The Fourth Sunday after Trinity, 2017
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Daylight Time
The Hymn # 452 The Son of God
The Confession of Sins
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
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 123 Our God, Our Help
Power in Mercy
The Communion Hymn # 308 Invited Lord
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 # 413 I Walk in Danger
KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
KJV Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
Fourth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, who art merciful, and through Christ didst promise us, that Thou wilt neither judge nor condemn us, but graciously forgive us all our sins, and abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul: We pray Thee, that by Thy Holy Spirit Thou wilt establish in our hearts a confident faith in Thy mercy, and teach us also to be merciful to our neighbor, that we may not judge or condemn others, but willingly forgive all men, and, Judging only ourselves, lead blessed lives in Thy fear, through Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Power in Mercy
KJV Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Luther's Introduction -
For a better understanding of this Gospel, we must in the first place reply to our adversaries, who hold up this text against us as a strong, firm ground of their doctrine, that a man can by works obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and boast of it as though they already had surely gained the victory. They say: Here indeed it stands clearly written: “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given to you again.”
What can a man bring up against such clear passages? Therefore, it certainly follows from this, that a man can obtain forgiveness of sins by good works. Thus, by these and similar passages concerning works, they wish to prove that we are justified and saved by our own merit; and denounce and condemn us as heretics, because we teach that we are saved only through faith in Jesus Christ, who has been crucified and died for us, who gave his body and shed his blood for us for the forgiveness of sins.
Thus they make Christ entirely unprofitable for us, and call the doctrine of faith simply an error and falsehood. Here we see how the blind lead the blind.
We live in the strangest times. The media make a great show of an unrepentant felon being "forgiven" by the family. That is a big mix-up, as we can see from Jesus speaking to His disciples about the keys. Those who are forgiven or absolved by them are also absolved by God. Those who are not forgiven by the disciples are also not forgiven by God.
Just for the record, one might say. The Bible clearly speaks about not forgiving. But this new idea comes from the entire world being forgiven and saved, which comes from liberal rationalistic Pietists and is the mantra of the apostate mainline Protestant denominations, Roman Catholicism, and the Synodical Conference sects. They are in fact united by apostasy, not by grace.
The purpose of withholding forgiveness is to bring about genuine contrition. Some may be quite contrite but not believe in Christ. There is no forgiveness for those without faith in Him. So, contrition does not earn forgiveness - it simply softens the heart to receive Christ, to welcome His forgiveness.
But the vast number of reasons to show mercy and to forgiven are not in the big and dramatic cases but in everyday life. There it seems to be ideal to administer punishment over and over, for real and imagined sins, but often simply for disagreeing with an idea or a plan.
Thus many foolish plans are pushed forward because people are either afraid to object or they are silenced for frowning or raising an objection.
This admonition does not mean that right and wrong no longer exist. "Oh, you are forcing your antique, narrow, and hate-filled values on everyone else." I even had synodical officials (LCA and WELS) condemn me for being "judgemental." I said to the WELS bully, "We are supposed to judge between right and wrong." That silenced him.
Luther said that in matters of doctrine we should never budge an inch, because the doctrine is God's not ours. (Where are people most flexible today?)
However, in everyday life we should be flexible and quick to forgive and forget.
2. Well, we allow them to proceed, because they want to be blind and hardened. But if they were in earnest to know the truth, they could plainly see from this Gospel to what such passages, to which they so firmly hold, properly refer, and how they should be interpreted. For this Gospel evidently and plainly says, that Christ does not speak to those who shall first obtain grace, but to his disciples, who already are children of grace and justified, and are also sent out by him, that they should preach to others such grace and salvation; from which it clearly follows that they already have forgiveness of sins, and are pious and justified, and are not first to obtain salvation through works. I say, he speaks to those, and instructs them how they shall conduct themselves toward their enemies, namely, when they are persecuted by them, that they should not persecute them in return, but should patiently suffer all these things, and do them good for evil.
Clergy do not read Luther - only a few among all the pastors and teachers have a working knowledge of the Reformer. The paragraph can be twisted to make it seem everyone is already forgiven. But Luther is speaking of the Atonement or Redemption. Christ has already paid the price, so the apostles must preach forgiveness through Christ, not earning forgiveness through Christ.
There is no work on earth great enough to earn someone forgiveness of the tiniest sin. Likewise, there is no sin so great than Christ has not already paid the price for it. Luther needed to stress the greatness of forgiveness because the Church of Rome attached a price to be paid, for forgiveness, and that was not enough either. On the EZ Pay plan, the tortured souls in Purgatory could finish paying for their sins.
In the following paragraph, Luther described his own experience and that of the apostles, but that is no reason to be unmerciful to enemies.
Therefore see to it that you lead a better life and conversation than your enemies, who will practice upon you all kinds of unmerciful deeds by judging and condemning you. Moreover they will not only not forgive you any sin, but will proclaim your best works and deeds of mercy as the greatest sins. Again, they will not only not give you anything, but they will also hunt down that which is your own, and will take and keep it by violence. Thus they will treat you. But beware, that you be not like them; on the other hand where they judge, judge not; where they condemn, bless; where they take revenge, forgive; when they take, give. For immediately before, the Lord teaches the very same when he says: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you
One only need to cling to the Gospel and the Word of God to earn hostility, dirty tricks, spitefulness, shunning, and even exile. That seems to be the one human instinct that starts up automatically when the Word starts to take root.
The apostles harmed no one but were the victims of violence. Most of them died very young, but they planted the Word of the Gospel many places.
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
I heard someone try to turn this into giving for a campaign with the idea it would come back. But this does not say "give money" simply give. There are many ways to give - time, skills, friendship, things of value or items that will help or inspire others.
A giving attitude is rewarded first of all by the joy of giving. If we expect something in return, we are bartering rather than giving. We should not even expect to be paid with thanks. If mothers were only self-less when thanked, the world of children would come to a halt.
Praying for someone is also a gift that is rewarded. We remember those we pray for by name and draw closer to that person, even when unseen. This does not happen with "I am sending positive thoughts your way," a ridiculous parody of prayer. Even worse - I am sending light (occultic sense). Light does not come from darkness and falsehood.
Giving without expectation yields all kinds of blessings, as people know who practice this. One young woman began recording all the hymns in the Lutheran hymnal for people to enjoy - no cost at all. When I mentioned this, and give the links, a Lutheran pastor wrote back to criticize her.
That should remind us of Luther's observation that nothing is truly God-pleasing until and unless it is persecuted.
In giving, there is no fair equation either way. If we want to get even with someone, nothing is ever enough on either side - as it degenerates. On the other hand, if we are giving in the opposite sense, thinking of others first, the rewards are surprising and continue onward without end. They are the best rewards, intangible, impossible to measure but lasting.
This is a sermon about God's abundant mercy to us and how we should lift our sights so that we share a bit in that mercy by sharing it equally well, thought that can never be. So it is a pleasure to give mercy, to be understanding and compassionate. How much we appreciate a kind word when something goes wrong that is our fault.
Keys are lost. Items are broken, lost, left behind. Everyone has moments of irritation and anger, often because of outside factors. But God has given us two kinds of treasures. One is the Gospel, which transcends all earthly values, blessings, and pleasures. The other treasure is the our family, friends, and neighbors. "He puts the solitary in families," and often those families extend around the world - through faith.