Saturday, December 31, 2011

Confessional Saturdays #12: Chief Articles Of The Faith 26

The Distinction of Meats
1 Not only the people, but also those teaching in the churches, have generally been persuaded to believe in making distinctions between meats, and similar human traditions. They believe these are useful works for meriting grace and are able to make satisfaction for sins. 2 From this there developed the view that new ceremonies, new orders, new holy days, and new fastings were instituted daily. Teachers in the Church required these works as a necessary service to merit grace. They greatly terrified people’s consciences when they left any of these things out. 3 Because of this viewpoint, the Church has suffered great damage.
4 First, the chief part of the Gospel—the doctrine of grace and of the righteousness of faith—has been obscured by this view. The Gospel should stand out as the most prominent teaching in the Church, in order that Christ’s merit may be well known and faith, which believes that sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, be exalted far above works. 5 Therefore, Paul also lays the greatest stress on this article, putting aside the Law and human traditions, in order to show that Christian righteousness is something other than such works [Romans 14:17]. Christian righteousness is the faith that believes that sins are freely forgiven for Christ’s sake. 6 But this doctrine of Paul has been almost completely smothered by traditions, which have produced the opinion that we must merit grace and righteousness by making distinctions in meats and similar services. 7 When repentance was taught, there was no mention made of faith. Only works of satisfaction were set forth. And so repentance seemed to stand entirely on these works.
8 Second, these traditions have hindered God’s commandments, because traditions were placed far above God’s commandments. Christianity was thought to stand wholly on the observance of certain holy days, rites, fasts, and vestments. 9 These observances won the exalted title of the “spiritual life” and the “perfect life.” 10 Meanwhile, God’s commandments, according to each one’s vocation, or calling, were without honor. These works include a father raising his children, a mother bearing children, a prince governing the commonwealth—these were considered to be worldly and thus imperfect works, far below the glittering observances of the Church. 11 This error greatly tormented people with devout consciences. They grieved that they were held in an imperfect state of life, as in marriage, in the office of ruler, or in other civil services. They admired the monks and others like them. They falsely thought that these people’s observances were more acceptable to God.
12 Third, traditions brought great danger to consciences. It was impossible to keep all traditions, and yet people considered these observances to be necessary acts of worship. 13 Gerson writes that many fell into despair, and that some even took their own lives, because they felt that they were not able to satisfy the traditions. All the while, they had never heard about the consoling righteousness of faith and grace. 14 We see that the academics and theologians gather the traditions and seek ways to relieve and ease consciences. They do not free consciences enough, but sometimes entangle them even more! The schools and sermons have been so occupied with gathering these “traditions” that they do not even have enough leisure time to touch on Scripture. 15 They do not pursue the far more useful doctrine of faith, the cross, hope, the dignity of secular affairs, and consolation for severely tested consciences. 16 Therefore, Gerson and some other theologians have complained sadly that because of all this striving after traditions, they were prevented from giving attention to a better kind of doctrine. 17 Augustine forbids that people’s consciences should be burdened. He prudently advises Januarius that he must know that they are to be observed as things neither commanded by God nor forbidden, for such are his words.
18 Therefore, our teachers must not be regarded as having taken up this matter rashly or from hatred of the bishops, as some falsely suspect. 19 There was a great need to warn the churches of these errors that arose from misunderstanding the traditions. 20 The Gospel compels us to insist on the doctrine of grace and the righteousness of faith in the churches. This cannot be understood if people think that they merit grace by observances of their own choice.
21 So our churches have taught that we cannot merit grace or be justified by observing human traditions. We must not think that such observances are necessary acts of worship. 22 Here we add testimonies of Scripture. Christ defends the Apostles who had not observed the usual tradition (Matthew 15:3). This had to do with a matter that was not unlawful, but rather, neither commanded or forbidden. It was similar to the purifications of the Law. He said in Matthew 15:9, “In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” 23 Therefore, He does not require a useless human service. Shortly after, He adds, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:11). 24 So also Paul, in Romans 14:17, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” and in Colossians 2:16, 25 “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to … a Sabbath.” 26 And again, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ ” [Colossians 2:20–21]. 27 Peter says, “Why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:10–11). 28 Here Peter forbids burdening consciences with many rites, either from Moses or others. 29 In 1 Timothy 4:1–3 Paul calls the prohibition of meats a teaching of demons. It is contrary to the Gospel to institute or do such works thinking that we merit grace through them, or as though Christianity could not exist without such service of God.
30 Our adversaries object by accusing our teachers of being against discipline and the subduing of the flesh. Just the opposite is true, as can be learned from our teachers’ writings. 31 They have always taught that Christians are to bear the cross [Matthew 16:24] by enduring afflictions. 32 This is genuine and sincere subduing of the flesh [1 Peter 2:11], to be crucified with Christ through various afflictions. 33 Furthermore, they teach that every Christian ought to train and subdue himself with bodily restraints, or bodily exercises and labors. Then neither over-indulgence nor laziness may tempt him to sin. But they do not teach that we may merit grace or make satisfaction for sins by such exercises. 34 Such outward discipline ought to be taught at all times, not only on a few set days. 35 Christ commands, “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness” (Luke 21:34). 36 Also in Matthew 17:21, “This kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.” 37 Paul also says, “I discipline my body and keep it under control” (1 Corinthians 9:27). 38 Here he clearly shows that he was keeping his body under control, not to merit forgiveness of sins by that discipline, but to keep his body in subjection and prepared for spiritual things, for carrying out the duties of his calling. 39 Therefore, we do not condemn fasting in itself [Isaiah 58:3–7], but the traditions that require certain days and certain meats, with peril of conscience, as though such works were a necessary service.
40 Nevertheless, we keep many traditions that are leading to good order [1 Corinthians 14:40] in the Church, such as the order of Scripture lessons in the Mass and the chief holy days. 41 At the same time, we warn people that such observances do not justify us before God, and that it is not sinful if we omit such things, without causing offense. 42 The Fathers knew of such freedom in human ceremonies. 43 In the East they kept Easter at another time than at Rome. When the Romans accused the Eastern Church of schism, they were told by others that such practices do not need to be the same everywhere. 44 Irenaeus says, “Diversity concerning fasting does not destroy the harmony of faith.” Pope Gregory says, in Dist. XII, that such diversity does not violate the unity of the Church. 45 In the Tripartite History, Book 9, many examples of different rites are gathered, and the following statement is made:
It was not the mind of the apostles to enact rules concerning holy days, but to preach godliness and a holy life.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 50

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, December 30, 2011

Funny Friday #16

Today is Funny Friday!  Enjoy another video from the good folks at The Lutheran Satire!

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Historical Church Writings #19: Luther on Music

     "...I would certainly like to praise music with all my heart as the excellent gift of God
 Which it is and to commend it to everyone.
.....Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. She is a mistress and governess of those human emotions -- to pass over the animals -- which as masters govern men or more often overwhelm them. No greater commendation than this can be found -- at least not by us. For whether you wish to comfort the sad, to terrify the happy, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate, or to appease those full of hate -- and who could number all these masters of the human heart, namely, the emotions, inclinations, and affections that impel men to evil or good? -- what more effective means than music could you find? The Holy Ghost himself honors her as an instrument for his proper work when in his Holy Scriptures he asserts that through her his gifts were instilled in the prophets, namely, the inclina-tion to all virtues, as can be seen in Elisha [2 Kings 3:15]. On the other hand, she serves to cast out Satan, the instigator of all sins, as is shown in Saul, the king of Israel [1 Samuel 16:23].
     Thus it was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be associated as closely with the Word of God as music. Therefore, we have so many hymns and Psalms where message and music join to move the listener's soul, while in other living beings and [sounding] bodies music remains a language without words. After all, song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music and by providing sweet melodies with words."
     -- Martin Luther
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

What if Joel Osteen and others followed the pericope texts, using Law and Gospel preaching?

I was recently talking with a friend of mine at the end of one of our weekly Koine Greek classes. We had been assigned the task of choosing a verse or short group of verses to translate and exegete. My friend was having difficulty picking one text as he kept going back and forth between "soap box" texts that he frequents in conversation. In exasperation he leaned back in his chair, shook his head and exclaimed, "I'm a guy who really needs the pericope." When I inquired as to why he said, "Well, it keeps me from sticking with what I know and forces me to keep on learning. That way it's not continual topical preaching of my choosing." 

I considered that and thought of how the pericope probably helps many Lutheran (and other) congregations by the use of a set one year or three year set of texts. It's comforting to know that my pastor isn't going to camp out on a favorite set of verses or just hopscotch blindly throughout the bible, assembling verses to his own purposes. He has to take the Bible for what it is.

Then I thought of how today's Evangelical Christian world could be affected. How would the teaching by guys like Joel Osteen and his contempories be affected? How would that impacted their congregations? Now combine the use of the pericope with Law and Gospel preaching. I think we'd see a huge change. The following is a list of thoughts from my layman's perspective on this.

Benefits of following the pericope texts?
1. The Bible would have to be used. (No vearing into "spiritual, inspirational motivational preaching" where the Word is not being taught)
2. The sake of order. Churches would be teaching on the same texts at the same time.
3. Topical preaching would be the exception, not the norm. (I know, sometimes topical preaching is necessary)
4. Congregations would be exposed in a broader sense to the Bible
5. Sermons would provide conviction of the Law and forgiveness from the Gospel
6. Justification and Sanctification would point back to Jesus
7. Sermons wouldn't be 5 step "How To..." sermons but would point back to Christ

There are probably many others. This is just a short list I've come up with in several minutes. If you've got other suggestions on how use of the pericope with Law/Gospel preaching would benefit the Evangelical Christian world, I would highly encourage you to comment on this posting. 

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

LLC Wednesdays #13: Part 2 of Luther's Large Catechism, The Apostles's Creed


1 So far we have heard the first part of Christian doctrine. We have seen all that God wants us to do or not to do. Now there properly follows the Creed, which sets forth to us everything that we must expect and receive from God. To state it quite briefly, the Creed teaches us to know Him fully [Ephesians 3:19]. 2 This is intended to help us do what we ought to do according to the Ten Commandments. For (as said above) the Ten Commandments are set so high that all human ability is far too feeble and weak to keep them. Therefore, it is just as necessary to learn this part of Christian doctrine as to learn the former. Then we may know how to attain what they command, both where and how to receive such power. 3 For if we could by our own powers keep the Ten Commandments as they should be kept, we would need nothing further, neither the Creed nor the Lord’s Prayer. 4 But before we explain this advantage and necessity of the Creed, it is enough at first for the simpleminded to learn to comprehend and understand the Creed itself.
5 In the first place, the Creed has until now been divided into twelve articles. Yet, if all the doctrinal points that are written in the Scriptures and that belong to the Creed were to be distinctly set forth, there would be far more articles. They could not all be clearly expressed in so few words. 6 But to make the Creed most easily and clearly understood as it is to be taught to children, we shall briefly sum up the entire Creed in three chief articles, according to the three persons in the Godhead [Colossians 2:9]. Everything that we believe is related to these three persons. So the First Article, about God the Father, explains creation. The Second Article, about the Son, explains redemption. And the Third, about the Holy Spirit, explains sanctification. 7 We present them as though the Creed were briefly summarized in so many words: I believe in God the Father, who has created me; I believe in God the Son, who has redeemed me; I believe in the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies me. One God and one faith, but three persons. Therefore, three articles or confessions. 8 Let us go over the words briefly.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 398

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26

Even though Christmas is now over, Christ still remains. Thank you savior.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Readings

Isaiah 52:7-10

English Standard Version (ESV)
 7 How beautiful upon the mountains
   are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
   who publishes salvation,
   who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
   together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
   the return of the LORD to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
   you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people;
   he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD has bared his holy arm
   before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
   the salvation of our God.

Hebrews 1:1-12

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Supremacy of God's Son

 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
   “You are my Son,
   today I have begotten you”?
   Or again,
   “I will be to him a father,
   and he shall be to me a son”?
 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
   “Let all God's angels worship him.”
 7 Of the angels he says,
   “He makes his angels winds,
   and his ministers a flame of fire.”
 8 But of the Son he says,
   “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
   the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
   with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
 10 And,
   “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
   and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
   they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
   like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
   and your years will have no end.”

John 1:1-18

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Word Became Flesh

 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

Christmas Dawn Readings

Isaiah 62:10-12
English Standard Version (ESV)

 10 Go through, go through the gates;
   prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
   clear it of stones;
   lift up a signal over the peoples.
11 Behold, the LORD has proclaimed
   to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
   “Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
   and his recompense before him.”
12 And they shall be called The Holy People,
   The Redeemed of the LORD;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
   A City Not Forsaken.

Titus 3:4-7

English Standard Version (ESV)
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Luke 2:1-20

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the firstregistration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is calledBethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”
 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Confessional Saturdays #11: Chief Articles Of The Faith 25


1 Confession in the churches is not abolished among us. The body of the Lord is not usually given to those who have not been examined [1 Corinthians 11:27–28] and absolved. 2 The people are very carefully taught about faith in the Absolution. Before, there was profound silence about faith. 3 Our people are taught that they should highly prize the Absolution as being God’s voice and pronounced by God’s command. 4 The Power of the Keys [Matthew 16:19] is set forth in its beauty. They are reminded what great consolation it brings to anxious consciences and that God requires faith to believe such Absolution as a voice sounding from heaven [e.g., John 12:28–30]. They are taught that such faith in Christ truly obtains and receives the forgiveness of sins. 5 Before, satisfactions were praised without restraint, but little was said about faith, Christ’s merit, and the righteousness of faith. Therefore, on this point, our churches are by no means to be blamed. 6 Even our adversaries have to concede the point that our teachers have diligently taught the doctrine of repentance and laid it open.
7 Our churches teach that naming every sin is not necessary and that consciences should not be burdened with worry about naming every sin. It is impossible to recount all sins, as Psalm 19:12 testifies: “Who can discern his errors?” 8 Also Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” 9 If only sins that can be named are forgiven, consciences could never find peace. For many sins cannot be seen or remembered. 10 The ancient writers also testify that a listing of sins is not necessary. 11 For in the Decrees, Chrysostom is quoted. He says,
I do not say that you should make your sins known in public, nor that you should accuse yourself before others, but I would have you obey the prophet who says, ‘Make known your ways before God’ [Psalm 37:5]. Therefore, confess your sins before God, the true Judge, with prayer. Tell your errors, not with the tongue, but with the memory of your conscience, and so forth.
12 And the Gloss (Of Repentance, Distinct. V, Cap. Consideret) admits that Confession is of human right only. 13 Nevertheless, because of the great benefit of Absolution, and because it is otherwise useful to the conscience, Confession is retained among us.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 49

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, December 23, 2011

Early Christmas Presents

The girls on their new bean bag chairs
So friends of ours gave our girls two huge boxes for Christmas. Our house is pretty small and the boxes were consuming the available livingroom space. My parents and one of my brothers are coming over tonight to celebrate Christmas. So, we decided the let them open the two big boxes just so we could have room in the livingroom this evening. Inside the boxes were these two bean bag chairs. They've been playing on them all morning. Our girls would like to thank their friends Mya and Ava.

Funny Friday #15

It's Funny Friday #15! We'll be having posts of a humorous nature. What a better place to start than with the good folks at The Lutheran Satire. There's a zinger at the end of this one that goes along with the recent Facebook...dialogue....lack of dialogue....fake know, stuff some people don't O.W.N. up to...

Jesu Juva, 
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Historical Church Writings #18: Luther on Baptism

Today is Historical Church Writing Thursday. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Martin Luther:
     But Christ says, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness"
 [Matthew 3:15]; as much as to say: The purpose of my baptism is to wash away and drown the sins of all the world, that through it all righteousness and salvation may be accomplished. Therefore baptism was instituted by God primarily for Christ's sake and then afterwards also for the sake of all men. For first he must sanctify baptism through his own body and thereby take away the sin, in order that afterwards those who believe in him may have the forgiveness of sins. Therefore baptism is not a useless, empty thing, as the sectarians blasphemously say, but in it all righteousness is fulfilled.
     Then repentance, as John preaches it for the forgiveness of sins, consists mostly in your acknowledging that God is right and confessing that his judgment is true when he says that we are all sinners and all condemned. When you do this from the heart, then repentance has begun. What more must I do then? Bow down and be baptized. For, says Christ, by my baptism I have accomplished it, that whoever believes in me and accepts this baptism receives the forgiveness of sins, and my Father and I and the Holy Spirit will dwell in him.
-- Martin Luther
Jesus Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

LLC Wednesdays #12: Part 1 of Luther's Large Catechism, Conclusion of the 10 Commandments

Today is Luther's Large Catechism Wednesday! Each week we will be going through a section of Luther's Large Catechism.


311 Now we have the Ten Commandments, a summary of divine teaching about what we are to do in order that our whole life may be pleasing to God. Everything that is to be a good work must arise and flow from and in this true fountain and channel. So apart from the Ten Commandments no work or thing can be good or pleasing to God, no matter how great or precious it is in the world’s eyes. 312 Let us see now what our great saints can boast of their spiritual orders and their great and mighty works. They have invented and set these things up, while they let these commandments go, as though they were far too insignificant or had long ago been perfectly fulfilled.
313 I am of the opinion, indeed, that here one will find his hands full ‹and will have enough› to do to keep these commandments: meekness, patience, love towards enemies, chastity, kindness, and other such virtues and their implications [Galatians 5:22–23]. But such works are not of value and make no display in the world’s eyes. For these are not peculiar and proud works. They are not restricted to particular times, places, rites, and customs. They are common, everyday, household works that one neighbor can do for another. Therefore, they are not highly regarded.
314 But the other works cause people to open their eyes and ears wide. Men aid this effect by the great display, expense, and magnificent buildings with which they adorn such works, so that everything shines and glitters. There they waft incense, they sing and ring bells, they light tapers and candles, so that nothing else can be seen or heard. For when a priest stands there in a surplice garment embroidered with gold thread, or a layman continues all day upon his knees in Church, that is regarded as a most precious work, which no one can praise enough. But when a poor girl tends a little child and faithfully does what she is told, that is considered nothing. For what else should monks and nuns seek in their cloisters?
315 Look, is not this a cursed overconfidence of those desperate saints who dare to invent a higher and better life and estate than the Ten Commandments teach? To pretend (as we have said) that this is an ordinary life for the common man, but theirs is for saints and perfect ones? 316 The miserable blind people do not see that no person can go far enough to keep one of the Ten Commandments as it should be kept. Both the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer must come to our aid (as we shall hear). By them ‹power and strength to keep the commandments› is sought and prayed for and received continually. Therefore, all their boasting amounts to as much as if I boasted and said, “To be sure, I don’t have a penny to make payment with, but I confidently will try to pay ten florins.”
317 All this I say and teach so that people might get rid of the sad misuse that has taken such deep root and still clings to everybody. In all estates upon earth they must get used to looking at these commandments only and to be concerned about these matters. For it will be a long time before they will produce a teaching or estate equal to the Ten Commandments, because they are so high that no one can reach them by human power. Whoever does reach them is a heavenly, angelic person, far above all holiness of the world. 318 Just occupy yourself with them. Try your best. Apply all power and ability. You will find so much to do that you will neither seek nor value any other work or holiness.
319 Let this be enough about the first part of the common Christian doctrine, both for teaching and urging what is necessary. In conclusion, however, we must repeat the text which belongs here. We have presented this already in the First Commandment, in order that we may learn what pains God requires so that we may learn to teach and do the Ten Commandments:
320 For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments. [Exodus 20:5–6]
321 As we have heard above, this appendix was primarily attached to the First Commandment. Yet it was laid down for the sake of all the commandments, since all of them are to be referred and directed to it. Therefore, I have said that this also should be presented to and taught to the young. Then they may learn and remember it, and we may see what must move and compel us to keep these Ten Commandments. This part is to be regarded as though it were specially added to each command, so that it dwells in, and runs through, them all.
322 Now, there is included in these words (as said before) both an angry, threatening word and a friendly promise. These are to terrify and warn us. They are also to lead and encourage us to receive and highly value His Word as a matter of divine sincerity. For God Himself declares how much He is concerned about it and how rigidly He will enforce it: He will horribly and terribly punish all who despise and transgress His commandments. 323 Also, He declares how richly He will reward, bless, and do all good to those who hold them in high value and gladly do and live according to them. So God demands that all our works proceed from a heart that fears and regards God alone. From such fear the heart avoids everything that is contrary to His will, lest it should move Him to wrath. And, on the other hand, the heart also trusts in Him alone and from love for Him does all He wants. For He speaks to us as friendly as a father and offers us all grace and every good.
324 This is exactly the meaning and true interpretation of the first and chief commandment, from which all the others must flow and proceed. So this word, “You shall have no other gods before Me” [Exodus 20:3], in its simplest meaning states nothing other than this demand: You shall fear, love, and trust in Me as your only true God. For where there is a heart set in this way before God, that heart has fulfilled this commandment and all the other commandments. On the other hand, whoever fears and loves anything else in heaven and upon earth will keep neither this nor any of the commandments. 325 So then all the Scriptures have everywhere preached and taught this commandment, aiming always at these two things: fear of God and trust in Him. The prophet David especially does this throughout the Psalms, as when he says “the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love” [Psalm 147:11]. He writes as if the entire commandment were explained by one verse, as if to say, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who have no other gods.”
326 So the First Commandment is to shine and give its splendor to all the others. Therefore, you must let this declaration run through all the commandments. It is like a hoop in a wreath, joining the end to the beginning and holding them all together. Let it be continually repeated and not forgotten, as the Second Commandment says, so that we fear God and do not take His name in vain for cursing, lying, deceiving, and other ways of leading men astray, or trickery. But we make proper and good use of His name by calling upon Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, derived from love and trust according to the First Commandment. In the same way such fear, love, and trust is to drive and force us not to despise His Word, but gladly to learn it, hear it, value it holy, and honor it.
327 So this teaching continues through all the following commandments toward our neighbor. Everything is to flow from the First Commandment’s power. We honor father and mother, masters, and all in authority, and are subject and obedient to them, not for their own sake, but for God’s sake. You are not to regard or fear father or mother, nor should you do or skip anything because you love them. But note what God would have you do, what He will quite surely demand of you. If you skip that, you have an angry Judge. But if you do the work, you have a gracious Father.
328 Again, do your neighbor no harm, injury, or violence, nor in any way oppress him with regard to his body, wife, property, honor, or rights. All these things are commanded in their order, even though you may have a chance and cause to do wrong and no person would rebuke you. But do good to all men [Galatians 6:10]. Help them and promote their interest—in every way and wherever you can—purely out of love for God and to please Him. Do this in the confidence that He will abundantly reward you for everything. 329 Now you see how the First Commandment is the chief source and fountainhead that flows into all the rest. Note again, all return to that First Commandment and depend upon it. So beginning and end are fastened and bound to each other.
330 This is always profitable and necessary to teach to the young people. Admonish them and remind them of it, so that they may be brought up not only with blows and compulsion, like cattle, but in the fear and reverence of God. Let this be considered and laid to heart that these things are not human games, but are the commandments of the Divine Majesty. He insists on them with great seriousness. He is angry with and punishes those who despise them. On the other hand, He abundantly rewards those who keep them. In this way there will be a spontaneous drive and a desire gladly to do God’s will. 331 Therefore, it is not meaningless that it is commanded in the Old Testament that we should write the Ten Commandments on all walls and corners, yes, even on our garments [Deuteronomy 6:8–9]. This is not for the sake of merely having them written in these places and making a show of them. The Jewish people did that. But it is so we might have our eyes constantly fixed on them. We should have them always in our memory. Then we might do them in all our actions and ways. 332 Then everyone may make them his daily exercise in all cases, in every business and transaction, as though they were written in every place wherever he would look, indeed, wherever he walks or stands. Then there would be enough opportunity—both at home in our own house and abroad with our neighbors—to do the Ten Commandments, so that no one would need to run far to find them.
333 From this it again appears how highly these Ten Commandments are to be exalted and extolled above all estates, commandments, and works that are taught and done apart from them. For here we can boast and say, “Let all the wise people and saints step forth and produce, if they can, a single work like these commandments. God insists on these with such seriousness. He commands them with His greatest wrath and punishment. Besides, He adds such glorious promises to them that He will pour out upon us all good things and blessings. Therefore, they should be taught above all others and be valued precious and dear, as the highest treasure given by God.”

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 395

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Proplem With The "Victorious Life"

"The books do not really help then, except to accentuate our sense of failure. Even if their step-by-step spiriual principles are valid, given our inability to keep God's Law, we never consistently follow them. The ideal of the "victorious Christian life" proves impossible to attain, so we have to suppress our failures, keep trying harder (and buy more books), and present a more positive front to the world. We thus resort to dishonesty and phoniness."

-- Gene Veith
"The Spirituality of the Cross"

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hymn Monday - "Away In A Manger"

Today's Hymn is "Away In A Manger"

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus  laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children  in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fourth Sunday in Advent Readings

2 Samuel 7:1-11
English Standard Version (ESV)

God’s Covenant with David
1 Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent." 3And Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you."
 4But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, 5"Go and tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD:Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"' 8Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more.And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.

 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'"

Romans 16:25-27

English Standard Version (ESV)
 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Luke 1:26-38

English Standard Version (ESV)
Birth of Jesus Foretold 26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne ofhis father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
 34And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"
 35And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. 36And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37Fornothing will be impossible with God." 38And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.