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Posts Tagged ‘kingdom of God’

Front Page of Luther’s Edition of the Qu’ran

Historical note:  In Luther’s lifetime, in 1529, the Ottoman Turkish sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent brought his armies to the outskirts of Vienna, Austria and laid siege. Then in 1540, the same Islamic nation conquered Hungary.  This meant that Western Europe was facing Islamic Armageddon.  So much so, that Martin Luther had the Qu’ran printed from an earlier translation that he had found.  He thought people should know the Qu’ran in order to refute its false doctrine, as Luther wrote in his preface to  his edition of the Qu’ran:

“For Muhammad denies that Christ is the son of God, denies that he died for our sins, denies that he arose for our life, denies that by faith in him our sins are forgiven and we are justified, denies that he will come as judge of the living and the dead … denies the Holy Spirit, and denies the gifts of the Spirit. By these and similar articles of faith consciences must be fortified against the ceremonies of Muhammad. With these weapons his Qur’an must be refuted.”

Luther also reasoned that if Western Europe were conquered, they should know their conquerors.  

 In our day, in which church after church either denigrate doctrine as doctrinaire, or deny basic Christian doctrine, which Luther listed above as fundamentals of the faith by asserting their historical truth, then the Church is no longer steadfast and so prey for the devil (see 1 Peter 5:8) .  Denying basic Christian doctrine, and the resultant practice of faith in Christ and His grace for poor sinners,  has helped Islam, and so many other anti-Trinitarian heresies (e.g. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses) to grow and flourish. 

Given the  risk Christian Europe faced, there  are many references in Luther and Lutheran Reformation writings (sermons, tracts, hymns) about “the Turk”, as in the sermon quote below.  Note again:  “Turk” equals Muslim.  This quote is from Luther’s sermon on John 1: 46 (From the Gospel lesson, John 1:  43-51) for 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B):

(God’s Kingdom) is to be a kingdom of grace, belonging to those who are wretched and poor, whether they be men or women, rich or poor…

Since all (the Turk’s) undertakings prosper, they conclude at once that they are God’s people, that God is their friend and gracious to them. For fortune, success, and victory attend them against all their enemies; and they vanquish all whom they attack, also those who glory in the Christian name. You cannot dispel such a terrible illusion, which is ignorant of the judgment of God and blusters and brags that God is on their side. Therefore the Turks massacre so wantonly, and all this under the pretense that God is their ally.

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Lessons:

Acts 1: 1-11

Ephesians 1: 15-23

St. Luke 24: 44-53

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
    He was manifested in the flesh,
   vindicated by the Spirit,
       seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
       taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3: 16

 

Ephesians 3:   14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 The Lord’s Church, His Body  of whom He is our head, is multi-dimensional: “…the breadth and length and height and depth”.  The Lord’s Ascension is the fulfillment of the Church in Him that is not merely 3 dimensional, but 4 dimensional, that is, in space and  time.  The Ascension of our Lord is about:

looking back

looking up

looking out

and

looking forward.

  •  Looking back to the entire record of the Bible and the Lords’ saving acts in Israel and now in Jesus Christ for Israel and the entire world, so we are strengthened in our souls through faith by His grace revealed in history.  The Bible is God’s own Word inspired by the Lord and  recorded by men that we may know the Way.
  •  Looking up in faith in prayer to the Lord as He ascended, so we may know where He is leading us.  The Church, and the world, does not live in the time after Christ,  but in the time under Christ. Christ Jesus is Prophet, Priest and King and from His three fold office we receive grace upon grace.  Prophet:  His preaches His Word to all creation.  Priest:  Our Great High Priest officiates at His Table His Body and Blood.  King:  He rules His Church and creation by His Word as we awaiting for the coming of the Kingdom in all its fullness.
  •  Looking out for each other is the service that fellow pilgrims and companions offer to one another.  “Watch out” is caution.  The Lord’s looks out for us in His Law, in which the Lord direly warns: “Watch out”.  Looking out for one another is to encourage each other as we see the Day approaching.
  •  Looking forward for the Kingdom coming, begun in Jesus Christ is our God-given hope and faith. As it is written in 1 Corinthians 11, as oft as we eat of this Bread and drink of this Cup (Holy Communion) we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.  The vain world thinks this is it, that is, this world and this life as it thinks it has life in itself. It does not.  Christ is crucified, Christ is risen, Christ is ascended, Christ will come again. We look to the “pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 11) to the Day. 

“Sursum Corda”, literally, Hearts Lifted, as in Lift up your hearts, we lift them up to the Lord.  He has done the heavy lifting.  He intercedes for His Body on earth so our minds are set in hope on things above. His love is for us all in all space and time, in all dimensions.

On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build
By: Josua Wegelin

On Christ’s ascension I now build
The hope of my ascension;
This hope alone has always stilled
All doubt and apprehension;
For where the head is, there as well
I know his members are to dwell
When Christ will come and call them.

Since Christ returned to claim his throne,
Great gifts for me obtaining,
My heart will rest in him alone,
No other rest remaining;
For where my treasure went before,
There all my thoughts will ever soar
To still their deepest yearning.

Oh, grant, dear Lord, this grace to me,
Recalling your ascension,
That I may serve you faithfully,
Adorning your redemption;
And then, when all my days will cease,
Let me depart in joy and peace
In answer to my pleading.

Hymn # 150 from Lutheran Worship
Author: Etlich Christlich lider
Tune: Nun Freut Euch
1st Published in: 1524

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Introduction:  The Gospel Reading for the 7th Sunday of Pascha (Easter), in Year B of the 3 year lectionary,  St. John 17:  11b-19,  can be summed up with this familiar statement:  “The Church is in the world but not of the world.”  Why?  The Church is modeled by the Holy Spirit after Jesus Christ Who is also in the world but not of the world. “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Verse 16  There is so much in Scripture to reiterate this reality.  This Gospel Reading reminded me of The Letter to Diognetus.  The author of this letter is unknown but the recipient, Diognetus, was  a “…pagan of high social or political rank.” The letter is an apology for Christianity.  An apology is first and foremost a defense of a position.   (Only later did “apology” become  associated with sorrow over a wrong action, “Oh, I apologize that I step on your toe…”  But that is not the apology!  “…on your toe, because I did not see you.” That is the apology, the defense.)  This letter from the late 2nd Century is a powerful example of an apology and is becoming more relevant in the 21st century day by day.  Someone wrote a book on this letter entitled, Resident Aliens.  This is what Christian are.  (quote above and below from Ancient Christian Writers)

Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by either country, speech, or customs;  the fact is, they nowhere settle in cities of their own; they use no peculiar language; they cultivate no eccentric mode of life.  Certainly, this creed of theirs is no discovery due to some fancy or speculation of inquisitive men;  nor do they, as some do, champion a doctrine of human origin. Yet while they dwell in both Greek and non-Greek cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and conform to the customs of the country in dress, food, and mode of life in general, the whole tenor of their way of living stamps it as worthy of admiration and admittedly extraordinary.  They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land.  They marry like all others and beget children; but they do not expose their offspring.”  Their board they spread for all, but not their bed. They find themselves in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their days on earth, but hold citizenship in heaven.  They obey the established laws, but in their private lives they rise above the laws. They love all men, but are persecuted by all.  They are unknown,  yet are condemned; they are put to death, but it is life that they receive.  They are poor, and enrich many;  destitute of everything, they abound in everything.  They are dishonored, and in their dishonor find their glory. They are calumniated, and are vindicated.  They are reviled, and they bless;  they are insulted and render honor.  Doing good, they are penalized as evildoers; when penalized, they rejoice because they are quickened into life. 

Father of all holiness,
guide our hearts to you.
Keep in the light of your truth
all those you have freed from the darkness of unbelief.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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