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, January 1, 2017

Circumcision and Name of Jesus - New Year's Day, 2017.
The Anti-Law Passage Examined

Circumcision and Name of Jesus
New Year’s Day, 2017

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       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #657                Beautiful Savior

 The Law as a Tutor - Pivoting the Wrong Direction

The Hymn #119                                    Great God We Sing                        
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 # 283        God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage            

Galatians 3:23-29
King James Version (KJV)
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Luke 2:21

King James Version (KJV)
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Pivoting - the Wrong Direction

Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

This lesson is an important one, because it leads to a major departure from Christian truth, and the implications are often hidden by clever words.

I am using the word pivot, because it is popular at the moment in talking about politics. In this case, the pivot represents the wrong assumption based on the text and running off in the wrong direction because of it. There are many supporting texts to show it is the wrong pivot, but those examples are ignored or abused in the same way.

Some readers asked about Chytraeus, which is a good sign. Lutherans today seldom get involved in the Book of Concord, because the pastors do not know their own Confessions. Chytraeus was an editor and not as well known as the others. The quotation was one from his book, not from the Book of Concord, and it was phrased so that people might take it two different ways. When people start with the wrong assumptions, they pivot the wrong way and head off in the wrong direction. Since UOJ advocates do not know Chytraeus at all, that was not a problem, but the passage seemed a bit conflicted.

That often happens in theological writing, so clarity is essential, not just a good idea. The ultimate correction is the plain wording of Scripture. If a passage we all know to be true  (example - born sinful) conflicts with the claim about another passage (example - everyone is born forgiven) then the dubious claim is refuted. We have many passages about each article of faith, so this is not a problem with those who are sincere and studious. The fact of false teaching makes us more interested in studying the Word to strengthen our knowledge and faith.

Two Kinds of Works
There are two kinds of works, as Luther observed. The Law motivates works, either out of fear or gain. As long we we say we have to do something, it is a work of the Law. That makes us children or servants of the Law. 

The other kind of work comes from the Gospel. Those works are not compelled but done willingly because of love and thankfulness. Babies know how to promote this by being cute and loving when they are fed, entertained, and cleaned. Our youngest - Erin Joy - loved having her hair shampooed, and she cooed about every step, even when we talked about it - shampoo, conditioner, and blow drying it. Her nurse said, "I never saw a girl who loved having her hair done so much." So of course, that was an event the others wanted to share in.

The same is true about obeying the Law. When we do so out of compulsion, we can be ever so good, but we resent it. If we constrain someone to a chair, he can do no wrong, but confinement makes him hate the restraints. Then it is clear that obedience is only because of the Law.

I take care of my neighbor's garbage because he is a good friend with serious heart trouble. When he thanks me, I tell him, "I don't want the city compliance officer hauling you away in leg irons." He laughs about that because the people involved write big tickets for messy yards and potentially for not storing the garbage bins in the back of the house.

When the Christian Gospel was fully revealed, the Law no longer dominated but it did not become obsolete. As we can see throughout Paul's epistles, the Law is still clear, but he motivates people through the Gospel.

24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

The child only obeys because the tutor has power over him. The adult takes on responsibility because he wants to do so. We know from sports and entertainment that there are many adults who want to enjoy no restraints and do whatever they want - as a "right."

Paul is aiming his brief but powerful letter against those who want the Law to dominate, to stipulate all the Jewish laws that one must obey to be a real Christian.

If anything thinks this is exotic and bizarre, look at how people measure "true Christianity."
  • Member of this denomination (ignore actual faith).
  • Member of this district. Even the right circuit.
  • Graduated from this seminary.
  • Disciple of this faction in the denomination.
  • Related to this family.
  • Claiming charter membership privileges.
Not one qualification has anything to do with faith but rather with what is done as an act of obedience. The Chief Article of Christianity is not having the right credentials but Justification by Faith Alone.

The Law works on us through the Holy Spirit to show us we cannot be righteous by works, whether God's Law, civic righteousness, or our own personal code of honor.

25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

I marked the key passage in red so people pay attention to the Anti-Nomian (Anti-Law) position.

Agricola, a brilliant man, promoted Anti-Law, claiming that the Commandments were obsolete because of Christ. He wrote the Office of the Keys in Luther's Small Catechism. He repented of his horrible behavior several times, plotting against Lutheran doctrine - even while living in Luther's home.

The Anti-Nomians say, "The Commandments are a tutor that bring us to Christ. We are free from the Law under Christ, following the Gospel."

Some will object, "No one is that foolish," but that is really the position of Universal Objective Justification, the mainline denominations (which include WELS-ELS-LCMS-CLC sic). Every was forgiven, justified, 2000 years ago, so there is no Law.

Anti-Nomian Is Legalistic
Some might conclude that being an Antinomian means no more Law, and that is the illusion. But where God's Law is expelled, man's law multiplies exponentially (like the conferences they attend - Exponential, Dirt, etc)

Because UOJ denies Justification by Faith Alone, the concepts of repentance or contrition, forgiveness, and the Christian life are distorted, mangled, and destroyed.

Man's law is ever-changing and demanding. I have heard a top executive confess the sin of drinking bottled water, which increases plastic waste. We have all read about the new laws being promoted and enforced:
  1. Marriage. Ann Coulter - "They won and now they are going house to house to shoot the survivors."
  2. Recycling
  3. Wind turbines that slice birds up
  4. Working with all denominations and all religions that deny the Gospel
  5. Ultimate animal rights and no unborn rights.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

21. To illustrate: Suppose you were confined in a prison, where you were very reluctant to remain. Your captor might release you in either of two ways: First, he might give you physical freedom by destroying the prison and letting you go where you desire. Secondly, he might make you mentally free by bestowing many blessings upon you in this prison illuminating and enlarging it, making it pleasant in the extreme, adorning it richly and to an extent rendering it more desirable than any royal palace, more to be desired even than a kingdom; and by so reconciling you to your surroundings, so altering your mind, that you would not, for all earthly possessions, be removed from that prison, but would pray for its preservation that you might continue therein, it being to you no longer a prison, having become a paradise. Tell me, which form of freedom would be the better? Would not the latter be preferable? The former liberation would leave you but a beggar, as before. But in the latter case, your mind being free, you would possess all you might desire.

22. Thus, mark you, has Christ given us spiritual freedom from the Law.

He did not abrogate, did not destroy, the Law. But he changed the heart which before was unwillingly under the Law. He so benefited it and made the Law so desirable that the heart has no greater delight and joy than in the Law. The heart would not willingly have the Law fail in one tittle.

Nothing is clearer than this - The Law becomes what we believe it is, just as God becomes what we believe He is.

When we are taught the grace, mercy, and love of God, then we interpret the reverses of life and bearing the cross as His gracious will. Unbelievers only see wrath, condemnation, and evil in any portrayal of God. They rush through the Scriptures to find all the passages they consider hideous and terrifying.

Paul Gerhardt took the pain of his life and converted it to Gospel comfort for millions of people he would never see but bless through his hymns.

The Law (Torah is really teaching, more than simply Law) is spiritual, useful, and good for us. Even the Ten Commandments are associated from the start with blessings. When we view the Law in light of the Gospel, since it is like the moon illuminated by the sun, the Law reflects the love and mercy of God.

Many of my classmates speak glowingly about how strict their parents were, and how much that meant to them going through life. They also see them as examples of hard work and self-sacrifice, role models for their own lives. The harshness of the moment is seen as love.

Putting on Christ is certainly a reference to the baptismal robe. The righteousness of faith is like that robe, which babies wear - a  little white Christening gown, - the righteousness of Christ is extra nos (Dr. Lito Cruz' blog), outside of us.

The Old Adam remains, but God sees the righteousness of faith, the merit of Christ that we receive through the Gospel. Our love for Jesus the Savior enjoys the love of the Father, but the wrath of God remains on unbelievers. They know it and feel it, and they respond with fear and anger.  The only solution for them is to hear that the Son of God died for their sins, in spite of their weakness, wrath, and rebellion. They become reconciled to God by this message of the Gospel.

Then, because of the Gospel's power, what was once a demand is now something we want to do without expecting thanks or rewards. As mothers have told me, "I miss holding a little baby and doing everything for that child." One would think that 10 children would satisfy that desire, but one mother said recently - I miss the littles and taking care of them. Now I have to give away the tiny clothes for others.

I added that a wise investment in children, in years past, means a battalion of grandchildren in her future.

The child says, "I have to." The adult says, "I want to." 

The parent says, "I have to clean up this mess." The grandparent says, "Let me do that." It does help that grandchildren think their grandparents are perfect, while the same children may communicate the imperfections of their parents all too precisely to those parents.