St. Peter Lutheran Church
October 30, 2011
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus.
- God is just.
- Justice: Giving to each according to their merits. Hatred of wickedness, love of the good.
- Why it’s good that God is just: God will not allow evil to harm the world forever. He will avenge and save the righteous.
- What God’s justice means for us: condemnation.
- Oct. 31, 1517—The Reformation began with an argument about how the unrighteous could escape punishment.
- What indulgences are, according to RC church today.
- How they were abused and made even worse in Luther’s day.
- Luther’s critique in the 95 theses
i. There is no cheap grace.
ii. Salvation comes to the repentant.
iii. Repentant sinners cannot shun the cross.
5. The evil of indulgences for Luther in 1517
i. They fleeced people.
ii. They failed to tell people the truth of God’s law.
iii. Those responsible were leading Christ’s flock to damnation.
- Replaces Jesus Christ and His Word, leads Christ’s sheep to damnation.
- How the pope reacted to the 95 theses: insisted on his right to free people from temporal punishment–a prerogative of God alone–and condemned to hell all who denied that he had this right.
- Later Luther: the papacy is the antichrist!
4.The spirit of antichrist at work in Protestantism and in the Lutheran church
- Denominations grant indulgence from God’s word.
- Pastors grant people indulgences of cheap grace.
i. We know you won’t tolerate too much of God’s Word, so we’ll try to entertain and attract you
ii. We won’t rebuke widely accepted immorality and we will not call you to repentance when God’s Word
and his call to a holy life slips to third, fourth, or 10th place on your schedule and budget.
3. We grant ourselves indulgences:
i. Times have changed.
ii. I sin, you sin, so we won’t call anyone on it.
iii. Being a Lutheran has come to mean the freedom to obey no one, to despise authority, to be impious, to despise God’s Word, to not pray—to sin.
4. There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
i. What it means to come short of the glory of God.
ii. No difference means all law breakers are equally damned
iii. Preachers and tithe givers and hypocrites and murderers.
iv. That every mouth be stopped and the whole world become guilty before God.
v. No indulgences: justice.
5. A “without the law” righteousness is revealed.
- The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
- A righteousness without the law.
- Revealed in the days of the apostles.
- Revealed again by God in His work of reformation, in the wound he dealt the antichrist
- The everlasting Gospel preached by Luther.
i. Just as the law doesn’t change with the times,
ii. So the Gospel has been the same since the beginning.
iii. Christ came to suffer for us.
6. Jesus the “mercy seat”
i. Priest and sacrifice
ii. The “covering”
iii. God met humans there without wrath.
6. Just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
- God must punish sin to be just.
- God let sins in the past go unpunished—was He just?
- He punished Jesus
- The one who believes this is reckoned righteous
- God is not unjust in reckoning us righteous, because He did punish….Himself.
- He “bore our iniquities in His body”
- God justifies us—that is, reckons and counts us righteous.
- Without deeds of the law.
7. The fear of being justified without the deeds of the law.
- Won’t we just sin?
- Do you not sin now?
- Set free from the power of sin.
8. The Word they still shall let remain.
- The Gospel may have fallen on hard times (or hard hearts) and our life may be shameful.
- God will not allow the Gospel to depart from the earth, even if it departs from us.
- And He will not allow anyone who trusts in Jesus to be put to shame.
- The reformation did not preach a human gospel of indulgence.
- It preached the living and enduring word of God
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
From Luther’s Church Postil, Sermon on the Second Sunday after Epiphany on the Wedding at Cana (John 2):
“Since then marriage has the foundation and consolation, that it is instituted by God and that God loves it, and that Christ himself so honors and comforts it, everybody ought to prize and esteem it, and the heart ought to be glad, that it is surely the state God loves and cheerfully endure every burden in it, even though the burdens be ten times heavier than they are. For this is the reason there is so much care and unpleasantness in marriage to the outward man, because everything that is God’s Word and work, if it is to be blessed at all, must be distasteful, bitter, and burdensome to the outward man.
On this account marriage is a state that cultivates and exercises faith in God and love to our neighbor by means of manifold cares, labors, unpleasantnesses, crosses and all kinds of adversities, that are to follow everything that is God’s Word and work. All this the chaste whore-mongers, saintly effeminates and Sodomites nicely escape, serving God outside of God’s ordinance by doings of their own.”
For this is what Christ also indicates by his readiness to supply any want arising in marriage, bestowing wine where it is needed, and making it of water; as though he would say: Must you drink water, that is, suffer affliction outwardly, and is this distasteful? Very well, I will sweeten it for you and change the water into wine, so that your affliction will be your joy and delight. I will not do this by taking the water away or having it poured out; it shall remain, yea, I will have it poured in and the vessels filled up to the brim. For I will not deprive Christian marriage of its cares and trials, but rather add to it. The thing shall be wondrous, so that none, except they themselves who experience it, shall understand it. It shall be on this wise:
God’s word shall do it, by which all things are made, preserved and transformed; that Word which turns your water into wine, and distasteful marriage into delight. That God has instituted marriage the heathen and unbelievers do not know, therefore their water remains water and never becomes wine; for they feel not God’s pleasure and delight in married life, which if they did feel they would experience such delight in my pleasure as not to feel the half of their affliction, feeling it outwardly only, but inwardly not at all. And this would be the way to turn water into wine, mixing my pleasure with your displeasure and placing the one against the other, so that my pleasure would drown your displeasure, and turn it into pleasure; but this pleasure of mine nothing will reveal and give to you except my Word, Gen 1,31: “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
- God Encloses us in our Afflictions like an Ocean Encircles a Spark-Luther (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- Marriage is still an attractive option in today’s society. Do You Agree? (11/3/13 Hw) (jolenegpblog.wordpress.com)
- Fun Facts From Church History: The Lutheran Bigamist and Luther’s Wink and Nod (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
This following post won’t make sense to you if you don’t know a little greek. At least the first part won’t. I’m writing it in hopes that someone who knows me and also understands greek well can explain it to me. But they probably won’t. The second part is about John 8:35-36. Both of these questions are about the readings for Reformation day, and probably both have been questions I’ve thought about before. Unfortunately even if someone does answer I won’t be able to use it because my sermon has to be finished in a little under an hour.
HILASTERION. My lexicon says that this word is hardly ever used in profane greek and that in the LXX it always refers to the mercy seat. If that is so, then what is Paul saying? Is it: God set Jesus forth as a mercy seat–a place where He meets us graciously instead of in wrath–“when they believe that they are received into grace and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by his death made satisfaction for our sins”? Or does it have another sense? When I hear “mercy seat” I simply think of the covering; but without the blood poured on it sin is not atoned for. But if seems like Paul is saying that Jesus is a mercy seat with the blood poured out and is received by those who have faith in His shed blood. But to be honest Paul’s wording of this was always kind of confusing to me.
Secondly, I’ve always been confused by what Jesus is saying in the last verses of the Gospel for Sunday.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the wson remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:35-36
Okay, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. Understood (although, perhaps shocking to the people to whom Jesus spoke.) The slave does not remain in the house forever….okay, why? Slaves go sleep in slave quarters at night? But of course, sons leave the house too, occasionally. Slaves aren’t really a part of the household? That’s probably more like it–they can be sold. If the master dies they don’t inherit (although in Rome I think masters often gave slaves their freedom when the masters died.) Or slaves could be freed. Then they were no longer members of the household–they were free to go start their own life.
That’s what doesn’t make sense about this. Usually when Jesus starts talking about the Son and the house you figure He’s talking about Himself and the Father’s house. But if you’re a slave in the Father’s house, it would follow that when the Son makes you free, you take off.
On the other hand, Jesus says that those who sin are slaves to sin. Perhaps that is the point, but if it is, I’ve never heard it explained. I’ve heard the “slaves to sin” part, that’s obvious. But if I am a slave to sin, and not a son in the house of sin, that means I wouldn’t abide in the house of sin forever. And then it would need to be “the son” in that house–the house of sin–that sets me free. But Jesus is not that son; so what does that mean? The devil lets me go?
Or perhaps its this. Earlier Jesus said: If you continue in my teaching, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Clearly the Son in verses 35-36 has to be Jesus, who is also the truth. Then the verses would seem to say: If you don’t abide in my word, you are not truly my disciples ( or my elect), because those who are truly my elect persevere in my word and faith until the end. Everyone who does sin is a slave to sin [could it be that by saying “does sin”–the greek–Jesus is referring to sins against conscience, mortal sin? Christians, though the flesh works to enslave them–Rom. 7–are not under sin as their master–Rom. 6–because they are not under law but under grace. I think this is right. 1 John says repeatedly that those who are in Christ do not sin. The meaning seems to be that sin dwells in us–as Paul says–and it fights to bring us into captivity. But sin does not rule us. Christians do not sin willingly and against conscience.]
So everyone who is under the law sins; Christians are not under law, but under grace, and they do not sin consciously and are thus not slaves of sin. (In the flesh we are,but the sin that lives in the flesh is not imputed to us who live by faith in Christ.) Jesus says: If you abide in my word, you will be free indeed–you will be free of sin and death and abide in the house of the Father forever. However, slaves of sin may abide outwardly in the church for awhile. Their bodies are there, but they are not sons, but slaves. But they will not abide into eternal life.
That’s what I think it says after thinking it out while writing. But I’d appreciate commentary. This just goes to show that we Lutheran pastors don’t read the Bible or the Confessions or Lutheran theologians nearly enough. The only reason those verses from 1 John (and here) about “those who are born of God don’t sin” make sense to me and don’t terrify me [at least they don’t always terrify me] is because of reading Chemnitz’ Loci Theologici in seminary on “mortal and venial sin”. He explains those passages there.
Thanks be to God, too, that when the sinful flesh succeeds in dragging us into sins against our conscience–willful sins against the ten commandments–we do not have to despair. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation/mercy seat (hilasterion) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2
It’s interesting that that verse from 1 John is the only other place in the New Testament besides Romans 3 where the word hilasterion–“propitiation” or “mercy seat”–appears.
aka my son.
How does someone break into the Will County Sheriff’s evidence locker and not get caught? How does a person get the cojones to do that?
You know times are getting hard when people start robbing the county sheriff.
Me and the son are playing with plastic toy tools. He says: We’re going to fix this lamp. Mom, what’s wrong with this lamp? Mom says, “I don’t know. I didn’t know it was broken.” He replies, “Just make up something imaginary that’s wrong with it. Mom says, “I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t give light.”
The boy says, “The lamp won’t light even when it’s plugged in. The reason is that there are 20 cords of tomato soup in it. So we need to open it up and let the soup out.” I said, “What are you going to do with the soup?” He says, “Make it into a shark skin.” I said, “Why? What will you do with the shark skin?” He answers, “Make it into a purse.”
The best hymns ever written, with the exception of some from the early church and a few good ones from the Middle Ages, were written by Lutherans between roughly 1520 and 1700. Almost everyone who knows anything about hymns would agree with this. Or at least I think anyone who knows anything about hymns would admit, without questions, that Lutherans have the best hymns.
Sadly, many American Lutherans strongly dislike the best hymns ever written. Mainly that’s because we didn’t learn to sing them and we’ve left our German-ness behind several generations ago.
I think part of the reason they aren’t known and loved by Lutherans is that American musical taste finds the music of the chorales hard to appreciate. There is also the problem that the Lutheran hymns, which are so rich in their meditation on the incarnation of Christ, His passion, etc., speak a language that is foreign to us, being biblical and catholic. But that can be overcome. I think it may be harder to overcome the fact that the music of the chorales is really not an American idiom.
So for years now I’ve said that I need to contribute something to rectifying this problem. I doubt I really have the talent to accompllish something where others have failed. But I was somewhat successful at writing poems before I went to seminary.
Here’s my two part plan for contributing something to a truly rich American hymnody that breathes the spirit of the Lutheran confessions:
a. Try to write hymns that can be set to the tune of the corpus of American protestant favorites and steal the tune–at least for our people.
b. Try to translate some German Lutheran hymns from the time period mentioned above into English.
Of course, this presupposes that I am able to proclaim the theology of the Lutheran confessions clearly. That is a big assumption in itself. This project also really necessitates that I become proficient in German and maybe Latin so that I can read Lutheran orthodoxy in the original and actually become conversent with it.
But I can’t wait around until I can really read German. So what I’m deciding to do is start with B.
The nice thing about B. is that there is a big website with all kinds of old Lutheran hymns in German, containing hymns I’ve never heard. http://www.gesangbuch.org/
This weekend, when I had eight million other things to do and was depressed at the way my sermon came out on Sunday, I tried to translate two hymns I didn’t know. Now, truthfully, I have a very rough understanding of some of the basics of German, but not enough to translate accurately. But I tried anyway, and the next step is to actually make the rough translation into verse that can be sung.
But before I do that, I want to submit my crummy translation to the scrutiny of some other people. Once I’m satisfied that I’m catching what the text says (more or less), I will try to versify the translation.
In the end I’m not sure I care that much if I write an accurate translation, since my goal is more to practice composing some hymns.
So first of all, I’m going to post these two hymns. The first is by Johann Gottfried Olearius, who wrote some of my favorite hymns. The second is by a guy named Herman Bonnus, whom I had never heard of before.
Secondly, I’m going to try to get Rev. Mark Preus to tell me how far off my translations are. He has been writing American Lutheran hymns for some time now, and maybe one day God will grant us through him some Lutheran hymns in English that can nourish piety the way the German ones did. http://revivelutheranhymns.blogspot.com/
Then eventually I will try to make them rhyme.
Johann Olearius, 1611-1684 meter:7 7 7 7 7 7 7
Gottes und Marien Sohn,
Gott und Mensch, ein kleines Kind,
Das man in der Krippe findt,
Großer Held von Ewigkeit,
Dessen Macht und Herrlichkeit
Rühmt die ganze Christenheit.
2. Du bist arm und macht zugleich
Uns an Leib und Seele reich,
Du wirst klein, du großer Gott,
Und macht Höll und Tod zu Spott.
Aller Welt wird offenbar,
Ja auch deiner Feinde Schar,
Daß du, Gott, bist wunderbar.
3. Laß mir deine Güt und Treu
Täglich werden immer neu.
Gott, mein Gott, verlaß mich nicht,
Wenn mich Not und Tod ansicht,
Laß mich deine Herrlichkeit,
Schauen in der Ewigkeit.
1. Most wonderful throne of grace/mercy seat
God’s and Mary’s Son
God and man, a little child
That one finds in a manger
Great hero from eternity
Whose might and grandeur/glory
The whole of Christendom praises.
- You are weak and make at the same time
Us in body and soul rich.
You are little you great God
And make a mockery of hell and death.
It is clear to all the world
Yes, even to the company of your enemies,
That you God, are wonderful.
- Let your love and faithfulness
Be daily to me always new.
God, my God, forsake me not
When I face anguish and death.
Let me your glory
Your wonderful lovingkindness
See for eternity.
Ehre sei dir, Christe
Herman Bonnus, 1540
1. Ehre sei dir, Christe, der du littest Not,
an dem Stamm des Kreuzes für uns bittern Tod,
herrschest mit dem Vater in der Ewigkeit:
hilf uns armen Sündern zu der Seligkeit.
2. Wäre nicht gekommen Christus in die Welt
und hätt angenommen unser arm Gestalt
und für unsre Sünde gestorben williglich,
so hätten wir müssen verdammt sein ewiglich.
3. Darum wolln wir loben, danken allezeit
dem Vater und Sohne und dem Heilgen Geist;
bitten, daß sie wollen behüten uns hinfort,
und daß wir stets bleiben bei seinem heilgen Wort.
- Glory be to you Christ, You who suffered anguish
On the tree/stem of the cross for us bitter death
Who reigns with the Father in eternity,
Help us needy sinners to your blessedness.
Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, kyrie eleison.
2. If Christ had not come into the world
And had not taken on our pitiful image
And for our sins willingly died,
We would have had to be damned forever.
3. Therefore will we laud and thank always
The Father and Son and the Holy Ghost
Praying, that they will watch over us henceforth
And that we ever remain with His holy Word.