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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Mid-Week Advent Service, December 4, 2019, 7 PM Central. Henry Eyster Jacobs, Part One



Mid-Week Advent Service, 
December 4, 2019

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The Hymn # 240             Father Most Holy  
   
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody            Psalm   14                           p. 124
The Lection            

Sermon Hymn #136   Angels from the Realms of Glory 
         
The First Sermon about Jesus
 

The Prayers and Lord’s Prayer                         p. 44
The Collect for Peace                                           p. 45
The Benediction                                                   p. 45


In Our Prayers

  • Carl Roper and his wife Lynda.
  • Pastor and Mrs. Jim Shrader
  • Randy Anderson's leg
  • Pastor K and Doc Lito Cruz - dealing with diabetes.
  • Those looking for work and a better income.
  • Our media ministries - Alec Satin, Norma Boeckler, Travis and Lauren Cartee, Pastor Jordan Palangyos, Pastor Shrader's new blog - linked on our blog.

Luke 2
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


The First Sermon about Jesus

Luke 2: 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

I took the title of the sermon from Luther, who is always a good source. Our tendency is to look at a text as history, which it is, but perhaps slighting its real message.

This message reflects what I have outlined below about basic Biblical, Lutheran doctrine taught by and carefully explained by Henry Eyster Jacobs. You may think you have never heard of him, apart from my promotion of his work, but we have often sung his communion hymn.


These verses about the birth of Jesus are really the first sermon preached about Jesus, the Word of God Incarnate. Many prophesies were made, from Genesis 3:15 onward, faith in the future Messiah expressed in  Genesis 4:1 (In Hebrew, I have begotten a man-child - the Lord.)

What makes this passage a sermon? First of all, it is Gospel, bringing faith and hope, replacing fear. The Angel of the Lord appeared, and the glory of the Lord shone like a lamp all around them, and they were seized with overwhelming fear.
This is how people react when they are in the presence of God and realize their smallness in the face of His glory. When Peter saw the power of the Lord of Creation to gather a great shoal of fish, He said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man."

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

The angel countered their fear with this great message - "Don't be afraid, for I am Gospeling you with a great joy for all people." The opposite of fear is faith, not courage, faith in Good News rather than condemnation, Good News for all people, not just for some.

It is not just Good News, but Good News about the Son of God. That is the meaning of the Gospel, Jesus' incarnation, His ministry of healing and forgiveness, His death and resurrection.

For all people - that alone is so different from what false religions teach, because there is always an elite group. Calvinists teach that our fate is determined before we are born, predestined to eternal life (the few) or to everlasting torment (the vast majority). World religions teach works to appease God, and there is never enough that can be done, no matter how extreme the measures are.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

This remarkable verse is poetic, hymnic. So it is easily seen as a catechism, a verse to be repeated when training children, which is what we do with pageants. Ending the fear and growing faith in the shepherds' hearts - one statement of fact. But did the Angel say "a Savior" or "the Savior." In Greek, it is simply Savior, which is more emphatic that our expressions of "a" or "the." It is more like The One and Only Savior, but the ancients were not so verbose as we are.

And here is the great benefit of this gift to mankind, which can never be fully described. Faith in this truth receives the benefit of His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. There is no qualification, no series of tests to advance toward this completion. God creates and nurtures this faith through the proclamation of the Gospel (most important for Luther) and through study of His Word.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

It is best to understand this as "the sign." There was only one baby in one manger for feeding animals, and wrapped as a newborn. This is the strangest combination - the Angel of the Lord, more like Lord's-Angel in Greek, telling them do not be afraid, because a baby will prove the truth of this message of joy. He is the Savior.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

13 και εξαιφνης εγενετο συν τω αγγελω πληθος στρατιας ουρανιου αινουντων τον θεον και λεγοντων 

a great army of angels - gathered to announce Peace!

If anyone hesitated at the previous instructions, this epiphany of angels singing certainly confirmed the miraculous and the unique quality of this message - an army of angels singing to a few shepherds.

This is what should comfort those laboring in the vineyards of the Lord. He did not announce the Savior first to the kings and governors, the high priests and professors, but to the shepherds and the Wise Men. While the great and mighty, who can buy a $100 million mansion and strut on the world stage, the Gospel is entrusted to ordinary people who appreciate this Truth for all ages.

We are like the shepherds in knowing and believing this angelic message from God and its proof lying in the manger. The entire world is full of narratives about special messengers, even angelic tales of all kinds - spirits, demons, wise old men. But that is a far cry from the revealed truth of the Savior's birth.

The angelic sermon brings joy and trust in God - and healing from the wounds of life, our need for forgiveness. Fear evaporates when we trust in the Word and realize armies of angels were employed to rejoice in the Savior. That was a long wait for them.

Theirs was the first sermon about the newborn Savior, and that sermon will continue to be preached here and there, believed and also rejected, until the End of Time.




Henry Eyster Jacobs was a leader in the General Council, which formed after the Civil War - a revolt based on the liberal, ecumenical General Synod. Note that all Lutheran groups during this time were Pietistic to some extent.

Jacobs is honored by all Lutheran groups for his fine book on Biblical, Lutheran doctrine. You can download the pdf for free by clicking this link - Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith.

One way to find the terms or sections from the book is to use control-f and put that term in the window. I opened the new Christian News today. 
control f - justification by faith, 0 response.
control f - efficacy, 0 response.
control f - Means of Grace, 0 response.


Point A - The Word and the Spirit always work together.
Genesis 1
Isaiah 55:8ff.
1 Thessalonians 2:13

James 516 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.



Point B. Grace comes to us only through the Means of Grace. Note above - the Spirit only works through the invisible and visible Word.

The Means (or Instruments) of Grace are shorthand for the Word -invisible in preaching and teaching - and the Sacraments (visible Word). 

If someone understands the Spirit only at work in the Word, then the constant insistence of people being "declared righteous" 2000 years ago (unrecorded) or everyone coming into the world forgiven, or other such nonsense (Calvinism included) is obviously not Biblical.