Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Feast of Pentecost, 2018. John 3:16-21.
Whosoever Believes in Him

The Feast of Pentecost, 2018

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The melodies are linked in the hymn name. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.

The Hymn # 387:1-5    Dear Christians All 
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 #387:6-10                      Dear Christians All  

Whosoever Believes in Him

The Communion Hymn # 234       Holy Ghost with Light Divine 
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 #246                Holy, Holy, Holy

KJV Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

KJV John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

Sermon Text - Pentecost Monday
KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

I mentioned to someone that I would add onto to the Two Categories in Biblical Studies. 

  1. One treats the Scriptures as God's Word, His revelation of the unified Truth of the Bible. 
  2. The other considers the Bible a book about God (like TALC's The Bible Book of Faith, first prize for irony).

Another reader commented on assumptions, and that is closely alligned with these two categories. There are assumptions that go with the two categories.

Category One assumptions are - the harmony, efficacy, and infallibilty of the Scriptures. Luther and Lenski belong in this group.

Category Two assumptions are extremely important to understand because most Bible translations and commentaries rest in this category. Those assumptions are:

  • The Bible is the product of various cultures.
  • The Bible is one of many books about God.
  • The Bible can be examined and criticized no differently than Shakespeare/Oxford or Melville's Moby Dick.
  • The Bible is packed with errors and contradictions. We hardly know anything about the authors. There are many editors so nothing is certain. 
  • Old-fashioned commentaries (Category One) are amusing but seldom worth serious consideration, except as historical objects.
  • Here we have Fuller Seminary and Trinity Divinity leaders, the NIV and ESV, and LCMS-WELS books.
  • Because God is so gracious and everyone is forgiven and saved, no one needs to fuss about doctrine. Instead, we must make the world a better place through social activism.
The "conservative" Lutheran synods would claim they are in Category One, but they work with Category Two Bibles and Biblical commentaries. They adore Fuller Seminary and Trinity Divinity.

The Gospel of John in Category Two
People will begin to smell the pot roast when they consider how John's Gospel is treated today - all these being false but dominant assumptions:
  1. The Apostle John did not write the Gospel.
  2. The Fourth Gospel was not written for 300 years or so.
  3. The Fourth Gospel is influenced by Hellenistic culture.
  4. The book is not historically accurate, so we cannot trust its details.

The Truth about the Fourth Gospel

  • It was written by John, the Apostle Jesus loved.
  • It assumes our knowledge of Matthew-Mark-Luke.
  • It adds significant details but most importantly features the sermons of Jesus about His work and the Christian Church.
  • It teaches Justification by Faith, but also serves as a doctrinal Gospel, establishing refutations of false doctrine that will appear in the future.

Whosoever Believes in Him

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This text begins with the Little Gospel, as it is called, a perfect summary of the Gospel that states the benefit of believing in Him and also the peril of unbelief.

1. This is one of the best and most glorious Gospel lessons, such as John particularly wrote. It is worthy to be written in golden letters, not upon paper, but if possible upon the heart; it ought to be made the daily lesson and meditation of Christians, who should repeat it to strengthen their faith and awaken their hearts to prayer. The words make the sad joyful and the dead alive, if the heart only firmly believes them.

The Bible only teaches about faith and unbelief, truth and falsehood. There are no clever compromises and alternatives. The unbelieving world lives in a state of perishing. Without faith, people do not have eternal life but eternal death. That is not a "fade to black" as one world religion student put it, but an eternity of knowing about God's infinite power but unable to do anything about it but suffer. 

Because falsehood is dominant and Satan continues as prince of thsi world, the power of error and unbelief are always upon us. That is why this verse is ultimately so cheerful and uplifting. The underlying message should make people crawl on their knees for miles, or suffer great pain for atonement, as the deluded still do today, especially in honor of - or is it mockery of - Good Friday. 

But the little Gospel has only one rememdy, which is so brief and clear that the great and wise in this world - the seminary professors and theologians - cannot grasp it. Whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.

This shows the great contrast between the common view of God and the correct view. The Fourth Gospel repeatedly teaches us that the world hates Christ and His followers, that they would be happy to kill them to please God. But God's view of the world is gracious and merciful - For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

This summary is based upon Jesus and Nicodemus, where Jesus showed the Jewish leader that the man did not know the basics of salvation. Nicodemus came to learn and Jesus knocked the props from under him. One should go slowly with a great scholar and not offend him, most would say. Be friendly and cheerful and non-confrontational. But Jesus told him, "You have no idea and yet you are a teacher of Israel?" The result of teaching the Gospel is that the Gospel converted Nicodemus, as we know from the ending, where the Jewish leader defied Rome and Israel in caring for the body of Jesus.

This summary matters so much because any departure from forgiveness and salvation throughf faith is going to involve works. Salvation by works is anti-Gospel, anti-faith, and mankind's natural resting place. The most ardent atheist will prove how good he is, based on his works. The UOJists will say they are all Gospel, but they are always condemning while extolling their own meager works.

What does this mean if someone says, "I can prove universal forgivenss from this letter an important person wrote 432 years ago"? It means that expert is so afraid of the Gospel that anything else will do. The entire Gospel of John teaches this because the other Gospels handle most of the narrative details. It is like saying, "All that is important, and you should know the Gospels to understand the message of Christ. But if you do not understand the message of Christ, more biographical details will not help you at all." Thus John's Gospel is the keystone or Rosetta Stone of the entire Bible. That is why the Gospel is presented as a commentary on the Five Books of Moses.

Disciples of Moses - here is the Gospel that explains and proclaims Moses as the forerunner of the Savior. If you love and respect Moses the Lawgiver, then believe in Jesus -- grace and truth came through Him.

8. With these words he leads us directly into the Father’s heart, that we may see and know that it was the great and wonderful counsel of God, resolved from eternity, that we should receive help through this Son. All had to be fulfilled, that God’s truth might stand, even as he had promised aforetime in the Scriptures. It is thus apparent that God does not intend to cast us out, and to condemn us on account of our sins; but that he wills that, for the sake of this Savior and Mediator, if we fear his wrath on account of our sins, and keep in mind and firmly believe this eternal divine will, we should attain to the eternal grace of God and to eternal life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 

We should pay close attention to the "for" statements in the New Testament, because they serve to emphasize and explain. John 3:16 summarizes Nicodemus (for), and John 3:17 explains more of John 3:16.

We need to read stretches of the Bible, not verses and half-verses. Context really matters and so does the concept of One Unified Truth. If you think your half-verse refutes an entire chapter, then you are a snake oil salesman, an expert who knows nothing at all (example - Making Romans 4:25 refute Romans 4, even Romans 4:24 - what a laugh, yet thorough embedded in LCMS dogma).

So the Medieval view of Jesus as the angry judge is entire wrong and can only exist if no one reads the Fourth Gospel. Even now, the experts withhold what is taught and say - with Medieval glee - we will tell you what to think.

There is no condemnation in Christ, and He did not condemn people. For those who did not believe, He said, "The Word has already condemned you."

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

This must be kept in mind - that Jesus died for great and terrible sins, too. Henry E. Jacobs (hymn writer) became a pastor because he spent so much time with Civil War soldiers, comforting them at the time of their deaths. Medicine was horrible then and most died from bad medical care rather than from the battlefield. No one could "do something" to make up for sins. And yet the Gospel comforted dying men who heard the message that believing is forgiveness, and forgiveness of sin is salvation.

Notice how every side of the argument is addressed. Someone can think, "I believe in the Savior, but my actions condemn me." No, he is not condemned. On the other hand, the chairman of 24 charities can say, "I am too busy for all that. Look at all the good I do." This verse says, "No faith in Him? You are already condemned."

Believing in the Name is very important because people name their gods, even when pretending to be agnostic. There is almost always a toehold. And that is not different from the ancient world, the pagan world, filled with deities with names and powers. Against that background, whatever might be named, there is "no other Name by which we are saved except Jesus." Acts 4:12 excludes all other names, as the Fourth Gospel does.

Jesus' Name is I AM, and that Name has many attributes that help us understand the greatness and the kindness of the Savior -

  • The Light of the World
  • The Resurrection and the Life
  • The Bread of Life
  • The True Vine
  • The Good Shepherd and many more I AMs in John

12. As there is no greater Giver than God, so there is no greater virtue, either in God or men, than love. One will sacrifice everything for what he loves, even his life. Patience, humility and all other virtues are nothing compared with it, or else are included in its essence. For whom I love, with him I will certainly never be angry, nor injure nor annoy him, nor make myself intolerable to him, but I will be ready to serve, counsel and help him whenever I see that he needs me. In short, I am his fully, as to my body, goods and all my possessions.

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

There is a reason for unbelief. People cling to their evil deeds rather than give them up. Right now, one idividual could unravel the evil powers at the top of the pyramid of evil in this world - so many are connected in the same ways. But they would rather burrow into the soil and hide like the soil creatures of rot and decay. Many of them pretend to wear the livery of the Savior but they serve their Father Below. It will all be unmasked sooner or later. So - people are condemned for loving evil and not loving the Light of the World. They know their lives are incompatible with the Word of God, so they make a show of it without believing it. Not all of them are church executives and teachers - many are mobsters, bank presidents, politicians, and ordinary thieves.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 

We had someone who worked at our house in Moline. She saw a cockroach run under a little breakfast cart when she was trying to kill it. She said, "Come out of there, you little devil, so I can get you." The roach mysteriously ran out from under cover, straight at her, and we heard a crunch. We often told that story of Hilda conjuring insects to come to her.

The evil-doers know their works do not bear scrutiny, so they have all kinds of ways to avoid being detected. This is an additional warning against people who avoid the true Light of the World. 

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

The contrasts in the Bible are not necessarily the ones we would use. This verse contrasts "doing evil" with "doing truth" rather than "doing good." Doing truth naturally follows loving the Savior and trusting in Him.

The Yes-Buts believe in Christ but fear their church executives. So they are content to tolerate wrong, evil, and false doctrine. Luther's argument was simple - Trusting the Word means trusting that the will of God will always be accomplished through that Word. Only man's work is accomplished with man's cleverness and schemes.

Luther did not conjure up the Islamic threat, but that danger united Europe against the Ottoman Empire rather than unrooting the Reformation. Once that battle was over (for the time being) the Reformation was established. Luther did not invent the printing press, etc. He just wrote the truths of the Bible.

Everyone plays a part. It is like a garden. The wise gardeners look at Creation rather than the plants and asks, "How can I put a little spin on this plot of earth?" The most basic answer is - improve the soil. Man cannot do that, but God can with organic additions, earthworms, and all the soil creatures, especially microbes, the foundation of all life. Man says, "Build a cathedral. That will impress everyone and they will flock to it."

God says, "Build a family and a church upon the Gospel and that will have infinite results that glorify My Name." 

But what, on the contrary, is the world but a great mass of people who neither fear nor love nor praise nor thank God, who misuse every creature, blaspheme God’s name and despise his Word, and are, furthermore, disobedient, murderers, adulterers, thieves, knaves, liars, betrayers, full of treachery and all malice; in snort, transgressors of every commandment, and in every particular refractory and obstinate, adhering to God’s archenemy, the abominable devil? Behold, this delicious and gracious fruit! He bestows, as if upon a beautiful and beloved bride and daughter, his dear Son, and with him all things, whereas he would have had more than sufficient reason, at the very mention of the world, instantly to crush her with thunder and lightning to powder, and cast her into the abyss of hell.

The word “world” is a sound hateful to God beyond expression; and this is a most strange paradox: God loves the world. Here two things that are in the highest degree antagonistic are combined. It is almost like saying: God loves death and hell, and is the friend of his most bitter eternal enemy, the accursed devil.

18. That is indeed a boundless proof of love, and makes the gift inexpressibly great, when the Giver and he to whom it is given are placed side by side, and God is represented as pouring out his whole heart to his hateful, hostile image, whereas he should have visited him only with anger, vengeance and damnation, and when he pays no attention to the fact that the world is full of contempt, blasphemy, disobedience toward God, and stupendous ingratitude for all the gifts he bestowed upon it heretofore, but swallows up all its vices and sins. Though the Giver be ever so great and beneficent, the wickedness and viciousness of the world, which is excessive and immeasurably great, ought to deter and repel him. For what man can even mark and sufficiently realize his own sin and disobedience? And yet this great love so overcomes God that he take away from the world all and every sin and transgression, and remembers them no more against it forever, so that they are dead and gone, and instead he gives his Son, and with him all things.