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Posts Tagged ‘confession’

St. Mark 7:  27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (From the Gospel Reading for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, year B)

The Syro-Phoenician woman and Mother, as a Gentile had no right to the true table of the Lord in Israel.  She was outside the promises of the Lord.  And she knew that but her need compelled her which was her daughter’s horror: her daughter was demon-possessed.  Jesus crossed the border from the Promised Land to Gentile territory. The devil had taken hold of her daughter for what was coming out of her heart had defiled her:  “…out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit,  sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7). 

The Syro-Phoenician woman and Mother could not claim rights to the Lord’s Table.  She only wanted the crumbs.  Jesus drew her forth from the depths as she knelt before Him. She would not let Him go, oh, that I would have the faith of the Syro-phoenician woman, and the Samaritan woman at the well, the faith to serve as did the Samaritan on the road to Jericho! 

We do not deal under the table to fool people into the Church. The Lord calls His Church to tell people what’s for dinner.  It’s a six course meal:  the 10 commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism,  the office of the Keys, the Sacrament of the Altar,  and then the Table of Duties of the way the Lord instructs His people in their vocations in family and home, in the Church and in the 9-5 work week. 

The Syro-Phoenician Mom was now at the Table of the Lord as she did not even receive a crumb from Him, instead, Jesus gave Himself.   For her statement the Syro-Phoenician woman, literally “For your word”, the word of faith which would not let Jesus go, she could go her way to her daughter now restored, a family restored at the Table of the Lord, all fully members of His Church, at His table.

The Syro-Phoenician Mother “turned the tables” on the Lord and He “turned the tables” on the persistent Mother and  on the unclean spirit. He would turn the tables on sin, death and the  power of the devil upon the Cross as  He gave us the Sacrament upon His Table for peace in His Name so that the faithful by His grace “have a place at the Table”.  “Nothing in my hand I bring, but simply to Thy Cross I cling.”

As we began furnishing the mission here one of the immediate need were tables.  I realized that tables are very important to the Church.  There are three kinds of needed tables in a Church sanctuary and building:

  1. Tables for Bible class and Christian education so that the Word of God, the Scriptures are taught and learned, so that Lutherans can ask question and learns the answers from the Bible, and we grow in faith and love.
  2. Dining tables for church dinners, as a reminder here of the Lord’s prayer petition, “Give us this day our daily bread”, as we do in our homes daily. We are reminded that all creatures look to You O Lord for their food in due season and You open Your  hands and satisfy the desires of all living.
  3. And the most important table, the Lord’s so that He gives us His Body and Blood, for the confession of the faith and the feeding of our faith in Him, in the communion of His very Presence. He touches us with Himself, in His Word He opens, “…the soul of man to faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Gregory the Great).

All these tables point, not to our works, but His work. They are the Lord’s work tables:  His Word for us, His creation for us, His Body and Blood for us and our salvation.

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Lutheran Pastor and Professor Hermann Sasse observed that in the first two centuries of the Church, the pagan world had great and mighty religious rites, but compared to the Church, her rites were and are so simple:   bread, wine, water and through it all the Word of God and the crucified and Risen Christ.  Truly, what we  actually are, that is,  who we are is Who’s we are. It’s not scary and we don’t have to be scary.  Maybe it shows from Whom comes great a grace, so great a salvation.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  (2 Corinthians 4:6-8 English Standard Version)

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“Now, although both, the planting and watering of the preacher, and the running and willing of the hearer, would be in vain, and no conversion would follow it if the power and efficacy of the Holy Ghost were not added thereto, who enlightens and converts the hearts through the Word preached and heard, so that men believe this Word and assent thereto, still, neither preacher nor hearer is to doubt this grace and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, but should be certain that when the Word of God is preached purely and truly, according to the command and will of God, and men listen attentively and earnestly and meditate upon it, God is certainly present with His grace, and grants, as has been said, what otherwise man can neither accept nor give from his own powers. For concerning the presence, operation, and gifts of the Holy Ghost we should not and cannot always judge ex sensu [from feeling], as to how and when they are experienced in the heart; but because they are often covered and occur in great weakness, we should be certain from, and according to, the promise, that the Word of God preached and heard is [truly] an office and work of the Holy Ghost, by which He is certainly efficacious and works in our hearts, 2 Cor. 2:14ff; 3:5ff.”

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Brian Williams seems to have felt that he was ‘always’ telling the truth, even though he was not.

Bruce Jenner ‘always’ felt he was really a woman, but he is not.

Rachel Dolezal ‘always’ felt she was black, but she was not.

The commonality in the three celebrities is the verb “felt”, as in their ‘hearts’.  When I was a child my Mom made me a cape and I felt I was Superman, but I never jumped off our apartment building’s roof. I knew it was my imaginaton, not truth and/or fact.  I instinctively knew there was a standard, outside of us, which clearly shows what I was feeling was not the truth, no matter how much I felt like I was Superman. Yet, these three personalities acted on their  imagined feelings as fact and/or the truth.  Why?

Comedian/actor/director Woody Allen, after his affair with the adopted daughter of his fellow adulterer, Mia Farrow, infamously said, “The heart wants what  the heart wants”.  In the de facto denial in society, that is culture and college, of absolute moral law, the ‘heart’ has become the standard of behavior, again, the heart wants what the heart wants. Further, the denial of original sin goes hand-in-hand with the denial of moral law. If we just have a good environment, education, homes etc. we will have good people.  Following that faulty logic then the Borgias should have been paragons of virtue.    In Federalist paper #51, written to promote the passing of the Constitution, is the telling sentence: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”  They knew men were not angels.  We all instinctively know that except a culture which has distanced itself from the depths of moral depravity each one of us is capable and the Law of God which has impartially judged it. After all as the serpent said, “Did God say…?” (Genesis 3)

So with the denial of Law and original sin, then the heart has become the ‘ultimate’ arbiter:  Brian’s, Bruce’s and Rachel’s hearts.  The result is moral chaos but the Scripture is clear:  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17: 9) and “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21: 25, the last verse of the book).  This is as old as Adam and these people in the news should come as no surprise to Christians, except so many Christians are no longer even marginally educated in the  proper uses of Law and of the Gospel   The heart of a sinner will only lead astray and we can see it in these self-deceived people.   I maintain that everyone who reads about this knows this moral truth of the deceitful heart and the need of the Savior Jesus Christ.  Everyone knows these three people lied first to themselves, self-deception and then deceived others.  It is wrong.  It hurts others.  In service to our neighbor we, the Church, must speak God’s truth  in our culture and society, so others can repent and come to the knowledge of the Son of God.

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Nicene Council

About the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325:  The first Council of Nicaea was convened in the early summer of AD 325 by Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Iznik,Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the council. The council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of His righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.

“We are waging a war of religion.  Not a civil war between adherents of the same religions, but a life and death struggle between Christian and pagan.”  So wrote Dorothy L.Sayers in 1940 in England, in her essay, “Creed or Chaos?”  I think that Athanasius and the other confessors of the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, true man and true God are in agreement with Dorothy L. Sayers’ observation in 1940. In A.D. 325, it was a conflict, but between Christians.   man sitting on a branch sawingCreed or chaos?  If the confessors at Nicaea had not remained “steadfast in the Word”, the faith of the Church would have disappeared, but the Lord held fast with Athanasius and others. Christianity would have become a pagan religion, which many branches of the Church are becoming in our day  because they have lopped off their branches by denying the utter veracity of the Bible, Old and New Testaments.

The Lord made us to believe and without the Lord, we believe in the darndest things, like “deeds not creeds”.  But how can our deeds be informed and conformed without true teaching?  Can you imagine a doctor not being taught correctly the doctrines, that is the correct teachings of his profession to make correct diagnoses?  Can you imagine the chaos?  Look at what has happened after denomination after denomination  denied the Law of God in matters of marriage and sexuality?  Yes, chaos.  Or that our deeds supersede the saving doctrine of Christ’s atonement?   People do not hear the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ once and for all.  The result is the doctrinal chaos of our day and note that atheism is on the rise and many congregations have become self-sanctified social welfare centers, not of faith and mercy in the Lord.

In St. Mark 3: 32 and 34, it is reported that the crowd sat around Jesus in a circle.  Jesus is at the center which means so His Father and the  Holy Spirit.  Without this Hub, the wheel won’t move and it will collapse.  When other doctrines are at the center, we will go the wrong way, and  when the inordinate desires of the flesh are at the center. The center is formed by the Creeds, the Center and the Church, and the crowds, hearing His Word, praying His Word, teaching and preaching and eating and drinking His Word and washed in His Word. We are baptized, secured by the Lord to eat His Body and drink the Cup of the New Testament in His Blood, taught His saving doctrine, every Word of the Bible day by day.

Many see  doctrine as simply fussy and nit-picking.  In a Bible study in the liberal Lutheran church of which I was a pastor, a man said to me,  Oh, you are such a nit-picker. Later my wife told me that Ann whispered to her, But nit-picking helps (!).  I am thankful for all those faithful nitpickers!  The Church knew that in the challenge of Arianism (and all heresies)  something is at stake:  the very basis of the Gospel and the authority of the Scriptures. This is why the blessed Reformers, as well,  took their stand on the Word of God (See Resource below:  The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed).  At stake was (and always is) forgiveness of sinners received by faith in Jesus Christ:  the sinless One in the sinners’ stead ( 2 Corinthians 5:21).  In Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) and the way the Lord accomplished this once and for all  was by sending His Son in the flesh, “very God from very God”, the only-begotten Son of God (1 John 4:9, KJV).  This is the sound doctrine of which the Apostle wrote to Timothy and Titus.  Doctrine is life, eternal life.   If the bishops and pastors had not convened and took a stand against false teaching, we would be lost but the Lord will not let us be lost, but found, and so we praise Him for His faithful Church and the Confessors of the ecumenical Council of Nicaea.  Let us  pray:

Lord God, heavenly Father, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, Your Church boldly confessed that it believed in one Lord Jesus Christ as being of one substance with the Father. Grant us courage to confess this saving faith with Your Church through all the ages; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Resource:  The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed:

The Father

I Believe
Rom. 10:9, Jas 2:19, John 14:1

In one God,
Deut. 6:4, Is. 44:6

The Father
Is. 63:16, 2 Pet 1:17, Matt. 6:9

Almighty,
Gen. 17:1, Ps. 91:1, Rev. 4:8

Maker
Job 4:17, 35:10, Is. 17:7, 54:5

of heaven
Gen 1:1, 8

and earth
Ps. 104:5, Jer. 51:15

and of all things
Gen 1:31

visible and invisible.
Ps. 89:11-12, Amos 4:13, Rev. 3:5, Col. 1:16

The Son

And in one Lord
Eph. 4:5

Jesus Christ,
Acts 10:36, 11:17, Rom. 1:7, 5:1, 1 Cor 1:2, 6:11, 2 Cor. 1:2, 8:9
Gal. 1:3, 6:14, Eph. 1:2, 3:11, Phil. 1:2, 3:20, Col. 1:3, 2:6, 1 Thes. 1:1, 5:9,
2 Thes. 1:1, 2:14, 1 Tim. 6:3, 14, 2 Tim. 1:2, Philemon 1:3, 25, Heb. 13:20,
Jas. 1:1, 2:1, 1 Pet. 1:3, 3:15, 2 Pet. 1:8, 14, Jude 17, 21, Rev. 22:20-21

the only-begotton,
John 1:18

Son of God,
Matt 3:17, John 3:16

Begotten of His Father,
Heb. 1:5

Before all worlds,

John 1:1, Col. 1:17, 1 John 1:1

begotten,
John 1:1, Heb. 1:5

Not Made,
Mic. 5:2, John 1:18, 17:5

Being of one substance with the Father,
John 10:30, 14:9

By whom all things were made;
1 Cor. 8:6, Col 1:16

Who for us men
Matt 20:28, John 10:10

and for our salvation
Matt 1:21, Luke 19:10

came down from heaven
Rom. 10:6, Eph. 4:10

and was incarnate
Col. 2:9

by the Holy Spirit
Matt 1:18

of the Virgin Mary
Luke 1:34-35

and was made man;
John 1:14

and was crucified
Matt. 20:19, John 19:18, Rom. 5:6, 8, 2 Cor. 13:4

also for us
Rom. 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:15

under Pontius Pilate.
Matt. 27:2, 26, 1 Tim 6:13

He suffered
1 Pet. 2:21, Heb. 2:10

and was buried.
Mark 15:46, 1 Cor. 15:4

And the third day
Matt. 27:63, 28:1, 1 Cor. 15:4

He rose again
Mark 16:6, 2 Tim. 2:8

according to the Scriptures
Ps. 16:10, Luke 24:25-27, 1 Cor. 15:4

and ascended
Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9

Into heaven
Mark 16:19, Acts 1:11

and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Ps. 110:1, Matt. 26:64, Acts 7:56, Heb. 1:3

And He will come again
Jn. 14:3, 1 Thes. 4:16

with glory
Matt. 16:27, 24:30, 25:31, 26:64, Mark. 8:38, Col. 3:4

to judge
Matt. 25:31-46, Acts 17:31

both the living and the dead,
Acts 10:42, 1 Pet. 4:5

whose kingdom
John 18:36, 2 Tim. 4:1, 18

will have no end.
Luke 1:33, Rev. 11:15, Ps. 145:13

The Holy Spirit

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:19, Acts 13:2

The Lord
2 Cor. 3:17

And giver of life,
John 6:63, Rom. 7:6, 8:2, 2 Cor. 3:6

who proceeds from the father

John 14:16-17

and the Son,
John 15:26, Rom. 8:9, Gal. 4:6

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped
Luke 4:8, John 4:24

and glorified
John 4:24, 1 Tim. 1:17

Who spoke by the prophets.
1 Pet. 1:10-11, 2 Pet 1:21

And I believe in one
1 Cor. 10:16-17, 12:12-13

Holy
Eph. 3:16-17, 5:27, 1 Pet. 2:9

Catholic
1 Cor. 1:2

and Apostolic
Eph. 2:20, Rev. 21:14

Church,
Acts 20:28, Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:24, Heb. 12:23, 1 Pet. 2:9

I acknowledge one Baptism
John 3:5, Rom. 6:3, Eph. 4:5

For the remission of sins,

Acts 2:38, 1 Pet. 3:21, Tit. 3:5

And I look for the resurrection of the dead

1 Thes. 4:16, 1 Cor. 15:12-13, 16, 52

And the life of the world to come.
1 Cor 15:54-57, Rev. 22:5

Amen.
Ps. 41:13, 2 Cor. 1:20

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Genesis 3: 9: But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

This past Sunday (6/7/15) the Old Testament Lesson was Genesis 3: 8-15, when the man and woman hide in Eden because they had eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The Lord God asked His first question, “Where are you?” which in Hebrew is one word, “Ayekah?“. “Indeed the only reason for middle names is to give your parents a way of letting you know that your life as you have known and lived it up to that moment is over because of something you broke, or said, or did, or hit” (From Rabbi Marc Gelman’s sermon, “Where Are You?”). And the first question in the Scriptures is the serpent’s question, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Between the serpent’s question, “Did God actually say…?” and the Lord’s question, “Where are you?” are the polar opposites of evil and good.  The serpent wants to use the word for his curved in upon himself ends, not to obey and listen to God’s Word.  The serpent, the devil, has no interest in actually helping Adam and Eve but only feigning ‘care’ and ‘compassion’.  He seeks only to “devour” (1 Peter 5:8)  Adam and Eve and you, but the Lord in the very act of seeking and asking “Ayekah?”, He demonstrates He cares. Only a true Father searches for His lost children (St. Luke 15: 11-32).   The serpent is only interested in the Lord as a third party to be discussed and eventually dismissed so that the serpent has Adam and Eve to himself.  The Lord asks Where are YOU? (emphasis my own) because He has created us in the reciprocity of intimate relation:  I/Thou.  Man does not take God at His Word in true faith but only wants to take His Word to misuse it for themselves. 

Maybe the childhood game of “hide n’ go seek” has it’s foundation in the Genesis 3!  The man and the woman hide and the Lord seeks, as He is God in search of man.  But in Genesis 3 this is no game. Yet, in the game of  “hide n’ go seek”, the child who is “it” is kind of like God, powerful, in so far as “it” is the only one free to go searching but the Lord is all powerful and all knowing and actually free, He knew where Adam was hid. So why did the Lord God ask?  The  Lord wanted to give Adam, and Eve, an opportunity to confess.  The Lord’s question was and is the probing question of the Law:  Where are you?  Where are you in life?  Where are you this day?  Adam was looking only now to himself as the serpent’s false promise duped him: you will be like God.  Adam’s faith was now in himself, not the Lord, looking to Him alone.People think they can hide in plain sight but from the Lord no secrets are hid.  We know the Lord’s question that day was one of the Law because of Adam’s answer: I was afraid and so I hid, because he was naked before the living God. Adam confessed only his feelings of guilt, the symptoms, not the sin. 

It is scary, say after gossiping and lying, to be found out.  Too many think just being found out is bad, no, it is the deed of gossiping and lying that is bad, and though seemingly a peccadillo,  a small sin, it can lead serpentine-like to greater temptations and sin. Yet the Lord’s question was for HIs grace as He allowed the crown of His creation the dignity to answer and confess.  I was afraid and so I hid.  It was no confession, yet the Lord God’s grace is evident. Yes, the Lord punished Adam and his wife, Eve but He also clothed them.  Adam and Eve had made clothes for themselves out of fig leaves but what we do to cover up is insufficient for any wrong we think, say or do.  All the self-made pious and religious works of man will not cover-up wrong. Later the Lord Himself made clothes for them, not of plants but of  skins. Only the Lord can cover us,

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (St. Matthew 6)

Finding us in the nakedness of wrong, He has clothed us in the garments of righteousness, of our baptism in into Christ, His death and resurrection,  lost  and found, hidden and bought.

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The title of this article is from search terms for this blog.  Someone was wanting to know the reason for the order of the Catechisms by Dr. Martin Luther.  It is a good question.

The 6 Chief Parts of the Small and Large Catechisms, by Dr. Martin Luther are:

1.  The Ten Commandments

2.  The Apostle’s Creed

3. The Lord’s Prayer

4. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

5.  Confession and Absolution

6.  The Sacrament of the Altar

They are in that order for a specific reason:  Law, then Gospel.  In Dr. Luther’s conclusion of the Ten Commandments in The Large Catechism:

Thus we have the Ten Commandments, a compendium of divine doctrine, as to what we are to do in order that our whole life may be pleasing to God, and the true fountain and channel from and in which everything must arise and flow that is to be a good work, so that outside of the Ten Commandments no work or thing can be good or pleasing to God, however great or precious it be in the eyes of the world.

When one applies for a job, the employer will tell the prospective employee what is expected of her.  It is that simple, so also with the Lord.  His commandments show us the way to please the Lord.  Any “work or thing” outside of the Commandments is not pleasing to God.  If I worked at McDonald’s, I would be fired if I fried up some vegetarian burgers and called such a “Big Mac”.  Dr. Luther’s teaching on each of the commandments is also a compendium of each one, both negative (what we should not do) and positive:  what we are to do.  

At the beginning of the 2nd Chief Part, Luther points out we have a difficult time in keeping the 10 Commandments: to say the least!  So Luther taught in the introduction to the 2nd Chief Part, The Creed the reason for the next 5 chief parts:

Thus far we have heard the first part of Christian doctrine, in which we have seen all that God wishes us to do or to leave undone. Now, there properly follows the Creed, which sets forth to us everything that we must expect and receive from God, and, to state it quite briefly, teaches us to know Him fully.    And this is intended to help us do that which according to the Ten Commandments we ought to do. For (as said above) they are set so high that all human ability is far too feeble and weak to [attain to or] keep them. Therefore it is as necessary to learn this part as the former in order that we may know how to attain thereto, whence and whereby to obtain such power.   For if we could by our own powers keep the Ten Commandments as they are to be kept, we would need nothing further, neither the Creed nor the Lord’s Prayer.

So next we have Gospel:  the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.  Next we have the means of grace by which the Lord gives us His Word of promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We read God’s perfect will for us in the 10 Commandments and next His perfect Way to keep the 10 Commandments in the person, word and work of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God.

One last note:  Law:  1st Chief Part, Gospel: parts 2-6.  There are more chief parts of the Gospel than the Law! This shows how much help we sinners need from our dear Lord and He has!

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