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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Crouching Buckwheat, Hidden Lily - Even More Easy-To-Grow Plants

 Hidden Lily is also called Hidden Ginger.
The root has been used as a ginger substitute.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a hit movie, long ago.
By chance, I saw an offer for Hidden Lily, which I knew nothing about. Once the rhizomes arrived, I began reading. The plant seems to grow like Canna, enjoying sun and water. Unlike Canna, the Hidden Lily is a fairly hardy and can be left in the ground to spread and come up again the next year, or divided and shared with others.

I left the mesh bag in the rain-filled wheelbarrow overnight. The rhizomes seemed like that. They were easy to  plant by poking holes in the mulch and cardboard base, and they reminded me of Canna rhizomes.

 Canna rhizome, subject to frost. Gott sei dank.


 Cannas are enjoyed for their constant blooming and spreading,
but they can also be
as annoying as loud bagpipe music left playing too long.


 Buckwheat flowers fast and keeps flowering in the summer,
but never becomes a pest flower.

Battling Bugs with Buckwheat

"Buckwheat flowers attract honeybees and other pollinators with their morning nectar flow, but they also support healthy populations of smaller beneficial insects. Mounting evidence suggests that blooming buckwheat give a significant boost to important beneficial species, particularly hoverflies (properly known as Syrphid flies but commonly called hoverflies because of their seemingly effortless ability to hover)."
"Throughout the summer, I sow buckwheat in any spot bigger than a dinner plate that won’t be planted for a few weeks. With good weather, buckwheat can go from seed to bloom in a little over a month."

"Summer weeds that do germinate alongside buckwheat are usually shaded into submission. Later, when the plants are pulled out, residual compounds exuded by growing buckwheat roots may act as natural herbicides, suppressing the germination of weed seeds."

Growing Buckwheat to Improve Soil

"Phosphorous and calcium are among the most important nutrients needed by plants. Soils that are regularly enriched with organic matter often contain an abundance of these nutrients, but in forms that are difficult for plants to take up. Buckwheat has been called a phosphorus pump because of its ability to take up soil phosphorus and return it in a more plant-friendly form. When you grow a patch of buckwheat, both your garden and your compost pile reap this reward."
Crouching Buckwheat
A large bag also appeared in the mail. That was a bargain bag of Buckwheat seeds. I cannot imagine a better seed for:

  1. A low-cost, easy sowing to create a bee and butterfly garden.
  2. Flowers that overwhelm pesky weeds.
  3. Extra havens for beneficial insects in the Wild Garden.
Last year I had Buckwheat blooming in the deep shade where Wild Strawberries and Hosta bloomed. The extent of shade-blooming plants has intrigued me. When someone wants flowers, shade is often a problem and people regret having too much shade. But when a plant will flourish, flower, fruit, and set seed in the shadiest area of the yard, that is a real benefit.

 Hostas send up an elegant but modest bloom,
a flower loved by Hummingbirds.
The plants multiply without being annoying and garish.

Last summer, my first venture in Hostas was satisfactory. Mrs. Ichabod wanted some, and Mr. Gardener had a bunch to divide. Direct Gardening sold me a more for a few dollars. I planted tiny ones and divided plants last year. They came up again this spring. The value of Hostas, besides infinite variety of color and size, is the flower that Hummingbirds love.

The gardening websites are careful to mention flowers that Butterflies and Hummingbirds love. Today, more of us are in tune with the beneficial insect plants - often those with the tiniest flowers for those micro-creatures like Pirate Bugs.

God has planned for all these flowers to work together in protecting the beneficial insects and worthwhile crops. Sometimes, all someone needs to do is grow the plant that hosts the bug that kills the pest. And those plants are not the difficult or expensive plants, but the common, overlooked, easily grown ones.

Catmint is loaded with tiny flowers that pollinators love.
I have several growing among the roses,
enjoying the sun and extra water,
clumping rather than spreading like a flu virus.

Innocent Pleas Entered in Ecclesia College Bribery Case - Oren Paris III Indicted


Innocent pleas entered in college bribery case:


"The law setting up the work-college account is still on the books, the department confirmed Monday. Grants from the account could only benefit colleges that are "part of the Work College Consortium," the act states. The only college in Arkansas that is a member of that consortium is Ecclesia, according to the consortium's website.

Woods emailed a draft of his proposed work-college legislation to Paris on Dec. 2, 2014 -- the same day Paris had the college send a $15,000 check to Shelton's company, according to the indictment. Two days later, Shelton withdrew $12,400 in cash, the indictment says.

Woods also agreed to encourage other state lawmakers to give money to the college. In all, Ecclesia College obtained more than $700,000 in state General Improvement Fund grants in 2013 and 2014, records show.

In other developments at Monday's arraignment, Paris received permission to travel out of state to meet with private donors to the college as long as he gives federal authorities 14 days' notice. Paris was also granted leave to attend family gatherings where potential witnesses in the case are present so long as he does not discuss the case with them."

 Bob Headrick is the academic dean at Ecclesia College.


'via Blog this'

How To Print or Copy Posts from the Blog


Someone asked about how to copy and pass along posts from this blog. I will first deal with the icons at the bottom of each post. Scroll to the bottom of this post - or open up another window for a second view, which may make this easier.

Email
Lower left, end of this post - email. Left-click on that M icon - M for eMail and you will get a page looking like this. Fill out the form and send it. Several at once could get it, if you have email software for that.

Blog This!
Next on that row is the b for Blog This!, a handy tool I use for capturing news items with the link. I mark part of the article (not all of it - which is not allowed) and click the orange b I have on my toolbar in Blogger. That will create a new blog post that will be easy to edit and comment upon. The marked area will appear within quotation marks.

t for Twitter
Twitter is bad software, poorly maintained and - we hope - soon to disappear. If you tweet all the time, you are POTUS or a college student.

f for Facebook
I would not use Facebook pass-alongs, because Facebook exists to mine your data and your friends' data.

Pinterest
I do not use Pinterest or watch The View. That funny icon is for Pinterest and also calls up Facebook - double data sharing, if you like that.

G+1
G+1 is for Google Plus, which shares the post using Google's software.

Old-Fashioning Printing and Mailing
One option is to print the post with an actual printer. Printers were once a marvel, but they are not used as much anymore. They are handy.

Press the control key and press the p key at the same time - that opens up the print command. On my computer, that limits printing to that post.

Or mark the part you want to copy by using the mouse to highlight that area. Once you press the control key and the c copy, you have copied it into the temporary buffer (also called the clipboard). Control v will paste it into Word, into an email, or into a blog.

Copy the Specific Link for the Post
Copy the Link for that Post and Paste the Link into Facebook, etc.
The link or URL is general for the entire blog, but each post has its own link. To get that link, click on the embedded title. I did that for the follow-up article on the New Testament text and got this

http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2017/04/a-short-version-of-new-testament-text.html

I also embedded the link, which is done in some software that shows a chain link - get it? - link? Haha. So clever. The broken link means remove the link. Some emails will embed the link by using the enter key. Sometimes not. Depends. Blogger has a command graphic that says LINK, which is not very subtle, but it works.

Working links are the heart of the Google search engine and all social media. The formula looks for active and often-used links. That moves them up on the search engine results. That is why Ichabod owns so many Lutheran topics and graphics on the Net, sharing links, reading links, and methods I employ to get links clicked upon. Daily haters of Ichabod improve the ranking. Daily fans, who Icha-peek all day, disregarding their Icha-widows - improve the search engine results.


Monday, April 24, 2017

EC President Oren Paris III, Woods, others answer to new indictment in kickback scheme | NWADG



Woods, others answer to new indictment in kickback scheme | NWADG:

"Paris is accused of paying kickbacks to Woods while Woods was a legislator and to then-Rep. Micah Neal, also R-Springdale. Neal pleaded guilty to public corruption charges on Jan. 4.

According to the indictment, Paris passed the kickback payments through Shelton. Shelton is a consultant and business partner of Paris. Paris paid Shelton consulting fees from the college, and Shelton would pass money to Woods, the indictment says.

Woods also agreed to encourage other state lawmakers to give money to the college. In all, Ecclesia College obtained more than $700,000 in state General Improvement Fund grants from 2013 through 2014, records show.

In other developments Monday, Paris received permission to travel out of state to meet with private donors to the college as long as he gives federal authorities 14 days notice."



'via Blog this'

Gadarene Swine or Berans - The Internet Is Wide Open for Searching

Whee! Everyone is doing this!
Join the movement!


The latest post in the New Testament text is an example of the flummery being foisted upon us. That is why we must all be Bereans searching the Scriptures rather than Gadarene swine running off the cliff.

I am not sure what the website promotes, but the graphic is good.

If you read the previous post and carefully consider all the evidence, you will see that the modern text of the New Testament rests upon the fraudulent work of one man who really wanted to become famous.

And Tischendorf is justly famous for making his two miraculous discoveries the norm for the New Testament text - and even better for the apostates - demolishing the concept of a fixed New Testament text.

You Don't Believe This! Sehr komisch!
Tischendorf reported in his 1865 book Wann Wurden Unsere Evangelen Verfasst, translated to English in 1866 as When Were Our Gospels Written in the section "The Discovery of the Sinaitic Manuscript" that he found, in a trash basket, forty-three sheets of parchment of an ancient copy of the Greek Old Testament, reporting that the monks were using the trash to start fires. And Tischendorf, horrified, asked if he could have them. 

Do most people warm their libraries by burning animals skins - parchment? I wonder if Tischendorf's adventures inspired the literary career of a CPH editor, famous for posting thank-you comments when he plagiarized the blogs of Lutheran friends and The Catholic Encyclopedia.


Questioning Tischendorf's fable punctures
the great deception, so keep your voices down.


Your Modern Translation Is Based Upon the Tischendorf Deception
Tischendorf, Wescott and Hort worked together to make the two fake discoveries the basis for the New Testament text, so verses magically disappear from the Greek text and never make it to the English text. In some cases, the missing verses appear in small italic print at the bottom of the page.

The German Bibles still say "nach Luther" after Luther's version, even today, but the English versions are in a rush to avoid mentioning any flavor of the KJV.

That means your beloved

  1. NIV
  2. RSV
  3. New RSV
  4. New NIV
  5. ESV
  6. The Message
  7. Etc. etc. etc.

is based on the Tischendorf lie. What should astound us is the logic - that this recent find should displace the thousands of examples of the traditional text.

Those unfamiliar with NT scholarship, as it styles itself, should realize that certain theories mesh well with the Tischendorf myths. One is that the Gospel of Mark is the earliest Gospel - and the most reliable. Matthew and Luke used Mark and the never-discovered Q to form their Gospels. What a miracle! I should write Q on pigskin and discover it. No one can even define Q, but it is just as handy as the magical characters kids invent to place the blame for missing toys, broken windows, and other misdemeanors. 


The late Nils A. Dahl, Yale University,
studied under Bultmann, Mowinkel, etc.
He was a kind and gracious man.


The greatest NT scholar I have known was Nils A. Dahl, who studied under all the greats of Europe. Krister Stendahl called Dahl the greatest exegete in the world, no small honor. Dahl said, "No one really knows the way Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written." 

But careers are made on arguments about such theories, which always leave out any suggestion of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The same argument can be turned around, looking at common elements of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mark could very well be a harmony and a condensed version of Matthew and Luke, because everything in Mark can be found in Matthew or Luke or both Gospels. There are only two short passages unique to Mark, the seed growing secretly and the streaker.

So, if Mark must be early, simple, and reliable, it also helps to deny the divinity of Christ in the first verse, which is really an introduction to the entire Gospel, a thesis sentence in modern essay writing. If only one tradition, of uncertain origin, offers such a reading, why would the world scholars reject 11 centuries of Greek Christianity, which is where the Christian Church first flourished?

Modern New Testament scholarship has little to do with the content of the Bible, so the Trilateral Commission of Tischendorf-Wescott-Hort goes well with Biblical literature as a creative writing exercise.

When someone argues that his favorite modern translation is superior, as for Mark 1:1. Is the Son of God omitted, as Wescott-Hort argued?

Did that family of translations convert the Virgin Birth of Isaiah 7 become an ordinary pregnancy? The RSV reminds me of ladies shampoos, which I put on the shelf at Walmart. There is not just one brand, like Suave, but various series of sub-brands of Suave, and variations on those sub-brands, so they occupy rows of shampoo in similar, well designed bottles. Any particular preference could be answered by Suave!

RSV
The R stands for Radical. The S represents Standard, after an old favorite the American Standard Bible. The V is a nod to the KJV or Authorized Version, just for laughs. They could not sell many if they said "National Council of Communist Churches" Version.

If they change the R to an E, they have a run of RSVs with a Calvinist editor. But they can extend the RSVs into many sub-categories.

Wendland said this at the WELS convention,
in defence of the New NIV.


New NIV
The New NIV is even more clever than the RSV business. Once the New NIV was in print, the old NIV ceased to exist. I can no longer look up old NIV readings on Biblegateway.com, which is an NIV website.

Moreover, no publishing house is allowed to continue printing NIV materials using the old NIV. They must reprint everything in New NIV, which has supplanted the old NIV using the same name.

Do the denominations receive incentives for bowing at the NIV altar? I am sure of it. WELS used a Wheaton cow, Dr. Moo, to promote the New NIV among the ordination hopefuls. Did any Mordor student even imagine he could go against the favorite error of Wendland? I doubt. it.

Thus Tischendorf-Wescott-Hort are driving the Biblical message among all modern Bibles, with the Bible hucksters remaining studiously silent about the King James family. I am not keen about the Babtist New KJV, but at least it shares the text with the KJV.

So far I have not seen a significant difference in the KJV21 or the Third Millenium Bible - that is - no reason to switch. Yes, I find some opaque terms in the KJV, like chambering, but a little study shows it means bed-hopping, based on the original term. A little more study does not hurt the clergy or the laity.

Sadly - or happily - the laity drive clergy study by asking the basic questions.


A Short Version of the New Testament Text Issues

 Judge them by the fruits of their unholy labor.
They created distrust in the New Testament and empowered
the New NIV to completely subvert Justification by Faith.

Someone asked about the Biblical texts, where a great divide exists, with reliable New Testaments almost gone from the market.

The Old Testament text is carefully controlled by a long history counting the words, even the letters, of each book. As I recall, when the Qumran scroll of Isaiah was examined, it was not different from ones that were 800 years younger, except for "holy" being used instead of "holy, holy, holy." A good compilation can be found in Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell. I am not a big McDowell fan, but this is a good start in looking at false claims about the Bible. I understand a group of people helped him with it, and that is the only way to get a big project done.

The Great Divide - Thanks to Wescott and Hort, Tischendorf
The new attitude fostered by the apostates was this - we have thousands of Byzantine Greek NT documents, so we cannot trust them - too traditional. We must find the rare exceptions and use those.

Wescott and Hort invented rules for judging the New Testament text, pulled right out of their English bowlers. Here is a tirade directed against critics of Wescott and Hort. The defense is mostly an unsupported attack on the critics, very light on evidence. Reasons for abhorring Wescott and Hort can be found here, a popular report. A clear analytical approach is found in Burgeon, the dean of KJV defenders and of Wescott/Hort despisers. Burgeon - Unholy Hands on the Bible.

Dismissing all that, the two principle arguments against Wescott and Hort are

  1. Their ridiculous rules for judging texts, and 
  2. Their use of the highly suspect Tischendorf finds.
The rules include such absurdities as preferring the shorter version to the longer one. That makes no sense at all, since we all have short and longer versions of events - and even of quotations.

Another rule was against the traditional reading. Any liberal or apostate would appreciate reading that no one really thought Jesus to be the Son of God. That was, according to Harvard, "a late development." Jesus did not teach the Trinity, as my college professor stated, because the Trinitarian formula of the Great Commission was "put on the lips of Jesus by Matthew."

Bethany Greek Class - here is an example.

Note that the opening has brackets: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, [the Son of God]. That means - with the footnote - that this phrase is disputed.


ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ 1:1-21881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)

αρχη του ευαγγελιου ιησου χριστου omitting the Son of God
καθως γεγραπται εν τω ησαια τω προφητη ιδου αποστελλω τον αγγελον μου προ προσωπου σου ος κατασκευασει την οδον σου

ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ 1:1-2SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT) Society of Biblical Literature

Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ [a]χριστοῦ. omitting the Son of God
[b]Καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν [c]τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ· [d]Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν [e]σου·

ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ 1:1-21550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550) Stephanus is the editor of the Byzantine edition.

αρχη του ευαγγελιου ιησου χριστου υιου του θεου - includes the Son of God
ως γεγραπται εν τοις προφηταις ιδου εγω αποστελλω τον αγγελον μου προ προσωπου σου ος κατασκευασει την οδον σου εμπροσθεν σου

The Ending of Mark
The same results can be found with Mark 16:1-20. Biblegateway.com is handy in going through the various English editions, but more importantly the Greek editions. The tradition text includes all 20 verses. The new ones stop at verse 8, which is a grammatical absurdity. The post-positive was never used at the end of a chapter and book. Like ending with a preposition, it is something I have never heard of. 
As the lawyer asked, "Is knowledge of the Biblical languages important for studying the Bible?" After 15 weeks of Greek study, the Bethany students can look at the results and make sense from them. Anyone can, but basic reading skills in Greek really help the brain stay out of panic mode.

Pulling Celebrity out of the Trash

 Tischendorf claimed the oldest Bible
was used to warm the monastic library!
I always burn shoes to start the charcoal in my BBQ.
So beleeevable.

Tischendorf wanted to make his reputation in New Testament manuscripts, and he made himself a hero and celebrity with not one, but two trash tales. I am eternally suspicious of people who find treasure in the trash with improbable tales. Here is someone who agrees with me about the great Tischendorf deception - The Bin of Plenty - and I quote -

Nineteenth century Biblical scholar Constantin Von Tischendorf, on the other hand, parlayed his trash finding story into celebrity. As a young man, Tischendorf set for himself the rather ambitious goal of reconstructing the original text of the New Testament; he noted to a friend that he would compile this Bible “upon the strictest principles; a text that will approach as closely as possible to the very letter as it proceeded from the hands of the Apostles.” Initially this meant he would simply make copies of the oldest New Testaments he found, mostly in Europe, and bring them together for research. But his thinking on the matter would evolve. 
In 1844, he travelled across North Africa and arrived, eventually, at St. Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula. It was, he later claimed, in the monastery’s library that he noticed a basket full of papers “mouldered by time,” being consigned to flames for the sake of heat. He “rescued” from this trash basket some 86 pages of what turned out to be a fourth century Bible, and brought them back to Leipzig. In an age when fire was a major threat to books, saving one from the flames must have struck Tischendorf as an entirely believable tale — never mind that parchment (which is animal skin, after all) does not burn well enough to be a good source of heat. But aside from that, to accept his rescued-from-refuse claim, a person would have to believe that, after some fifteen hundred years of existence, monks were burning the oldest extant copy of the Bible, in the library, on the very day that a man professed to be searching for things exactly like that just happened to be there. In any event, Tischendorf’s story is somewhat undercut by the fact that he returned years later and stole/borrowed/bought (depending upon who is asked) the rest of the manuscript containing the New Testament. 
It is tempting to think that 19th century folks were more credulous, and believed the story as Tischendorf wrote it. Some did, of course — like some continue to believe Breithaupt. But here is the 1892 judgment of noted Englishman and book collector W. G. Thorpe: “But as to stealing books. The thing is not only sometimes lawful, but even meritorious, and one man will go to heaven for it — in fact, has gone there already. The mode in which Tischendorf ran off with the Codex Sinaiticus…may be described as anything you please, from theft under trust to hocussing and felony; but it succeeded, and all Christendom was glad thereof.” [GJ - Not all of Christendom is glad, but perhaps Thorpe was tweaking the apostates on purpose.]
 What would you give to have your name inscribed in history,
on the title page of a rarely used but incredibly influential book?
Many Lutheran leaders have sold their souls for less
and are soon forgotten,
sinking beneath the waves of ecclesiastical history,
"unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown."

Vaticanus and Tischendorf 

Paul McCain's The Catholic Encyclopedia
The original home of the Vatican Codex is uncertain. Hort thinks it was written at Rome; Rendel Harris, Armitage Robinson, and others attribute it to Asia Minor. A more common opinion maintains that it was written in Egypt. Armitage Robinson believes that both the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus were originally together in some ancient library.

Tischendorf has a similar story for Vaticanus, which he, Wescott, and Hort made normative (with Sinaiticus) for the New Testament manuscript.

Sinaiticus has the Hebrew letter aleph for its symbol. Vaticanus has B. However, English language Bibles seldom bother with all that. Massive deception is being laid upon all Christians by the Bible boosters who make so much money off the buyers.

Otten is just as guilty as the rest of the apostates, promoting the Beck Bible, which also tips its hat to Tischendorf. Lenski was no better, playing the manuscript game on his own.

Executive Summary
Two schools of Greek New Testament manuscript evidence exist. The earlier school, almost extinct, favors the traditional text, with variant names - Byzantine, Textus Receptus, Erasmus. 

Modern Apostates 
The modern school dominates all the Bible societies, all modern translations, and all Biblical scholars (so-called). They make the fraudulent and mysterious Sinaiticus, the equally fuzzy Vaticanus, and all the strays the norm for the New Testament. They vote on which verses to exclude from the New Testament, like so many drunken frat boys who cannot stand Flounder or Pinto. A small committee makes decisions for millions of people who dream that a Bible society could never be packed with liars, drunks, frauds, and peculators. Have they looked hard at their Council of District Presidents lately?

The Few, The Humble, the Traditionalists
The traditional school is aware of these problem and prefers the King James tradition, which uses the traditional text only.

Tis interesting that ELDONA wavers between the Babtist New KJV and the Calvinist ESV, the second one extruded from the bowels of the National Council of Churches.


Thanks, Mystery Man, for asking about this issue. I had a blast looking up information. Call this an Ichopedia article, not meant to be the final word. Bereans will study this on their own so that they are not quoting me but presenting information from their own research.

But beware, this is addicting, like great coffee brewed from fresh roasted beans.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Quasimodogeniti - The First Sunday after Easter, 2017.
John 20:19-34. Doubting Thomas.



Quasimodogeniti, The First Sunday after Easter, 2017
  
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #192                          Awake My Soul - Gerhardt
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 #
208               Ye Sons and Daughters      
       

Timidity and Hardness of 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 #
187                               Christ Is Arisen            

KJV 1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

KJV John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


First Sunday After Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thine ineffable grace, for the sake of Thy Son, Thou hast given us the holy gospel, and hast instituted the holy sacraments, that through the same we may have comfort and forgiveness of sin: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that we may heartily believe Thy word; and through the holy sacraments day by day establish our faith, until we at last obtain salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



Timidity and Hardness of Heart

KJV John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 

Luther makes some good observations about lack of faith and hardness of heart in his sermon on Thomas being rescued from his unbelief.

Many different events and circumstances can make us timid, weak, afraid, and despairing. The disciples were stricken by fear because their leader was gone and no one could escape the power of the Roman Empire. They knew the results of religious leaders enabling the soldiers to finish the task. Therefore, the door was locked carefully so that men would have to crash through the door. That was fear, timidity, and lack of faith at work.

We moved into a house where every single door had added locks and chains, more than anything I seen before, including the kind on the door protecting the disciples. I saw all that in our Bella Vista house and thought, "Someone is very afraid." Later, we learned it was a dysfunctional ex in-law, and the renter was a retired police officer. Even the police can be afraid at home.

The disciples already heard the news of Christ rising from the dead. But fear is so great - plus the guilt associated with their behavior - that they were locked up in a fake kind of security. 

The first break in this nightmare of fear came when the risen Lord appeared before them, in spite of locked doors, and said, "Peace be with you." Although much needed to be said, the first response to His cowering disciples was - Peace, a friendly and strengthening greeting.

This is the Son of God strengthening them by praying peace - that is forgiveness - upon them. Peace always accompanies faith, forgiveness, and salvation. That is the most important association in the New Testament - peace and forgiveness. References to warfare and peace are almost absent.

20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

The best way to show them they were seeing Him arisen was to show His hands and side. They knew from John about His last moments. This could not be a dream from their imaginations. Instead, it was confirmation of the Two Natures united in Christ. As the Son of God, He appeared in the room in spite of the locks. As truly human, He showed the cruel wounds of His death.

In the same way, God takes away our fears, anxiety, depression, and torpor by showing us His power, grace, and mercy. He does that in the Scriptures and also in the daily events of life.

As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "You not only knew the Word of God but experienced its effect upon you." That is what the Greek class has learned, not to mention those reading Luther's sermons for typos. The power is so striking that no one can deny the power of God's Word.

Sometimes people cannot see this grace of God, so our actions in showing concern and actually helping our neighbor displays this love in action, which is the fruit of the Gospel.

So here we see the Son of God going to them to strengthen and guide them after an experience that crippled their emotions for a time.

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Jesus offered them peace again, and this is the most important greeting of the time. It is still used today in the Middle East. 

This is where we see the transition from Jesus being sent by the Father to Jesus sending the disciples, who are called Apostles after the Resurrection and Ascension. With this change is also the power of the keys - which clearly argue against Universal Forgiveness without Faith. If there are sins to forgive, then the sins of the entire world have not been absolved.

This is an important part of the liturgy. We confess our sins together, and the absolution pronounces forgiveness and peace. This is also carried out among the membership and in the family. But it is centered in worship and pastoral leadership. Now that is largely reversed, to the detriment of all. The minister is full of fear that he will be pronounced unforgiven for offending someone, thereby earning the locking key that makes him leave..unforgiven for doing his job.

I have seen clergy fussing over the "Office of the Keys" for decades, but they sidestep the real issue - Justification by Faith. They want to line up and polarize people based on various traditions when the Gospel of John clearly teaches and quotes Jesus teaching faith in Him. 

The ultimate sin is not having the wrong position on the Keys, but teaching against faith in Christ. The ultimate blessing is not belonging to the correct synod, but believing in Christ and remaining with the True Vine through the Means of Grace. 

Those who see their doctors regularly, in spite of fears, will normally be the most healthy, because there are always conditions to be treated. Those who stay with the Means of Grace will also be spiritually healthy because our eternal malady on earth is the Old Adam, our sinful nature. Like most maladies, if left untreated, this takes over entirely.

This is where hardness of heart enters the discussion. When people reject faith, even in the midst of talking about faith, the effect of the Spirit is to disturb them about this. Over time they harden their hearts against the Spirit at work in the Word. And they fall in love with worldly peace and security. They become harder than stone and flint, and nothing touches them. That is the condition of theology in America. In Europe it is worse and few both to stand up for the eternal truths.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 

Luther saw Thomas as brave before this happened, offering to go together with Jesus to Jerusalem and die there. I saw that as Thomas being grim and fearful. Nevertheless, we see Thomas at his worst, just as Peter displayed great timidity when associated correctly with Jesus.

Thomas was so deep in his gloom that he would not believe until he saw the wound and touched them. This is a great vow, and God does not fail to hear such vows, which are more like commands to Him.

On a much smaller scale, I was gloomy about visiting a school recently. I expected nothing but I was welcomed with great warmth, even for just stopping by. I was even given an interview date that day, by email. Going back 36 years, that never happened, for one reason or another. It did at one school at first but that gave way to normal corporate behavior, called Mushroom Management - keep people in the dark and harvest. You can guess the rest, if you know mushroom production.

I have seen this with many people. Various difficult situations confront them, whether economic or health or family. I pray about them and ask for God's help, and help comes in abundance. 

We do not pray to get what we want, but to glorify God's Name. When He provides far beyond our ability to imagine it, we can only attribute this turnabout to God's power. And that gives us all the more reason to trust Him in all things bothering us.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

The disciples saw the risen Lord, but they were still locked up, one week later, this Sunday that we call Doubting Thomas Sunday. Jesus again entered the locked room and showed that He heard everything. He commanded Thomas to do what Thomas insisted he needed for proof.
This is where Jesus began admonishing them for their little faith. 

Lack of trust doubts what God can do, in spite of our experiences and knowledge of God's Word. 

Many portray this as Thomas responding without doing what he insisted on doing. And I used to say that too. But that overlooks Jesus' command. He did not say, "If you wish..." or "Perhaps..." He commanded. So the lack of debate following tells us that is exactly what Thomas did, because the Lord commanded him to do it.

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 

Thomas did what the Son of God commanded and responded with this brief and powerful confession of faith. Not THE Lord and God - but "My Lord and my God," truly showing his faith in the message of Jesus as Lord and God. After all, faith is not simply what is taught but individual trust in what is taught.

Now Thomas and the rest are strong enough again to hear Jesus rebuke lack of faith. The time is coming when they will no longer see Jesus but will be preaching about Him in all kinds of hostile situations. Now they will be pointing to their Lord no longer seen and teaching people to see Him as Lord and Savior.

This approach is how God teaches. First, the Incarnate Word accompanied His teaching with miracles. to confirm their divine origin. The disciples were built up to withstand the horrors of the crucifixion and be restored to faith in all that Jesus said, even in bearing the cross. 

Next they saw the power of the Word in teaching crowds to dismiss their previous fickleness and blindness and now see the crucified Messiah as their Savior. When thousands responded, they experienced the efficacy of the Word. They raised a harvest although others labored for them to make that possible.

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Jesus continued to confirm His divinity in the Resurrection appearance, when time was short before His Ascension. Here the purpose of the Gospel is stated with perfect clarity. The accounts are written that people might believed Jesus is The Christ. And in believing they have eternal life (from forgiveness) in His Name.

By Caravaggio.