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
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #146 Lamb of God
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 #154 Alas and Did My Savior
First Sunday In Lent
KJV 2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
The opponents of Justification by Faith want to call Chief Article of Christianity "synergism." Today's lesson includes that language in Greek, so it is worth exploring.
In fact, synergism literally means "working with" and is related to the NT word for efficacy. The "syn" means with, and the "erg" means working.
In theology, synergism is a specific term that means God does something and we must do something in return - make a decision. That comes up often in Baptism and related groups. One book on dinosaurs ended this way, "Now that you know the truth about dinosaurs and Creation, it is time to make a decision for Christ." The first part is based on rationalism, the second part is based on man's will. That is the essence of synergism.
Notice that the advocates of Univesal Objective Justification are the real synergists - false teachers. Both CFW Walther and JP Meyer taught that people must make a decision for Universal Forgiveness without Faith, which they call Objective Justification or (rarely) General Justification.
"Accepting" is the language often used in making a decision for Christ. As the Disciples of Christ (adult baptism only, sacraments as ordinances) asked of members joining - "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?"
The word "accept" suggests making a decision, and most people take the word that way. However, the New Testament uses several forms of "receive" in the precise translations like the KJV - and receive is used as a synonym for faith or trust. John 1 - as many as received Him = as many as believed in Him.
Paul is not teaching false doctrine here because he is talking about how believers represdent the Gospel in their daily lives. Once God has converted someone through the Word, God is at work in that individual. The Holy Spirit dwells in that person and moves that person to desire the Gospel and to enjoy the Gospel Promises, which always bear fruit. The first three fruits named are Love, Joy, and Peace.
Most of Luther's sermons have sections on how the Gospel is applied in our lives in works of love for our neighbor. Luther's Biblical doctrine of the Word means that he always considered the Holy Spirit and the Word of God together. When speaking of the Spirit, he also meant the Word. When speaking of the Word, he also meant the Spirit. In short. God only works through the Word and never apart from the Word. That Biblical view is not taught - and is often taught against - by many today.
If someone thinks that friendly ushers are essential in making the sermon "effective" - then that person is an Enthusiast and opponent of sound doctrine. Sound doctrine really means "healthy doctrine" so false doctrine is always sick, ailing, and contagious. If anyone thinks the flu is bad this year and contagious, that is nothing compared to the contagion of unhealthy doctrine. The worse it is, the more people clamor for it.
The definite effect of the Word is to work God's will and prosper God's will. That is why the apathetic and the false-doctrine loving members become alarmed at a Biblical sermon. In a typical synod, they phone the district president or circuit pastor and say with great passion that their congregation is being ruined. "The minister means well but..."
Intolerance of sound doctrine and the thirst for gimmicks have combined to hollow out all the Lutheran organizations.
1. This lesson is an admonition to the Corinthians calculated to stimulate them in the performance of the duties they already recognize. The words are easily enough said, but execution is difficult and practice rare. For Paul gives a strange description of the Christian life, and the color and characteristics with which he exhibits it render it decidedly unprepossessing. First he says: “And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”
2. He calls the Corinthians co-workers, as in 1 Corinthians 3:9, where he puts it: “We are God’s fellow-workers; ye are God’s husbandry, God’s building.” That is, we labor upon you with the external Word — teaching and admonishing; but God, working inwardly through the Spirit, gives the blessing and the success. He permits not our labor with the outward Word to be in vain. Therefore, God is the true Master, performing inwardly the supreme work, while we aid outwardly, serving him through the ministry.
2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Although this is no longer acceptable, the fact remains that we become apathetic and cold toward the Gospel when we neglect the Means of Grace. At various times it was assumed that people normally heard the Gospel every Sunday, received Holy Communion regularly, and were trained in the Word of God. Now a large congregation is known for having 25% attendance year around, with the building and kitchen designed for Easter Sunday.
But as anyone can tell from 25% interest in college football or Pinterest or any other topic, knowledge and involvement decreases over time and often lapses away. All this comes from no longer thinking we go to church to receive God's grace and spiritual wisdom, not to give to God or to make ourselves respectable.
The external Word, a term often used by Luther, means the preached Word. Hearing the Gospel pronounced means a renewal of the knowledge of sins removed and forgotten. Rather than dwelling on the past, the believer knows everything has been forgiven and forgotten through faith in Him, which is true healing.
3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
When the clergy engage in crimes, they scandalize their own members and the unbelievers at the same time. This has happened with so many institutions that I have lost count - congregations, colleges, entire networks of congregations.
The freedom of the Gospel has often led people into hedonism, offending many within and without. The current saying is "I know I am a sinner, so I know I am forgiven." That can be using the Gospel as a pillow on which to fall asleep. After an entire series of "We don't have to," nothing much is left.
Superficial knowledge of Christianity is enough to make excuses for almost anything, from the worst kind of legalistic abuse to anything goes, and often they are blended - where the rules apply to everyone but the rule giver, the new Moses.
For instance, one gimmick is that we have to be the kind of people that attract people to church, which repudiates the Spirit at work in the Word and puts a burden on people instead. What is Gospel becomes Law and it must be done.
One idea was to take a plate of cookies to the new neighbors and use a church bulletin underneath the cookies, so it can be discovered, as if most people use bulletins instead of paper towels.
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
Paul listed the paradoxes of serving as their Apostle, also applying it to them, so they can see he was not talking about popularity and success but the combination of blessings and challenges with the Gospel.
When people are told they will get the cotton candy of life, they are scandalized when they find their trust in the Gospel is met with obstinate opposition from others, including friends and family. One man was free to go to a Lutheran church until he became thirsty for knowledge about sound doctrine. Once that happened, his wife said "absolutely no Lutheran church." He said how odd it was that Lutheran apathy was fine, but studying Lutheran doctrine was a complete marriage deal-breaker.
Most people assume that a pastor doing extra work in Lutheran doctrine would be good, pleasing, and deserving of positive attention. Just the opposite is true. Nothing attracts more opposition among the Lutheran leaders than interest in Luther's teaching and sermons. That embarrasses clergy friends as well, and they drift away.
Laity have had the same experiences, within the family, among friends, and also with clergy friends. This shows, in both cases, how effective the Word is. The Word comforts and provides peace, but it also arouses the opposition inherent in apathy and antagonism toward the Gospel. One member said, "You know the member who opposes every single the pastor proposes and gives him constant grief? I used to be that person."
Tumult and hardships often awaken people to the truth in the midst of such conflicts. Nothing excites curiosity as much as determined opposition. The assaults against the Gospel were so great and so frequent that I said, "I must find out where this comes from." And I am still energized by that opposition, which continues unabated.
|Concordia Publishing House, LCMS|
The Reformation spread when the opposition was greatest. Luther had to be kidnapped to save his life after the Diet of Worms ("Here I Stand" - now honored by socks at CPH). At the Diet of Augsburg, 1530, he could not be present, lest he be murdered, so he sat in a castle and wrote letters instead.
Fifty years after the Augsburg Confession and Apology, the Lutherans were so divided that they needed a new confession, getting back to the original Gospel. That gathered and trained a group of true geniuses, post-Luther, and renewed the Lutheran Reformation.
The Word of God grows in hardship and persecution.
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
The Gospel moved forward in the Apostolic era by the Word of Truth, the preaching of the message of God's grace Christ. Anyone could make people sorry for their sins, but the only remedy and medicine for that is Justification by Faith. Coming from a Law background, Paul was the leading proponent and example of forgiveness among all people, starting with the Jews and continuing with the Gentiles.The Word is the power of God, the dynamo of God - because the Holy Spirit generates energy that opens hearts to Christ and pronounces forgiveness upon believers. The Hoplites were the armored soldiers, and righteousness (forgiveness) is the armor of all those who teach the truth. The combination is compelling to consider, since the Gospel is foolishness to so many. Instead of that, it is really the
- Word of Truth
- The Power of God
- The Armor of Righteousness.
This three-fold description reminds us of the Trinity at work, that this is God's labor, which members and pastors are privileged to share.
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
Here is a list of the paradoxes of the Christian faith -
- Honored among believers, dishonored in general.
- Paul was denounced by the false teachers but faithful to God.
- False teachers accused Paul of lying, but the Holy Spirit led him in the truth.
- His true nature was unknown to others, but known to God.
- His life was always in danger, and yet he survived many times to preach more.
- Sorrowful (was he severely depressed? - some indications are there) and yet he rejoiced in his work for and through Christ.
- He struggled and supported himself in order to make others rich with the Means of Grace, forgiveness, and the blessings of knowing Jesus.
- He left no estate, no house, no wealth, yet the spiritual knowledge he gained - that Jesus placed upon him - meant he gained the world. As Luther says, the believer has heaven and earth.
| Concordia Publishing House puts the Reformation|
on a dog t-shirt.
| CPH Dog collar.|
What does this say to people?