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Posts Tagged ‘Decalogue’

Men can change the civil law a million times but they can not change God’s Law any time. Marriage is still and only between a man and a woman.

Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us.
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpower us.
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none,
He’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

God’s Word forever shall abide, no thanks to foes, who fear it; for God himself fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit. Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child, or spouse, though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day. The kingdom’s ours forever!

From “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther

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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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“I hope this isn’t meant to be a criticism of our current life style” (from The New Yorker magazine, probably back in the ’60s)

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The 6 Biblical Building Blocks of Faith and Life:   Session 1, The Ten Commandments

Intro:  On Wednesday March 12, we began at the Mission a 6 week Bible Class, The 6 Building Blocks, a review of each of the 6 Chief Parts of The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther.  Below is the outline  of the first session.-Pr. Schroeder

Opening Prayer:  Grant to us, Lord, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may be enabled by You to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Review the 6 Chief Parts, 6 Building Blocks of Faith and life

  1. 10 Commandments
  2. The Apostles’ Creed
  3. The Lord’s Prayer
  4. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
  5. Confession
  6. The Sacrament of the Altar

The Small Catechism:

  1. The Layman’s Bible
  2. Summary of the Bible
  3. Prayer Book

Lutherans have three important books:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Book of Concord, which includes The Small and Large Catechisms
  3. The Lutheran Service Book, the hymnbook

1st Building Block:  the Decalogue, the  10 CommandmentsTwo Tables of the Law:  Written and Given by God on Mt. Sinai to Moses  10 Commandments recorded in two places:                                                                              A.  Exodus 20 and B. Deuteronomy 5

“God gave the Law in written form to Moses at Mount Sinai. The giving of the Law was accompanied by signs of God’s wrath. Thunder, lightning flashes, the blast of the trumpet, and the smoking mountain reveal a God who exposes Himself in the “thick darkness” of His holy judgment against sin. No wonder the people of Israel pleaded with Moses, saying, “[D]o not let God speak to us, lest we die” (Exod. 20:19). But God does speak through His servant Moses, and the words which He gives us through Moses cut to the very heart, laying bare our sinfulness.

Our Lord uses Moses’ words, the words of God’s Law, to unmask the heart of a rich man who thought that he could “do” the Law (Mark 10:17-22). This man comes to our Lord with a pious question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” When our Lord answers the man by referring to the commandments, the man responds, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” Yet the rich man lacks one thing. He lacks what the First Commandment requires. He lacks the “fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” (The Didache by Prof. John T. Pless)

A. First Table:  Vertical, 1-3

B. Second Table:  Horizontal, 4-10

Together: form a Cross. Summation of the Law and the Prophets

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” St. Matthew 22

 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. St. Matthew 5

2 Tables and the Three Uses of the Law: Not the Way the Church uses the Law, but the way the Lord uses the Law for His purposes and use:

  1. Curb:  political use, polis, city
  2. Mirror:  spiritual use
  3. Guide:  spiritual and political use, spiritual, to show us if our good works are God pleasing, political, back to use                                                   

Luther’s teaching on each commandment: negative and positive, concentrate on the 4th Commandment for tonight

  1. Hinge Commandment
  2. First neighbors
  3. In between 3rd and 5th commandments: the Lord’s Day and prohibition against murder and violence
  4. Three Fathers
    1. fathers and mothers
    2. Fathers of a nation
    3. spiritual fathers

Closing Prayer:  Psalm 23

Links:

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In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21: 25, the last verse of Judges)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53: 6)

In an article,  In Martin Luther’s Church the Pastor Asks: Where Have All the Protestants Gone?”, a German Lutheran pastor, Pr. Block,  states that during the time of Communism the churches were fuller then in Germany than today and he offers this explanation:

“Belonging to the church meant taking a stand, to say, ‘This is what I believe in and I take the consequences.’ Today people think, I’m lord of my own life, why do I need the church? 

The hymn “Lord to Thee I make confession” , the first verse is above in the clip-art, (Lutheran Service Book, #608) is from the 17th Century. The penitent’s sin is choosing for himself his way, disregarding the way of the Lord for him and to him.  Looking at the hymn verse and the Bible passages above, the only incorrect portion of Pastor Block’s quote is the implication that somehow this is new…and to say in times of temporal peace, I believe in the Lord, is still to take the consequences.

 Just read an article today that people have a hard time saying, “no” nowadays.  Again, we always have but maybe there is something to the fact it’s harder these days:  we all want to be liked and the moral compass of God’s Law is denied.  Pastors are not to say “no” any longer but be “affirming”…which ends up affirming wrong and that is not serving the neighbor in love.  

We all have gone the wrong way or tend to, go “my way”.  Reading novels, bios of famous people, people I have known, looking into the mirror of the Law of God and when the way is my own choosing, it is a dead end.   The Lord puts up the sign of His terrors to stop us in His Law:

Then He shows us the sign of our forgiveness that we repent in Him, as He has borne each and every wrong of each and every one us, as He calls us  by name, John 10:3:

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“Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD” is an article from Psychology Today and is found here.  It is worth a full read.

From the article:

“French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.”

This was of course the ‘American’ philosophy as well but it really is not an American philosophy, it is the Biblical doctrine and practice from the Lord Himself in the 4th Commandment, with Martin Luther’s concise teaching on it:

The Fourth Commandment

Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.

What does this mean?–Answer. We should fear and love God that we may not despise nor anger our parents and masters, but give them honor, serve, obey, and hold them in love and esteem.

In most of Luther’s concise teaching on each of the commandments there is a Negative and a Positive of the Law, including being a child and being a mother and a father.  It comes as a revelation in America’s popular magazine  Psychology Today that French parents actually say No to their children.  For instance: Just think about the use of the word “affirmation”:  without any discipline, no “No” so that  the child’s “self-esteem” is not hurt.  The tip-0ff to the real American philosophy of child rearing, not the Biblical one, which began with the elites telling Americans the way to parent was epitomized by Dr. Benjamin Spock in his seminal best-seller:  Baby and Child Care, first published in 1945.   I very quickly found these two quotes from Dr. Spock:

What good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all.

Happiness is mostly a by-product of doing what makes us feel fulfilled.

 So a mother or a father can run on her or his “feelings”?   It seems such advice of following one’s heart is the quagmire  from which  the exponential rise of  child abuse rose  in our generation.  Happiness is a by-product, but not from”FEELING fulfilled”, but happiness is a by-product of doing a task, a job, a service well.  “Feeling fulfilled” is amorphous, and I can feel good and fulfilled after a drink, a pizza and while we’re at, why not drugs?  A mom told her pastor that her one year old child is the “boss”.  I tried to gently correct her and I pray she hears.   “Amorphous” literally means without form.  God’s Law forms our lives. Limits are boundaries as “Forgive us our trespasses”.  There is no law in a feeling but there is Law in  God’s Word and disciples of Jesus Christ adhere to a discipline which is godly and humane.  Note that Luther lists “love” as the last quality in the 4th Commandment.  In The Large Catechism Luther correctly teaches that honor includes love. Note:  what Psychology Today, which is all about the somewhat science of psychology, is implicitly applauding in this article: spirituality, the spirituality from Law, as part of the remedy of ADHD.  

The Lutheran Confessions teach that all Scripture is correctly divided between Law and Promise (Gospel), that is:   God’s No and God’s Yes. I have preached, taught and  discussed that we have so relegated God’s No as “rigid” in our self-affirming, self-esteeming American society. Churches and congregations which try to teach God’s No and God’s Yes  are likewise considered too strict or worse, fundamentalist! If a political party is not “affirming”, it’s called “the party of no”.  And now we can see what happens when folks try to distinguish between No and Yes as in France and for many of you in  your own families.    With our self-indulgent, slothful child-rearing, we have sown the wind and have reaped the whirlwind, and it is children who are being spiritually, emotionally and physically hurt.  We can’t follow our heart, we should only follow God’s Word.  He knows more about us than we do.

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“…all authority flows and is propagated from the authority of parents…”

The quote above is from Martin Luther’s teaching on the 4th Commandment, Honor Thy Father and Mother, in The Large Catechism.    Luther’s understanding of the 4th commandment was commonplace in Western civilization and history.  It has come under attack for years now. In Luther’s day, the papal church held that other ways of living, that is, monasticism, were of greater ‘spirituality’ than of marriage.  As he taught the 6th commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

…this estate (of marriage)  should not be despised nor held in disrepute, as is done by the blind world and our false ecclesiastics (church officials), but that it be regarded according to God’s Word, by which it is adorned and sanctified, so that it is not only placed on an equality with other estates, but that it precedes and surpasses them all, whether they be that of emperor, princes, bishops, or whoever they please. For both ecclesiastical and civil estates must humble themselves and all be found in this estate

When by God’s grace, Luther re-discovered the Gospel, he also rediscovered marriage between man and woman and the centrality of the Christian home.  The “…blind world and false ecclesiacrats” (“ecclesiacrats’=denominational officials) in our day, in many denominations, especially in Protestantism,  assault marriage and the family unrelentingly:  abortion, living together, alternative ‘families’, same-sex marriage and the like, all as good for, or  equal to, marriage between man and woman.  The blind world certainly does, as Luther wrote in  another context: “All heretics have denigrated matrimony and have sought for and begun some newfangled and bizarre way of life.” (Luther’s Sermon on John 2: 1—11, 1533, Luther’s House Postils, vol. 1)  

Note  the order of the commandments:  the 4th, the home, the 6th, marriage and in between, Thou shalt not murder.  Home and marriage is for life, not abortion and death,but helping our first neighbors, our families, our children to live and live well. Every impartial study I have read on the family points out that those raised in a two parent, mother and father, household fare better than in other type of household.  This does not mean that single-parent homes are to be disregarded but it is not encouraged as a way of life.  Single parent homes need the help of the church and all neighbors. Those who were divorced, spouse died or unmarried parent, generally want marriage. Marriage is the universal experience of humankind.  Luther:

For both ecclesiastical and civil estates must humble themselves and all be found in this estate…Therefore it is not a peculiar estate, but the most common and noblest estate, which pervades all Christendom, yea which extends through all the world.

But the blind world and false ecclesiacrats are harmful in this reality because they espouse ways that are sinful.  It is clear in our very DNA and the way we are made, as Luther wrote above, family and marriage “…extends through all the world.”

Luther clearly taught, based upon Scripture, that the purpose of government is to protect the family, not replace it.  He understood this is one of the purposes of the government:  to help the family, to serve families, not for families to serve the government.  I will be forthright.  Mr. Romney’s acceptance speech for his party’s nomination for the office of President prompted this reflection, especially when he said,

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.”

This is the first time I have heard any politician plainly state the proper of the government.  The proper role of government is servant, not master. I pray and hope Mr. Romney, as President, with the Congress, and the American people, can restore government to it’s proper constitutional role, which is the Biblical role.

In the movie Fiddler on the Roof, the rabbi is asked by his students, “Is there a proper blessing for the Czar?”  “A proper blessing for the Czar…hmmm. Ah!  God bless the Czar and keep him far away from us!”. 

Lord, keep this nation under Your care. Bless the leaders of our land that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Grant that we may choose trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and serve You faithfully in our generation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray.

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Appointed readingsRomans 6:1-5Mark 6:14-29

About this day:   In contrast to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (observed on June 24), this festival commemorates his beheading by the tetrarch, Herod Antipas. From the perspective of the world, it was an ignominious end to John the Baptist’s life. Yet it was in fact a noble participation in the cross of Christ, which was John’s greatest glory of all. Christ Himself said that there had arisen none greater than John the Baptist. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and also the herald of the New Testament. As the forerunner of Christ, John fulfilled the prophecy that the great prophet Elijah would return before the great and terrible day of the Lord. By his preaching and Baptism of repentance, John turned “the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” And in the footsteps of the prophets who had gone before him—in anticipation of the Christ whose way he prepared—this servant of the Lord manifested the cross by the witness of his death. (From theTreasury of Daily Prayer, p. 670.

Reflection:  let us remember why John the Baptizer was killed:

St. Matthew14: 3For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”  

John taught the sanctity of marriage to the powers that be.  This is what cost John his life and his life is a martyria, a witness, to the Word in and out of season.

Marriage has been “out of season” (see2 Timothy 4:1-3).  As the years rolled on, I spend more and more time in confirmation classes, on the 6th Commandment, than on the other nine:  You shall not commit adultery.  From The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther:

What does this mean?–Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse.

In teaching this commandment,  I ask the class for the ways in which this commandment  is broken.  With more than a little bit of help by the teacher (!):  the dry-erase board fills up very quickly:  adultery, divorce,  “hooking-up”, living together, pornography, incest, masochism, sadism, masturbation, abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, bestiality,  polygamy, etc.  Now our sexuality is not virtuous, never has been since Eden.  And then I point out that we are forgiven in Jesus Christ, upon His Cross, He bore our sin and is our Savior.  I take the eraser and swipe through the black ink a cross.  One year a confirmand exclaimed, “That’s heavy”.   Yes!  His Cross was heavy, as heavy as our sin.

John the Baptist bore the brunt  in preaching the sanctity of marriage in his day. We must also and in marriage be helpmates one to the other, modeled after Christ and His Church, His Bride and modeling to the world the marriage of two Baptized sinners in Christ.

This may be the first time in Western European history that the list above has been legally sanctioned and for a good part of society  and culture accepted. We are living in a neo-pagan, neo-Roman world, as did our forebears in the Church did from AD33 to Edict of Milan in AD313 (seeEdict_of_Milan). Ever more we need Luther’s counsel in the Large Catechism on the 6th commandment:

But because among us there is such a shameful mess and the very dregs of all vice and lewdness, this commandment is directed also against all manner of unchastity, whatever it may be called; and not only is the external act forbidden, but also every kind of cause, incitement, and means, so that the heart, the lips, and the whole body may be chaste and afford no opportunity, help, or persuasion to unchastity.

We need the lesson from John the Baptizer.  John was last of the prophets.  One of the verses that has haunted me is this one from Isaiah 52:11and it is cited by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17:

Therefore go out from their midst,and be separate from them, says the Lord,and touch no unclean thing;then I will welcome you…

This verse may be the basis of the Amish way of life, at least in the movie ‘Witness'(!) Does this mean we need to be like the Amish? St. Augustine preached on the Prophet Jeremiah which speaks to the Lord’s prophet, John, the way the Church is and should be as in 2 Corinthians 6: 17:

How many and vehement rebukes did Jeremiah preach against the sinners and wicked ones of his people. Yet he lived among them, he entered into the same temple with them, celebrated the same mysteries; he lived in that congregation of wicked men, but by his preaching “he came out from among them.” This is what it means “to come out from among them”; this is what it means to not “touch the unclean thing.” It means not consenting to them in will and not sparing them in word. I say this of Jeremiah, of Isaiah, of Daniel, and Ezekiel, and the rest of the prophets, who did not retire from the wicked people, lest they should desert the good who were mingled with that people. (emphasis my own)

“It means not consenting to them in will and not sparing them in word.”  The Lord has called His Church as the communion of His Will and Word, both of which are one.  As in the days of the Roman Empire, the Church did not consent with much of the pagan culture and touched not the unclean things. Do Christians fail in the sanctity of marriage?  Yes, but this can not be an excuse to continue touching unclean things and so sin (see  Romans 6:1-3) When we do sin, we know the terrors of hell and turn in repentance to the Lord Who died and rose for us.

This is still our vocation in marriage, according to the Lord’s Word of Law and Promise, not to touch the unclean thing.  Possible? Not on our own but only in Him are all things possible.  As John was a prophet, he did not spare them in the Word of God.  The Church can not either. Why?  As St. Augustine preached so that His people will be spared and I would add, as John and the Lord calls us:  to true repentance that sinners might turn to the Lord and live.

This means that marriage is a true good work by which the Lord preserves life in the world and by it He gives forgiveness:  see the Holy Family.  Marriage is a central means to love our neighbor.  From Luther’s Large Catechism:

God has also most richly blessed this estate above all others, and, in addition, has bestowed on it and wrapped up in it everything in the world, to the end that this estate might be well and richly provided for. Married life is therefore no jest or presumption; but it is an excellent thing and a matter of divine seriousness. For it is of the highest importance to Him that persons be raised who may serve the world and promote the knowledge of God, godly living, and all virtues, to fight against wickedness and the devil.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, You gave Your servant John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in both his preaching of repentance and his innocent death. Grant that we, who have died and risen with Christ in Holy Baptism, may daily repent of our sins, patiently suffer for the sake of the truth, and fearlessly bear witness to His victory over death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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 EXODUS 32:  15Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.

“It’s true! It’s in the book! Moses, the very first person to see the Ten Commandments, immediately got mad and broke them in disgust—smashed them to smithereens. Nobody since has done a more thorough job of it.

But the situation calls for more attention. Moses’ disgust was just the opposite of ours; he was disgusted not witthe commandments, but with the behavior of the children of  Israel. We get disgusted with the commandments because we want to behave like the children of Israel. All of us at times have wished we could join Moses in demolishing those stone tablets; then we wouldn’t have to worry about breaking the commandments in the other sense of the term.” (italics my own)

The above quote is from The MAD Morality or the Ten Commandments Revisited, by Vernard Eller, published in 1970 (kind of the Jewish equivalent to The Gospel According to Peanuts1965 by Robert Short).  Yes, as in MAD magazine! The Scripture passage is also cited in this book.  What is described in the opening of this book  is truly “mad morality”, that is, the despising of the Lord’s Word.

Yet, the world since ’70 has done a good job in smashing the 10 by deconstructing them as imposing morality and too dominating.  Yet, the worry that we break them is real.  The worry can be nagging, daily nagging.  Why?  His Law is written into our hearts  (Jeremiah 31: 31-34).  We want to behave like the children of Israel worshiping a golden calf, in fact, every day we want to do just that:  if we fear losing anything or anyone more than the Lord, then you have a false god.  And if the commandments  are done away with, by some, say, “Jesus Seminar”, then someone, especially someone ‘religious’ will write his or her own laws to be kept, see Mohammed, Joseph Smith and liberal Protestantism, after all, “nature abhors a vacuum”.  The Lord knows this and next week, Holy Week,in the week that changed the world, He fulfilled the Law, the only Law (lex sola)  and it’s worrisome and wonderful demand to love: You are forgiven and loved us to the end, even death on the cross…all of us. Sola gratia, by grace alone that “saved a wretch like me”.  He has filled the vacuum and desert with His life-giving Word:  He is risen.

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“Zeal for your house will consume me.” 

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

 In the recent edition of Touchstone magazine, there is an excellent article entitled, “The Babel of Bibles, by  Professor Jeffrey, and how many Bible translations there are now and this might not be good in truly learning God’s Word. But as the author points out that,

  • “In addition to new translations, we now have a plethora of “niche” editions, like the “Revolve” magazine-format Bibles, aimed at pre-pubescent girls, which includes marginal tips on how to put on makeup and deal with two admiring boys at the same time,
  • The Veggie Tales Full Text NIV Bible,
  • the NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible (in periwinkle blue with a green flower!),
  • the NIV Bible for Busy Dads,
  • the Holman CSB Sportsman’s Bible in camouflage
  • If you are tired of your mother’s old Bible, which printed the words of Jesus in red, you can choose a more trendy Green Bible, with all the eco-sensitive passages printed in green ink.
  • If you are a feisty woman unfazed by possibly misdirected allusions, then maybe you would like the Woman Thou art Loosed edition of the NKJV.
  • If perchance you should be a high-end of the TV-channel charismatic, there are “prophecy Bibles” coded in several colors to justify your eschatology of choice.
  • If you are a devotee of the U.S. Constitution (the document, not the ship), Tolle Lege Press offers the 1599Geneva Bible, Patriot’s Edition: complete with a frontispiece portrait of George Washington, a prayer by him, and facsimile reproductions of the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the United States of America (with the Amendments), and finally, a tract on Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior by George Washington.

All of these makeovers of Holy Scripture are—at least in part—market driven.”

 “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

The word “trade” is “emporia” as in our word “emporium”: a place of retail business.  Jesus drove out the sacrificial animals for a couple of reasons one of which was, the Templehad become a house of trade, a retail marketplace. Since Jews came from all over the world with many different currencies, they had to be exchanged into the temple shekel to buy the animals for sacrifice and maybe someone was making money off the exchange rate…maybe not.  Maybe it was a good service the temple was offering…or maybe not.  We can come up with all sorts of rationalizations, goodly intended, to justify all sorts of activities even in the Church. Someone may ask, “Won’t those Bibles reach someone?”  Maybe.  Yet, some how it seems just…off.  It is. It’s tricky and that’s the problem: it’s tricky.  The Bible is plain:  2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.  And again:  2 Corinthians 4:2  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. For us today the two key words in those verses are “peddlers” and ”tamper” of and with His Word.  We are to teach, preach and administer His Word and Sacraments, plainly. He will raise His temple.

 Martin Luther read for himself in the Bible, the Lord showing him that he, you, and I are saved by Jesus Christ by grace, the free gift of salvation because of His death and resurrection.  Afterwards Luther did not take kindly to the church making money by selling salvation on a piece of paper to get a relative out of purgatory.  Hmmmm…folks buying the Word of God, the Bible in packaging that suits them  and their salvation needs?!  Or in a similar vein, a worship center complete with a Starbucks…yes. On a blog I frequent, a woman wrote that she was financially hard-pressed and went to one of these mega-churches and before service went to have a cup of coffee at their fancy coffee kiosk, thinking it would be free.  No, 2 dollars.

  We can find a church that is marketed properly to meet one’s needs for salvation.  It’s called church growth and here are some of it’s tenets:  Take away the offensive stuff of Christianity, like a cross or crucifix, mention of “sin”, as in confession and forgiveness, and make it upbeat and positive and at times give free gas cards to the first 100 worshipers or even ashes to go on Ash Wednesday. It will reach people but with what? “It works” is the other reply.  Yet finally and fully it is rank unbelief and then we celebrate ourselves rather than the Lord. All of tactics and techniques of marketing the Gospel is part of this behavioral science approach to evangelism again called Church Growth.

 Selling the Gospel…well, so that we can buy it.  But we can not buy salvation, it’s free!  We can not buy salvation but the Savior has bought us, not with silver or gold, but with His holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death so that we may be His own and live before in innocence and righteousness.  You cannot sell the Savior or His Church or we are sold to the devil.  The disciples remembered after Jesus was finally consumed in death and rose again, the Scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Folks like to talk all about all sorts of “extreme” things: sports, cars etc., oh, and that’s okay, but this kind of religious fervor is a little over the top, well, extreme.  The word consume is literally, eat up oneself. You mean zeal for prayer and worship and receiving the Lord’s gifts, His teaching and doctrine is over the top?  But that can be offensive and it is.

 If we take away mention of sin, that means I have to take away mention of the 10 commandments.  The first lesson is the 10 commandments.  I have seen old colonial Episcopalian churches inCharleston,SCwith the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed and the 10 commandment on huge plaques behind the Altar.  Those sanctuaries are more Lutheran than many Lutheran ones.  I’ll preach it again:  the first question is not the posting of the 10 commandments in the courthouse, but in the Lord’s House.  In one congregation I served the Word, the church council came to a decision after a process:  we need to have Holy Communion every Sunday.  The council president queried, How will we decide this…vote on it?  I said, we cannot vote on the truth.  Ed, a retired Navy CPO fromBrooklyn, I like that…you can’t vote on the truth.  If the 10 commandments were up for a vote, they would be voted out…oops, that’s been done both by vote and by sheer attrition. Try as we might, we cannot vote out the 10 commandments out of existence. It is not that the 10 commandments are offensive, but iniquity is. There is no trading onMount Sinaiin the thunder of His Law killing sinners. And yet, the 10 Commandments show us the way of the love of God and the love of our neighbor and we quickly can see within the Church, society and our own hearts something needs cleansing. The Lord Jesus knew and knows what’s inside men.  Jesus cleansed the Temple. He is theTemplewhich cleansed the temple…this temple with His grace, mercy and peace for each of us by name in Baptism.  He feeds His temple with Himself, and every Word of God.

 If we take away the mention of sin and the 10 commandments, then the offense of the Cross is removed.  The Apostle simply called it what others call it, even in our day:  an offense and folly.  The Greek word of offense is the one we have our word “scandal”.  Yes, folks today will simply remove the scandal.  We preach and teach the scandal and the folly of Jesus Christ crucified.  He was consumed, eaten up by the uncleanness and paltriness of people who would sell religion.  He drove out ALL the sacrificial animals because there would be only one sacrifice once and for all:  Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. There is no “let’s make a deal” on Golgotha.  No emporium there. There is no tit for tat religion when Jesus showed His hands and His side with the wounds from the Cross.  No kiosk selling religious artifacts or camo Bibles outside of the empty tomb. Only sheer life and love He gives us by His Word to us all.  22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. They believed on account of the Scripture and the Word which Jesus had spoken.  Us as well. He builds and grows His Church and we are called to serve in His Temple day by day, especially in daily prayer and in our vocations.  He can raise His Temple, thetemple ofHis Body, His Church and has and one day in the Resurrection unto eternal life.  Moreover, we will remember that He had said this and faith in the Scripture and His Word will be fulfilled. Today others need to know this:   the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

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