflict. In other words, the words used in confessions or doctrinal passages, in the midst of conflict, are clarifying.

The scoffers like to refer "mysteries" to the pagans, but let us concede first that all the words of the New Testament were commonly used at that time. The meaning comes from context. 

The mysteries are those doctrines revealed by the Holy Spirit and not derived from logic, human reason, and rational proofs. That is a great concept to remember. Why do we believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? They are revealed - not proven - throughout the Bible, from Genesis 1 onward.

When someone says that the Trinity can be proven with math, as I read in one Calvinist book, then that means the Trinity can also be disproven with math. As so everything else goes with it.

Mysteries of the Bible, revealed by the Holy Spirit, include:
  • Creation
  • The Trinity
  • The Genesis Flood
  • The Ten Commandments revealed
  • The Virgin Birth of the Messiah
  • The Incarnation
  • The Miracles of Jesus, including the Feeding of the Multitudes
  • The Sacraments
  • His atoning death
  • His resurrection and ascension
These mysteries are in complete harmony with each other, part of a unified Truth from the Book of the Holy Spirit. The Word reveals this to us and we believe, through the power of the Spirit, not our own.

Whenever people subordinate the Word to their reason, the mysteries are chipped away until we only have the Brotherhood/Sisterhood of Man/Woman and the Fatherhood/Motherhood of God left. Laugh if you will at my clumsy phrasing - I am just trying to keep up. As you see, rationalism never rests until everything is gone.

We all have doubts at times because our flesh is frail and Satan never rests in taking souls away from the Kingdom. The solution to these doubts is to trust in the Word and study the relevant passages. For example, the Feeding of the Five Thousand and the Lord's Supper support each other.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

This is a passage that supports people in not trying so hard. So many want to measure their numbers, their budgets, their parking lots. A faithful steward simply manages what he is given to manage - the Word and Sacraments. As Luther has pointed out, what people make their first goal is achieved, but at the expense of the subordinate goals. Thus many acquire earthly rewards with no spiritual treasures. We do not have to look outside the WELS-ELCA-LCMS neighborhood to find someone extolling his wealth as a minister as a sign of God's blessings. 

It is ironic that the hero stories of the Christian Church involve those who went against the spirit of their times, but they cannot stand anyone questioning the current fads and follies. Reformation is the biggest contrast of all, claiming the event while disparaging the doctrine. Paul would put the doctrine first and the event second as an effect of the faithful doctrine. But if people turn against the doctrine of the Lutheran Reformation, what hope can they have for a good outcome? They will run to the soothsayers they pay so well, and those gurus will say, "Stick to the spirit of this age and all will be well. You have 30 days to pay the invoice. Thanks."

God often passes judgment in our own lifetimes, if we only observe his wrath and displeasure. He lets the false ones tumble and fade away, their glory turned to shame.

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Judge nothing before the time
We resist that with all of the Old Adam within us. But if we look back, we can see what God did in the past, not only in the Scriptures but also in our own lives. It was so difficult for one family's income, then they received an abundance of help.

We can work at something for 20 years and see no apparent results, but that is how God works. The results can even come in another generation. I know this - a book on a shelf does nothing. A faithful book being read - there is no limit to what that can do. 

I had a Windows 7 old laptop, my backup. Now I have a newer laptop as a broadcasting backup. So the Windows 7 was gathering dust.  I mentioned hesitantly the laptop to a neighbor. It was just what he needed. So now it is used all the time.

If the Word of God is so valuable, why lock it up? So many churches make their broadcasts a secret, available only via a password. Ours are wide open and saved, so people can get together and chew on that topic, to keep themselves entertained. I get asked, "How many?" and I don't count. There is no limit. One person asked, "How can I share that one post on translations?" How far will that go when shared? No one knows.

I read a key book on Lutheran apostasy because a minister left his position and left all his books to be burned. A member saved them and brought them to me. One book alerted me to the fact that I was not alone. That began the exodus out of the LCA/ELCA while the LCMS-WELS-ELS began their mating dance with ELCA.