The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream


NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Quinquagesima Sunday, 2017. 1 Corinthians 13


Quinquagesima Sunday, 2017

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Lyrics are linked in the hymn number.
The melody is linked in the hymn title.


The Hymn #27                    O Bless the Lord                    
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 #351      Love Divine

 The Sermon - Love versus Vainglory

The Hymn #311        Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior                           
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 #657                             Beautiful Savior 




The Epistle. 1 Corinthians 13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.




The Gospel. St. Luke 18. 31-43

THEN Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David. have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood. and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.


Quinquagesima Sunday

Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst manifest Thyself, with the Holy Ghost, in the fullness of grace at the baptism of Thy dear Son, and with Thy voice didst direct us to Him who hath borne our sins, that we might receive grace and the remission of sins: Keep us, we beseech Thee, in the true faith; and inasmuch as we have been baptized in accordance with Thy command, and the example of Thy dear Son, we pray Thee to strengthen our faith by Thy Holy Spirit, and lead us to everlasting life and 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.



Love versus Vainglory

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

I was thinking about the difference between exegesis and interpretation, which could be explained as the difference between Biblical commentaries and Biblical sermons.

Luther's sermons are interpretation, not lacking in the explanation of the verses and words (exegesis), phrase by phrase - but emphasizing the great themes of the Bible.

Luther does this with the famous love chapter by showing that the chapter, even 1 and 2 Corinthians, were written against vainglory.

The close-up version tells us Paul was concerned that people valued their spiritual gifts so much - such as speaking in tongues - that their vainglory was harmful and destructive.

The sermonic view, which is especially important, is seeing both Corinthian letters as aimed at the same target, the overall problem of vainglory.

Examples of Vainglory
I noticed with several Lutheran leaders that the moment they were elected to a high office (bishop of the liberal Lutherans in Canada; bishop of a regional ELCA district) - they immediately began announcing how they would be treated, honored, and respected.

This love chapter is often read at weddings, including a perfectly enunciated recitation at the marriage of Charles and Di. Naturally, the chapter is perfectly fitting for weddings, but it involves far more than falling in love and getting married.

A common remedy against addressing false doctrine today is announcing, "You are not loving." That implies one must be patient and kind with false teachers, so the raising of the issue itself appears to be a sin.

Luther warned against thinking that "love" as defined above was going to be a remedy for anything, an excuse for ignoring the obvious. Love does not cause faith: faith produces love as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Lack of Love Today
The reason for the lovelessness of the various Lutheran bodies is the lack of faith. Instead of teaching faith, they teach against it. Instead of having a clear body of teaching, there is a constant waffling about every possible article of faith and how it is taught and applied. For example, the charismatics rose from the rationalism of the mainline groups, but their favorite documents and leaders are anti-Sacramental, anti-Means of Grace. 

I warned one woman against her cell group, which irritated her, of course. She tried to get this "Lutheran" group to discuss infant baptism and infant faith, only to be met with total hostility. She offered, "We can get a pastor here to discuss this." The lady who ran the group bristled and declared, "I am the leader of this group." So the woman reluctantly agreed that my assumptions (based on experience) were correct.

The Gospel itself is commonly displaced today. One topic or a series of minor topics mean there is no room for the Gospel. In the same way, nitrogen is used at chemical plants to replace oxygen to eliminate fires and explosions.

Paul's opening is the same as saying, "If we do not start with the Gospel of forgiveness through faith in Jesus, we are nothing more than noise-makers and clashing cymbals." The future Mrs. Ichabod challenged me to bring my cymbals to the dorm and play them for her, at college. I was the cymbal soloist, due to a lack of percussionists. I brought them alone and created a stir, since high quality cymbals were not used to serenade young ladies. I was outside, so the audience was large and unappreciative, except for one.

Luther and the Lutheran Reformers were alone in starting with faith in Jesus and the Word as the Means of Grace. That seems so obvious to traditional Lutherans, but there are few of them today. The living seed of the Word brings Christ to our hearts and the Holy Spirit renews and sustains the faith first generated by the Gospel Word.

The living seed of the Gospel bears fruit - that is just as inevitable as the rain and snow having an effect on all vegetation and the life within.

Yesterday our new helper took all the cardboard boxes from the garage and flattened them over the last section of grass in the front yard. His grandfather said to me, "Why do you hate grass? I answered, "My wife prefers roses to grass."

I explained to the grandson that this would create compost from the lawn, on the spot, to feed the new Crepe Myrtle bushes, possibly roses in the future. We weighed the cardboard down with stumps from the maple tree trimming, an additional help for fungal and creature growth in the yard.

The rains - sorry, no snow - will feed the fungus, bacteria, earthworms, springtails, and other creatures of decay. But the sun will only warm the areas we set aside for plants. 

The rain in primary. Without the rain, there is no real growth. That is why the Gospel is compared to rain that moves across the land and has its effect.


And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

The Bible gives us two aspects of the Christian Faith. One is the content - Christ dying for our sins. The other is the effect of knowing and believing the Gospel - the fruits of the Spirit. If we are lacking in the fruits of the Spirit, there are reasons to consider whether we are genuinely repentant and sincerely trusting in that Message.

These are the pretensions of those who view themselves as higher than the rest, for various reasons. One could add many more, such as "Do you know who my grandfather was?" - as if a grandparent is an accomplishment. 

The passage about suffering fools gladly 2 Corinthians 11) is Paul's rebuke for the Corinthians tolerating the bragging of the false teachers, who never did anything but worked on stealing the Corinthians away for themselves. What looks like Paul boasting is his comparison of real sacrifice (becoming a fool, since they like bragging fools) as contrasted with those who do not suffer anything to cause them harm, discomfort, or luxury.

So if the Corinthians have spiritual gifts to boast about, their lack of love repudiates their claims. and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

13. The false reasoning of the sophists will not stand when they maliciously deduct from this text the theory that the Christian faith is not effectual to blot out sin and to justify. They say that before faith can justify it must be garnished with love; but justification and its distinctive qualities as well are beyond their ken. Justification of necessity precedes love. One does not love until he has become godly and righteous. Love does not make us godly, but when one has become godly love is the result. Faith, the Spirit and justification have love as effect and fruitage, and not as mere ornament and supplement. We maintain that faith alone justifies and saves. But that we may not deceive ourselves and put our trust in a false faith, God requires love from us as the evidence of our faith, so that we may be sure of our faith being real faith.

Here Paul is using hyperbole, exaggeration to prove a point. Even if they could do all things, those accomplishments mean nothing when the Gospel is set aside in favor of the visible works of man.

One study by the late Lutheran Church in America said, "Nurturing churches grow." A pastor there said, "After the study, we lost that nurturing feeling, and we were examples of it for that study." I doubt whether he saw the irony of placing the wrong emphasis.

Other examples are - Parking lots must be expansive. A parking valet ministry is needed (not joking). Sell gourmet (ahem) coffee at the church. 
"The best Gospel sermon will be ineffective if the ushers are not friendly." A Lutheran layman said out loud - "Amen!"

Luther is saying in the quote above: The Romanists are wrong is saying faith alone is not enough, that faith must be garnished with love.

Note how the modern Growthers say the same thing - We have to do this and act this way, or we will never progress. They are lost and lead the people to and fro, in error's maze astounding.

One of the greatest and most effective fallacies is the Fallacy of Emphasis. If someone can move the emphasis, the speakers and listeners are confounded and confused.

Luther said - it is the Gospel, not love, that saves. Love is the result of the Gospel. A Fallacy of Emphasis moves the goal to love. We have to be loving. The minister has to be loving. We need programs and cell groups to promote love. (Or  spirituality, or anything else on the agenda)

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

This is Paul's list against the work of the false teachers and those swept away by them. The bad characteristics are a remarkable description of what we see today in all the denominations, especially the micro-mini ones. They rule by anger and arrogance, so everyone is afraid to bring up anything or oppose them - even question them - in any fashion. And this is what the leaders crave, abject and unquestioning submission to their authority - not the authority of the Word.
The same qualities are needed in a family. One must see the Old Adam in himself first before being impatient with the Old Adam in everyone else. 
Rejoicing in iniquity is a way in which authority figures can control others by holding past sins against them while pretending to be examples of perfection.

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

These qualities can only come from the Gospel, so the Gospel must be taught as it is, directly from the Word of God. From the example of Christ and His sacrifice for us, we receive that forgiveness of sin that causes spiritual fruits to grow in us.
The example is the faith of Christ, His complete reliance upon the Father and agreement with the Father's will comes from His perfect faith. The Atonement is the result of the faith of Jesus, because the Son always had the power to evade and oppose the power of Rome and His religious opponents. The irony is this - the apparent defeat of Jesus, His arrest, torture, and death  - are the core of His victory over sin, death, and Satan. 
How tempting it is to win in the material sense, to crush the opponents, march them behind, the women lamenting and the children crying. (Conan the Barbarian) But the Christian believer has only one victory to count on while the Prince of This World rules - the victory of trust in the Word that brings Christ to us.

1 John 5 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Someone wrote to me this week, "Where does it say prophecies will cease?" Right here. But what does it mean? Those who emphasize spiritual gifts are emphasizing the wrong thing, because love will always grow from faith. It is astonishing that humans see so much value in what they have done, so little value in what God does every day, whether we know it or not.
As one doctor observed, when someone has had problems with the circulation around or in the heart, the body creates alternate routes. Likewise, the brain rewires itself when damaged.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will never pass away. Mark 13:31 
How quaint to place so much value in the temporary and so little on what is eternal. Love is the consequence of the faith of Christ - and our faith - and therefore the work of God.
Notice that the gifts of the Spirit are not the same as the fruits of the Spirit. God certainly gives various gifts to believers so they can glorify His Name. Some are musicians. Some are artists. Some teach. Others encourage and help wherever they can. Necessarily the gifts can be abused and misused, as often happens when gifted people think they have accomplished on their own. Vainglory sets in and becomes destructive when the gifts of God become the accomplishments of man.


The fruits of the Spirit are qualities that come directly from the Gospel. The first three Love, Joy, and Peace. Where the fruits of the Spirit are missing, one should question faith and repentance.


11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Here Paul is simply saying, "You are being childish. Put away this behavior." Or he might have said, "Emotional worship is great, but use the brains God gave you." That is an answer to those who think that if clapping is great, jumping from pew to pew is even better. And rolling on the floor laughing - the best of all. 
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Ancient mirrors were silver rather than glass. As silver darkened from oxygen, the reflection darkened. The turn in phrase - I will know in eternal life as I am already known by God in this life.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

37. It is passing strange that teachers devoid of love should possess such gifts as Paul has mentioned here, viz., speaking with tongues, prophesying, understanding mysteries; that they should have faith, should bestow their goods and suffer themselves to be burned. For we have seen what abominations ensue where love is lacking; such individuals are proud, envious, puffed up, impatient, unstable, false, venomous, suspicious, malicious, disdainful, bitter, disinclined to service, distrustful, selfish, ambitious and haughty. How can it consistently be claimed that people of this stamp can, through faith, remove mountains, give their bodies to be burned, prophesy, and so on? It is precisely as I have stated. Paul presents an impossible proposition, implying that since they are devoid of love, they do not really possess those gifts, but merely assume the name and appearance. And in order to divest them of those he admits for the sake of argument that they are what in reality they are not.
That is why the authority of the Word of God must prevail, because those who make great claims for themselves are the ones who shrink from the meaning of the Word.