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Archive for November 10th, 2013

           

The Lessons for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, can be found here.

The Sadducees thought only the first five books of Moses, the Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy were really the inspired Word of God, but not the remainder of the Bible.  Since the Torah does not mention resurrection,  they said there is no resurrection.  The church of the world bends the Word of God to its own fancies.  The Sadducees robbed themselves of such sweet comfort the Lord gives to men and women:  the hope of the life of the world to come. By their false doctrine or teaching, they robbed others as well of consolation, the Lord’s own Word.  Maybe to make Biblical teaching more palatable and  more in tune with people’s need.  Maybe to control them. Maybe they had a hard time understanding the resurrection of the body. I do.  However, when Jesus says to Martha at Lazarus’ tomb, I am the resurrection and the life, that there is no death, the stench of sin and trespass in Him, I get it but more He has me, not as His plaything to use us, but as baptized sons and daughters to love you all.  By His Word Lazarus comes forth.  He is the Lord and by His Word saves, utterly out of the control of the Sadducees, the Pharisees and all false teachers. His Word is not chained. It is not bound. Therefore, the church of the world comes with trick questions to the Church of the Word as it did to Jesus.  The Sadducees brought up levirate marriage.  “Levir” is Latin for brother’s wife. According to Moses command to Israel in Leviticus, if a man dies childless then his wife marries his brother. The Lord provided social security to Israel. This is God’s good for Israel, but in a religious argument, men twist God’s Word. What happens if this happens 7 times, since there were 7 brothers and each brother died childless:  Who’s wife shall the woman be in the resurrection? 

 Jesus’ answer is two-fold:

  1. The life to come will be the new creation.  It will be qualitatively different.  In the resurrection men will not marry nor be given in marriage.  As the Lord said in Hosea, the land will be called, “married”, the whole land, the whole of God’s people, His Church is the bride of Christ and for her life He died.  Those who are deemed worthy, of worth, deemed worthy by someone else, the Lord:  by His grace for us all, to His sons and daughters, sons and daughters of the resurrection.  
  2. Jesus quotes today’s Old Testament lesson:  I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Present tense God, I am, for present tense people, whom I saved. The blessed patriarchs are before the Lord who made them His own and He does not give up on them in death, neither you. Moses was standing on holy ground and so were the Saduccees but they did not know it.  Moses saw the bush on fire but not consumed, such is the work of the Holy Spirit. On fire, the dross of sin melted away but the branches alive in Christ’s forgiveness.  The Lord, said Jesus, His Father, is not the God of the dead, of sin, but of the living, for all live to Him and through His Son, by faith, makes all alive.  He is the present-tense Savior for present tense sinners. 

 Jesus ended the argument with the truth of Biblical doctrine or teaching. They could not ask him another question. I think Jesus would have been a real kill-joy on a blog. No endless thread of discussion, for He weaves our the threads of our lives into His life, the life of all the living, the death of death our foe.

The Church of the world is unsettling, as the Apostle Paul knew. The Church in Thessalonica had heard false doctrine. “… not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”  As for the Lord, so for His Church: the Thessalonians concern was the resurrection caused by false teaching. First, before the day of the Lord the “lawless one” is to be revealed, that is, the antichrist.  The lawless one has not been revealed because the day of the Lord has not come, yet, lawlessness is all over and building. The man of lawlessness is at work but the Lord is restraining him.  

What is meant by “lawless” in 1 Thessalonians?  Answer: Without the Law of God.  Note that in so many serious discussions folks begin by saying, “I feel that…”  “What I feel about that…” As feelings is the final criterion of truth.  So even if a book is recognized as authoritative, its inherent truth is trumped by what I feel or experience.  This is a functional definition of lawlessness, in particular when the book in question is The Book, The Bible, as did the Sadducees, so all false teachers. Lawlessness: 

Disregarding the Law of God when it comes to the 5th commandment, you shall not kill, and allowing for abortion. 

Disregarding the 8th commandment about not bearing false witness and lying has been institutionalized in our politics, or worse, the churchly institutional lying about what the Bible says. 

Disregarding the Law of God as to the 4th and 6th commandments and the biological and spiritual marriage between man and woman is denied, and marriage, and the abuse of women and abuse of the family.

Disregarding the regular abuse of the 2nd commandment, regarding God’s Name and its regular abuse and the attendant demons of foul language.  …the 1st commandment.  Lawless ones become their own law and are worshiped: from politicians to singers to athletes etc. etc. etc. The gods of the church of the world, the golden calves, are to be seen and demand sacrifice for their policies and programs. (The lawless one)  acts as though he were not under, but over God’s will and Law; he treads all true religion under his feet, making the service of God a play and a farce. So Pr. and Prof. Paul Kretzman, Missouri Synod wrote in his commentary on the Bible in the ‘20s, on the Epistle reading.  Back then radio preachers were the media evangelists who in the hands of Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple MacPherson made the true religion into a play and a farce.  Look how many times the service of God is made into a play and farce on television these days. The problem is not too little religion but too much religion, that is,  false religion and the idolatry of lawlessness. These false gods demand sacrifice as much as Israel willingly gave up all their gold and silver and gems to make the golden calf.  As lawless as the day of the Judges and the last verse of the book of Judges, Everyone did that which was right in their own eyes, for their was no King in Israel.  Beloved!  The King lives in His Israel, His kingdom, His reign, not of this world.   The Lord calls and makes His Church by and through His Word, the Word made flesh. Church of the Word is called to hear.   

 Paul wants not only to warn but to point to the blessings of the Lord in Thessalonica and for us as well. The work of the Father is particularly emphasized in this connection. He loved us with an everlasting love, with a love so great that He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him for us all. In His grace, through His Word, He gives us everlasting comfort and consolation, namely, the certainty of our salvation through the merits of our Redeemer. And by reason of this same grace we now have a good, a certain hope; we know that our souls, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, are secure in His hands, not only to the last great day, but beyond that day throughout eternity. (From Rev. Kretzmann’s commentary on the Epistle reading)

 Therefore, stand firm wrote the Apostle.  The Psalmist prayed:  “Lead me to a rock higher than I.  The Lord has: Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. The One has set us within His kingdom so our feet do not follow the dead ends of the gods of the church of the world. He has called you through His Gospel, His forgiveness, His grace and peace, sanctified in the hope of the kingdom come so that others may hear the clear call of His mercy to sinners. I end the sermon with the same benediction the Apostle Paul did in today’s Epistle reading:

 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

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