Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
9 E Homestead Ave. Palisades Park, NJ 07650 201-944-2107 Sundays 11:00 a.m. We preach Christ crucified (1. Corinthians 1,23)

Monday, November 5, 2018

Romans 13,1-7. 23. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Romans 13,1-7     5318
23. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  068  
Vitalis and Agricola, Martyrs at Bologna, Italy 304. 
Robert Preus, Pastor, Theologian, and Seminary President. 1995.
4. November 2018 

1. О Gracious, and Merciful God, Thou establishes temporal governments for our blessing, help us to obey our political leaders and grant us the wise words to call them to account for any misdeed or misrule, so that they remain just rulers and further establish peace and order for our nation.  Amen. (Starck 174) 
2. »Let every person be under the authority of the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be under his authority, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.« 
3. Saint Paul’s apostolic exhortation to the Roman Christians fits well in our current political setting as we are a couple of days away from Election Day 2018. The political landscape in Paul’s day in the middle of the 1. century ad was different from ours in early 21. century North America. Rome started out as a republic in 509 bc where citizens elected representatives to rule on their behalf; this is different from Greek democracy in which every citizen was expected to play an active role in governing. The Roman Senate was comprised of aristocratic patricians who elected the two consuls as leaders of the republic. Lower class plebeians had very little say in the government. The 100-seat, later 300- and 600-seat, Senate was the most powerful political body in the republic. The Senate created the Roman Empire in 27 bc when it by granted Octavian the title of Augustus and named him the Roman leader in succession of his father Julius Caesar, soon thereafter the Senate became weakened as strong willed emperors often coerced the senators; thus the Roman government in Paul’s day was a strong emperor with a weaker Senate. So for Paul, the governing authority would be the Roman emperor, the local Roman governor and the local ruling body of the town or city. Paul exhorted Christians to be subject to these authorities, for their authority to rule is from God who as God’s servants are to protect the good citizens and punish those who break the laws. Paul says we must be under the authority of our rulers to avoid God’s wrath and also for the sake of conscience. 
4. The political landscape we find ourselves in is much improved over what Paul had and knew. Our American republic was built in part on the ideals of the old Roman Republic and our Constitution separates the government into three branches: legislative, with the House and Senate, an executive and judicial; each branch has some power and authority that is not granted to the other 2 so as to create a check and balance should one or more branches seek to accumulate more power for themselves. So Paul’s exhortation in Romans 13 is much more complex in our situation because we are under the authority of many more politicians. We also have a great responsibility as we elect several different leaders who represent us at different levels: local, State and federal; so our vote is an important act of citizenship, plus we have specific referenda to vote on and our vote carries more decision making weight.
5. Paul concludes and says: pay taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed and honor to whom honor is owed. Elsewhere, Paul exhorts us that »supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to arrive at  the knowledge of the truth« (1. Timothy 2,1-4). This is very sound apostolic and Christian advice particularly because American politics are often a messy, raw business that brings out the worst in both politicians and citizens. Paul exhorts us to remember that we are Christians 1. and citizens 2.; we are to love and respect each other especially when we disagree over political issues. 
6. Furthermore the Holy Gospels refused to portray Jesus as a political liberator of the downtrodden; rather the Evangelists tell us that Jesus upheld the legality of the Roman Empire and its governing of Judea and Palestine: Jesus paid His taxes to Caesar and He encourages us to pay our taxes as well. 
7. All well and good if the government is truly being a servant of God’s goodness. What if the government gets off-track and becomes an agent of evil towards its citizens? When the government is in clear contrast to God’s will, then we are exhorted to obey God rather than man (Acts 5,29). This also is sound apostolic exhortation, but it is difficult or challenging to perform when the government threatens bodily harm or death if you remain opposed to their ungodly degrees. We do well to remember the Apostle Paul’s counsel: »Our citizenship is in heaven, and from heaven we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body (Phillipians 3,20-21). The government may not coerce a person in regards to religious beliefs. The government may not unjustly persecute citizens because they oppose something on religious, moral, conscientious or political grounds. On account of the estate of the government that is established by God for good order and for the sake of our neighbor, Christians must object when the government goes beyond its authority and mistreats good citizens as if they are wicked gadflies. 
8. God exhorts us in His Word to pray for our government, pray for our leaders, help our neighbor and support those who are oppressed. Be respectful, be kind, exercise your duties as a citizen to change immoral or tyrannical government objectives. St. Paul tells us: »Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law« (Romans 13,8).
9. Our American republic grants us numerous opportunities to be a good Christian citizen. Our Constitution, in the Bill of Rights (1791), guarantees us the right to freely exercise our religion, the freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances (I. Amendment). As informed voters we elect and hold accountable our local leaders, representatives and senators. We pray for our leaders and our nation. In all this we act as Christians under God’s authority and under our government’s.  Amen. 
10. Let us pray. O Lord, whose works deserve thanks; guide us to bless You and speak of Your Glory, so that those who hear us may be granted faith in Jesus for life everlasting.   Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.     

ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

All Saints’ Day

Thursday 1. November 2018
22. Trinity, All Saints' Day

Jesus said: »It is written: My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of insurrectionists!« (Matthew 21,13) 

Jesus spoke these words shortly after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He refers to the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isaiah 56,7; Jeremiah 7,11). The temple and its courtyard were dedicated to sacrifices, prayer, worship and teaching. But the tables set up in the courtyard to change money and sell pigeons had encroached upon the limited space where people gathered to pray and hear the rabbis teach. The temple had been corrupted, and Jesus reformed it. 

Luther did the same in his day. The Church had been corrupted with penances, indulgences and other works righteousness that encroached upon the pure gospel. Luther overturned those merits of works righteousness and put the focus back on Christ, His merits and the gospel of grace and faith. 

Jesus makes one a saint. You don't need a papal proclamation and proof of two miracles. You only need Jesus and the declared righteousness that He freely and mercifully gives you in the waters of Holy Baptism. Faith receives this righteousness as one's own, and thus, forgiven and redeemed, you are a saint in the eyes of God the Father. As saint's we pray and worship the Triune God. We petition God to intervene in the chaos and corruption found in this world. We pray for peace and the proclamation of the pure gospel. 

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, 
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blest. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! 

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might; 
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight; 
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! (LSB 677,1-2) 

Prayer: O Almighty and Everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and Godly living so that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.  Amen. (F34, Treasury of Daily Prayer

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Reformation; All Hallows’ Eve

On 31. October 1517, Martin Luther posted his Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences on the Schloßkirche (Castle Church) door in Wittenberg, Germany. His 95 Theses were an invitation to debate the issue of indulgences in the Medieval Church. Such debates on theological topics were commonplace in Luther’s day, but his treatise caused a firestorm to erupt that eventually culminated in the drafting of the Augsburg Confession in 1530 and the formalizing of Lutheran theology in the Church. We can summarize Luther’s treatise with 4 central points from his 95 Theses: 

 1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said poenitentiam agite [Repent], willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance. [Matthew 4,17] 

 36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.  

 37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.

 62. The true treasure of the Church is the most holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God. 

Luther once preached: 

»For God the Father Himself has set his seal on Christ.« John 6,27

People dispute even to this day if one might be made righteous and gain eternal life through our own preparations and good works, through our own love, action and services. But compared to two with each other. See if the work that you do for your service, fasts, prayers, pilgrimages or if the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ is the food that the Son of Man gives. Set them next to each other: my body, effort and work and the body of Christ. Even if I fasted all the time and called on the saints and walked on pilgrimages, gave up sleep, did this or that work; and taking it all together in a heap and throwing it in a sack, see if such works are the body and blood of Christ. It would fall completely short. So how can some on boast that he will become holy through his own works? We could not give ourselves this food but you will receiveit from the Son of Man. That is why Christ shall be impressed with this seal; so that I know that my dear God is gracious to me. (Sermons on the Gospel of St. John Chapters 6-8; 1531, cf. AE 23. Luther’s Family Devotions 67) 



Happy Reformation Day and a blessed All Hallow's Eve, for by Christ we have been justified, forgiven and made saints through His crucifixion and resurrection. 


Romans 7,14-25. 23. Trinity; Reformationfest

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever 
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ

Romans 7,14-25a     5218 
22. Trinitatis  067; Gedenktag der Reformation
28 Simon Martyr in 1st c.  & Jude/Thaddaeus Martyr in Edessa, Greece/Persia 1st c., Apostles 
28. Oktober 2018 

1. О Merciful God and Everlasting Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who in the fullness of the times did send forth Your only begotten Son, who has declared unto us what He saw and heard in Your presence: most heartily do we praise and thank You, that You have rekindled among us the light of Your Holy Word, and graciously delivered us from the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy, and maintained that work done years ago by Your elect servant Martin Luther. In spite of the wrath and temptations of the devil You have preserved Church and School, given power to Your Word, and granted faithful teachers and pastors to Your congregations. We acknowledge and confess that we are not worthy to receive such manifestation of Your mercy and goodness, but rather deserve Your judgment and condemnation and on account of our indifference, sins, and hypocrisies to be left without the light of Your Holy Word. But we beseech You of Your mercy, deal not with us after our sins nor reward us according to our iniquities. Abide with us, O Lord, for it is toward evening. Keep us and our posterity in the faith of Your Word and in the right use of the Holy Sacraments. Sanctify Your Church in our midst; further and advance Your Reign; glorify Your Name; put down Satan under our feet, and destroy the Son of Perdition by the brightness of Your appearance. Preserve us from all false teachers, hypocrites, and enemies of Your Word who seek to overthrow Your Church purchased at so great a cost by Your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; but at all times send us faithful pastors and teachers who shall lead us into the knowledge and confession of the heavenly mysteries, and finally into the glorious righteousness of Your everlasting Reign. Amen. (Löhe 149-150). 
2. »For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!«  
3. In 1520, 3 years after he had posted his 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Martin Luther wrote 3 major treatises: Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church and On the Freedom of a Christian. In that 2. treatise Luther harshly condemned the papacy, writing that the Catholic Church is holding Christians in exile by propagating false teachings on the Sacraments; particularly the Lord’s Supper: 

  1. The 1. captivity is Rome’s withholding the communion cup from the laity; 
  2. The 2. captivity is Rome’s philosophical language that implies it is not Christ’s work but the priest’s work that changes the substance of bread and wine (transubstantiation); and 
  3. The 3. captivity is Rome’s making the Lord’s Supper into a sacrifice rather than what it properly is, a Sacrament. 

These Babylonian captivities changed the Scriptural understanding of the Lord’s Supper, so that Christians failed to see the Sacrament for the gift it is: forgiveness is promised and given in the Lord’s Supper. 
4. The preached Word, Holy Baptism, Absolution and the Lord’s Supper all give us the forgiveness that Christ purchased on the cross. Speaking of the Lord’s Supper, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian Christians: »For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed to bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said: This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me. In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying: This cup is the new testament in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until His advent« (1. Corinthians 11,23-26). 
5. Why was Luther so determined to right the direction the Medieval Church had taken? Luther knew from personal experience the Anfechtung that Christians experience, a spiritual struggle that St. Paul writes about in Romans 7: »I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?« Our fallen human nature is quite adept at corrupting 2 particular Biblical truths: God is a Judge who condemns, and God is a Father who loves. This sinful extremes are: God is the Judge who has not been appeased; God loves me so I can do anything I want, even if it is expressly opposed to His Commandments. With the Reformation, Luther wanted to restore a proper understanding of God’s dealings with His people. 
6. Luther developed the dual concept: the God who hides and the God who reveals Himself (Deus absconditus; Deus revelatus). He writes: „Wherever God hides Himself, and wills to be unknown to us, there we have no concern“ (Luther 170). God has simply chosen to hide many things from us: He does so out of His majesty and is under no obligation to tell us as to why He hides something from us. We may have many questions that God has not answered or answered to our satisfaction, and God is not concerned at providing us answers; therefore we must simply respect His will and be satisfied that He hides certain things from our knowledge and understanding. Luther continues: „We have to do with God as clothed and displayed in His Word, by which He presents Himself to us“ (Luther 170). God has revealed many things about Himself and His will in the Holy Scriptures. Throughout 66 books, God’s prophets and apostles teach us many good and salutary things about God. His Word tells us that He created us in His Image and Likeness, that we fell into sin and are in need of redemption. 
7. His Word also tells us that now in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son (Hebrews 1,2). Jesus is the Word of God who became man and dwelt among us (John 1,14). Jesus is God revealed in the flesh. He began His public ministry as the Christ by declaring in a Nazarene synagogue from the Prophet Isaiah: »The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to proclaim the gospel to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to recover the sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor [Isaiah 61,1-2]. Then Jesus said to them: „Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.“ (Luke 4,17-19.21). Jesus reveals God to be merciful and gracious.
8. The preached Word, Holy Baptism, Absolution and of Lord’s Supper all point to and give us the revealed God in Jesus Christ who has purchased our forgiveness and freely given it to us through faith as a gift of grace. God is the Judge. He declares us to be guilty sinners who have transgressed His law. The punishment for sin is death and condemnation. In the Old Testament, God told His people that an animal sacrifice appeases His wrath. In the New Testament, Jesus became that sacrificial lamb who has taken away the sin of the world (John 1,29). God would have us righteous. The law teaches a righteousness of „do this, and live“, but that same law brutally reveals that we cannot do these good and holy commandments, therefore we shall not live eternally. The gospel reveals the very same righteousness of the law, but the gospel tells us to believe in Jesus the Righteous One and you will live eternally. The Apostle Paul said it this way: »The Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us«. And again: »The gospel is the power of salvation to everyone who believes. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel beginning and ending in faith, as it has been writteyn: The righteous will live by faith.« (Romans 1,16-17). This faith hears the absolution of God, I forgive you, and believes that the forgiveness purchased on the cross is for us. 
9. Again, Luther writes in his treatise The Bondage of the Will: „We have to do with [God] as clothed and displayed in His Word, by which He [reveals] Himself to us. That is His glory and beauty, in which the Psalmist proclaims Him to be clothed (cf. Psalm 21,5) …. God preached works to the end that sin and death may be taken away, and we may be saved. He sent His Word and healed them (Psalm 107,20)“ (Luther 170). The way of righteousness, the way of justification, is the way of the cross. Jesus merits our righteousness. Jesus justifies us, and He does so by suffering and dying on the cross. We stand upon Jesus and we will not fall for He has saved us and promises to be with us always. This is one of the great truths Luther restored in the Reformation; may we always hold it dear and trust in Christ Jesus.  Amen. 
10. Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Shepherd of Your Church; take away our fear and give us peace, so that we are certain and assured that on account of You and Your merit alone that it is Your Father’s good pleasure to give us the reign of heaven and that we enter into this blessed reign solely on account of the fact that You, O Christ, have opened heaven for us.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. 
Löhe, Wilhelm. Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Church. Copyright © 1997 Repristination Press. 

Luther, Martin. The Bondage of the Will. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, trans. Copyright © 1957 Fleming H. Revell Co. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Jeremiah 29,1.4-7.10-14. 21. Trinitatis

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

Jeremiah 29,1.4-7.10-14       5118
21. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  066  
Ursula with her companions, Virgins, Martyrs, 453
21. Oktober 2018 

1. О God, our Lord, help us to constantly keep before our eyes the love of Jesus, who prayed for His enemies and did good to them, so that we likewise follow His example pure.  Amen. (Starck 133) 
2. »These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. „Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: „Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, so that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. When 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you My promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and draw near and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me. When you seek Me with all your heart, I will be found by you, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.“« 
3. Jeremiah was one of the last prophets sent to Judah before and during their exile to Babylon. Along with his contemporaries, Ezekiel, Zephaniah and Obadiah (597-570 bc), he urged Judah to repent of its idolatry and other sins. Jeremiah furthermore told the Jewish exiles to expect a lengthy diaspora before the Lord returns them to Jerusalem. He instructs them to settle in and build new lives in Babylon, for it will be 2 generations, 70 years, before the Lord’s punishment upon their sin is satisfied.
4. 2000 years later, Martin Luther proclaimed another exile: he said there is a Babylonian captivity of the Church. Lutheran chastised the Roman Church and her papacy for holding the Church in captivity. He argued that Rome’s theology and sacramental system held Christians in bondage instead of setting them free. When people were baptized, did penance or received the Lord’s Supper, Roman theology and practice kept the promise of God’s forgiveness from them until they had done enough good works to merit His mercy. Instead of trusting in the loving kindness of God who freely forgives His people, Medieval Christians were forced to earn that love and forgiveness from God. Lutheran knew from personal experience and anguish that basing one’s forgiveness one works of penance simply does not suffice. Our conscience will continue to wonder if we have truly done enough to be sure we have merited God’s grace and forgiveness. This doubt is soon followed by angst, anguish and Anfechtung (tentatio). Luther faced numerous times of Anfechtung in his life; he writes at times of overwhelming trials, terrors, despairs and crises of faith that caused him great angst and grief so that he only saw Jesus as a wrathful judge who would condemn sinners such as himself.
5. The exiled Jews faced a national Anfechtung. Nebuchadnezzar had deposed their king, exiled many of the best and brightest to Babylon, plundered the temple and razed Jerusalem. The Jews were downtrodden and despaired. Their punishment was right and just, for they had broken the Sinai covenant, refusing to repent of their sins and the Lord simply activated the clause in His covenant with them: »Moses went and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with 1 voice and said: we will do all the words that the Lord has spoken. Moses replied: if you act corruptly by worshiping idols and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord, then you shall perish from the land of Canaan, and the Lord will scatter you among the nations and you will be few in number« (Exodus 24,3; Deuteronomy 4,25-27). The Lord enforced this clause upon His unrepentant people and exiled them to Babylon. 
6. The Lord told Israel: »I visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the 3. and 4. generation of those who hate Me, but I show steadfast love to 1000s of those who love Me and keep My Commandments« (Exodus 20,5-6). Nevertheless, the Lord would not, and did not, forsake His exiled people in Babylon. »When 70 years are completed, then I will visit you and I will fulfill My promise to you and bring you back to Jerusalem. You will call upon Me, and I will hear you.« This same loving God promises to show us His mercy and grace. 
7. Many Christians face Anfechtung and feel as if they have been exiled. This is further compounded by our sinful nature that distorts the Word of God: the law is too harsh and demanding; the gospel of Christ crucified is too offensive. So we are drawn to a gospel that is mixed with the law and simply becomes a „gospel“ that is less Christ crucified and more exhortations and moral lessons. Dietrich Bonhöffer called that sort of mixed gospel „cheap grace“. He begins his book, The Cost of Discipleship, stating: „Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church.… Cheap grace means the justification of the sinner without the justification of the sinner“ (Bonhoeffer 45). God’s grace is costly grace, for it cost God everything; it cost Jesus His life. God spared no expense to save us. He sent us His Only Son to die for us. Jesus gave His sweat, blood and tears to redeem us. God died on the cross so that we would live. Costly grace is not something we can purchase for a pittance of penance and a few good works. Costly grace is not something we can dilute with moralism and virtue. Costly grace is Christ’s grace, and He gives it to us for free with all its costliness. Costly grace forgives all our sin and justifies the sinner. St. Paul boldly tells us: »The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes« (1. Corinthians 1,23). Costly grace justifies and sanctifies us: our sin is forgiven and the Holy Spirit now daily works in us to create good works that will benefit our neighbor.
8. Christ welcomes the exiled, gives peace to those in distress and restores the sinner back to our Heavenly Father. His gospel gives us the absolute certainty that God loves us and forgives us. We stand before Him in the righteousness of Jesus given to us by that very Jesus.  Amen. 
9. Let us pray. O Lord, Your steadfast love and justice endure forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands. Keep the doctrine pure in our midst, the gospel free and the offerings liberal, so that the proclamation of Christ crucified may continually be proclaimed from this corner..   Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.     
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 

Bonhöffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. Copyright © 1959 SCM Press Ltd. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

1. Corinthians 7,29-31. 20. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever 
se cwide þæs béaggiefan ábireþ ferhþ

1. Corinthians 7,29-31     5018 
20. Trinitatis  065
Calixtus, Bishop of Rome. Martyr 222
14. Oktober 2018 

1. О Almighty God, whose arm is stronger than the flash of lightning and the crash of thunder, remember Your tender mercies and Your loving kindness, so that You spare us and bless us with Your grace and deliverance. (Starck 354, 356).  Amen.  
2. »This is what I mean, brothers and sisters: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.«  
3. The Early Church believed in, and expected, the imminent return of Jesus. A number of the Apostle Paul’s epistles teach this doctrine. As the apostolic martyrdoms added up one after another, as the persecutions mounted against the Church and when the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem, the Christians in the 1. century ad expected the Lord to return in their lifetime. Paul counsels us to live with this expectation.  
4. The apostolic doctrine: »the present form of this world is passing away« is as true today as it was for the apostles 2000 years ago. We are exhorted and encouraged to live with this doctrinal expectation. The difficulty is that we become complacent when things don’t happen right away or when we long for them to happen. The Lord, for reasons only He knows, has delayed His return for nearly 2000 years. It does not appear that His return is on the horizon. 
5. Why might Christ’s return be delayed for over 2000 years? The apostles went far and wide to proclaim the gospel. No resource was squandered, no risk too fool hearty and no sacrifice was unbearable. The gospel was preached, churches were planted and the four corners of the Roman Empire and beyond had been evangelized. Mission accomplished; time for Jesus to return. The Christians waited, but Christ did not return. For some, like the Thessalonian Christians, this was a concern. What happens if we die before Jesus returns? Will we miss out on witnessing His 2. advent? The Apostle Paul comforted them with these words in his epistle: »We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the advent of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words«  (1. Thessalonians 4,13-18). 
6. As Christians we live in an eschatological tension in regards to Christ’s return; this tension is a now, not yet tension. The Apostle Paul tells us: »The day of the Lord will arrive like a thief in the night« (1. Thessalonians 5,2). Paul tells us that the return of Christ could be any day. He could return 2 hours from now, tomorrow or next week, and His return will catch us by surprise. The Apostle Peter also tells us: »With the Lord 1 day is as 1000 years, and 1000 years as 1 day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promises, but He is patient and not wishing that any should perish, but that everyone should reach repentance« (2. Peter 3,8-9). Peter tells us that the return of Christ maybe a long way off. Now, not yet: this tension results because we are bound to linear time, but Christ is not for He is eternal and removed from the constraints and passage of time.
7. When will Christ return? A: Soon; that soon may be tomorrow or it may be 1000 years from now. Jesus tells us that He will return after the gospel has been preached to all the nations (Matthew 24,4-14). As we await our Lord’s return, we thus live in a time of mission work and preaching the gospel (Gibbs 221).
8. So we remain watchful for Jesus’ 2. advent. We support the preaching of the gospel and we live in love toward our neighbors, serving Jesus with all that has been entrusted to us (Gibbs 222). »The present form of this world is passing away.« Let us be the salt and the light to this dying world as we share the forgiveness and love of Christ Jesus.  Amen. 
9. Let us pray. O Lord, who gives us His Holy Word of law and gospel; teach us the way of Your statutes, send us the Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with the gospel so that by the power of the gospel we may observe Your instructions to the end.  Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. 
VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2013 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. 

   Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Jerusalem and Parousia: Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse in Matthew’s Gospel. Copyright © 2000 Jeffrey A. Gibbs. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

James 5,13-16. 19. Trinity

One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

James 5,13-16     4918
19. Sonntag nach Trinitatis  064  
Justina, Virgin, Martyr at Padua, Italy, 304 
Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor, 1787
7. Oktober 2018 

1. О Great God, our Divine Physician, comfort all who suffer, heal all who are sick, may Your will be done in our lives, so that trusting in Your Providence we set our faith and hope upon You.  Amen. (Starck 260) 
2. »Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will heal the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great strength as it is working« 
3. James makes the Scriptural and theological connection in his epistle: we pray for those needing healing and forgiveness. But not just any prayer will do; it must be a prayer of faith which believes and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is from the mouth and the pen of James, who with Peter and John bar-Zebedee was one of the three pillars of the mother church in Jerusalem; this James is a younger brother of Jesus. This is apostolic and Christological authority at its finest. 
4. The expectation of James is at odds with our conventional multiculturalism and polytheism. The average person hears „faith“ and makes little or no distinction between true Christian faith and other religions: people pray to their particular god or higher power and the prayer is heard and answered, so the conventional wisdom holds. James refutes all that: there is only One True God, only one true faith in that God and thus only one true type of prayer; only prayer to or through Jesus Christ is powerful and effective. 
5. Thus James can conclude by saying: »The prayer of a righteous person has great strength.« Righteousness is a central theme throughout the Bible; the prophets and the apostles tell us how we lost our righteousness and how we regained it. Adam and Eve were created in the Divine Image and Likeness of the Lord, thus they were created righteous, but Adam forfeited that righteousness for us when he disobeyed the Lord and sinned. The Lord then promised to restore that paradise lost and righteousness forfeited. 
6. The chapters of Genesis unfold the Lord’s promise to restore mankind’s righteousness and He centers it on the most unlikeliest of people: Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was a Chaldean from the city of Ur; the Chaldeans live in Southeast Mesopotamia along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (modern Iraq, Kuwait, North Saudi Arabia and East Syria) who were eventually absorbed into the Babylonian culture and empire. Joshua reminded the Israelites before they entered the promised land: »Long ago, your fathers lived beyond at the Euphrates and they served other gods, then the Lord took Abraham from there and lead him to Canaan (Joshua 24,2-3). Abraham traces his ancestry back to Noah through Shem. It is through Noah’s son Shem that the promise to restore righteousness flows. Noah begat Shem who begat Abraham who begat Isaac who begat Jacob who begat Judah who begat David who begat Jesus. 
7. Our righteousness is grounded upon Jesus. Both Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels devote a chapter to showing how Jesus is of the lineage that was promised to sire the Messiah. We are righteous because Christ is righteous; His righteousness is our righteousness. Jesus gives us His righteousness as a gift; it is by grace and received by faith. This grace shows as God’s loving mercy and kindness. 
8. Since we have received Christ’s righteousness, we suffer patiently, we cheerfully praise God, we pray for the sick, we are forgiven, we forgive and pray with Divine authority. Jesus is our righteousness. Jesus suffered patiently, cheerfully praised God, heals the sick, forgives our sins and prays for us, both during His earthly ministry 2000 years ago and now in 2018. Jesus is the First Pastor and Elder of His Church. Everything that James exhorts in his epistle, Jesus completely fulfilled when He lived and walked upon this earth in the 1. century. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, »and in gentleness we warmly receive the implanted Word, who is able to save our life« (James 1,21b). Not only is Jesus able to save our life, but He is willing to save our life. Our salvation is His sole concern and priority until He returns on the last day to raise up our body. This Divine concern is the pure, comforting gospel. 
9. As Jesus’ righteous Christians, pray in every circumstance. Pray for those who suffer; pray for those who are sick; pray for those who are unrepentant in there sin. Your prayer as a righteous person has great strength as it is working.  Amen. 
10. Let us pray. O Lord, Your steadfast love is manifested in Your Beloved Son; Your steadfast love endures forever; You do not forsake the work of Your hands. Manifest Your steadfast love in us so that we are assured of our salvation and our neighbors blessed by our deeds of love.   Amen. 

To God alone be the Glory 
Soli Deo Gloria

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. 
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.     

ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2013 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. James