Monday, April 28, 2014

Sermon for 4/28/14 "That You May Believe"

Peter tells us to desire the pure milk, nourishing and soothing word of God.


The Word of God is what creates belief in us.
It sustains us.
It motivates us.

What is Jesus' protection like?
 Acts shows apostles persecuted.
   Gamaliel's observation
 Peter shows believers facing opposition because of the forgiveness they find in Jesus.
    Jesus has prepared an incredible inheritance.
John reminds us of the apostles shortly after the resurrection
 Uncertain of the future
What do they learn?
 Jesus is able to be with them
   No matter where
   No matter when
   Truly risen from the dead
   No bondage to earthly things
   Able to accomplish what he desires

What will Jesus do in this church and community?
 Nurture faith
 Grant reconciliation
 Create new life
 Accomplish his will no matter what Gamaliel might try to do
Who does he use? Us.

these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sermon for 420/14 “There they will see me”

Sermon “Therethey will see me”

Do we want to see Jesus?

He has thrown the horse and rider into the sea. He has shattered the enemy. Make no mistake.
 hard times
 dangerous times
 are we going to see him as unbelievers do?
   no hope
   no confidence in eternity
   cannot stand
Good people?
Really nice folks?
Known them all my life
This makes no guarantee about someone’s eternal state. Hell will be well stocked with perfectly nice people, people who even went to church regularly, people who were upstanding members of the community.

Where does our hope come from?
 die with Christ
 confidence in his resurrection
 no other name by which we are saved

What are we feeding ourselves with?
 God’s Word or our own personal ideas?
 Worship of the true and living God or of our own preferences?
 Standing with the saints throughout history or trying to go it on our own?

When the Lord comes to us, will we be like the guards at the tomb, the horse and rider he casts into the sea? Or will we be like the disciples, seeking Jesus, who has gone ahead of us?

Let us follow our Lord and Savior. He has conquered death. He will lead us on. As we walk with him he will guide us
 fellowship with one another in the context of the assembled body of Christ
 receiving his blessings in Word and Sacrament
 seeing that the Lord can gather his people from every nation, tribe, and tongue
 knowing that it is this true, biblical, Lutheran teaching of salvation by grace, through faith, provided by Christ Jesus, in the context of the local church which binds his people together.

He has gone ahead of us.
Where are we going now?
 gather to receive his gifts
 give to support efforts to bring the Gospel freely to all nations
 building up the body of Christ, never tearing it down

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter B11, “The Witness of History for Scripture”

Chapter B11, “The Witness of History for Scripture”

Homologoumena and Antilegomena

In the earliest part of Christian history we have considerable support for both Jewish and Christian recognition of the Old Testament books (without the Apocrypha) and in the Christian tradition for most of the New Testament. Very early, as reported by Eusebius, the Christian community was unanimous in recognizing the Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Epistles of Paul, 1 Peter and 1 John. These books were classed as homologoumena - agreed upon by all. The remaining books, Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, Jude, and Revelation all had some areas of doubt. These were classified as  antilegomena.  This distinction largely remained until the Tridentine council, declaring all the homologoumena and antilegomena, along with the Apocrypha on equal footing. Chemnitz and others denounced this action as papal overthrow of historical scholarship. Pieper quotes Walther’s observations on the situation quite extensively.

The typical historic manner of dealing with the various books was to found doctrines on texts in the homologoumena, viewing the antilegomena through the lens, especially, of the canonical Gospels. All the books are recognized as inspired and authoritative but the antilegomena are not used to overturn ideas explicated in the homologoumena.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bonhoeffer, 1937. Chapter 4, “Discipleship and the Cross”

Chapter 4, “Discipleship and the Cross”

Bonhoeffer opens this chapter with Peter’s rebuke of Jesus and Jesus’ subsequent rebuke of Peter from Mark 8:31-38. Jesus tells his apostles that if anyone would follow him it is necessary to give up his own life. Jesus’ suffering, says Bonhoeffer, requires both suffering and humiliation, something which was a scandal to the early Church. From Jesus’ words Bonhoeffer says that “the disciple is a disciple only in so far as he shares his Lord’s suffering and rejection and crucifixion”(Loc. 1240). Jesus then releases his disciples to leave him.

The way Bonhoeffer articulates this idea is disturbing. He either demands that Jesus’ people reach a certain point of decision whether they will truly follow him or he goes so far as to require martyrdom of all believers who wish assurance that they are in Christ. The former smacks of a second work of grace triggered by our maintaining our salvation by works. The latter suggests that in the absence of persecution there is no salvation. Bonhoeffer seems to indicate that martyrdom is the greatest grace God gives people (Loc. 1272).

Over and over he points us to our works which make us genuine disciples and thus receptive to God’s grace. This works-righteousness is deeply disturbing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kilcrease, 2013. Chapter 11, “The Mystery of the Work of Christ, Part 2”

Chapter 11, “The Mystery of the Work of Christ, Part 2”

Christ’s Office as King and the Nature of Kenosis

Kilcrease chooses to discuss the office of Christ as king first. He points first at Jesus genealogy and observes that there were many descendants of David, as he would have had many children from his many wives. The genealogies were well kept and preserved up until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Kilcrease also discusses various theories about the genealogies in Matthew and Luke.

As king Jesus’ work includes re-establishing the reign of grace. To do this, God in the flesh becomes a servant to man, under the Law, restoring the proper nature to government, restoring creation.

Kilcrease then turns his attention to a lengthy excursus dealing with Christ’s emptying himself to be the creator of and example of Christian freedom. Detailing some 17th century debates about whether Christ put aside his divinity by leaving it or by simply not exercising it, Kilcrease discusses the reality of Jesus, being both divine and human, living with all the weakness of humanity. In essence, Jesus’ identification with man is made more real by his understanding that he could pick up his divine right. The fact that Jesus chose not to do so exercises his royal power and communicates that, in his kingdom, we can also lay our lives down for others.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter B10, “The Properties of Holy Scripture”

Chapter B10, “The Properties of Holy Scripture”

In this chapter Pieper sets out to explain four properties of Scripture, namely authority, efficacy, perfection, and perspicuity.

By authority we confess the Scripture deserves the same trust doe to God. It is only through the Scripture that we know God. We can receive faith in that authority of Scripture both because God creates it (Romans 10:17) and through our human reasoning. We can identify those who have saving faith primarily by their independent confession of God’s Word and the work of Christ.

By efficacy we mean that God’s Word actually accomplishes what it sets out to do - conviction of sin, creation of faith, and assurance of eternal life. It does this because of its nature as a divinely inspired book.

By perfection we mean sufficiency. The Bible tells us all we need for life and godliness. It does not reveal all natural or spiritual things, but it does tell us all we need for eternal life.

By perspicuity we mean the Bible can be understood clearly. The language is straightforward. All Christians can read and understand the Scripture. It is obscure only to those who do not know the language, who do not read it diligently, to those who are hostile or have unbelieving presuppositions.

Pieper illustrates many ways these four properties of Scripture can be understood or misunderstood. This chapter is particularly full of biblical references.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bonhoeffer, 1937. Chapter 3, "Single-Minded Obedience"

Chapter 3, “Single-Minded Obedience”

Bonhoeffer turns his attention to the application of Jesus’ call to our lives by means of a number of illustrations from Scripture. In the instance of the rich young man, he particularly says the Lord commands all people to obey. It is slightly ambiguous within this chapter whether the obedience is meant to be the same for all, i.e., sell our possessions, give it away, and follow. He does, however, say clearly that Jesus does not give faith to those who do not obey him literally and single-mindedly. What truly matters (Loc. 1163) is not our action, whether rich or poor, but our faith. Yet the faith never occurs without action.

All the action Bonhoeffer discusses in this chapter is radical and obvious action. He does not seem to leave room for the historic doctrine of vocation. Granted, with the disciples we ask how anyone may be saved. Yet God is the one in whom all things are possible (Matt. 19:23-26).

Is Bonhoeffer binding his readers with a law of works? It is unclear at this point.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kilcrease, 2013. Chapter 10, “The Mystery of the Work of Christ, Part 1”

Chapter 10, “The Mystery of the Work of Christ, Part 1”

Doctrines of Atonement, Gnosticism, and the Offices of Christ

Kilcrease begins to introduce the work of Christ at this point. God, he says, is doing a new work of creation through Jesus who serves as a prophet, priest, and king. These three roles appear throughout the Old and New Testaments as we see how God redeems and governs His creation. While this is a good way of understanding Jesus, through history the Church has primarily seen him through three different motifs, the motifs of conquest, substitution, and revelation. In conquest we see Christ conquering sin and death as a mighty king. This is certainly biblical, but it does not give a full picture of redemption.  When we consider substitution Jesus takes our place in sin and death, allowing us to take his place in life. Again, this is biblical but incomplete. Finally, in the motif of revelation, Jesus’ death is a demonstration of his love. It also serves to motivate us to live a holy life. All these motifs are good, but incomplete.

Jesus is also often viewed as the prophet, priest and king. He fulfills these roles, which work together. Kilcrease ties the motifs and the roles to the different persons of the Trinity and observes that they must all work together. When not balanced they lead to error. Kilcrease discusses the implications of the various ways of being off-balance.

Sermon for 4/2/14 Repent, Believe, Obey

Sermon: Rinseand Repeat? Repent, Believe, Obey

The kingdom of God comes. As we confess, it comes without our prayers, but we pray that it may come to us and that we may rejoice in it.

When God’s kingdom has broken into this world, when we believe on Jesus, you’d expect us to change.
 resulting words and deeds

Why doesn’t it seem that much has changed?
 still become discouraged
 still become angry
 still jump to a worst case scenario
 live many parts of many days as if God were not true

Or maybe it seems a lot has changed
 a lot more holy than some people
 more patient than those others
 give faithfully to the church
 attend church regularly
 pat ourselves on the back - yet fall into sinful pride and arrogance

What will we do? How does God’s kingdom come?
 Remember the instructions on shampoo?  Lather, rinse, repeat?
 How about this biblical idea? Repent, Believe, Obey

 sorry for sins
 humbled before God and man
 admit, apologize
 mea culpa
 don’t want to go down that path any more

 Jesus’ forgiveness is for me
 Jesus’ care lasts forever
 There is no sin that we can confess that Jesus will not forgive
 There is nothing that can separate a repentant heart from God.

 We’re hesitant about this one, but Ephesians 2:10 says God has prepared good works for us.
 How will we love our neighbor as ourselves? By service. By obedience
 I’ll show you my faith by trying to obey our Lord.

What happens when we obey imperfectly?
 Never get the idea that we will get it right.

Repent, Believe, Obey, Repeat.
Trust our Lord’s mercy.
Expect that He will show mercy through us to our world, starting at home, in our congregation, in our community, and in ever-spreading ripples.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter B9, “The Consequences of the Denial of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture”

Chapter B9, “The Consequences of the Denial of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture”

Pieper shows that, at least for a time, modernist Protestant theologians would assert that the Scripture was of paramount importance. However, as their denial of the supernatural inspiration took hold, they had a self-contradictory stance. The Bible was the authority when it was right. This finally places the scholar in the position of judge over the Scripture, leading to one’s own faith providing the norm. This, says Pieper, results in several problems, which he describes.

1) Human illusion replaces Christian truth.
2) Faith no longer exists, as it is not based on the Word of God (Romans 10).
3) Christian prayer, which is rooted in Christ’s words, is no longer practiced.
4) There is no victory over death (John 8:51).
5) Our mission based on Matthew 28:19 is futile.
6) There is no unity of the faith which is rooted in God’s Word.
7) God, who only approaches us through the Word, becomes invisible.
8) Christian wisdom from above is replaced by the wisdom from this world.

Pieper closes with an extended quote of C.F.W. Walther, recognizing that modernist denial of the inspiration strips Christianity of all that is Christian.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bonhoeffer, 1937. Chapter 2, "The Call to Discipleship"

Chapter 2, “The Call to Discipleship”

Bonhoeffer now articulates a call going from Jesus which demands obedience through following him. When Jesus calls people they do come and follow him. We do not know of any preliminaries. We have no evidence of a discussion or persuasion. Jesus calls and people follow. I observe here that Bonhoeffer is presenting the gospel as a proclamation rather than a proposition. When the disciple follows (Loc. 805) he leaves what he perceives incorrectly. For instance, Levi departs from what he had previously viewed as security into what seems insecure (following Jesus) but is actually perfectly safe. Through his call to be a disciple Jesus makes us completely safe. This does not happen by our mental assent but by our active obedience.

Bonhoeffer observes that our following him, as exemplified in Luke 9:57-62, begins with cutting ourselves off from our former existence. This, and nothing less, makes faith possible. Otherwise we can still depend on ourselves. He explains the concept by illustrating two propositions which he said are both true. “Only he who believes is obedient. Only he who is obedient believes” (Loc. 889). Though these two statements are in tension, Bonhoeffer says they must be held together. He spends a good deal of time illustrating their interdependence, especially using biblical illustrations.

From here Bonhoeffer moves to Matthew 19:16-22 and the rich young ruler. When he approaches Jesus he wants the teacher to tell him what to do. Jesus rather points him to his inability. while the man wanted Jesus to tell him how to become morally superior, Jesus told him only that his morality was useless and that he would be useful only if he laid down his life to follow Jesus. In fact, he would not become useful then, but perfect.

Bonhoeffer’s final conclusion is that it is by obediently following Jesus that we put ourselves into a position to believe in him. As long as we hold to our previous attachments we cannot trust God.