The Glory Has Departed

Lutheran book boxes sent to three African seminaries -
a third one has been sent now.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Gems from Luther's Sermons, Volume 1

Gems from Luther’s Sermons, Volume 1

Luther is discussed too much, studied too little. The best introduction to Luther is this set of sermons. He taught the Biblical doctrine of the efficacy of the Word in the Means of Grace. Consequently, the preached sermon is the most important part of the ministry, not merely teaching Justification by Faith, but proclaiming the Gospel so that people find comfort and encouragement in their Savior Jesus, the Son of God. The selections below are being gathered from each volume for a final volume to inspire more people to read Luther, for pastors to preach in the style of the Reformer.
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Easter Season, 2017

Human Reason Insufficient
For it is entirely above reason that there should be three persons and each one perfect and true God, and yet not three Gods but one God.

26. The Scholastics have argued much pro and con with their numerous subtleties, to make this doctrine comprehensible. But if you do not wish to become entangled in the meshes of the enemy, ignore their cunning, arrogance, and subtleties, and hold to these divine words. Press into them and remain in them, like a hare in a rocky crevice. If you come out and deign to listen to human talk, the enemy will lead you on and overcome you, so that you will at last not know where reason, faith, God, or even yourself are.

27. Believe me, as one who has experienced and tried it, and who does not talk into an empty barrel; the Scriptures are not given us for naught. If reason could have kept on the right road, the Scriptures would not have been given us.
          Third Sermon, Christmas Day

Not All  Are Justified
87. And I cannot reject this interpretation; for St. Paul also speaks in like manner in Romans 5:18: “As through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men unto justification of life.” Although all men are not justified through Christ, he is, nevertheless, the only man through whom justification comes.

So it is also here. Although all men are not illumined, nevertheless this is the only light through which all illumination comes. The Evangelist has used this manner of speech freely, and had no fear that some might take offense because he says “all men.” He thought he would anticipate all such offense, and explains himself before and afterwards, and says: “The darkness apprehended him not, and his own received him not.” These words are sufficient proof to prevent anyone from saying that the Evangelist meant to say that all men are illumined; but he did wish to say that Christ is the only Light that lighteth all men, and without him no man is lighted.
          Third Christmas Day, or Principal Service

This Gospel is severe against the persecutors of faith. Yet, the severer it is against them, the more comforting it is to the believers who are persecuted. It teaches how obstinate the natural light, our own fancy and reason is; for when it falls into works and commands, it no longer listens to anyone, as is set forth in the following Gospel. But the work and fancy of reason claim to be in the right, and it does not matter how much is preached, how many prophets God sends to her; all must be persecuted and put to death, that oppose the great red murderess, as she is pictured in Revelation of St. John 17:4. Here she is called Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, arrayed in purple and scarlet, sitting upon a beast, that was also red, and having in her hand a golden cup full of the abominations and the unclean things of her fornications, that is, the teachings of men, by which she leads pure believing souls from faith and puts them to shame and strangles everyone that tries to restrain her.
          St. Stephen’s Day

When Will This End?
31. O, Lord God, we are too greatly torn to atoms, too sorely crushed; O, Christ, our Lord, we poor miserable people are too desert-like and too forsaken in these last days of thy wrath. Our shepherds are wolves, our watchmen traitors, our protectors enemies, our fathers murderers, and our teachers mislead us, Oh! Oh! Oh! When, when, when will thy severe wrath have an end?
          St. Stephen’s Day

The Betrayers of Christ
42. The betrayers of Christ therefore are the hypocrites who walk about with the semblance of a holy life and a spiritual estate, while at the same time they annihilate within themselves and in everybody else the truth of Christianity and the light of grace, leaving nothing but human folly. This is recognized only by such as have true faith, and even by such only when they pay special attention to it, investigate, examine and compare one with the other; otherwise they also will allow such works to pass, thinking in their simplicity that they are done in good faith, since, forsooth, they so closely resemble genuine Christian works. And for this the traitor’s name is Judas Iscariot. Judas means “confessor,” for all such saints confess Christ, do not openly deny him and even, in their lives, appear better than the true confessors. Iscariot however means “reward,” for such saints are only hirelings, egotists and seekers after pay; everything that they do they do for themselves and nothing freely, for the honor of God, even as Judas with his carrying of the purse only looked out for his advantage. Behold, thus the world abounds with religious people who, at heart, are nothing but Judas Iscariots, advantage-seekers and profit-servers, who with their outward semblance lead all the world astray and away from the right path of faith, despising and selling Christ, that is to say Christian truth and grace. Of this more anon during Lent.
              St. John the Evangelist

Faithless Teachers
Would she not be considered a mad and impudent harlot who would have her adultery extolled even before her husband? But this is being done by all the preachers of works and faithless teachers, who shamelessly preach righteousness by works, but condemn faith, or conjugal chastity, who call their lewdness chastity, but true chastity they call lewdness. Now all this might remain hidden, and human nature and reason might never discover such vices, for their works are too attractive and their manners too polished. Indeed, human nature devises all this and delights in it, believing it to be well and right, persisting and becoming hardened in it. Therefore God sets up a sign that our nature may stumble and everybody may learn how much higher is the Christian life than nature and reason. The virtues of nature are sins, its light is darkness its ways are errors. We need an entirely new heart and nature; the natural heart reveals itself as an enemy of God.
              Sunday after Christmas, from paragraph 51

Where Do We Find Christ? – in the Scriptures
62. This digression was necessary in order to reply to the false teachers and doctrines of men, and to preserve the Scriptures in their purity. We now come back to our text and learn of these wise men to ask: “Where is the new born King of the Jews?” Let Herod consult the priests and scribes, we will only inquire after the new born King. Let the universities ask, Where is Aristotle? Where is the pope? What does human reason teach? What says St. Bernard, St. Gregory, the church councils and the learned doctors, etc., We ask, Where is Christ? We are not satisfied until we hear what the Scriptures say about him. We are not concerned as to how great and holy Jerusalem is, nor how great and mighty Rome may be. We seek neither Jerusalem nor Rome, but Christ the King in the Scriptures. If we have the Scriptures, we cast aside Herod, the priests and the scribes, Jerusalem and Rome, and search in them till we find Jesus.

Faith Remains Nature’s Fool
101. This is the kernel of the Gospel, in which the nature and character of faith is explained as an assurance of things not seen. It clings alone to the words of God and follows the things that are not seen, as alone conveyed in the word of God, and looks askance at many things which urge it to disbelieve the Word. What nature calls playing the fool, faith calls the true way. Nature may be wise and clever, faith remains nature’s fool and idiot, and thus comes to Christ and finds him. St. Paul’s words, 1 Corinthians 1:25 apply here: “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” For feeling and believing do not get together.

Love Will Cover Our Neighbor’s Sin
180. Secondly, when our neighbor’s deed is an open sin and cannot be otherwise construed, then love acts thus: Has this deed been seen by, or is it known to no one else, then love will keep it quiet and not disclose it, will tell no one of it and will, if possible, cover it, that no one else may know of it, and will thus preserve its neighbor’s honor; but love will also reprove him and pray for him, have patience and mercy with him, and will think as a certain father thought, he fell yesterday, I may fall today; or, if he sins in this thing, I sin in another; we both need the same grace. Therefore love will forgive and help, as we also pray that we may be forgiven and helped. Thus Christ teaches us, Matthew 18:15: “And if thy brother sin against thee (that is, secretly, that no one has seen it but you) go show him his fault between thee and him alone.” And St. Paul, Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, looking to thyself lest thou also be tempted.”